Dee Ford of Auburn finished 2013 with 10.5 sacks and 29 tackles from the outside linebacker position. Mike Mayock believes the Eagles could take him in the first round of the draft. (Image courtesy of NFL.com)
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network held his annual NFL Scouting Combine conference call Tuesday and addressed the needs of every team across the league including the Eagles.
Not surprisingly, the defensive side of the ball was a focal point of Mayock's analysis of the Eagles and where they must improve the most from winning the NFC East division in 2013 to taking the next step in 2014 under Chip Kelly.
The draft analyst also peered into his crystal ball at who the Eagles may be targeting with the 22nd pick in the first round of the draft.
"I like Dee Ford of Auburn for them," Mayock said, inclined to believe that the team would use it's top pick on a pass-rushing outside linebacker, one of the most critical needs on defense.
Ford, 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds, finished with 10.5 sacks to go along with 29 tackles in his final season at Auburn. His stock went up following the Senior Bowl.
Known as one of the hardest workers on the Auburn defense, Ford transforms from a soft-spoken person off the field to one of the more energetic players on a defense that played in the national championship game on Saturdays.
“It’s a mindset,” Ford told AL.com. “I’ve had that mindset since high school; that’s just the way I play. There’s really no switch to flip. It’s just a way of playing. That’s how I got here. I’ve taken that to another level.”
Many analysts originally pegged Ford as a second-round choice, and it will be interesting to see how his stock fares at the combine this weekend in Indianapolis.
Even in predicting that the Eagles address their need at linebacker in the first round, Mayock said that the team still has plenty of holes to fill on a defense that held opponents under 23 points per game in 11 of the final 13 games in 2013.
"They need a corner or two, and a safety or two," Mayock said.
General manager Howie Roseman and company likely will be busy on draft weekend, which commences on May 1st this year, as the team has seven picks and hopes to add talent to both sides of the football.