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Eagles on the defensive in draft

For the first time in seven years the Eagles drafted a linebacker as high as the second round when they took Mychal Kendricks of California with the 46th overall pick.

The Eagles selected linebacker Mychal Kendricks with their first pick of the second round. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)
The Eagles selected linebacker Mychal Kendricks with their first pick of the second round. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)Read more

A day after the Eagles took a defensive tackle in the first round, they selected a linebacker and a defensive end with both their second-round picks on the second day of the NFL draft.

Are you sensing a trend here?

First off the board for the Birds was Mychal Kendricks, a freakishly athletic linebacker that was selected with the 46th overall pick. Next came defensive end Vinny Curry, who the Eagles traded back - not necessarily to get - but because the Packers offered a fourth-round pick and they saw value later in the round.

In the third round, they picked quarterback Nick Foles of Arizona.

Curry, though, was too good to pass up with the 59th overall pick, Reid said. A number of analysts projected the Marshall product to go late first, early second round, and that's where the Eagles coach said the Eagles had him slotted.

So even though the Eagles didn't necessarily need another defensive end, the Eagles did something general manager Howie Roseman stressed for months that they would do when the time came, and that was take the best player available.

Still, the Eagles went defense, defense, defense with their first three picks, certainly not a coincidence considering the struggles of Juan Castillo's group for most of last season.

"It wasn't something we came in with a plan on - that we're going to strictly go defense," Reid said. "However, it's welcomed."

The coach has stressed for months that the defense righted its vessel during the four-game streak that ended the season. But the additions of Kendricks, Curry and top pick Fletcher Cox, who was introduced at the NovaCare Complex on Friday, showed that Reid wasn't satisfied with the unit he spends less time attending to.

On the surface, Cox, Kendricks and Curry don't seem like some of the reaches the Eagles have made before on defense, though. Kendricks produced in college. As a senior at California, he was voted PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year after he recorded 106 tackles and 14-1/2 tackles for loss.

But he also blew scouts away with his athleticism at the combine in February. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds - the fastest for any linebacker that has run at the event in 12 years.

"I have a lot of energy and I don't plays off," Kendricks said during a conference call. "I'm strong on the attack and I'm a great tackler, too."

The Eagles need tacklers. Reid said Kendricks would start off at strong-side linebacker and compete with Jamar Chaney, who already lost his starting middle linebacker spot when the Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans last month.

Kendricks played inside linebacker last season for the Bears, but was outside the previous two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 239-pound 21-year- old, though, has his detractors because of his relative small size.

The selection of Kendricks is the highest the Eagles have taken a linebacker since 1999 - Reid's first season - when they took Barry Gardner with the 35th overall pick.

The Eagles were slated to select five picks after they took Kendricks, but they traded the 51st overall pick - the one they acquired from the Cardinals in the trade last summer for quarterback Kevin Kolb - to the Packers.

Green Bay gave the Eagles a fourth-round pick (123d overall) to move up, and the Eagles took the falling Curry at No. 59.

"We think we know a lot about him. He's a local kid," Reid said of Curry, who is from Neptune, N.J. in Monmouth County.

His size - he's a generously-listed 6-3, 266 pounds - fits Reid's tendency of stressing speed over size.

Get full Eagles coverage in our NFL Draft special section.