Despite taking some big strides in the right direction last season, the Eagles’ defense still ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed (or, if you’re feeling optimistic, 17th in points allowed.)
Recent secondaries have seen the fans longing for the days of Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, and Bobby Taylor.
The two big names at safety, Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pyror are long shots for the Birds — but in the unlikely case either is still on the board the Eagles could take one of them at twenty-two.
But more likely, here are some safeties and corners that the Eagles should see available in the first round and beyond.
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is as accomplished a corner as you’ll find. He won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and was a unanimous first-team All-American. Dennard has fine size for a corner at 5-foot-11 but should grow into a more physical player to complement his cover skills. A three year starter, he finished with ten career interceptions. If the Eagles want Dennard, they’ll need to take him in round one.
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller started 42 games for the Hokies. That durability is complemented with height, he is 6-foot-tall, and a 38.5 inch vertical. He also starred on special teams and was a captain for his school. Fuller shows a willingness to play physically, highlighted by his recording 14.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks his sophomore season. He will go off the board early in the draft, though probably after Dennard.
Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Washington State’s Deone Bucannon has been an incredibly productive safety. A three-time captain, Buchanon finished his college career with 384 tackles and 15 interceptions. He also contributed on special teams. He has the Pac-12-Chip Kelly connection and good size for the position (6-foot-1, 211.) He is potentially the best safety available when the Birds will be picking, though perhaps not worthy of a first round choice.
Brock Vereen, Minnesota
Minnesota’s Brock Vereen spent time at corner and safety in college. Despite being strong in coverage, Vereen is not a ballhawk. He had only four career interceptions. He had a great combine, leading all defensive backs with 25 bench press reps. He is the brother of Shane Vereen, the running back for the Patriots. Vereen could be a great middle round option for the Eagles if they choose to go in another direction early.
Keith McGill, Utah
Utah’s Keith McGill is an intriguing possibility. A monster at corner (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) with a 39″ vertical, he could find himself transitioning to safety, where he played early in his college career. McGill is something of a project despite already being 25 years old. He played junior-college football before missing the entirety of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury. He rebounded nicely to start every game at cornerback in 2013. Some team will hope for a steal on the second day.