NFC East: Dee Milliner

Where they're picking: 19

Conventional wisdom tells us the New York Giants are a "best-player available" team that uses the draft not to address specific areas of immediate need but rather to augment and maintain a deep roster from year to year. That means the player they take at 19 is probably going to be the highest remaining player on their board, and possibly someone who falls from a projected top-10 slot the way Prince Amukamara did two years ago. So the mock drafts have the Giants taking anyone from tackle D.J. Fluker to linebacker Alec Ogletree to cornerbacks D.J. Hayden or Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant, but the Giants are generally content to wait and see what gem may fall into their laps.

History tells us that, while the Giants do stick to their board, they do apply their own beliefs about position values when assembling that board. So that while someone like Ogletree or Fluker may be the objective "best player available" at 19, he may not be the highest-ranked player on the Giants' specific board. It has been 29 years since they took a linebacker in the first round and 14 since they took an offensive lineman. And while, yes, it had been 12 since they took a running back before they picked David Wilson last year, that was the 32nd pick in the round and their pre-2000 history shows that running back is a position that carries first-round value for them. They were able to ignore it for a while due to the success of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who are now both gone. Recently, the Giants have seemed to like taking defensive backs. They've taken one with their first pick in four of the last eight drafts.

They probably won't trade up. It would be unlike the Giants to identify a specific player or need and give up later picks in order to move up in the first round -- especially since their biggest needs are at positions to which they don't generally assign first-round value. That No. 19 spot feels like a comfortable spot for the Giants, who will likely find a player who can develop in their system and work his way into a starting job over the next year or so.

They could shock us by taking Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. He'd be their first first-round linebacker since Carl Banks, so it would be a heck of a statement about what they think of him as a prospect. But it would be shocking for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the Giants' draft history or established organizational philosophy about linebackers. Te'o comes with weird off-field baggage, the likes of which the Giants don't need in their market. He's tested poorly in the pre-draft process and he was beaten like a rug in his last college game. Some have connected Te'o with the Giants during the mock-draft period, but I'd be surprised if they broke a 29-year first-round linebacker drought for him.

My prediction: I took cornerback Desmond Trufant for the Giants in the ESPN blogger mock draft earlier this week, and the reason I made that pick was because he was the highest-ranked defensive back left on the Scouts Inc. board at that time. If cornerback Dee Milliner or safety Kenny Vaccaro drops this far, I believe the Giants will run to the podium to draft him. Otherwise, Trufant, Rhodes, Hayden ... all good guesses, as are the Florida State defensive linemen.
At any time during the week, if you tweet using hashtag #nfceastmail, you are making a submission for our weekly NFC East Twitter mailbag. At the end of the week I round them all up and pick a few questions to answer. Here are this week's entries.

NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What would be the ideal first-round scenario for each NFC East team in next week's NFL draft?

Dallas Cowboys

Because of the perceived lack of top-level skill-position talent in this year's draft, a lot of the mock drafts and projections have the top offensive linemen going off the board early. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock Insider, for example, has six offensive linemen going in the top 12 picks, which means well before the Cowboys pick at 18 and probably too early for them to make a sensible trade-up to grab someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. This would be unfortunate and far from ideal for the Cowboys, but history offers hope. The last time six of the first 17 picks in the draft were offensive linemen was 1966, when there were only 15 teams in the league. Only three times since then -- 1977, 1985 and 2008 -- have as many as five offensive linemen been picked in the top 17. The Cowboys probably can't expect any of the top three tackles to fall to them, but their ideal first-round situation would be for Warmack, Cooper or even Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker to fall to 18 and allow them to shore up their most significant area of short-term and long-term need. If only one of those guys is still available by 14, the Cowboys should look into trading up to get him.

