The NFL combine ended Tuesday just about two months away from the first round of the NFL draft which will take place Thursday night April, 26. The Eagles will be on the clock with their first round pick coming at number 15; for now anyway. Do not be surprised to see the Birds look to move up further in the first round.
It would make a lot of sense for the Eagles to try to move up further for several reasons. The first and most simple reason is the Eagles have ten picks this year so they have the chips to play with to move up.
It is already well established this off-season is a can’t miss for Andy and the front office. Couple that with the fact the Eagles have shown in recent years with the picks of Jeremy Maclin and Brandon Graham they are not afraid to move up to get their guy.
Perhaps the most logical reason for the Eagles to move up in first round is the rising stock of the players and positions they are targeting. For example if the Eagles wanted to get Memphis’ DT Dontari Poe they would have to move up into the top 10 to ensure he would be there.
The player that the Eagles should be targeting and trading up to get is Boston College’s middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly would be a great fit for the Eagles defense. Even before the 2011 Butkus and Lombardi award winner had a spectacular showing Monday afternoon in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. There is a chance that he could side to the number 15 pick but if the Birds really want him they should not take the chance.
The main question that many scouts had entering the combine was if Kuechly’s athleticism matched his on-field intelligence. Some scouts were even worried that the three-time all-American could disastrously run in the 4.8 range in the 40-yard dash.
Kuechly silenced all critics by running 4.58 40, third fastest among linebackers. Kuechly was faster than other top linebacker prospects Dont’a Hightower (Alabama) and Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State). Besides the 40, Kuechly also excelled in the vertical jump (38”) third among linebackers, the broad jump (123”) fifth among linebackers, the three cone drill (6.92) fourth among linebackers, the 20-yard shuttle (4.12) third among linebackers and the 60- yard shuttle (11.43) tied for first among linebackers.
The only event that Kuechly participated in and did not finish in the top five among linebackers is the bench press where he tied for sixth with an impressive 27 reps of 225 pounds.
The greatest of Kuechly’s attributes as a linebacker were not even on display at the NFL combine. What is going to make Kuechly great at the NFL level is his “football IQ” and his almost never failing instincts.
Kuechly also has a great work ethic. He played the 2011 season at 237 pounds, at the combine Kuechly weighed in at 242. The fact Kuechly came into to the combine bigger and faster than he was at the end of the season speaks volumes about what kind of player and what kind of work ethic this young man has. It would not be surprising if the 2011 Lott IMPACT and Bronco Nagurski trophy winner came to training camp just as fast and even bigger.
With the superb performance by the 2011 ACC defensive player of the year, this now catapults him past Courtney Upshaw (Alabama), and the aforementioned Hightower and Burfict as the top linebacker prospect in this year’s draft.
The Birds are usually hesitant to use high draft picks on linebackers, however this is a no-brainer. Don’t mess around, trade up and pick this guy. All signs seem to suggest that Kuechly could be a dream come true and instantly turn one the Eagles’ biggest liabilities into one of their strengths. Kuechly would bring not only superior skills, but also leadership to a defense that desperately needs it.