With the draft exactly five weeks away, here are some links and notes worth your time…
Much of the recent conversation in Philadelphia has centered around West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Jeffrey Lurie explained why he felt it was necessary to attend Smith’s workout in Morgantown, alongside Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman.
If the Eagles do take Smith with the No. 4 overall pick, they’re expecting him to be the face of the franchise. And while on-field performance comes first, personality and character count as well – especially at quarterback. For some background on where Smith comes from and what his background is like, take a look at this feature from Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com.
But when it was over, after a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29, Smith sat dejected on the bus back to the hotel while Spavital tried to tell him what he had meant to West Virginia. Smith didn’t appear to be listening.
“Man, I thought I was playing pretty well,” Smith told him. “But going 7-6 makes me feel like I did nothing this year.”
Spavital, who’s now at Texas A&M, has coached Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum. Spavital says Smith is more prepared for the NFL than any other quarterback he has coached. Smith will surprise people, he said, in part because he can do so many things he wasn’t asked to do the last two seasons at West Virginia.
There’s still the question of whether Smith will even be there at No. 4. It seems unlikely that Andy Reid would take him with the first pick (despite what he says), but Jacksonville and Oakland are still possibilities.
From Don Banks of SI.com:
[Gus] Bradley also echoed what I’ve started hearing a bit from league sources, that Jacksonville was much more impressed with Smith last week than it was prepared to be. Both in his workout and in their one-on-one time. Again, it could be a smoke screen, and the Jaguars have plenty of other needs to address with their first pick. But I wouldn’t dismiss Smith in Jacksonville just yet.
Even if the Eagles don’t take Smith in the first round, they could draft a QB at some point. Arizona’s Matt Scott had an official visit to Philadelphia, and according to Anthony Gimino of the Tuscon Citizen, Kelly made Scott a scholarship offer after he had already committed to Arizona.
“I didn’t really have any interest at that time in changing my decision,” Scott told the paper.
The other name to keep an eye on is Florida State’s EJ Manuel. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently had some positive things to say about Manuel.
“I think he’s a better prospect than Christian Ponder was two years ago with more upside,” Mayock said, per NFL.com.
“In all honesty, I had Ponder a second-round guy and Minnesota took him pretty high, and the jury is still out there. I think this kid (Manuel) has better arm talent, he’s a bigger, more physical specimen and really his ceiling is higher. Now, I don’t know if his floor is as high, but his ceiling is higher.”
Mayock has Manuel listed as his second-best quarterback behind Smith, and he said during a Sirius XM interview that he believes three QBs will be taken in the first round. If he’s right, there’s a good chance Manuel might not even be there when the Eagles select in the second round.
But not everyone’s sold. Here’s Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com on Manuel:
Gave EJ Manuel a 3rd rd grade. Needs time to develop. Love his size but ? his pocket movement/field awareness. Liked J. Freeman better
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 20, 2013
As T-Mac reported earlier this week, the Eagles have scheduled a March 28 workout with Manuel in Tallahassee.