Draft Daily: Safety Targets For the Eagles

NCAA Football: Gildan New Mexico Bowl-Washington State vs Colorado State

From now until the draft, we’ll try to hit on some key positions with our previews. Yesterday was outside linebacker, and today is safety.

Howie Roseman said last week that this is not a good safety class overall.




But that's no reason to dismiss the position completely. The team signed Malcolm Jenkins in free agency and has high hopes for second-year player Earl Wolff. Nate Allen and Chris Maragos provide depth, but more bodies are needed.

Keeping that in mind, here are some names to know on Day 1, 2 and 3 of the draft.

DAY 1

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (6-1, 208) - It seems unlikely that Clinton-Dix falls to the Eagles at No. 22, but a recent mock draft by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com suggested that as a possibility. The Alabama product has a lot of the qualities the Eagles value. He is versatile enough to play deep and also cover slot receivers man to man. Clinton-Dix is probably better against the run than he gets credit for. He ran a pedestrian 4.58 at the combine, but Clinton-Dix is still the favorite to be the first safety off the board. Gil Brandt of NFL.com recently compared him to Kansas City standout Eric Berry. If he drops to No. 22, the guess here is the Eagles would be thrilled.

Calvin Pryor, Louisville (5-11, 207) - The question with Pryor is whether he's a scheme fit. He's considered much  more of a box safety than Clinton-Dix and didn't play a lot of man coverage in college. At first, I was going to leave him off the list, but it's important to remember that teams are projecting what prospects are capable of doing, not solely going off of what they've done. It seems likely that Pryor is off the board before No. 22. But even if he's there, I'm not sure the Eagles take him.

DAY 2

Deone Bucannon, Washington State (6-1, 211) - He's become a fan favorite in recent weeks, and for good reason. Bucannon has one of the best size/speed combos (ran a 4.49 at the combine) of all the safeties in this class. At the Senior Bowl, Bucannon told me he played a lot of zone in college and wasn't often asked to man up. Considered a big hitter, he made a lot of plays, totaling six INTs and three forced fumbles last year. Bucannon could be a nice option in the second round.

Dontae Johnson, N.C. State (6-2, 200) -  According to Adam Caplan, the Eagles had him in for an official visit. Johnson has experience playing both corner and safety. Along with the size, he ran a 4.45 at the combine. The Eagles would have to decide what role Johnson's best suited for, but the measurables match up. Johnson is No. 94 on Mayock's big board, so he's probably on the border of being a Day 2/Day 3 pick.

Brock Vereen, Minnesota (6-0, 199) - The same can be said for Vereen, who is No. 91 on Brandt's big board. And he's another player with cornerback and safety experience. Vereen ran a 4.47 at the combine and started 32 games during his college career. There's certainly a chance he could be available on Day 3.

DAY 3

Dezmon Southward, Wisconsin (6-0, 211) - A couple respected evaluators - Greg Cosell and Brandt - have labeled Southward a sleeper. He didn't work out at the combine because of a neck injury, but reportedly ran in the 4.4s at his Pro Day. Southward has experience playing both corner and safety. With the size/speed combo, he's a guy to watch on Day 3.

Antone Exum, Virginia Tech (6-0, 213) - He battled injuries last year, but has experience playing both safety and corner. Mayock said recently that teams are looking at him for both spots. Exum ran a 4.59 at the combine and could be a Day 3 option if his medical checks out.

Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama (5-11, 210) - Another guy who dealt with an injury last year. Sunseri suffered a season-ending torn ACL in 2013, but reportedly turned in 40 times of 4.48 and 4.52 at his Pro Day. As we've mentioned in this space before, the Eagles have good working knowledge of Alabama prospects. Sunseri excelled on special teams and could be worth a late-round flier.

Ed Reynolds, Stanford (6-1, 207) - As a junior, he had six interceptions and scored three touchdowns. Reynolds has good size and ran a 4.57 at the combine. He's another Pac-12 player with whom Chip Kelly should be familiar.

