Eagles Wake-Up Call: Five Draft Prospects To Watch

If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the fifth pick in the NFL draft.

So while positioning could change quite a bit in the next five weeks, I’m guessing many of you have at least started to take a peek at some of the top college prospects. Today is the final full slate of games until Bowl season. Keeping that in mind, here are five prospects you might want to check out if you’re in front of a TV.

1. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia – In past years, I wouldn’t even bother including him. Jones (6-3, 241) projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The Eagles currently run a 4-3, but we have no clue what kind of defense they’ll run in 2013. Jones has 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He’s forced six fumbles and even come up with an interception. Last year, Jones finished with 13.5 sacks. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Jones as his top-rated player. Georgia takes on Alabama in the SEC title game at 4 p.m. on CBS.

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – Draft analysts have him slated as the first or second QB prospect. Smith (6-3, 220) has completed 70.1 percent of his passes and has 37 touchdowns and five interceptions. You won’t see Smith at the top of many overall prospect lists, but remember, quarterbacks generally rise in February and March. For needy teams in the first round, it’s not about value. If you like Smith and think he can be a franchise QB, you take him. West Virginia faces Kansas at 2:30, but the game’s not on a major network. Check your local listings to see if it’s available.

3. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – As you might have guessed, that Georgia-Alabama game features quite a few players who figure to suit up on Sundays. Milliner (6-1, 199) is the draft’s top cornerback prospect, according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. As I wrote earlier this week, the Eagles figure to overhaul their secondary this offseason and very well could be in the market for a cornerback come draft time.

4. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas – The Eagles could enter 2013 with two starting safeties who are not currently on the roster. Vaccaro (6-1, 218) is considered by many analysts to be the top safety prospect in the draft. Writes Kiper:

A do-it-all-safety, Vaccaro has managed to shine even as Texas has struggled. Adept in coverage and against the run, he has the size to attack the line of scrimmage like an extra linebacker but can line up in coverage inside or out wide and hold his own. Makes good reads and big plays.

Texas takes on Kansas State at 8 p.m. on ABC.

5. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – He’s got 13 sacks on the season, tied for tops in the nation. Werner, a German exchange student, who played just two years of high school football in America, is considered one of the best pass-rushing prospects in the draft. The 6-4, 255-pound defensive end takes the field when the Seminoles face Georgia Tech in the ACC title game (8 p.m., ESPN).

WHAT YOU MISSED

There were a couple different Michael Vick theories floating around yesterday. Tim clears up what to believe. The quarterback, meanwhile, released a statement of his own Friday.

T-Mac explains why it’s unlikely that Jon Gruden is the Eagles’ next head coach.

Brandon Graham now gets a chance to replace Jason Babin. Here’s an overall look at pass-rushing production.

Babin arrived in Jacksonville and took some parting shots at Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Ashley Fox of ESPN.com examines whether the Eagles will be able to attract a big-name coach:

This is going to take time in a city where the fans aren’t exactly patient or happy. Why would a hot, top coaching candidate choose Philadelphia when there might be other, more attractive openings in Carolina, Dallas, Cleveland, San Diego and Arizona? The simple answer is, he wouldn’t. This job probably will be filled by someone Eagles fans have never heard of, just like it was 14 years ago.

SI.com’s Peter King predicts a 24-16 Cowboys victory:

I’d be stunned if Dallas rallied to make the playoffs, and if the Cowboys don’t, they can look at the trading deadline as a primary reason. The Cowboys could have had Steve Jackson from the Rams for either a third- or fourth-round pick (I believe a fourth- would have done it), and Jackson’s gladiatorial spirit and thrill at joining a contender would have given Tony Romo a real threat in the running game that he hasn’t had all year. Dallas is last in the league at 78 rushing yards a game. That’s one of the reasons you heard that frustration in Romo’s voice on Thanksgiving night after the loss to Washington.

COMING UP

The Eagles will fly to Dallas for Sunday night’s matchup. We’ll have some fresh content to get you through the day.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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