Will Geno Smith be an Eagle tonight?

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
4:41
PM ET
A little less than two hours remain before the resumption of the NFL draft with the second round, in which the Philadelphia Eagles hold the third pick. Only one quarterback went in Thursday's first round, and it was Florida State's E.J. Manuel, on whom the Eagles some thought the Eagles might have their eye as a second-round option. West Virginia's Geno Smith, who'd been projected as the top quarterback in this year's draft, remains on the board. And the Eagles, whose long-range quarterback situation is unsettled, could pick him if he's still there when it's their turn tonight.

But there are questions:
  1. Can they? The Eagles might not get the chance to take Smith, as Jacksonville holds the first pick of the second round and also could stand to upgrade at quarterback. It's also possible that a team picking later in the round (Jets?) could try to trade up with either Jacksonville or San Francisco, which holds the second pick tonight, and take Smith before the Eagles have a chance. I doubt the Eagles will look to trade up one or two spots to make sure they get Smith, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't take him if he fell into their laps.
  2. Should they? Michael Vick looks like the 2013 starter. Nick Foles, who started six games last year after Vick got hurt, is still on the roster. And they also have veteran backup Dennis Dixon, whose final year at Oregon was Eagles coach Chip Kelly's first year as the Ducks' offensive coordinator. They don't need a quarterback for 2013, per se, and if Vick thrives under Kelly or Foles turns out to be the long-term answer, they may not need one at all. In that case, they'd be better off drafting a defensive starter this high.
  3. Will they? No way to know this, obviously, but I have a feeling that if Smith were that important to the Eagles they'd have traded back up into the tail end of the first round Thursday to jump Jacksonville and make sure to get him. I wouldn't be surprised to see Philadelphia pick Smith if he were there at No. 35, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see them pass on him and look to a later-round option like Arizona's Matt Scott for their quarterback pick this year.

Most of the Smith-to-Philadelphia speculation has rested on the notion that Smith's speed and athleticism are a fit for the up-tempo offense everybody expects Kelly to run. But I don't really think Kelly works that way. I think, if Kelly picks Smith, it's because he thinks Smith has what it takes to be a long-term franchise quarterback -- not just a Kelly-style quarterback, but an NFL winner for years to come. Smith flashed that kind of ability in college, but the reason he didn't get to put someone's cap on Thursday night is because he didn't flash it consistently enough. If Kelly believes in Smith's ability and makeup, he could draft him, sit him for a year (or part of a year) behind Vick and trust in his and his staff's ability to develop and get the best out of him for the long-term.

But the same could be said for Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib or any of the other quarterbacks who weren't taken Thursday night, and there's little reason for any of us to assume we know that Kelly likes Smith better than he likes one of those guys. So that's what I'm watching for with the Eagles tonight in the second and third rounds -- whether they like Smith or any of the other available quarterbacks well enough to spend a still-early pick on him or make a move to get him. If they do that, you'll know they consider the guy a possible cornerstone, and not a gimmick.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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