NFC East: Luke Joekel

Where they're picking: No. 4

Conventional wisdom tells us the Eagles will pick a large person -- a tackle of some sort, either offensive or defensive. In recent mock drafts that have Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher gone in the first three picks, many have projected the draft's third-best offensive tackle, Lane Johnson, to the Eagles at No. 4. Defensive predictions for Philadelphia include defensive linemen like Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd. Some have suggested pass-rusher Dion Jordan, but mainly because he played for new Eagles coach Chip Kelly in college. But Kelly's stated preference for size, combined with the Eagles' need for size on both lines, leads most people to believe they'll draft someone beefy here.

History tells us almost nothing. Eagles GM Howie Roseman had influence in the past couple of drafts, but former head coach Andy Reid had final say, and Roseman has said his job is to find the kinds of players his coach wants. The popular assumption about Kelly is that he'll run the same kind of up-tempo, speed-focused schemes he ran at Oregon, but the fact is that no one knows what Kelly believes will or won't work in the NFL, and tonight is simply the latest opportunity to gain some clues.

They probably won't trade down out of the pick. In spite of the Philadelphia Inquirer report this week that said the Eagles were trying to trade down, it's hard to see how they can pull that off. Too many teams want to trade down and too few want to trade up, and that likely means the Eagles can't get a good enough deal to make trading out of that No. 4 spot worth their while.

They could shock us by selecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith at No. 4. Quarterback remains a significant big-picture need for the Eagles, though they have enough qualified quarterbacks on the roster right now that they don't need to find a 2013 starter at the position in this draft. If they really like Smith as their long-range franchise quarterback and don't think he'll be there when they pick again at No. 35, he could be the pick here. But it would rattle everyone's board if they did it.

My prediction: I think they're going to be able to take one of the top two tackles, likely Eric Fisher. I'm expecting the Chiefs to take Joeckel at No. 1 and the Jaguars and Raiders to do weird things that no one expects at No. 2 and No. 3. And I think that leaves Fisher for an Eagles team that will be thrilled to plug him in at right tackle, slide Todd Herremans inside to guard and groom their first-rounder to eventually take over for left tackle Jason Peters and anchor their offensive line for years to come.

NFL scouting combine preview: NFC East

February, 19, 2013
NFC combine preview: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation previews the 2013 scouting combine by identifying the most important thing for each team to learn about its greatest area of need.

Dallas Cowboys: The switch from a 3-4 defensive alignment to a 4-3, and the likelihood of losing Anthony Spencer to free agency, means the Cowboys' greatest need is on the defensive line. Is there a pass-rushing defensive end who will be available with the No. 18 overall pick? Is there a 1-technique nose tackle they could take in the first or second round who would allow them flexibility with other players on that line? Dallas also needs help on the offensive line and will be looking at the top guards. They traded up last year to get cornerback Morris Claiborne. Could they trade up for someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack?

New York Giants: It's a good year for the Giants to employ their best-player-available philosophy with their No. 19 overall pick, because they have a number of positions of need. Osi Umenyiora has one foot out the door, and you know the Giants like to look at pass-rushers in the first round. But they could also go offensive line, linebacker, cornerback ... any number of ways, really. For the Giants, the combine will be about prioritizing their needs. Perhaps the interview process helps them figure out which player -- rather than which position -- is worthy of their first-round pick.

Philadelphia Eagles: Drafting No. 4 overall, the Eagles need a franchise difference-maker. Their first order of business is finding out whether their quarterback of the future is in this draft. But if guys like Geno Smith and Matt Barkley don't rise to fourth-pick worthiness, the Eagles will need a building-block piece at a vital position. Luke Joeckel at offensive tackle. Star Lotulelei for defensive line. Dee Milliner at cornerback. The Eagles will be able to pick almost anyone they want and probably get a great player as a consolation prize for their terrible season. Though their greatest roster needs right now appear to be on defense, they shouldn't shy away from using that fourth overall pick on a difference-making tackle or even a quarterback if they find one they love. Drafting in the top five isn't about filling an immediate need as much as it's about finding someone around whom you can build for the long term.

Washington Redskins: The Redskins traded their first-round pick in the Robert Griffin III deal and don't pick until No. 51 -- the 19th pick in the second round. This makes their scouting more challenging and their combine itinerary different from that of many other teams. There's no way for them to guess how the first 50 picks will go, so they must cast a wide net as they look for help at safety and cornerback. Fortunately for them, this draft appears deep with talented secondary players. The Redskins' mission this week will be to try to figure out which of the guys they like will still be available for them when it's finally their turn to pick.