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  • Mitchell

    Boy did Reynolds really drop from the start of all this. I didn’t really see much on his game tape to warrant a ton of interest.

  • Andy

    If they draft a safety outside of the first two rounds my guess is it is going to have to be someone who can contribute on special teams while he develops over 1-2 years.

  • ryan pertl

    No Jaylen Watkins? I know he’s slightly smaller, but he has more of a safety demeanor to him than a guy like Dontae Johnson. I’d rather have Jaylen than most of those guys you listed. Size-wise he compares to Brock Vereen.

    • korman

      I like Jaylen too, but I think right now he’s being considered a CB mostly? I’m just trying to figure out why he wouldn’t be listed here.

      • ryan pertl

        I’m sure that most teams do consider him to be a CB, but I could see Chip having other plans for him. He played both CB and S in college and we even had him in for a visit. I feel like there is legitimate interest there. I would be thrilled to get him on draft day. Even if he’s the only way that we address the defensive backfield. Yes, I think that highly of him.

  • Will

    Southward has blazing speed, wouldn’t mind him on day 3.

  • Maggie

    A safety/corner/ST player would be great in the 3rd or 4th.

    • Will

      Agree, he’d likely fit in somewhere. I just hope he excels at least at one position, being good to better than good; than below average at all positions.

  • Eagles1018

    Southward I wouldn’t mind on day 3. He can outright fly…may take a while to groom him into the starter but that’s fine with Jenkins, Wolff and Allen ahead of him. Stick him on special teams and groom him. I think we can be confident that any 1 rd prospects won’t be there at 22, nor will the eagles have interest in the mid round guys. They’ve made it clear they have projected budgets at each position and I’m sure they’re tapped out at safety which is a shame IMO. Southward is me trying to be realistic as to what they’d be willing to go get. Which isn’t the worse choice in the world.

    • Eagles1018

      Also love Buchannon. Soon as the season was over I started looking at the safeties coming in and he was the guy I thought would be excellent for the eagles to draft

    • Andy124

      Yeah, get me a size speed combo guy later on and see if we can coach him up. Just get me a G.D. pass rusher.
      TWO MORE DAYS!!

      • Eagles1018

        Pass rusher. Agreed…if Barr falls far enough (doubt it) or we trade to the teens for him I won’t be mad. Attachou is a beast on film, wouldn’t mind him. I don’t know much about Demarcus Lawrence…but after them I’m not overly crazy about an “immediate impact” type pass rusher. Another guy who I think could have upside (and already has the measurables) is Adrain Hubbard.

  • h

    I’m not on the Bucannon bandwagon. I watched his game awhile back against oregon and although he forced a fumble, he looked lost in coverage at times (i guess oregon will do this to almost anyone though). Also, isnt a sure tackler. Youre correct to not write off Pryor though. Louisville had him play in the box but that doesnt necessarily mean he cant cover. His playmaking ability would be hard to pass up at 22. Still hoping for a trade down though if possible

  • http://batman-news.com Wes

    all I can say is that I am REALLY excited to see how my boy Earl pans out this year

  • Token

    They arent taking a safety high, if at all. They cant possibly make that more clear.

    • Neanderthal

      Unless they do

  • cliff henny

    for Geagle….Downing?

    • Adam G

      Don’t get why he left? Sour grapes?

      • cliff henny

        just emailed me, said 24/7 still has him blocked

        • Corey

          Hey, what did Geagle do that got him blocked?

          • cliff henny

            think it was culminations… We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive…mean, he pretty much went 4/4 (not counting impersonators, though ‘Rick colton’s wine glass’ i kind of liked) often in 1 thread….ha, they are toughening up, cause i used D instead of R and that’s waiting approval.

          • Javi Echie

            I talked to him over at Philly.com and he told me T-mac tends to get sour when Geags would bash him and he thinks that’s the reason he got blocked lol.

