NFL draft

Saquon Barkley going 1st could be great for Eagles

Saquon Barkley going 1st could be great for Eagles

There is growing buzz that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley could be drafted first overall by the Browns.

That could end up being great news for the Eagles ... because of who picks second.

Save for the short period of time Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were effective, the Giants have been in need of a running back since Tiki Barber retired after the 2006 season.

With the second overall pick in a draft that includes a potentially generational running back in Barkley, the G-Men are finally in position to fix their broken ground game.

But with the Browns also owning the fourth pick, they could take Barkley at 1 and get their QB at 4.

If the Browns take Barkley, the Giants would obviously be tempted to take the best QB in the draft — whoever they deem that to be — second overall. Eli Manning is 37 years old and hasn't been in the top half among quarterbacks in at least three seasons.

If the Giants do take a QB second, they'd set themselves up better for the future, but in the present, it would be a boost for the Eagles. The Birds would get one more season against a Manning-led Giants team that didn't improve any other position with its high first-round pick. A Giants team that has a weak offensive line, a non-existent running game and a pass rush that had the third-fewest sacks in the NFL last season.

The Eagles would also get to avoid facing Barkley twice a year for potentially a decade. It's true that running backs have been devalued over the last decade, but the last two taken in the top five — Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette — immediately changed the fortunes of their teams. With a more complete offense, the Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3 in Zeke's first year. The Jaguars went from 3-13 to 10-6 in Fournette's rookie season.

Doug Pederson would still have a better, deeper roster than both the Cowboys and Giants, but facing Elliott and Barkley a combined four times per season would be tough.

So if Barkley indeed goes first, it would be the second time in three years the Browns helped the Eagles at the top of the draft.

2 players who belong on Eagles' combine watch list

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2 players who belong on Eagles' combine watch list

With five of the Eagles' six draft picks being in the fourth round or later, Howie Roseman and his scouting team have the task of doing more with less. 

Here are some players to watch out for on Day 1 of the NFL combine.

OL Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
This year's offensive line group is arguably the deepest position. These O-linemen have versatility, which is important in Doug Pederson's system. 

Wynn could be the most versatile offensive interior player in this year's draft. He started 15 games at tackle in 2017 and has bounced around from tackle to guard and even tight end during college. With his shorter 6-2 frame, a move inside to guard or even center in the NFL would suit him best.  

You draft him and you have an experienced, All-SEC lineman who can learn from experienced starters, fill in when one of those starters gets hurt, or replace a starter like Stefen Wisniewski or even Jason Kelce down the road. 

With 100 selections coming between the Eagles' first- and fourth-round picks, Wynn could give you the best value at pick 32.

What to watch from Wynn at the combine? 
His 40-yard dash. Yes, I'm saying watch the 40-yard dash of a 300-pound lineman. Truth is, the 40-yard dash, when broken up into splits of 10 yards, serves a purpose. The first 10 yards can tell you how much explosiveness you have out of a compact position like a three-point stance. Wynn is great at pulling and blocking in space. Showcasing fast splits could result in a smooth move from tackle techniques to guard or even center. 

• • •

RB/WR/TE/offensive weapon Jaylen Samuels (NC State)
So many question marks. Not based off talent evaluation, but rather what position he will play at the next level. An easy comparison is Trey Burton. 

Samuels (2014-17 at NC State): 202 receptions, 1,855 yards, 19 receiving TDs; 403 rushing yards, 5.2 YPC, 12 rush TDs

Burton (2010-13 at Florida): 107 receptions, 976 yards, four receiving TDs; 720 rushing yards, 4.7 YPC, 16 rush TDs

Yes, Burton carried the ball in college. So did Samuels. Samuels, however, at 5-11 is smaller than Burton (6-3). For that reason, Senior Bowl coaches elected to give him reps at running back. Here is a taste of him at practice.

With moves like that, I can see him as a target for the Eagles. Remember, 34-year-old Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner are all able to test the free-agent market and the Birds are a little cap-strapped.

Another thing to account for when watching Samuels this weekend is Pederson. Pederson does a great job of keeping defensive coordinators on their heels by constantly switching looks and personnel. NC State's offense is similar in manufacturing matchups it can exploit and Samuels excelled very much in that role. Being an Eagles weapon in the backfield or out in space could be the most natural fit for him.

What to watch of Samuels at the combine? 
Everything. We already know he will run fast, but his performance in route-running drills will be the determining factor of where a team values him.

Eagles sitting on 'prime real estate' in NFL draft

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Eagles sitting on 'prime real estate' in NFL draft

After winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, the Eagles are going to be in a unique situation when the first round of the NFL draft kicks off at AT&T Stadium on April 26. 

The Eagles have the 32nd and final pick in the first round. 

That's not necessarily a bad thing. 

During his nearly two-hour-long pre-NFL Combine conference call on Monday afternoon, well-respected NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock explained the situation the Eagles find themselves in.

"When you look at sitting at 32, and I've had this conversation with teams that are used to drafting late, I think you've got to be multiple," Mayock said. "I think you've got to be versatile. By that I mean you've got to get a good football player, but you also have to have an ability to move down if possible, if necessary. 

"And the Eagles don't have, if I remember this correctly, a two and a three. So an ability to move down would be first and foremost in my mind. A lot of teams like to move up to get quarterbacks at the end of the first round to get that extra fifth-year option. So sitting at 32 is prime real estate for a move down. That's first and foremost. Secondly, if you're sitting at 32 and you're going to pick, you want to pick somebody that you think is safe." 

Mayock is right about the Eagles' gap between picks. They have that selection at No. 32, but don't have another pick until the fourth round. Their second-round pick belongs to the Browns; it went there as a part of the move up to draft Carson Wentz in 2016. And the third-round pick belongs to the Bills; they got it along with Jordan Matthews in the trade for Ronald Darby. 

A good example of what Mayock was talking about with the 32nd pick came back in 2014, when the Vikings traded up to No. 32 to draft Teddy Bridgewater. The Seahawks got two picks back: the Vikings' second-round pick (No. 40) and their fourth-round pick (No. 108). Basically, the Seahawks traded down eight spots and gained a fourth-rounder. 

Like the Seahawks in 2014, the Eagles enter this draft with just six total picks. The Eagles could obviously use some extra picks.

Mayock clearly thinks the Eagles are in a great position. He praised VP of football operations Howie Roseman, saying Roseman's last two years rank in the "general manager's Hall of Fame." 

When explaining how good of a spot the Eagles are in, Mayock pointed out that most of their starters, aside from Nigel Bradham, are still under contract and said Sidney Jones (last year's second-round pick because of an Achilles tear) is now ready to play. 

"They've really positioned themselves pretty darn well," Mayock said.