Eagles Wake-Up Call: Draft Could Provide CB Upgrade

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at Michigan State

In the past four seasons, the Eagles have had a rotating cast of characters at cornerback.

Starting on the outside have been Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Dimitri Patterson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.

What you’ll notice about that group is there’s not a lot of homegrown talent. Or more specifically, there’s no homegrown talent. All seven of the cornerbacks listed were either signed as free agents or acquired via trade. Brandon Boykin would be the exception, but he’s been used strictly as a nickel.

Williams and Fletcher were adequate last year, and the team signed Nolan Carroll from Miami. But the team’s cornerback situation is precisely what Howie Roseman is describing when he talks about taking the best available player. The Eagles are OK going into the draft, but they will be looking to upgrade if the picks fall a certain way.

Last month, Roseman said the team had to review its grades on cornerback prospects after the combine.

“Impressed by the group overall, especially more of the guys that you predicted would be in the third-day range really showed up,” he said. “I think that was exciting to us. In fact, we spent a bunch of time going over our board here today and looking at guys that we had in the third day, and kind of excited about that group to kind of go through them again and look at them because they tested really well. You put that together with the guys that are up top, and overall it’s probably a better group than maybe we anticipated when the offseason started.”

Check recent mock drafts, and chances are you’ll see the Eagles linked to a cornerback in the first round. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has them taking Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. Several others predict Ohio State’s Bradley Roby. And Billy Davis was reportedly paying a lot of attention to Kyle Fuller at Virginia Tech’s Pro Day.

All three of those corners are in Mike Mayock’s top-five at the position. But the CB class is considered deep, and the Eagles could just as easily pick one in the later rounds.

One way or another, you get the sense the cornerback picture on this team could change between now and spring practices.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Jets, Panthers and Raiders have reportedly inquired about DeSean Jackson. Are the Eagles trying to create a competitive market?

In his weekly mailbag, T-Mac talks backup QB situation, Jackson and draft.

We unveiled our annual Eagles pre-draft prospect tracker.

McManus sizes up the moves by the other NFC East teams.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has the Eagles ninth in his offseason power rankings:

Any way you look at it, there is NOTHING not to like about the Eagles dealing a fifth-round pick to the Saints for Darren Sproles. Yes, the running back will turn 31 this summer, but it’s not like he’s an every-down player. Moreover, the Eagles think they can win now. And given the state of the NFC East, that’s not a kittens-and-rainbows outlook — it’s reality. Finally, that fifth-round selection falls in the back end of the round anyway, meaning it will represent somewhere around the 160th-best college player on the board. Big whoopie.

The Jackson situation shows that Chip Kelly is in control, writes Ashley Fox of ESPN.com:

Kelly wants players who will buy into his system and not be selfish. Throughout last season, Jackson said he bought in. He said he was trying to get more sleep, as Kelly requested of all the players. Jackson said he was more than happy to contribute on special teams, because Kelly preached the value of the favorable field position effective special teams play could provide. Jackson said he supported Nick Foles, even though he preferred Michael Vick to be the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

But clearly Kelly didn’t like something about Jackson.

COMING UP

Your guess is as good as ours.

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