A fellow reporter asked me the following question last week at the Combine: If you had to choose right now, who do the Eagles take with the No. 4 pick?
It’s a question that will be tossed around quite a bit in the next two months. Eight weeks from tonight, Roger Goodell will step up to the podium in New York City and announce that the Chiefs are on the clock.
So from time to time between now and then, I’ll offer my list of the top-five Eagles possibilities (in no particular order).
Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
Why he makes sense: We wrote about the 6-6, 248-pounder at length yesterday. With his unique blend of length, speed and production, Jordan would add a versatile piece to the Eagles’ defense and could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 or SAM linebacker in a 4-3 under. Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro coached him in college, and Kelly admitted last week that Jordan has a special place in his heart.
Why he doesn’t: Jordan did not put up gaudy sack totals in college, but part of that was because of how he was used. He’ll need to add weight, which will not be easy right away, considering Jordan is scheduled to have surgery to repair a torn labrum (shoulder) on March 12 and will face a three-to-four month rehab stint. Jordan has high upside, but is not a proven commodity.
** By the way, Jordan was my answer to the initial question at the top of this post.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Why he makes sense: He is one of the few consensus top-five picks on the board. At 6-6, 306, Joeckel has the size and experience (three-year starter) at a position that teams value. If Jason Peters is healthy, Joeckel would have to start his NFL career at right tackle, and Todd Herremans would move inside to guard. Herremans is 30, and Peters is 31, so the Eagles very well could be on the lookout for a young tackle prospect.
Why he doesn’t: There’s not a whole lot here. The only thing you could really point to is he didn’t blow anyone away with his athleticism at the Combine. But by all accounts, the tape holds up. There’s a decent chance that Joeckel will be gone by the time the Eagles pick at No. 4.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Why he makes sense: At 6-7, 306, he too has prototypical size to be an NFL left tackle. He makes sense for many of the same reasons Joeckel makes sense. Fisher can come in, play right tackle and provide some youth at a very important position for the Eagles. “I already thought the gap was closed, to be honest with you,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, when asked about Fisher’s Combine performance. “I thought Eric Fisher closed the gap at the Senior Bowl. I loved him on the Michigan State [tape] before the Senior Bowl, and for me I don’t see a whole lot of difference between Joeckel and Fisher.”
Why he doesn’t: Playing in the MAC, Fisher didn’t play against top-level competition on a weekly basis, although Central Michigan did face Big Ten opponents Michigan State and Iowa last season. That’s why the pre-draft process was important for Fisher, and he’s done well for himself at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Why he makes sense: Milliner is the consensus top corner in the draft. At 6-0, 201 pounds, he opened some eyes with his 4.37 40 time at the Combine. Milliner would bring toughness to the Eagles’ secondary, and with no young, starting-caliber corners on the roster, he would fill a glaring need.
Why he doesn’t: The question with Milliner appears to be upside. Is his ceiling a perennial Pro Bowler or just a really good corner? Only two cornerbacks have been taken in the top five in the past 10 years. But if the Eagles think he’s special, Milliner could be the pick.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Why he makes sense: There’s plenty to like about Smith. He’s got decent size (6-2, 218), arm strength and athleticism (4.59 in the 40). A three-year starter, Smith threw 98 touchdowns and just 21 interceptions. Smith is not considered a can’t-miss prospect, but he appears to have plenty of attractive tools to work with. As always, QB evaluation varies from team to team. But if Chip Kelly likes what he sees out of Smith, don’t rule him out at No. 4.
Why he doesn’t: According to Mayock and other draft analysts, Smith’s issues have to do with consistency and footwork. Teams will have to determine whether those issues are correctable with coaching at the next level. His numbers are also skewed because of West Virginia’s system. For example, Smith completed 71.2 percent of his passes, but more than 33 percent of his attempts were behind the line of scrimmage.
JUST MISSED THE CUT
This type of post often leads to a bunch of How could you leave [insert prospect's name] off the list?! comments – which is perfectly fine. But I’ll at least offer a quick (preemptive) breakdown of the guys who just missed the cut.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida – Certainly not ready to rule him out completely. Floyd was probably the toughest omission from my top five. He can play defensive end in a 3-4 and either a 3-technique or a 5-technique in a 4-3 under. Floyd has drawn comparisons to Fletcher Cox, which is not a bad thing, considering how well Cox played as a rookie. But do the Eagles want to spent first-round picks in consecutive years on similar players? If they think he’s clearly the best available, they might decide that’s OK.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia – The key with him is medical. According to PFT, multiple teams have taken Jones off the board because of his spinal stenosis. But ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said Jones got a favorable medical review at the Combine. At 6-2, 245, Jones might not have the ideal length Kelly is looking for. But there’s no doubting his production. Jones played in the SEC and led the nation in sacks (14.5), tackles for loss (24.5) and forced fumbles (7). He most likely projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – Like Jones, the concern with Lotulelei is medical. He had to leave the Combine after tests showed an abnormal heart condition. We recently detailed Lotulelei’s round-about journey to the NFL. If his medical checks out, he’s expected to be a first-round pick. And he could play nose tackle for the Eagles.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama – The Eagles have the inside scoop on Warmack, considering offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was with him at Alabama. It seems like every year there’s a “can’t miss perennial Pro Bowl guard” in the first round. But look at the nine guards who got Pro Bowl recognition last year. Only two were first-round picks. Mayock called Warmack the best player he’s seen on tape so far. But I just don’t see the Eagles taking him as a top-five pick.