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Hints from Howie: Top pick might not be WR or safety

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman held his annual predraft media session Thursday. He reinforced his contention that the 22nd overall pick in the first round will be used on the best player available, regardless of position.

Howie Roseman held his annual predraft media session Thursday, and the Eagles' GM once again emphasized the need to "keep our mind clear" when the selection process begins next Thursday.

To Roseman, that means the Eagles won't go into the draft thinking about having to fill needs, especially with their first pick, 22nd overall. Lots of fans would like to see a safety or a wide receiver in the first round, but Roseman sketched out scenarios that hinted that migth not be the case.

At safety, the top two players, Alabama's Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor, are likely to be gone by 22, and as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock noted in a conference call Thursday, Pryor projects as a box safety, whereas the Eagles probably want versatility for their scheme.

Roseman indicated there is a dropoff after the top prospects.

"It's hard to predict how every team's board is. It's like flavors of ice cream. I might like vanilla. You might like chocolate. Everybody sees things differently. I feel confident that nobody knows our draft board. We just go with how we graded them. In terms of the safety class, I don't think it's a good group overall," Roseman said. "I think you're talking about a dropoff certainly when you get into Saturday (and the final four rounds). When we look at our safety group, obviously we signed Malcolm (Jenkins), and Malcolm's ability to fit in the defense and be a QB back there for our defense. And Earl (Wolff) and Nate (Allen), we're excited about their ability to take a jump. We talk about athletic tools and what's in their body, and Nate is 6-2, he's 215, he's finally in the same system for the second year, and you gotta be able to play fast. You gotta not be able to think. It's very hard on a safety going through all those system changes, especially a young player who didn't really grow up playing the position -- he was a quarterback in high school.

"And then Earl as a rookie, I thought did a really good job before he got hurt. Again, you're talking about a guy who's 215 pounds, who runs a 4.4. Unbelievable work ethic, off the charts. We're excited about those guys, and bringing in (Seattle free agent/special teamer Chris) Maragos as well. That doesn't mean we wouldn't add one if he was the best player, but at the same time we expect those guys to take a jump and be better players."

At wide receiver, Roseman indicated there are so many good prospects, available in virtually every round, that the best value might not be in the first round.

"Because you look at the talent at this draft, and when we look at our board about how good the receivers are in this draft, I think there will be a point in this draft, and that could be in the seventh round when we have a guy (rated) in the fourth round, that there's going to be a really talented receiver (available). When you look back at the history of the draft, the wide receiver position always goes later to begin with. And now with the influx of the underclassmen of the wide receiver position, I think that's how it's going to turn out."

Roseman said 17 underclassmen at wideout turned an already deep group into an outstanding one.