PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles sure picked a fine time to need cornerbacks and wide receivers, at least that’s what ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. believes.
“I’ve said the two strongest positions in this draft are cornerback and wide receiver and that’s two of their top needs along with linebacker, so it’s perfect for the Eagles the way it worked out this year,” said Kiper during his hour-plus conference call on Thursday.
A receiver is debatable after the Eagles have spent so much draft capital on that position already the past two seasons, but it certainly seems inevitable, and the pick could come down to either of the Alabama receivers, DeVonta Smith or Jayson Waddle, if GM Howie Roseman stays put at No. 12.
With Roseman, one can never be too sure.
Whatever the decision the general manager makes, he better deliver the kind of 1-2 punch he did in 2013 when he landed Lane Johnson fourth overall then came back with a haymaker in selecting Zach Ertz 31 picks later.
After the 12th pick, the Eagles will quickly be back on the clock just 25 picks later at No. 37 overall.
Roseman needs a knockout, and with a running back on the roster – Elijah Holyfield – who is the son of former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield, maybe Roseman should schedule a consult.
“I think they’re going to be pretty good,” said Kiper of the Eagles in this draft. “They’re at 37, that’s an early second. They have the first-round pick at 12. They could maybe have an opportunity to move down if they wanted or stay there. They could possibly see DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle, one of those two wide receivers possibly could be there.
"Two of the three corners will be there. Either (Patrick) Surtain or (Jaycee) Horn will probably be there, maybe both. They have a decision to make there who the highest-rated player is at a position of need. Is a receiver the highest-rated guy or a corner the highest-rated guy?”
WATCH ATTACHED VIDEO: Jim Mora reveals who he would take at No. 12
Whichever way the Eagles go at 12, Kiper thinks they could go receiver, linebacker, or corner in the second.
He mentioned names such as Missouri LB Nick Bolton, North Carolina WR Dyami Brown, and CBs Kelvin Joseph of Kentucky after transferring from LSU, and Georgia’s Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes, all of whom he believes will be there at No. 37.
“It just depends on their board,” Kiper said.
As for his evaluations of Waddle or Smith, Kiper thinks they are two of the best five players in the draft.
“They’re both intriguing because they have that versatility,” said Kiper about the two ’Bama pass-catchers. “DeVonta, 50 percent of his catches were at the slot, 50 percent were outside. He had punt return ability. Waddle is a great punt returner and an impactful slot guy who is a coast-to-coast player.
“You look at how compact he is, how explosive he is, how competitive he is, then you have the splendid splinter, too in Devonta Smith. They’re both great, they both have pushed each other, they’re both remarkable talents and remarkable workers.”
Ah, the splendid splinter.
Kiper is never short on hyperbole.
“I think one of those two could drop a little bit because other players get pushed up and a receiver may drop,” he said. “It’s possible at 12 you could see one of those two, 11 for the Giants. It wouldn’t shock me if Waddle went before Smith because they’re both great players and Waddle is a phenomenal punt returner, and that’s important in this league. I love them both.”
If both are gone, then what would he tell Roseman to do?
“You probably think corner, which corner is there – Surtain, Jaycee Horn?" he said. "I think you’d have to look corner if Waddle and Smith are gone. You’re not going to take (another) receiver that high. If (Micah) Parsons is there, he’d be in the discussion and cornerback is in the discussion, so it would get down to cornerback or Parsons.”
Here’s what Kiper wouldn’t do – draft a defensive tackle.
"There's not a lot there," he said, though he spoke highly of the 6-4, 310-pound Christian Barmore, who is scaling draft boards like King Kong and has been mocked to the Eagles by NFL Draft Scout Matt Miller.
“There’s talk he could go in that 20 to 23 area,” said Kiper of Barmore. “He finishes. He gets sacks and that’s what you want in a defensive lineman now with his size and his length. He’s not a stay-at-home type. He gets after the quarterback.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.
LISTEN TO EAGLES UNFILTERED PODCAST: EAGLES UNFILTERED: Jim Mora Jr Reveals Eagles Pick at ...