Philadelphia needs a center

Mel's latest mailbag examines the revised draft strategy of the Eagles, the prospects for a pair of Buckeyes and the outlook for Ernest Wilford.

Originally Published: March 19, 2004
By Mel Kiper Jr. | Special to ESPN Insider
YOU'VE GOT MEL | Kiper's Mailbag
Q: Will the Philadelphia Eagles' first-round draft strategy change now that they have Terrell Owens? Who would be available to help them at No. 28?
Jacob, Philadelphia
Jake Grove
Grove started the last 33 games of his college career.
KIPER: The Eagles could do a few different things in that spot to improve the team. They need a center to anchor the offensive line, and Virginia Tech's Jake Grove is a rare first-round caliber pivot man. He faced top-shelf talent in college, is very strong and has the necessary mean streak. Grove would be an immediate upgrade. Philadelphia could go for a bigger corner such as UCLA's Matt Ware or Michigan's Jeremy LeSueur to complement the smaller CBs currently on the roster, or look to upgrade the front seven on defense and get a little stiffer against the run. But at No. 28 overall a guy like Grove would make a lot of sense for a team that needs to give Donovan McNabb some time to throw.

Q: Why isn't Will Allen of Ohio State rated higher? He always made the big plays, like a game-ending interception against Michigan and the goal line tackle to seal a win against North Carolina State.
Kyle, Columbus, Ohio
KIPER: Allen is more of a combination safety-corner than a pure safety. He has cover skills and some experience at safety and does not play the intimidating, enforcer-style game of most true safeties. Allen is a solid, reliable open-field tackler for the most part and has good cover skills but is not the experienced, All-America players Mike Doss and Donnie Nickey were for the Buckeyes. Allen had a good senior season as a safety, and with NFL defensive coordinators looking for safeties who are solid in coverage he has a shot to be a third-round pick.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst
Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.