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Senior Bowl Preview: Defensive Needs

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being their more talented unit, the Eagles still need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. This week in Mobile, there should be a handful of defensive prospects who the Eagles should have an eye on at the Senior Bowl. In a class loaded with defensive linemen and secondary defenders, here are some names to keep note on for the next few days...

Cornerbacks

Rasul Douglas, WVU, 6-2, 205: 8 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 8 PBUs, 1 FF

Rasul Douglas was one of the most productive defenders in the country due in part to his great size and ball skills. Douglas has the build and play style that most NFL teams prefer as a big, press man corner, but he has to prove he can play extended time in zone and also show he can be a better tackler. While he may not be an immediate fit for the Eagles, his tools should keep coaches' minds open.

Desmond King, Iowa, 5-10, 195: 3 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 7 PBUs, 1 FF

Desmond King has been a favorite of mine for quite a while. He is not the biggest or the fastest cornerback, but he is incredibly physical, with great ball skills, awareness and tackling ability. There is some talk that his size may make him a better fit at safety in the NFL, the Eagles should be interested in how his ability to play the run and thrive in zone coverage fits at cornerback for them.

Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, 5-10, 185: 2 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 11 PBUs

Jourdan Lewis is another undersized cornerback, but he makes up for it with excellent technique and outstanding ball skills. NFL teams could be turned off of him due to his lack of size, but matching up with top draft prospects this week gives him an opportunity that he can overcome physical shortcomings with his intangibles.

Tre'Davious White, LSU, 5-11, 195: 2 Interceptions, 4 TFLs, 14 PBUs

White's name seems to get lost in an outstanding class of cornerback, but he is no doubt one of the better defensive backs in the class. White is a very gifted athlete who thrives in man coverage and shows willingness as a tackler. The Eagles will no doubt be interested in White given his experience and upside.

Damontae Kazee, SDSU, 5-10, 180: 7 Interceptions, 3 TFLs, 8 PBUs

On the low, Damontae Kazee has been one of the most productive defenders in the country for the last two years. Since last year, Kazee has picked off 15 passes, forced two fumbles, had eight tackles for a loss, 15 pass break ups and two touchdowns. Kazee is a smart, physical player who makes up for his size with quickness and savvy. The Eagles do not have the same requirements for size at the cornerback position that a lot of NFL teams do, so I could see them being particularly taken with Kazee

Defensive Linemen

Jaleel Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Iowa, 6-3, 310: 7.5 Sacks, 10 TFLs, 5 QB Hurries

Jaleel Johnson could be the best defensive tackle in the class and could establish that this week. Johnson has awesome athletic ability to pair with great size. He is a natural pass rusher who can play various interior defensive line positions and contribute as a run defender. The Eagles may not need a defensive tackle immediately in the draft, but they should no doubt have a close eye on Johnson this week.

Carlos Watkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson, 6-2, 305: 10.5 Sacks, 13.5 TFLs, 4 QB Hurries

A big part of Clemson's outstanding defense this year was Carlos Watkins. Watkins has experience all over the defensive line and thrived this year inside at tackle. Watkins is a strong player who has great leverage and a non stop motor. He would be an excellent NFL three technique tackle and putting him in a wide nine with Fletcher Cox would be outstanding.

Tanzel Smart, Defensive Tackle, Tulane, 6-1, 295: 5.5 Sacks, 18.5 TFLs, 2 QB Hurries

Tanzel Smart has flown under the radar due to playing at Tulane, but the quick twitch defender will likely break out this week of practices. Smart is a bit undersized for a defensive tackle, but he is very stout and strong and uses leverage well to get off of blocks. His quickness is a major asset and part of the reason he was so productive. He makes sense as a gap shooting defensive tackle, so teams running primarily single gapping schemes will pay him a lot of attention for the next few days.

Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Illinois, 6-3, 255: 5 Sacks, 15 TFLs, 10 QB hurries, 2 FFs

With the Eagles needing possibly a new starter at defensive end and definitely looking for depth, Dawuane Smoot should be on their watch list. While Smoot is a bit smaller, he is a good athlete and very strong with a high motor. His ability to defend the run and pass make him an every down defender and with a bit of size he could be a major contributor for an NFL defense.

Daeshon Hall, EDGE, TAMU, 6-5, 265: 4.5 Sacks, 13 TFLs, 12 QB Hurries, 2 FFs

The "Other Aggie Defensive Lineman" Daeshon Hall is quite the prospect in his own right. Hall has a massive frame with long arms and has good bend around the edge as well. He has been a productive complement to Myles Garrett the last few years and his size and ability should be especially attractive to a coordinator like Jim Schwartz who values size at the defensive end position.

Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama, 6-2, 250: 9 Sacks, 19 TFLs, 10 QB Hurries, 4 FFs, 1 Interception

Ryan Anderson may be the most productive defender in Mobile this week. Despite not even being one of the top three defenders on his own team, Anderson is still a stud in his own right. Anderson is not only versatile, but he is incredibly physical and has a non stop motor. His ability to constantly get after it, especially against the run, makes him an exciting defensive prospect. For the Eagles, they might want to see Anderson be a bit bigger, but a strong week of practice could assuage any worries about his build.