New York Giants

The Giants live for value in the first round, so their ideal scenario is that someone who's very high (say, top-10) on their draft board falls to them at No. 19. It happened two years ago, when they were picking in the exact same spot and were stunned to find cornerback Prince Amukamara still there. It could happen again, especially if the Cowboys get their aforementioned wish and those offensive linemen drop into the second half of the first round. Although the Giants haven't picked an offensive lineman in the first round since 1999, the value on someone like Warmack or Fluker, if either is still there at 19, might be too good to pass up. It's easy to look at linebacker as a glaring need and project someone like Alec Ogletree here, but the Giants haven't taken a first-round linebacker since 1984, and it's unlikely they have a first-round grade assigned to any linebacker in the draft. The Giants' ideal scenario is not to draft for need but to wait and hope some highly talented prospect at one of their premium positions (Tavon Austin? Kenny Vaccaro? Dee Milliner?) drops into their laps.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sitting at No. 4 in the first round, the Eagles probably would be excited to see one of the draft's top two tackles -- Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel -- available to them at that spot. Drafting one of those players would allow the Eagles to move Todd Herremans inside from right tackle to right guard, play the rookie at right tackle and groom him to replace Jason Peters eventually at left tackle. It's an immediate-need pick and a future building-block pick all wrapped up in one package. The Eagles also probably would be happy to take a defensive lineman like Star Lotulelei or a pass-rusher like Dion Jordan here, but in my opinion the tackle scenario is more ideal given their situation. I also think part of their ideal situation would include a drop for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, which would allow them to trade back into the first round to take him somewhere in the 20s, as Kiper suggested in his recent "Grade A" draft post Insider.

Washington Redskins

As a result of last year's trade for quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins don't have a first-round draft pick and don't pick until 19th in the second round, so a trade-up into the first is unlikely. Their ideal first-round scenario is that the teams picking in the first round believe they can wait on safety and cornerback, and that some of the top players at those positions of significant need are still there by the time Washington starts picking at 51.
The ESPN Stats & Information group has taken a "next-level" numbers look at the draft needs for the teams in the NFL, and we're taking a team-by-team look at what they've come up with in the NFC East. The last team on our list is the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom SIG has identified offensive line and defensive back as the most significant needs in this year's draft.

The issues with the Eagles' offensive line in 2012 were mainly injury-related, as four of the five starters missed significant amounts of time due to injury and one of those four (Danny Watkins) played poorly when healthy. So it comes as little surprise that "the Eagles' most-used offensive line combo played together on 40.9 percent of plays in 2012, 12th among 16 NFC teams in top-line consistency." And the result was poor performance in both the passing game and the run game. SIG tells us that the Eagles allowed the highest combined total of sacks and tackles for loss in the NFL and ranked 31st in the league in quarterback duress percentage and ballcarrier contact behind the line of scrimmage.

Now, a lot of the offensive line issues could be fixed if the starters all come back healthy. But the lessons of 2012 tell the Eagles that quality depth at those positions is important, and for that reason I would not be surprised to see them take one of the draft's top tackles at No. 4. Right tackle Todd Herremans could then move inside to play guard in place of Watkins, and the draft pick could be the eventual successor to Jason Peters at left tackle.

As for defensive back, SIG's numbers show considerable struggles for the Eagles' defense on passes at least 15 yards downfield. The Eagles allowed a league-high 14 touchdown passes on such throws and intercepted just three. And two of the three interceptions were by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who's no longer on the team. The Eagles were tied for 25th in completion percentage allowed (46.9) on throws of 15 or more yards downfield, 31st in yards per attempt on such throws (14.6) and of course last in TD-INT ratio. (+11)

They also struggled in particular with outside receivers. Their 15 touchdown catches allowed to receivers lined up closest to the sideline were the second-most in the league, and eight of those 15 came in divisional games. The Eagles added many pieces to their secondary in free agency, including cornerback Cary Williams and safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung. But there'd be nothing wrong with continuing to add talent there, and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner remains a possibility for that reason.