          • cliff henny

            yeah, not sure he realizes the rolls he’d get on. i’d ignore it, but he went 4/4 often

          • DoctorRick

            True dat. I enjoyed his wit and insight but understand why he got in trouble. I’d like to see him back but with less “passion” when wanting to confront those he disagreed with.

          • Bdawkbdawk

            Yea, that MUST have been the reason

          • Corey

            Well they must have added that comment conduct warning with Geagle in mind, cuz i’ve never seen it before. He was also never shy about posting article length opinions in the comments, wonder how that made T Mac feel, lol

          • Richard Colton

            for the record, I thought the Wine Glass was funny. And I miss Johnny “Geags” Drama.

          • G_WallyHunter

            it’s a shame, we should make a petition to get him back dangit, he makes the section better overall haha

        • Token

          The guy is a bit of a wack job. He literally stalked players on twitter. Good riddance.

    • Amar

      We do miss him though.

      • Maggie

        Earlier today he was on Igglesblitz f’ing this and wtf that, between calling everybody on that site fools.

  • Tom W

    Let’s lock up dontae Johnson or exum in the fourth/fifth range and call it a day …. Nother guy to watch is marquest huff from Wyoming late

  • JofreyRice

    Out of the later guys, I like Exum more than Dontae Johnson, but I’d be cool with either.

    Louis Riddick named Sunseri as a “sleeper” on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. Said he thinks he’s going to be a very good pro. Now, bear in mind, he also thinks Dee Ford will be an immediate edge threat in the pros, which doesn’t seem like the prevailing opinion here.

    • Neanderthal

      Sunseri is “Just a football player”.

      • JofreyRice

        Interesting, yeah, I haven’t studied him at all. When I watched Alabama, I really liked Mosley and Landon Collins. I preferred Collins over Ha Ha, actually, but Collins probably wouldn’t be drafted here (I don’t think he’s quite the 6’0 Alabama has him listed at, looks more like 5’10 or so, to me).

    • peteike

      Im mixed on Dee Ford, he just seems to be the consensus 1st round bust guy. Its funny how that happens, like this guy cant improve but others like Barr can. Someone on TV last night was actually praising him, his highlights looked good ha

      • JofreyRice

        guy looks like he’s shot out of a cannon at the snap. I think Riddick was making the point that if you put him in a place with a lot of crowd noise (he mentioned NO), the jump he gets on T’s, combined with his speed and bend around the edge is going to be a problem.

        • Richard Colton

          I love Dee Ford as a pure pass rusher. I guess the question for me is, can he do the other things? Can Dee drop back into coverage enough to keep offensive coordinators honest?
          If Cole/Graham had more success in this system, I’d feel better about Dee. Still, if he’s the pick between #22 and #35, I’m OK with it.

          • JofreyRice

            It depends on how they want to use him. If the guy is good for 10-15 sacks as an edge terror, why not just rush him most of the time? For comparison, LeBeau had his ROLB, Worlids, drop about 12% of his defensive snaps. Clay Matthews, playing ROLB in that same 3-4 fire zone, dropped just 9% of his.

            I understand that he probably needs to work on run D, but that’s what people said about Cliff Avril (my comp for him) and Von Miller (more lofty comparison, but some of the athletic testing #’s are similar). Trent Cole is probably playing in the base D, on obvious running downs. You know Ford can bring pressure, and bringing him along in a passrush package is probably the best way to ease a rookie into the league.

            I think I’ve said it before, but if they want a guy that’s sort of like Barwin–jack of all trades, master of none–and hope to generate pressure more from confusion and scheme rather than through the skill of their players, then I don’t think Ford’s the guy. Someone like KVN or Marcus Smith fit better.

          • Warhound

            I’d be concerned about KVNs size on the outside but his skill set is more what I think they want. I believe that they want versatility which allows them to confuse and deceive. We’ll see…..

    • Eagles1018

      Wow I forgot Dee Ford was in the draft. Watch the eagles draft him smh

  • Wilbert M.

    Jimmie Ward???

