We took a look at offensive prospects last week. Since the Eagles’ major needs are on defense, it’s time to take a closer look at that side of the ball.
To be clear, this is not a “Top-10 Players the Eagles Should Get” or the “Top-10 Combine Performances.” This is simply a list of 10 defensive players who had a surprisingly good showing.
Every one of these players has a possibility of being on the Eagles’ radar. They are probably not all that likely to draft any of them, but regardless, here are 10 defensive prospects that became more intriguing after this past weekend.
They are listed in the order in which they performed at the combine.
1. Andre Branch: DE, Clemson
The Eagles have no immediate need for a defensive end. Trent Cole and Jason Babin are entrenched as Pro Bowl-level players. That makes them a good fit for Andre Branch.
Branch isn’t the most polished prospect, but he flashed some great ability and explosiveness in Indianapolis. He measured in at 6’4″ and 260 pounds. He is a tall, long-armed athlete who ran a 4.70 in the 40.
He could be used in specific situations to take advantage of his natural skills and they can allow him to develop without pressure to be a consistent performer out of the gate.
In the past two seasons, Branch has posted 15.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
He doesn’t fill an immediate need, but he showed the ability to develop into something special.
Perry showed a ton of explosion as an athlete and better balance in the line drills than anticipated.
His statistics don’t appear dominant, but in three seasons at USC, he sacked the quarterback 21.5 times, had 30.5 tackles for loss and in the last two seasons he forced five fumbles.
Perry exceeded expectations at the combine and he has a nose for creating turnovers, something any defense could use more of.
The Eagles were very shaky up the middle last season and a behemoth with the type of athleticism Poe possesses could only help. He shows a great ability to move laterally an he is capable of dropping some into coverage as well.
Poe’s meteoric rise up the draft board may scare some, but if he can harness his amazing natural abilities, he will make any team that passes on him sorry.
Reyes is a two-time team captain at UConn and he showed tremendous dedication to the game by transforming himself from 245 pounds to 299. Even more impressive is that he did it while maintaining his athletic ability.
In his college career, Reyes produced at a consistently high level. He registered 11.5 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. He also intercepted two passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Reyes may not be getting the same hype as Poe, but he looks the part as a disruptive defensive tackle in the NFL.
Kendricks uses every ounce of his 240 pounds to inflict pain on his opposition. He is a hard hitting and he flies to the ball with reckless abandon.
He is also quite a playmaker. In three years as a starter, Kendricks registered 34.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
He was a running back in high school, so with his speed and instincts, he could bring a playmaking element that the Eagles’ defense has been missing.
In his career, Gilmore has shown a lot of versatility. As a corner he intercepted eight passes, broke up 17 more, registered 7.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss.
In addition, he completed 2-of-3 as a passer for 68 yards, ran the football seven times for another 37 yards, returned 28 punts for 206 yards and two kicks for another 47.
He scored one touchdown in his career. Gilmore is an aggressive player, both in coverage and in run support. He will play physical with receivers, go after the ball when it’s in the air and throw his body at ball carriers.
Gilmore could be available when the Eagles pick in the second round, and if he is, he could bring the attitude and vocal leadership that fans crave.
The problem is, none of them is really adept at playing inside, and they just don’t fit together. Hosley could change that. He is small, but he possesses all the physicality that Asante doesn’t. He also has better pure speed.
In two years as a starter for the Hokies, he grabbed 12 interceptions and broke up 20 passes. He was also a very productive return man.
Hosley returned 68 punts in his career for a 12.0 yard average and two touchdowns. He also returned 10 kicks for 219 yards. Hosley could come in and immediately help in two areas.
He also plays with a lot of courage and attitude and his toughness more than makes up for his lack of size.
Taylor isn’t a big hitter, but he is a sure tackler who is stout against the run. He is also a former cornerback, giving him an advantage in coverage.
He can’t line up one on one against top targets, but Taylor should be able to handle some receivers and tight ends in coverage.
Being a playmaker for LSU’s defense should translate at the next level, and Taylor is a player who can help shore up the back end of the Eagles defense
He ran the fastest 40-time among safeties at 4.50. Even more impressive when you take into account his solid build at 6’0″ and 211 pounds.
Thompson showed nimble feet and a surprising ability to track the ball in the air. He showed a great combination of size and speed in the defensive back drills.
Thompson intercepted two passes last year, returning them for a combined 79 yards. He also returned four kicks for 82 yards.
Thompson is intriguing because of his blend of size and athleticism and also because of his reputation as a hard hitter.
The Eagles could use an enforcer on their defense, and Thompson would be worth the shot if he was around in the third or fourth round.