Twitter mailbag: Giants' pass rush

March, 30, 2013
Been a few months now since we took the mailbag to Twitter, and I think we can all agree the improvement is tremendous. All you have to do is tweet a question using the hashtag #nfceastmail, at any time during the week, and then at the end of the week I go find the list of questions and pick out a few to answer. Like these here.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider is out and it covers the first two rounds, which means Redskins fans get to play too! Here's what Todd projects, along with my thoughts on his picks for each NFC East team:

Philadelphia Eagles

4. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

35. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State

Yes, even with cornerback Dee Milliner still on the board, I like Fisher for the Eagles at 4. I think they need to get a long-term building block at that spot, and an elite tackle is just that. As for Manuel at 35, I like it find if they think he has franchise quarterback potential. If not, they're just adding to a stable of caretaker backups and developmental guys, and the pick could be used better. I do know which of those categories fits Manuel, and I imagine if the Eagles are talking about him, they're trying to figure that out as well.

Dallas Cowboys

18. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

47. Kyle Long, G, Oregon

I have no problem with the Cowboys coming out of the first two rounds with a safety and an offensive lineman. I just think they need to pick them in the reverse order. In Todd's mock, the top five offensive linemen go in the first 17 picks -- something that's only happened once in the last 15 drafts. But even if that happens, I'd have no issue with the Cowboys taking the tackle Todd projects to go with the very next pick to the Giants. They need elite offensive line talent more than they need this draft's top safety.

New York Giants

19. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

49. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

Got to be honest, I have no idea what the Giants will or should do in the first round, and it doesn't seem as though most of the draft analysts do either. Offensive line seems to make sense, but they don't like to draft offensive linemen in the first round. I keep thinking they'll take the highest-ranked defensive lineman on their board in the first round, or maybe a defensive back. But maybe I'm relying too much on Giants draft history and this is a year in which they'll go against it.

Washington Redskins

51. Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State

Obviously, this is a pick that assumes they don't re-sign Fred Davis. If they do, I have to think they look for a safety here like D.J. Swearinger or Jon Cyprien.
The NFL draft is exactly four weeks from today. You know what I think about that? I think I'll have some links.

Washington Redskins

Fred Davis is still trying to scare the Redskins into offering him money they don't have, and this time it's with the help of the New York Jets. He's visiting them this week. Again, if I'm the Redskins I dare Davis to trade Robert Griffin III for Mark Sanchez.

Alfred Morris thinks the volume of knowledge he amassed during his rookie season in Washington will help him avoid a sophomore slump in 2013.

Dallas Cowboys

Prior to this week, the only two teams in the NFL who hadn't signed a free agent from someone else's roster were the Cowboys and the Packers. But now it's just the Packers. Dallas cleared enough salary cap room by releasing Anthony Armstrong and restructuring Kyle Orton's contract that they were able to sign deals with linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen. Durant looks like their new starter at strongside linebacker. Allen looks like veteran insurance in case they don't get what they want out of Barry Church or Matt Johnson. Michael Huff, the other safety who visited this week, might have been more of a threat to a starter's job, but he signed with Baltimore instead.

Todd Archer thinks the Cowboys still need to be thinking safety in next month's draft. I agree, since I don't think Church, Johnson or Allen -- let alone all of them -- are sure things. I just think they need to be thinking safety in the second or third rounds, after they've secured a new starting offensive lineman in the first.

New York Giants

Giants GM Jerry Reese went to LSU's pro day, which is interesting because the Giants have shown something of an affinity for LSU guys in recent drafts. Ohm has the rundown on who from that pro day could be of interest to the Giants in the draft.

The Giants announced this week that they would make some alternate-uniform tweaks and wear white pants (instead of gray) for some games this year. Just not when they wear the white jerseys. That'd be too "Clockwork Orange."

Philadelphia Eagles

Geoff Mosher is picking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the No. 4 pick for the Eagles in his latest mock draft. Calls it a "no-brainer," actually. And I think Milliner will be tempting and would be a fine pick. But given the way that mock draft's first three picks unfolded, I have to believe they'd strongly consider Eric Fisher, and maybe even Geno Smith.

Former Oregon Duck (and current Eagle) Dennis Dixon helped recruit former Ravens teammate Cary Williams to Philadelphia by telling him good things about new Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
Free agency lulling you to sleep here in the NFC East? Hey, it's only 31 days until the draft. We can get through this together, people. I promise. We have links.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are bringing in two free agents -- safety Will Allen and linebacker Justin Durant -- for visits today. Of course, if you read the first sentence of Calvin Watkins' story here you'll see they can only offer them unpaid internships. But hey, the way this market's going, maybe they'll take 'em.

