The Eagles leaned heavily toward defense with the early part of their 2012 draft and right now two of their top three picks are playing major roles on that side of the ball.

Other draft picks could also have an impact this season, including fourth-rounder Brandon Boykin as a nickel back and kick returner. Plus QB Nick Foles, a third-round pick, has opened some eyes in the first two preseason games and he’s now a legitimate contender for the No. 2 spot behind starter Michael Vick.

But that’s conjecture. It’s a fact that two of the first three picks will see a lot of action this season and another could be a key contributor, especially if injuries hit the Eagles’ defensive line.

Top pick: DT Fletcher Cox (first round, No. 12 overall) -- The Eagles traded up three spots to select the Mississippi State star, even though their starters were set at his position with Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins and the Eagles had a couple of solid reserves in Derek Landri and Antonio Dixon. But none of those DTs is an accomplished pass rusher and the Eagles love the way Cox collapses a pocket. For now, Cox will just be another part of the D-line rotation as he learns the NFL game, which is an advantage because he won’t be expected to do too much, too soon. Grade: B

Second pick: LB Mychal Kendricks (second round, No. 46 overall) -- If there was a black hole on Philadelphia's defense last season it was at linebacker, and the Eagles had a particularly tough time covering tight ends. That’s why they drafted Kendricks out of California and immediately made him the starting strong-side LB. Kendricks has had a solid training camp and preseason as he’s flashed the speed and athletic ability that attracted the Eagles on draft day, and should be a fixture in the Eagles’ defense for many years to come. Grade: A

Third pick: DE Vinny Curry (second round, No. 59 overall) -- The Eagles drafted this Marshall product even though DE is one of the deepest positions on the team. But the Eagles love his pass-rushing potential as either a hand-in-the-dirt DE or stand-up LB. Right now he’s focusing on DE, but a high ankle sprain in minicamp slowed his progress and he’s still making up for lost time. The Eagles obviously have plans for him and it’ll be interesting to see how Curry fits into the scheme of things once the regular season starts. Grade: C+

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow @CBSSportsNFLPHI.