NFC East: Brandin Cooks

An Eagle-eyed look at combine results

February, 25, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- The NFL scouting combine is wrapping up Tuesday in Indianapolis. Here’s how some of the players we identified as possible Philadelphia Eagles picks fared in the annual NFL job fair.

Wide receivers

[+] EnlargeBrandin Cooks
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhBrandin Cooks might be out of the Eagles' reach after his fast time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Brandin Cooks of Oregon State might have moved up beyond the Eagles’ grasp by running the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. That was the second fastest time overall, behind only running back Dri Archer. Combined with Cooks’ incredible numbers from last season -- 128 catches, 1,730 yards -- the 5-foot-10, 189 pounder likely sealed his first-round status.

Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State was as big as advertised -- 6-5, 240 pounds. His 40 time of 4.61 wasn’t especially impressive, but did we mention he’s 6-5?

Odell Beckham Jr., the LSU wideout projected to the Eagles in Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent (pre-combine) mock draft Insider, ran a 4.43. That increases his added value as a possible return man.

Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, who goes 6-3, 212 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.46, and also impressed by doing 21 bench press reps. Receivers don’t have to lift bales of hay, but upper-body strength helps when blocking or trying to get off the line against press coverage.

Edge rushers

Dee Ford, the Auburn defensive end projected to the Eagles by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, proclaimed himself a better player than Jadeveon Clowney, then did not participate in drills because of a medical issue. Ford said he was told not to work out because of a 2011 back injury. You have to wonder if that concern will drop Ford on draft boards.

Anthony Barr of UCLA is considered the second best outside linebacker prospect after Buffalo’s Kahlil Mack. The Eagles would only have a shot at Barr if he slipped a bit. His disappointing bench press result (15 reps) probably wasn’t enough to overshadow his 4.66 speed. (Mack ran a 4.65 and did 23 reps.)

Stanford’s Trent Murphy worked out with the linebackers, not the defensive linemen, and remains an intriguing option for the Eagles. The 6-5, 250-pound Murphy ran a 4.86.

Defensive backs

The top two safeties, Lousiville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, ran identical 40 times of 4.58. They didn’t separate themselves from each other, but the blazing speed at cornerback could potentially sway a DB-needy team or two to go that route and drop the safeties a few spots.

Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State is one of those corners. Gilbert ran a 4.35 Tuesday. At 6-0, 202 pounds, that gives him an enviable combination of size and speed.

Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard was projected to the Eagles Insider by Todd McShay. After running a 4.42, the 5-11, 199-pound Dennard might also have moved up beyond the No. 22 spot.

Combine prep: Wide receivers

February, 21, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- It is the position with the highest diva-per-capita ratio in football. That makes it tougher for the Eagles to shop for wide receivers, general manager Howie Roseman said.

“Being able to block -- obviously, we run the ball in Philadelphia,” Roseman said. “When you look at that, it’s an inherent toughness and willingness to do those little things that help. A lot of these guys in college, because they get the ball so much, they’re big-time guys, they’re not asked to do the dirty work. They’re asked to do the things that are fun. … For us, the receiver position in Philadelphia is going to be a well-rounded guy.”

There is plenty of tape of wide receivers running deep routes and making great catches, Roseman said. The combine gives the Eagles' decision-makers a chance to figure out which players are willing to do the “dirty work” that make Chip Kelly’s offense tough to defend.

Here are a few receivers the Eagles will likely focus on. A complete list is impossible, since Roseman said the position is so deep this year, there could be a receiver the Eagles like in every round. And since they are likely to be gone before the Eagles’ 22nd pick, we’re leaving Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Sammy Watkins of Clemson off this list.

Marqise Lee, USC. Some well-respected analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock of NFL Network, have the 6-foot, 195-pound Lee rated ahead of Evans. Lee has excellent speed and very good hands. He’s also a kick returner, which could appeal to the Eagles.

Lee caught 57 passes in 2013. The year before, with a quarterback named Matt Barkley, Lee caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. Against Kelly’s Oregon Ducks that year, Lee caught 12 balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU. In his second first-round mock draft, Kiper had Beckham going to the Eagles at No. 22. At 5-foot-11, 208 pounds, Beckham has good speed and is also a potential return man.

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State. It’s hard not to be intrigued by the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Benjamin, who was a sophomore in 2013. His perceived flaws -- less-than-elite speed, inconsistency in route running and occasional drops -- are mostly fixable with coaching.

His upside? As Nolan Nawrocki of puts it: “A monster-sized, intimidating, big-play receiver, Benjamin has the overall strength, length and wide catching radius that will demand extra coverage be rolled his way.”

Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. Another guy who will be familiar to Kelly, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Cooks put up remarkable numbers as a junior in 2013: 128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 touchdowns. The Eagles would probably like a little more size -- they already have the diminutive DeSean Jackson -- but it’s hard to argue with that kind of production.

Other names to watch: Jarvis Landry, LSU; Davante Adams, Fresno State; Josh Huff, Oregon; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Allen Robinson, Penn State.