Jason Garrett disagrees with the idea that the Cowboys have made no progress since he's been their head coach. He understands that consecutive 8-8 seasons fail to prove his case, but from his perspective the roster is in better shape now than it was two years ago, as David Moore explains.

New York Giants

It appears as though Osi Umenyiora will sign with the Atlanta Falcons, ending his 10-year run with the Giants. He won two Super Bowls in New York and now says he'd really enjoy winning one for his hometown team.

Gary Myers reports that the Giants have offered wide receiver Victor Cruz more than $7 million per year, which is no surprise considering co-owner Steve Tisch's prediction that he'd get more than the $6 million a year Wes Welker got from the Broncos. The issue with Cruz and the Giants appears to be one of philosophical differences. They're willing to make him the league's highest-paid slot receiver based on the idea that he is that. He wants top wide receiver money based on the numbers he's put up the past two seasons. If the benchmark is Marques Colston's five-year, $36.3 million deal (with more than $17 million in guarantees) with the Saints, then it sounds as though the Giants are a notch below that. And if you're Cruz's agent, your point is that he's outperformed Colston the past two years. Who blinks first?

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' website takes a look at some of the defensive prospects potentially available to the Eagles in this year's draft, including popular mock draft pick Dee Milliner.

They also may not be done addressing defensive needs in free agency, as reports have them interested in in Chargers defensive lineman Vaughn Martin. Sounds like another versatile guy who could play in a variety of schemes and even move positions a bit if the Eagles' defense is going to be one that relies on varying looks.

Washington Redskins

Fred Davis had a meal with Buffalo Bills officials over the weekend, which I guess is interesting. I'm sure the Bills would like to have him, and that Davis and his agents are very happy the Redskins know another team is interested. I just question the idea of a pass-catching tight end who's coming off a major injury and needs to put up numbers this year in order to really cash in down the road signing with a team that currently has no quarterback whatsoever. But hey, I guess weirder things have happened.

And as for the Redskins' quarterback, I'm sure you saw the comments from Dr. James Andrews over the weekend about how "superhuman" Robert Griffin III and his recovery are. We've been over this a million times, and I just don't understand the way Andrews acts when it comes to Griffin. At this point, what in the world is the point of the team physician setting expectations high? We're more than five months away from regular-season games, and the kid had major reconstructive knee surgery in January. There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "Things are going well, but it's too soon to speculate about when he might be ready. The only thing that matters is his long-term health, and we won't rush him back." Those would be the words of an organization that has learned its lesson.
The Philadelphia Eagles entered free agency with oodles of salary-cap room, and they have signed eight players already. Seven of them are defensive players, but they're at a variety of positions -- safeties, cornerbacks, linebackers and a nose tackle. This is a team that went 4-12, changed coaches and has a lot of needs, and it's working to address them all.

Philadelphia also has the No. 4 pick in next month's draft, and I think the work the Eagles have done this week has had an important effect on what they'll be able to do with it. Specifically, I think the work they have already done this offseason will allow them to select the best player available, regardless of positional need. When you can operate your draft like that, you're a happy franchise.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Matt RourkeFree agency has afforded new coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles flexibility in the draft.
They want to draft Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner? Sure. I mean, they already signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, but you can't be too deep at corner and it's possible Milliner is better than either of those guys. Might be able to bring him along slowly, not ask too much of him in his rookie season since they are covered at the position. And if those other two guys play great, you have great depth and options on next year's market.

They want to pick one of the big tackles, Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher if they fall to No. 4? Why not? Even if they sign a free-agent right tackle, as I think they might, they don't know how Jason Peters is going to come back from those Achilles injuries. And the Eagles surely learned last year the importance of having depth on the line.

A defensive tackle? A pass-rusher? Can't have too many of those. The Eagles' new defense looks as though it's going to be varied enough to allow (or even require) them to rotate players in and out in different situations. Draft, develop and build your defensive program around what you have. The more talent to work with up front, the better.

