By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Going defense in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft looked like a foregone conclusion for the Philadelphia Eagles, that is until they surprisingly released big-play receiver DeSean Jackson back in March.
Now finding a potential replacement for the explosive Jackson, who now calls Washington D.C. his home, is just as important as getting the edge pass rusher or snaring a complement at safety for the newly-signed Malcolm Jenkins. In fact, considering Chip Kelly's offensive mindset, it might be the far more likely scenario for the Eagles now.
Behind the scenes, the Eagles' spin is that while dynamic, Jackson is limited as a receiver because of size and concussion issues. Philly also thinks its cheaper options at the position like Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are more than capable, and that they could draft a suitable replacement like Oregon State speedster Brandin Cooks.
That said Kelly is also fond of saying big people beat up little people and that could mean the 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin would be his answer, a monster target who commands a double-team in the middle of the field instead of the one Jackson created over the top.
Others in the mix should include LSU's Odell Beckham and Indiana's Cody Latimer.
"I think Kelvin Benjamin, who's a little bit of a polarizing player out of Florida State, that to me would be a name I would keep an eye on," NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said when discussing Philadelphia's draft prospects. "(When you think about) Chip Kelly at Oregon, everybody focuses on the pace and the tempo, and they kind of assume that he likes little, small, fast players, but on the outside they always have big, physical receivers.
"I would think adding more size, if you add Kelvin Benjamin, now you've got Riley Cooper and then you throw Jeremy Maclin in the mix, now they're going to be able to move the ball in between the 20s, but you get down in the red zone you've got two guys you can throw the ball up to. That Kelvin Benjamin to the Eagles to me is one I keep an eye on."
2013 Record: 10-6
Top Needs: WR, OLB, S, PK
First Three Picks: No. 22, No. 54, No. 86
Number of Selections: 6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7)
CALLING THE SHOTS: Howie Roseman carries the general manager title in Philadelphia and he certainly possesses more sway than he did when Andy Reid and Joe Banner called the shots but Kelly has the final say over all roster moves as evidenced by the Jackson fiasco.
RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma); 2012 - Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State); 2011 - Danny Watkins (G, Baylor); 2010 - Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan); 2009 - Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri); 2008 - none; 2007 - none; 2006 - Brodrick Bunkley (DT, Florida State); 2005 - Mike Patterson (DT, USC); 2004 - Shawn Andrews (OL, Arkansas); 2003 - Jerome McDougle (DE, Miami-Florida); 2002 - Lito Sheppard (CB, Florida).
05/01 13:52:10 ET