    • Amar

      Exactly my thoughts….what happened to Jimmie Ward ?? Unless there is a failed drug test, DUI or assualt charges that I’m not aware of.

      • Javi Echie

        I don’t think they like his measurables, same goes for Lemarcus Joyner. Either one of those would be great additions.

        • Amar

          5’11” 193lbs, 4.47 at the combine
          I see your point. He is a baller though.
          Is it safe to say Kelly would have NEVER drafted Boykin ??

          • Javi Echie

            Honestly I really don’t think he would have drafted Boykin. Also I think Andy would have eventually moved him outside, something Chip and Billy have no plans for which is some b.s.

          • JofreyRice

            yeah, they gotta be a little careful with the size thing. Know when a special player calls for you to bend the rules a bit. Not saying Ward is that guy, but there is always some slightly less than stellar athlete–too short, too slow, too light, etc–that makes noise, as a rookie.

          • Javi Echie

            I agree. I really think Ward is going to be a baller in this league. Forget his measurements for a minute, he is the prototypical single high free safety that can cover the entire middle of the field from sideline to sideline and if need he has the experience to move into the slot and cover wideouts. I’m really big on Ward and wish the eagles would draft him. Lemarcus Joyner now (also leave out measurements) can also play the free safety and can cover very well with his speed but where he really stands out is how big of a hitter he is. Like I could care less how big he is that kid plays likes he’s 6’3 220 lbs.

          • JofreyRice

            yep. I mean, if it’s all about measurables, it’s conceivable that they’d cross off a guy like Earl Thomas, if he were coming out this year; measured in at just 5’10 at the combine, and some questioned his ability to play the run.

            Now, I do think there was some validity in that, but when you look at everything a player like Earl Thomas can do for your defense, it outweighs everything else.

            I guess the big thing is the philosophy. The Seahawks use the Strong/Free Safety model, where it seems the Eagles want more interchangeable, and less defined roles. I’ll take excellence over versatility, but they do not seem to see it that way.

          • anon

            boykin too

          • JofreyRice

            I think Boykin is an ongoing victim of this philosophy. No way to convince me Fletcher & Boykin don’t make a better tandem than Fletcher & Williams.

          • Eagles1018

            My guess is they see versatility as more of an asset in case of injury. Ie. Cam Chancellor cant play centerfield ala Earl Thomas. But I agree more with your idea of how it should play out. I like Ward a lot also. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Dude what’s wrong brother? Seems like you’ve been down lately…

          • JofreyRice

            me? Nah, I’m cool. I can’t say I’ve loved this offseason. Signing kmart free agents and letting Jackson go for nothing doesn’t really get me pumped up. Don’t be fooled though, I’ll be excited for the start of the season, just like everyone else.

          • Maggie

            Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. Too short, too slow. Jack Lambert. Too tall, too skinny. Both fit quite nicely into the Hall of Fame, though.

          • brza

            I can’t imagine 1 inch and 7 lbs. short of their ideal DB measurements would cross Ward off their list of prospects. He is the most versatile safety in this class having done well in man coverage as well as in the box or deep zones. I think Joyner is likely too small but Ward is close enough to the benchmark that his skill should keep him on the draft board.
            Wolfe also only measured in at 5’11 at the combine. He was 209lbs but a few smoothies and sports science should be able to get Ward’s weight up in no time.

  • Brandon Baltic

    I wonder if the ability to play man coverage is a pre-requisite for both safety positions in Billy Davis’s scheme. If not then Pryor could fit as a FS with Jenkins as the SS. Everything I’ve read is that he’s rangy enough to play center field in a cover-1.

    • Ian Farley

      Davis asks the safeties to be able to do both. the FS is going to play more man coverage but both are asked to be able to do multiple things. they would prefer a measurables guy that they can grow into their type of safety rather than knowing what he has done. Earl Wolff is a good example.

      • Brandon

        Makes sense. Earl Wolff didn’t have much man coverage experience in college from what I remember though.