And how about a quarterback? What if the past couple of weeks have changed the Eagles' opinion on West Virginia's Geno Smith as the possible answer at franchise quarterback? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to take him at No. 4 because you already addressed your other needs weeks before the draft? The Eagles may well find themselves in such a position -- able to pick a quarterback at that spot if they fall in love with one.

This is the benefit of all that cap room the Eagles had when this week began. They're able to find all kinds of pieces to fit all kinds of holes. When draft day rolls around and they tell everybody they took the best player available, it's going to be easy to believe them. Because they won't be caught in that not-very-fun position of having to draft for immediate need.
Desperately needing to rebuild their secondary, the Eagles have added a pair of players who could have a major impact in that area. The Eagles announced Thursday afternoon that they have agreed on a one-year contract with former New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips and a three-year contract with former Ravens cornerback Cary Williams.

Let's take Phillips first, because I think it's a fantastic signing by the Eagles. When healthy, Phillips is a complete player who makes the entire defense better. He can help direct the coverage on the back end and allow the other safety to move up into the box and play the run. But he's also strong in run support, which allows him to switch roles with whoever the other safety is (currently Patrick Chung, it appears, in Philadelphia) and keep the offense guessing. I have been of the opinion that one of the main problems the Giants' defense had in the second half of the 2012 season was the absence of Phillips, who was dealing with persistent knee problems. I just think his presence helped make fellow safety Antrel Rolle a more effective player and even had an impact on the pass rush.

If the Eagles can keep Phillips healthy, this will have been a steal. If not... well, it's a one-year deal, and they cut their losses. But at 26 years old and with a Super Bowl ring, Phillips is the kind of free agent smart teams love to sign -- young and somewhat established but still with something to prove. Phillips will be motivated to show he's healthy, and signing in the NFC East allows him the opportunity for extra motivation playing twice a year against the Giants, who let him go. I have to think the main reason the Giants didn't make more of an effort to sign Phillips is that they don't trust his knee, so we'll see whether they or the Eagles end up being right about this one.

(*By the way, I'm not buying the Steve Smith comparison from a few years back. Phillips' successes in New York weren't tied to Eli Manning to the extent Smith's were. Totally different cases.)

As for Williams, he's 28 and has a Super Bowl ring that probably hasn't even been designed yet, since he won it as a member of the Ravens a month ago. He's a tall cornerback with good speed who didn't grade out well in coverage last year (78th in the league, per Pro Football Focus) but is viewed as a good athlete who obviously has experience as a starter in a high-pressure environment. Obviously, you project him now as one of the Eagles' starting cornerbacks along with newly signed Bradley Fletcher or Brandon Boykin or, if they decide to go this way in the draft, a rookie such as Dee Milliner.

We have talked more than once this offseason about how the Eagles could field four new starters in the secondary in 2013, and it appears they intend to do just that. If one of them is Kenny Phillips, the other three will be better for it.

On the Eagles and the No. 4 pick

March, 14, 2013
Without much (anything?) happening in free agency in the NFC East, maybe we should be thinking about next month's draft. The Philadelphia Eagles hold the No. 4 pick, and based on the early signs they've shown since Tuesday afternoon, people are jumping to the conclusion that they are targeting Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with that pick. There are good, sensible reasons to jump to that particular conclusion.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft Insider had Milliner mocked to the Eagles and called it "not a tough pick," since the crop of available free-agent cornerbacks isn't strong enough to deter the Eagles from addressing the position in the draft. The Eagles need two starting cornerbacks and so far have only signed Bradley Fletcher, who may or may not be one. They have indicated an intent to address the offensive and defensive lines in free agency, as much of the still-way-early speculation has the draft's top two offensive tackles going with the first two picks. There are a lot of ways to put clues together and convince yourself Milliner will be the pick. And if he is, it'll be hard to criticize them for it.

