Philadelphia Eagles: Deone Bucannon

Combine prep: Safeties

February, 18, 2014
2/18/14
12:10
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- The scouting combine begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. The Eagles will be taking it all in, checking the measurable and interviewing potential draftees. They have players they’re especially interested in seeing up close, but general manager Howie Roseman isn’t sharing that kind of info.

Based on their needs and the players available, we’ll take a look at some prospects of interest every day until the combine is over. Let’s start with the Eagles’ most glaring need position, safety.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama. ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both have the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Clinton-Dix going to Dallas at 17 in their latest first-round mocks. Mike Mayock of NFL Network has Clinton-Dix as his second highest rated safety behind Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.

“He doesn't have elite man-to-man coverage skills but has good range in zone and is an aggressive, efficient run supporter,” McShay writes. Kiper says Clinton-Dix gives “the added bonus of being able to help out closer to the line of scrimmage. While he's great in single high, you can bring him up and he won't shy away from contact.”

Calvin Pryor, Louisville. Mayock’s top-rated safety is 6-2, 208 pounds. Kiper describes Pryor as a “downhill safety who will fly up to the line of scrimmage and make plays. While he's got work to do in coverage, he's instinctive and athletic enough to get better there.”

NFL Network’s Nolan Nawrocki describes Pryor in words that should appeal to Eagles fans: “A big, physical, hammering run defender brings an enforcer mentality to the box and an intimidating, punishing presence to the back end. Is arguably the most violent hitter in this year's draft class and should make his presence felt readily in the pros.”

Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State. Joyner is listed as a cornerback in most roundups, but Mayock projects him as a safety/nickelback type. Because he’s only 5-8, the Eagles would probably not seriously consider him as a corner. But Kiper has him as his third-ranked cornerback and Nawrocki describes him as playing “bigger than his size.” Also a return man.

Deone Bucannon, Washington State. If the Eagles go elsewhere in the early rounds, the 6-1, 216-pound Bucannon could be a second-day option. Nawrocki describes him as “old school” and a classic strong safety type. Had six interceptions as a senior.

Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois. The 5-11, 192-pound Ward had seven interceptions in 2013. Kiper describes him as a riser “who isn't a big player but is a very good one and looks as if he can start early. Likely a second-rounder.”

Eagles-eye view: In the first year under Bill Davis, the Eagles didn’t really have a free safety and a strong safety. Nate Allen tended to play deeper and either Earl Wolff or Patrick Chung was closer to the line, but that was subject to change.

It isn’t clear whether that was Davis’ preference or he was simply getting by with the personnel on hand. What is clear is that the proliferation of spread offenses and athletic tight ends requires a group of versatile, athletic defensive backs who can cover as well as tackle.

That is what the Eagles will be looking for in Indy this week.
PHILADELPHIA -- The NFL scouting combine is about a month away. So Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., is your last chance to eyeball some of the players the Philadelphia Eagles could select in the draft in May.

Based on a number of sources and a little logic, here are five players to keep an eye on:

Cornerback Stan Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska. As Jimmy Kempski of philly.com noted, the Eagles' staff spent a good deal of time chatting with defensive players after the practice sessions this week. Jean-Baptiste, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound converted wide receiver, has the size and the cover skills the Eagles are looking to add to their secondary. Watch Jean-Baptiste with an eye on whether he’s willing to tackle, especially when playing the run.

Safety Deone Bucannon, Washington State. You may have heard the Eagles have had a tough time filling the safety position. The 6-1, 216-pound Bucannon plays with a “nasty edge,” according to Greg Bedard of MMQB.com. That’s an element the Eagles have lacked since Brian Dawkins, and is probably a more pressing need than corner right now.

Outside linebacker Trent Murphy, Stanford. Could he be the defensive equivalent of tight end Zach Ertz, the Stanford tight end the Eagles took last year? Chip Kelly definitely remembers those who played well against his Oregon teams. Murphy is 6-6, 261 pounds. The Atlanta Falcons' coaches have him playing defensive end this week, but that should be seen as a testament to Murphy’s versatility. He had 15 sacks as a linebacker during his senior season.

Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech. Sheil Kapadia over at Eagles 24/7 did a piece about how the 6-3, 252-pound Attaochu might fit in the Eagles’ scheme. Unlike Murphy, Attaochu could be around in the second round if the Eagles go for a defensive back or wide receiver in the first round.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt. It is considered a deep draft for big-bodied wide receivers, and it would make perfect sense for the Eagles to grab one in the first round. Texas A&M’s Mike Davis and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin won’t be on the field Saturday. The 6-3, 210-pound Matthews will.

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