Players who the Eagles could be targeting in the first round of the NFL draft

Nothing has been more anticipated in the offseason for Eagles fans than the 2015 NFL Draft. It will finally end the debate of whether or not Chip Kelly really will do whatever it takes to trade up to get Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, one of the most coveted players in the entire draft. It seems likely that the Eagles would trade up to the No. 2 pick in the draft in order to select him, as trading for any pick lower than that would be too risky. There’s still a chance he drops down to No. 6 overall at the Jets or even lower, but it seems unlikely. Regardless, here are some players who the Eagles could be targeting come Thursday, the first round of the draft.

QB Marcus Mariota

If you’re not aware that Mariota is on the Eagles’ radar for the draft, you just haven’t been following football for the past third of a year. The Oregon connection just makes sense, and Kelly has outwardly expressed how much he likes Mariota, saying he has the potential to win multiple Super Bowls. Draft “experts” have been saying how great of a fit he would be in the Eagles’ system, and if it’s true and Kelly really believes in him, I have no doubt he’ll go after him. There’s no telling whether or not they’ll be able to get him, because the Titans are going to ask for a lot and might want Mariota for themselves, but there’s still a chance of it happening. According to his draft profile, the 6’4″, 222 pound quarterback has an excellent combination of size and speed. The price would be hefty, but there’s no doubt Kelly wants him. Chance of it happening: 40%.

S Landon Collins

Collins is another popular name to link to the Eagles when doing a mock draft. The Eagles need a safety and Collins is the best, and really only NFL-ready, starting-caliber safety in the whole draft. There are a couple guys out there who could be solid, but Collins is far ahead of everyone else. The Eagles have connections with him since he’s from Alabama, the former home of new VP of player personnel, Ed Marynowitz. Collins didn’t make a pre-draft visit, but some say that may be because Marynowitz already knows what Collins brings to the table. Drafting Collins would fill the most obvious hole in the roster, but it’s possible another team might take him a few picks earlier. Chance of it happening: 20%.

CB Byron Jones

There are lots of other very good cornerbacks in this draft, but Jones seems like the most likely guy to be still available to them at pick No. 20. The Eagles seem to be publicly higher on Jones than any other player in the first round though which is interesting. Jones might even fall out of the first round if the Eagles weren’t to pick him because of how many different cornerbacks projected to go in the top couple rounds of the draft. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, he’s “extremely smart and instinctive on the field. Shows above-average anticipation of routes. Is able to sniff out rub routes and works to avoid them. Flashes recovery speed downfield and gets head around to find ball and make a play on it.” That sounds good to me. They still need another cornerback, especially if all these Brandon Boykin trade rumors come true. Chance of happening: 15%.

OL Jake Fisher

Fisher is another guy with the Oregon connection that could land in Philadelphia in the first round. People who think this would be a “boring pick” just don’t understand the Eagles and Kelly. He has said time and time again how important the offensive line is, and Fisher would fill right in at right guard if he were to be drafted. He has proven that he’s one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft who has the potential to eventually move back out to tackle. That versatility is another characteristic that Kelly loves. He was apparently highly penalized in the past two years which is a problem, but maybe being reunited with his former coach would help that. Chance of happening: 10%.

Wide Receiver

I purposely didn’t select a specific guy because it really could be handful of guys. Wide receiver is still clearly a position of need, but I’m not sure using a first round pick is necessary. It’s another deep wide receiver class that will have plenty of talent in the second and third rounds. Based on other mock drafts, guys like Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman or Jaelen Strong could be picked, or it could be Phillip Dorsett or Dorial Green-Beckham. Essentially, there are so many talented wide receivers out there that taking one in the first round and passing on any of the guys at other positions who I’ve mentioned wouldn’t make much sense. Still, there’s a chance they take a receiver with this pick. Chance of happening: 5%

Someone else

It would be unrealistic to suggest that these are the only guys they could take. Of course, they could always end up trading down again and out of the first round to get more picks. That seems unlikely, but this draft is going to prove to be unpredictable. Just based on the six mock drafts on NFL.com, these analysts have four different players going to the Eagles. Nothing is set in stone. Absolutely nothing is going to surprise me come draft day. For all we know, Kelly could take a punter in the first round. Ok, he’s not that crazy, but the point is he has been so unpredictable that anything could happen. It’s going to be a very interesting Thursday for sure.

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