But I'd be surprised if it were already a done deal in the minds of the Eagles' decision-makers, and yes, the fact that they've been poking around West Virginia this week about quarterback Geno Smith is an example of why. Yes, the Eagles need cornerback help desperately. But they also need a franchise quarterback, and as the Redskins showed last year, NFL teams believe that that's worth sacrificing other plans. Michael Vick is no long-term solution. Nick Foles hasn't shown anything to make anybody feel confident that he is either. Dennis Dixon is a career backup. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott is apparently someone they're looking into as well, but he's obviously a wild card. If Smith is opening the Eagles' eyes, or if team owner Jeffrey Lurie (who attended that private workout in Morgantown) is insisting they look at a quarterback with that No. 4 pick, then things get very interesting around the Eagles and the draft.

Thing is, they're not going to clue us or anyone else in about the true depth of their interest in Smith or Matt Barkley or any of the other quarterbacks who are likely to shoot up projected draft boards in the next month. That No. 4 pick is a valuable asset, and the Eagles are wise to consider all of their options with it for as long as they can. It may be the best thing for their franchise to just stay put and take Milliner, or the best offensive or defensive linemen available there. It may be the best for them to take Smith, if they believe in him as their future at the most important position, and let him sit behind Vick for a year. (Or half a year, or whatever.) It may be that they're trying to shake up the whole landscape, get other teams wondering what they'll do and maybe dupe someone who desperately wants a quarterback (or I guess Milliner) into trading with them for that pick.

My point is, while I think it's sensible to think they're looking at Milliner, I think the people running the Eagles are smart enough to know they have something of great value with that No. 4 pick. And to have already decided what to do with it would be foolish. I expect things to stay very interesting around the Eagles and their draft plans for quite a while.
Welcome to the weekly edition of the NFC East Twitter mailbag. At any point during the week, you can tweet a question with the hashtag #nfceastmail, and I will work my way through them at the end of the week and pick a few to answer in this space right here. I hope you enjoy this week's batch.
Does anyone feel as though I've been writing too much about offensive lines lately? No? Good, because that's what this post is about.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer analyzed the free-agent offensive line landscape as it pertains to the Philadelphia Eagles. I know we've mainly focused on defense with the Eagles this offseason (and quarterback, which remains an apparently unsolvable mess), but the offensive line situation in Philadelphia is an interesting one. The best way for them to improve is for the starters who missed time last year due to injury -- Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans -- to return to full health. That would drastically improve things on the line, and there appears to be a strong chance that happens. But even if it does, the Eagles could tinker with the right side of their line in an effort to improve there:
If Peters, Kelce, and Herremans return to their pre-injury form, the Eagles should be fine. But there's still an issue with Watkins at right guard, and Mathis (31 years old), Peters (31), and Herremans (30) aren't getting any younger.

The aging of the line's core suggests that the Eagles could use the draft -- and perhaps the fourth overall pick -- to add youth. They could target one of three tackles (Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson) or a guard (Chance Warmack) with their first-round pick.

The Eagles could instead stock their line with some later-round picks and use free agency to fill the one glaring hole on the line. Of the Eagles' current starting five, only Watkins -- a 2011 first-round pick -- was taken before the third round.

One player the Eagles could consider is right tackle Eric Winston, who was released on Wednesday by the Chiefs.

I like the idea of a tackle for the Eagles at No. 4 because of the flexibility it offers them. It would be someone who could play left tackle if Peters can't make it all the way back from his devastating injuries of last summer or someone who could play right tackle, move Herremans back inside and perhaps someday take over at left tackle when Peters is done. Makes a lot of sense.

If they decide they would rather take a defensive lineman or cornerback Dee Milliner at that spot, Jeff points out that the free-agent market for right tackles is very deep. Winston is one option, as are Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. With all of the cap room they have, the Eagles could target and likely sign anyone they want.

The plan of getting a right tackle, moving Herremans back to guard and cutting the cord on Danny Watkins makes a lot of sense for the Eagles. The line was supposed to be a strength of their team last year, and if everyone hadn't got hurt, it likely would have been. The lesson is that depth and flexibility at those positions is something for which to strive.
Unfortunately for Redskins fans, still only the first round. But here's a look at who Todd McShay is picking for the other three NFC East teams in his newest mock draft Insider, hot off the presses.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama.

