Draft Q&A With Chris Steuber

Warnest talked with Scout.com Draft expert Chris Steuber about what needs the Eagles have and what kind of moves Philadelphia might make on draft day. Who might the Eagles look at with their first round pick? Will they draft for the present or for the future? Answers inside.

Q: The Eagles have made some moves in free agency so far, but they have mainly addressed the defense and special teams. After a lot of key veterans on the team like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook called for the organization to bring in a "playmaker" after last season, is there a wide receiver that you think could come in and contribute and would be worth a first round pick? Or do you think that they will be better off trying to address that position later in the draft?

A: I think the Eagles have an opportunity to select a potential premier playmaker at the wide receiver position in the first round. They will possibly have their choice of DeSean Jackson, Devin Thomas, Limas Sweed or James Hardy. Any one of those players would give the Eagles a quality they could use on offense. Personally, I think Jackson or Thomas would provide the Eagles with what they need, in terms of an explosive WR and a dynamic return specialist. The Eagles are in a position where they can draft the best player available, and it's possible that the best player available will be a receiver.

Q: Offensive tackle is another one of the Eagles needs in the near future, with both William Thomas and Jon Runyan getting up there in age and entering the last year of their contracts. While everybody knows about the big name lineman in the draft like Jake Long, Ryan Clady or Jeff Otah, it will be almost impossible for the Eagles to get a player of that caliber with the 19th overall pick. Is there a player that you think could fly under the radar and drop into the Eagles lap late in the first round? Do you think they might be interested in trading up to go after one of the top linemen?

Virginia Tackle Branden Albert
Photo courtesy of Scout.com
A: The Eagles are known for identifying talent and being aggressive to obtain that player. They did it with Jerome McDougle in 2003. Unfortunately for the Eagles that didn't work out, but they did trade up to select Shawn Andrews in 2004, and he's been to a couple of Pro Bowls. You named three OTs, but you forgot to include Chris Williams (Vanderbilt) and Branden Albert (Virginia). They are probably the two rising offensive linemen at the moment, and both will most likely be top-15, top-20 selections. It's possible that Long, Clady, Otah, Williams and Albert will all be off the board when the Eagles pick. It sounds highly unlikely, but there is such a premium on offensive linemen these days. If the Eagles like one of them, they will probably have to move up a few spots to get one.

Q: The Eagles seem stacked at cornerback right now, with Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard, and Sheldon Brown, but Sheppard is likely on his way out of town in the near future. Scott Wright, who has a mock draft at NFLdraftcountdown.com, says that if Sheppard is moved, the Eagles will look to replace him by drafting a corner in the first round, specifically Mike Jenkins out of USF. What do you think are the chances for the team to make such a move? Will cornerback really be a position of need when Sheppard is traded?

A: I can't foresee the Eagles drafting a cornerback in the first round, but selecting a safety is a possibility. I could see the Eagles drafting Miami's Kenny Phillips in the first round. He would provide the Eagles with Brian Dawkins' eventual successor.

Q: Vic Carucci of NFL.com has the Eagles taking Phillips in the first round in his latest mock draft, and this seems to be a popular pick for the birds because their defensive leader, Brian Dawkins, is 34. The team also had a lot of injuries at safety last year, with Dawkins, Sean Considine and Quitin Mikell all missing some time during the season. Break down Phillips' game with some pros and cons.

A: As I mentioned in a previous response, I think Phillips is a possibility for the Eagles. But it all depends on what's available to them when they draft at No. 19. If a top receiver is available, that will be attractive to them. If the Eagles do select Phillips, here's a breakdown on the former Miami Hurricane:

Miami S Kenny Phillips (#1)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Strengths: He's a versatile defender who has the ability to play safety or corner at the next level. He has great cover skills and transitions well in pursuit. He defends receivers laterally and is always looking to make the knockout punch. He displays great range, soft hands and is a true ballhawk in the secondary. He defends the run well and positions himself to make big plays. He's a true leader who possesses great poise and confidence.

Weaknesses: He has to shed blocks better defending against the run. He tends to attack high looking to make the big hit, but ultimately misses tackles due to his over aggressiveness.

Q: Kick returner is another position that the Eagles are looking to bolster this offseason. While there is talk about using receiver Bam Childress as a return man, name two players who you think the Eagles could draft after the 1st round that could fill that role as rookies?

A: That is if they don't draft DeSean Jackson or Devin Thomas in the first round. If they don't draft one of those guys, I'll give you three players the Eagles could select: WR Dexter Jackson (Appalachian State), WR Kevin Robinson (Utah State) or WR Darrell Blackman. All three of those players are excellent return specialists who would have an immediate impact on special teams this season.

Q: Philadelphia has a lot of young talent on their defensive line, and they added pass rusher Chris Clemons in free agency. Even though they seem set with their front seven, Jim Johnson is known to rotate players in and many teams are trying to emulate the Giants success last season by having a d-line with a lot of depth that can wreak havoc. Do you think the Eagles will be looking to add another young pass rusher in the draft? Is there a player who you think has the potential to be a steal in the second round?

A: The Eagles are always looking to improve both the offensive and defensive lines. I think they will keep an eye on what DEs are available to them, but I don't think it's a high priority where they have to draft a DE in the first two rounds. Remember, they drafted Victor Abiamiri in the second round last year, and he's going to be a very good player. Personally, I thought Abiamiri was a better player than Justin Tuck. They were teammates at Notre Dame, but Tuck was a couple of years ahead of Abiamiri. Abiamiri just needs time to show his talents and prove that he belongs at this level, and I think he will show his skill this season. But if the Eagles look to draft a DE in the second round, USC's Lawrence Jackson or Purdue's Cliff Avril are two possibilities for Philadelphia.

Andrew Pluta can be reached at ajp8231@gmail.com

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