INDIANAPOLIS — It’s no secret that the Eagles desperately need to improve at receiver and at the NFL Scouting Combine, they were definitely doing their homework on the top guys.
So, as far as needs go, consider wide receiver 1a.
If that’s the case, then cornerbacks is most definitely 1b. And you could even make an argument that they should be flipped.
While some folks are already acting like it’s a foregone conclusion that the Eagles use the 21st pick on a wide receiver in April, there’s a strong case for them to consider taking a cornerback … especially if they feel like they can get more depth by taking a receiver in the second.
One cornerback the Eagles won’t be taking in April, barring something pretty crazy happening, is Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. He’s the top corner in the class, one of the best players in the draft and it would be shocking if he slides out of the top 10.
Moving on …
There are still some pretty decent options and names who might be on the board when the Eagles are on the clock.
Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The brother of Vikings receiver Stefon, Trevon has made quite a name for himself with one of the best programs in the country. Jim Schwartz doesn’t necessarily need size but Diggs has it (6-1, 205).
With Diggs, there’s some good and some bad that he’s heard from NFL teams. He relayed that information during his media session on Friday morning:
“They say that I have good ball skills, that I’m rangy,” Diggs said. “I can run routes with receivers because I know the route tree. It’s a lot of things they say are good but there’s a lot of things I’ve gotta work on, as well. I’m ready to learn more at the position, get more reps at the position. I’m excited to learn.”
And the critiques?
“It’s a lot of things, like being disciplined in my technique,” he answered. “That’s one thing: I tend to let my athletic ability take over, so I need to stay focused and disciplined and stick to my technique. When I do that, everything will be fine.”
Kristian Fulton, LSU
Coming from a program with an impressive history of producing great defensive backs, Fulton (6-0, 197) wants to keep it going.
“When we walk into our meeting room, we got all the defensive backs that came through, the greats, pictures on the wall,” he said. “So it's just motivation every day. We know that it's a standard to perform at DBU. We just come to work every day and you look at what the guys have done before.”
Fulton said some teams have talked to him about playing the nickel cornerback position, which is somewhere he’s played before. Fulton said he feels comfortable inside and outside. It’s probably worth mentioning here that the Eagles always seem to value versatility when it comes to defensive backs.
While the Eagles will likely implement more zone concepts with new DBs coach Marquand Manuel, Fulton has had plenty of success in man coverage playing against top opponents in college football.
“Just from a competitive standpoint, I felt like being in the SEC, I go up against the best receivers,” he said. “You can look and tell me who's put up numbers on me. I feel like that's what really separates me. I mean, like you said, it's a great cornerback class, but I don't feel like nobody's technique is as sound as mine. And I just get the job done every Saturday I feel like.”
C.J. Henderson, Florida
We’ll see what happens during testing, but Henderson’s speed is less of a concern than with some other top prospects. The 6-1, 204-pound cornerback elected to declare for the draft after his junior season and skipped the Gators’ bowl game.
We all kind of know Okudah is the top-ranked corner in this class but nobody told Henderson that.
“I’d definitely rank myself No. 1,” he said. “I expect everyone else to rank themselves the same. I highly respect the rest of the corners. What separates me is that I'm a competitor and I'm very smart.”
At Florida, Henderson played a ton of man, which would hopefully translate to Philadelphia if the Eagles drafted him.
While Howie Roseman’s affinity for Florida players (he’s a Gator, after all) might not be as strong as it once was, you can bet he always takes notice when there’s a Gator with this type of talent.
A.J. Terrell, Clemson
At 6-1, 195 pounds, Terrell is another corner from a top school who has seen tough competition during his college career.
“My playing style, I would say I’m a competitor,” Terrell said. “I don’t like to back down from competition. I’m going to give the receiver my best and I know I’m going to get theirs. We’re just going to compete for the whole four quarters.”
When asked which part of his game he thinks will translate best to the NFL, Terrell said his versatility. He can play press, he can play off, he can play man, he can play zone. Remember what we said about how much the Eagles value versatility?
So the Eagles have some options.
But it’s also important to remember that they’re in this situation because of their inability to draft cornerbacks. Just check out their last 10 years:
2018: Avonte Maddox (4th round)
2017: Sidney Jones (2nd round)
2017: Rasul Douglas (3rd round)
2016: Jalen Mills (7th round)
2015: Eric Rowe (2nd round)
2015: JaCorey Shepherd (6th round)
2015: Randall Evans (6th round)
2014: Jaylen Watkins (4th round)
2012: Brandon Boykin (4th round)
2011: Curtis Marsh (3rd round)
2010: Trevor Lindley (4th round)
Still, there might be an opportunity to find a great corner in this draft and the Eagles can’t be afraid to pull the trigger. We’ll see what happens in free agency and re-assess their lists of needs then. But, for now, cornerback is right up there near the top. And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Eagles try to draft one in Round 1 or 2.
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