My take: Nothing wrong with this idea. Personally, I feel like 4 is a little high to take a cornerback. And with guys like offensive tackle Eric Fisher and pass-rusher Dion Jordan still available, I'd err on the side of the big guy. But Milliner certainly fills a crying need, no matter what they do in free agency, and would be a pick about which Eagles fans could feel good.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama.

My take: Anyone else get the sense that Alabama's running a good program these days? Anyway, this is the dream-come-true pick for the Cowboys. Some have said Warmack is the best offensive lineman, regardless of position, in the entire draft. If he's there at 18, the Cowboys run to the podium. They need to get an offensive lineman in the first round, and while people keep asking me, "Well, what if the top five guys are all gone by 18?," it's worth mentioning that only once in the past 15 drafts (2008) have five offensive linemen gone in the first 17 picks.

19. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame.

My take: A fun, new passing game weapon for Eli Manning would be a Giants-like pick, for sure. But they've de-emphasized the tight end position from a priority and resource standpoint so much since the Jeremy Shockey days that I wonder if they'd even consider using a first-round pick on one.

On the Eagles and trading down

February, 28, 2013
This here post from Bill Williamson at the AFC West blog caught my eye. Bill's division has two teams picking in the top three in April's draft (which may help explain that long winning streak the Broncos took into the playoffs -- just sayin', right?), and he's pondering the idea of one or both of them trying to trade down for more picks. And because the Philadelphia Eagles are picking fourth and a number of people have been asking me whether they might try and do the same, I thought I'd take a moment to address this.

First, here is what Bill writes about the Chiefs and the Raiders, who have picks No. 1 and No. 3, respectively:
The Chiefs would be interested in getting out of the top pick because none of the top prospects fit their most pressing needs. The Raiders would like to trade to get more picks. They don’t have choices in the second and fifth rounds.
[+] EnlargeSmith
AP Photo/Ben LiebenbergIf a team falls in love with Geno Smith or another quarterback, the Eagles might have trade-down options.
The Eagles do not have similar problems. They have plenty of pressing needs -- offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, maybe even quarterback yet -- that they could address by sitting tight and selecting a very good player at No. 4 overall. And unlike the Raiders, they're fine on picks. They have one in every round and two in the seventh. They don't need to trade out just to build inventory.

I have written, and I maintain, that the Eagles' best play is to stay where they are and draft a franchise building-block type of player. One of the offensive tackles, say, or cornerback Dee Milliner if they like him enough, or a potential stud for the defensive line. I think they'll have multiple good options and should be able to find a stud prospect who can help them in the short term and the long term, and when you're picking in the top five, that's your goal.

Now, that said, everything has a price, and part of the question here is whether the Eagles can expect to get offers for that No. 4 pick that are too good to turn down. The answer to that is likely tied to the ever-thorny matter of how high the top quarterbacks in this draft end up going. We all know this isn't last year, when the draft had two clear franchise quarterbacks at the top. But quarterback is still a position for which teams have shown they will overpay, and the draft value of quarterbacks does seem to rise dramatically in the final months before the draft.

The last four No. 1 overall picks, and 12 of the last 15, have been quarterbacks. The last year in which no quarterback was picked in the top four was 2000, when Chad Pennington was the first quarterback off the board at No. 18 to the Jets. History tells us that someone like Geno Smith is likely to be drafted in or before that No. 4 spot, and if Jacksonville and Oakland pass, the Eagles are likely to get calls from teams interested in moving up to take a guy they think could be their franchise quarterback. If that happens, Philadelphia might end up with an offer it can't refuse.

Of course, there's also the chance the Eagles are the team that falls in love with Smith (or whoever the top quarterback ends up being) and they take him at No. 4. The re-signing of Michael Vick indicates that they don't expect that to happen, but we don't know for sure and the draft remains 56 very long days away. Lots for the Eagles to consider with that No. 4 pick, including many scenarios that haven't even presented themselves yet.



Sunday, 10/26
Monday, 10/27