First, did you know that the Eagles have never drafted a safety in the first round? In fact, during the Andy Reid era Michael Lewis was the only safety taken on the first day. Certainly the fact that the Eagles already had a future hall of famer playing safety was a part of that, but it also may reveal some things about their philosophy in regards to the position.
This quote from Tom Heckert pretty much sums up why Lewis was let go and we likely won't be seeing a guy like Michael Griffin taken with the Eagles' first round pick...
Indeed it is. So where do you find a safety that can cover?
Now there is one guy who played both safety and corner in college who stands at about 5'11 and checks in at over 200lbs. That would be Miami safety Brandon Merriweather, who will likely be there at #26 when the Eagles pick and is a guy that most scouts see as a guy with legit first round talent. That said, many mock drafts do not have him drafted in the first round. The reason? Character.
There's no doubt that in the wake of the Pacman Jones saga, the Vikings love boat fiasco, the Bengals, & the Commish rolling out his new code of conduct that character has quickly become of the utmost importance in the NFL. If you pick the wrong guy who can't control himself, you risk losing the guy for a year ala Pacman Jones. Merriweather's character concerns stem from two seperate incidents.
First was the now infamous Miami v Florida International brawl in which Merriweather was caught on tape stomping down FSU players with his cleats. He was suspended a game for the incident. You can see the brawl and Merriweather doing his best Gears of War impression here.
To his credit, he has acknowledged his mistake.
Merriweather also has a gun incident on his record. I say incident because it's important to note that he was not charged with a crime and was found to have acted legally by Florida police. Rookiepedia has a quick synapses of what went down.
The Eagles have traditionally valued their one on one interviews with players above what they read in the papers about them. In fact both Broderick Bunkley & Winston Justice, last year's first and second round picks respectively, had scrapes with the law on their record. There's a big difference between "bad guys" and kids who've made mistakes in the past. So far, the Eagles have a pretty spotless record in regards to finding good character guys in the draft.
Merriweather on the field
I suppose I shouldn't end without letting you know whether this guy can actually play or not. In my opinion, I see him see as a legit first round talent. His talent and production has not really been questioned. I agree with most draftniks that his character issues will scare some teams and it could drop him out of the first round. That said, almost none of these draftniks and I have never sat down and spoken with the kid. Obviously alot more is going to be revealed about a person's character by sitting down and talking to them than reading about them in the newspapers. So while we may assume teams will be afraid to pick him, we really don't know that.