  • Neanderthal

    Vinnie in the 7th.

  • peteike

    ha, this is great, analysis of the experts, McShay, Mayock and Kiper over last 6 yrs. McShay wins hands down til he takes a major dump last season.

    http://regressing.deadspin.com/kiper-vs-mcshay-vs-mayock-death-match-whos-the-best-1572589058/+kylenw

  • Reasonableeaglefan

    I don’t think this is smoke at all. Despite many fans opinions, I don’t believe the front office views S as a major area of weakness. They were ok going into last season with Nate Allen, Patrick Chung and Earl Wolff as a rookie. They have upgraded that to Nate Allen, Malcolm Jenkins and Earl Wolff in year two. It’s easy to say that is a real upgrade, mostly because Chung is horrible. I think they have been pretty transparent on this position, and feel they are okay going forward in seeing how Wolff develops. Unless Ha Ha drops to 22, I don’t see them taking anyone but a developmental guy, if any

    • Amar

      I disagree, all season long CK kept saying there are no quality safeties available on the street to be picked up and added to the lineup

      • peteike

        and when teams are putting up record numbers of points every season, its become a crucial position. Cant have too many to get some serviceable play back there.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        And the signed Malcolm Jenkins. We may not feel that was a significant move, but my guess is the front office disagrees

    • JofreyRice

      “They were ok going into last season with Nate Allen, Patrick Chung and Earl Wolff as a rookie”

      I think this is a good reason to be skeptical of their judgment in this area, but I agree with your reasoning–they think they’ve checked that box, and are not going to invest high.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        I definitely meant that as a comment on their talent evaluation, as well as how I think they view it from a positional importance standpoint. Most here, myself included, see it as a priority, they probably look at it more like how most view OL- if something falls to them from a bpa standpoint, great, if not it can wait until next year

  • willissez

    Echoing the sentiments of most, I’ll be very surprised, but not upset, if they go safety early. I’ve accepted the fact that chip was being honest saying Jenkins was their top target at the position, so that box has been checked as far as needs go.

    • anon

      Yeah i’d be looking more for guys that are clones of jenkins than whoever people think are the “top rated” guys. Kelly clearly doesn’t care what other people think about players (see MB and Sanchize)

  • Glenn

    I don’t think they really need a safety. I think they need to give Earl Wolff a chance. I think he can be really good. Nate Allen actually showed signs of being solid. And Malcolm Jenkins fits the versatility requirement. Don’t get me wrong. If Ha Ha drops to 22, I will think twice. Otherwise, we have other needs, and we should see how Wolff does.

  • Joe Thomas

    What are we, like 52 hours away? Its getting close.

  • Joe Thomas

    I am a Earl Wolfe fan, I think they will be ok without drafting one. Jenkins and Allen will both be solid.

  • Joe L

    Big fan of Bucannon. I think he’s a guy we can plug in at SS, and while he’s strong against the run his 4 years of starting experience he’s shown plenty of ability to make plays in the passing game. Perfect combo for us.

  • Neanderthal

    My insider mock. ( inside my empty head)
    1st Trade back with Cleve
    M. LEE
    2nd Attaboy
    3rd K. McGill
    4th C. Fleming
    5th J. Huff
    5th C. Reid
    7th V. Sunseri

    • Joe L

      So what do we get from Cleveland other than that extra 5th?

      • Neanderthal

        Don’t think you will get more than that. Teams are not going to be giving away picks this yr

    • Neanderthal

      Dont think you get more than that. Teams not going to give up picks in this draft vvery easily

  • Max Lightfoot

    I think we should dub the above disclaimer statement as The GEAGLE Clause.

  • Pennguino

    Put me down for the Dowling pick in the 7th

  • Chip Kelly

    Howie said he has 5 cards of potential players he’s targeting at 22. I wonder who these players are.

    http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/videos/videos/In-Studio-Howie-Roseman/5145b2e9-9857-48c5-a0da-00842823ae28