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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Eagles

By Phil Sheridan

When I took a look at some of the Eagles’ first-round draft possibilities the other day, I couldn’t help but notice some big wide receivers that might be around for the 22nd pick.

Sure, the Eagles need defensive help more urgently, but GM Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly are committed to taking the best player on their board. And Kelly surely wouldn’t mind if that player happened to add an element missing from his array of offensive weapons.

So it seems perfect that Mel Kiper’s first 2014 mock draft Insider has the Eagles taking Florida State’s 6-foot-4 Kelvin Benjamin. It was Benjamin who caught Jameis Winston’s game-winning touchdown in the national championship game against Auburn -- exactly the kind of red zone target Nick Foles could use.

In his mock draft, Kiper has the two top safeties -- Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor -- off the board when the Eagles pick. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, another of the big-bodied wide receivers I mentioned, is also gone.

That leaves the Eagles choosing from among some intriguing players --Benjamin, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard among them.

If that scenario presents itself, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Roseman and Kelly went for Benjamin, who caught 54 passes last season -- 15 of them for touchdowns.

The Eagles’ wide receiver situation will be a lot clearer by the May draft. Riley Cooper, who had a breakout season, will be an unrestricted free agent. So will Jeremy Maclin, who tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire season. Jason Avant has one more year left on his deal, but could be a salary-cap casualty.

Decisions on those three players will go a long way toward deciding who will join DeSean Jackson in the wide receivers meetings. Losing any of them could make the position a priority, rather than a luxury, when the draft rolls around.