Eagles Will Select Best DE Available In First Round

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pierre-Paul is a freakish athlete with a lot of upside.

It's often extremely hard to get into the collective mind of the Philadelphia Eagles front office. They are very good at not tipping their hand, and usually any move they make catches everyone on the outside off-guard to the point it will hurt your neck on the double-take.

But if we really look hard enough, it becomes clear what they're draft-day plan has become: take the best defensive end available and move forward from there.

They will most likely address other needs, such as the secondary, offensive line, and linebacker in the later rounds, but their first round pick appears to be set -- barring a slide of a great player like Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, C.J. Spiller or someone of their caliber, the Eagles will simply stay put at 24th overall and draft the best defensive end left on the board.

And there's a very good chance that they'll be able to land one of the coveted defensive ends at the 24th pick. There's probably four defensive ends with a first round grade -- Brandon Graham of Michigan, Everson Griffen of USC, Jason Pierre-Paul of USF, and Carlos Dunlap of Florida -- and I've only seen two (at most) slated to land before the Eagles.

It's not because they're not great players, but mainly due to teams having other needs or, in the case of Pierre-Paul, Dunlap, and Griffen, having worries about their maturity off the field.

The most likely to be off the board is Pierre-Paul, so we'll remove him from the equation. That still means that Graham, Griffen, and Dunlap will most likely be available, and one of them will become an Eagle.

So how do we know all that?

Well, the Eagles are creatures of habit. They handle things the same way year in and year out in that they will address their immediate needs through free agency and wait on the draft for positions they feel like they either (a) cannot get value at through free agency or (b) feel they're set for the upcoming season and recognize it as a need in the future.

In the case of getting a defensive end, I think it's most likely option 'A.'

Julius Peppers drew some interest from the Eagles, and they flirted with the idea of bringing in Aaron Kampman, but in the end they recognized that both guys wanted far too much money and with free agency as thin as it was, they were going to get it.

The Eagles weren't willing to spend it, and I don't blame them. But they did go out and address their needs at free safety by signing Marlin Jackson, and they feel comfortable enough with their linebackers to release Will Witherspoon (who has since signed with the Titans), so the next logical step is defensive end.

Andy Reid will always take the best player on the board regardless of position, but I believe this year it will just happen to be the best player on the board who fits a need as well. Then in the second and third rounds they can hopefully bring in another free safety and a true SAM 'backer.

Personally, my hope is that Pierre-Paul is still on the board, but it will most likely be Carlos Dunlap. I think the Birds are enamored with Dunlap's size and skill set, and aren't all that worried about his off-field issues. I would say the potential positives of both players certainly outweigh the potential negatives.

If both of those players are gone, I would prefer Brandon Graham and then Everson Griffen -- in that order. Griffen is probably more gifted athletically, but Graham seems like a stand-up guy who also has what it takes to make it in the NFL.

Either way, the fretting can stop because the Eagles will be picking a defensive end right off the bat come April 22nd.

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