Thursday, April 25, 2013
First-round preview: Philadelphia Eagles
By Dan Graziano
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.