Eagles Wake-Up Call: Star Lotulelei To Visit Birds

Howie Roseman said recently that he generally views the owners meetings as the transition point from free agency to the draft.

Now that the meetings have wrapped up (props to T-Mac for killing it with his coverage in Phoenix), it’s just about time to get into full draft mode.

Which brings us to today’s focus: Star Lotulelei.

We profiled Lotulelei back in February, but a lot has happened since then. Most notably, medical tests at the Combine revealed that the Utah DT had a heart abnormality. But according to The Salt Lake Tribune , the hope is that the issue was just caused by a virus and is not more serious.

“I came out of it with everything good,” Lotulelei said. “I played here three years and in high school and nothing ever happened. I was shocked and wanted to work out with the best of the best [at the Combine], and it was disappointing I didn’t get to work out. But everything happens for a reason, so I came out today and gave it my all.”

Lotulelei told reporters he only has one visit scheduled so far, and it’s with the Birds.

With size (6-4, 314) and versatility, Lotulelei has two qualities that Chip Kelly clearly covets on defense. He could play defensive end opposite Fletcher Cox when the team is in a 3-4 alignment. And he could turn into an interior pass-rusher in sub packages. Lotulelei has the size to play nose tackle too.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, a former scout for the Eagles, recently mocked Lotulelei to the Birds at No. 4:

The Eagles have focused on getting bigger on the defensive side of the ball. The trio of Isaac Sopoaga, Fletcher Cox and Lotulelei would be tough to run against.

There are several players who the Eagles could consider at No. 4, but Lotulelei is in the conversation.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Kelly talked about DeSean Jackson, science, size on defense and the Schuylkill.

He also discussed having to operate without an established franchise quarterback.

The Eagles will work out Florida State QB E.J. Manuel, plus good news on Jason Peters.

Tim rounds up some of the buzz on Cary Williams, Connor Barwin and others.

And a draft profile on another potential target for the Eagles at No. 4: Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Joe Banner says he and Jeffrey Lurie have patched things up. Courtesy of Paul Domowitch of the Daily News:

“[Our relationship] is different [now]. We were together for 18 to 19 years. Now we talk occasionally, text occasionally. So it’s different, but it’s friendly.

“We’ve been friends for 44 years. We’ve been too close for too long to let a moment like that change the long history that we have.”

Tommy Lawlor over at Iggles Blitz doesn’t see the Eagles taking Geno Smith with the fourth pick:

If things change and Smith is the pick, you can all beat me over the head with my prediction, but I don’t see the match.  When you draft a QB early, you’re looking for a star QB.  I see Smith as a future NFL starter, but I don’t see him as anything special.  Would he be an upgrade on Nick Foles?  Probably, but not definitively.  Before you go nuts and rant against me, remember all the sure-fire QBs who haven’t panned out: Joey Harrington, JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, David Carr, etc.  Those guys won trophies and bowl games and deserved to be high picks.  They all failed miserably.  Foles is far from a sure thing, but he has shown that he can be a functional player in the NFL.  Smith is a total unknown.

COMING UP

A bunch of posts planned, including an All-22 look at James Casey.

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

    I don’t know the Eagles only have 5 quarterbacks under contract, what’s the league minimum 6? They have to take Smith. I hope he has a high motor.

    • ErickW

      He’s also a good character guy with versatility.

  • GW.Fisher

    OT with the #4. #4 pick needs to be a 10 year starter…

    • Richard Colton

      How upset will you be if it’s Joeckel, and not your cousin Eric?

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Star is not a bad option at #4, i would love for them to trade Vick and Cole for some more picks. not certain cole can drop in coverage and may have lost a step rushing the passer. and we all know about MV7

    • theycallmerob

      Cole’s age and contract would probably discourage any team from trading; more likely, he’ll fall into more of a situational/pass-rushing role if Curry and Graham show something. I doubt he’ll be gone, though, as there is very little experience left among defensive players as well as the need for multiple linemen in sub packages.
      And, though not a fan, I think Vick will be on the team unless he shows in camp that he absolutely CANNOT run this offense, even for a year.

      • Brent E. Sulecki

        i agree.. but i think as soon as Vick has 3 turnovers in the first half of whatever game he plays in, Chip will pull the plug and go with a better option. and hopefully vick doesnt see the field ever again. but yeah i suppose he deserves a shot. im just not counting on him to be a smart qb and move this offense the way it should move. doesnt have the brain power and accuracy

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          Who’s considered the better option, Foles is prone to turning the ball over himself. 8 Fumbles and 6 ints speak to Foles attributes with ball security.

        • theycallmerob

          there is no way Kelly will continue to ride a QB, like Reid so stubbornly did, if he cannot avoid those turnover numbers. I simply cannot imagine it ever coming to that point. Even if all 5 qb’s failed miserably, at least it seems Kelly and Howie are building a young, deep team to support the next franchise qb.
          Also- there is still the draft.

      • nicksaenz1

        The dead money won’t allow Cole to be traded, likely until 2015 when he likely gets restructured or released, and I’d bet on released.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        Kelly plans to foster a running attack in Phila. The decisions in an option attack are slant, or dive. Phila has one of the premiere running backs in the NFL it only makes sense to sharpen their ground attack. Phila has big play receivers, Maclin and Jackson aren’t possession receivers who will work the middle of the field exploiting soft spots in the defense. There’s not much to run in this offense in handing the ball to Shady or quick screens to Jackson or Maclin.

    • 1972

      too many fans in this city love trent cole, I don’t get the love affair. I understand the guy is a hard worker. but he runs out of gas every year and last season him and his hunting buddy stole money and conspired to run directly pass running backs to rush the passer.On top of that he didn’t even rush the passer well enough. 3 sacks in 16 starts? Bench and hopefully cut in a year or so when hes more cap friendly. Hes N.D KALU at this point

  • BostonianEagle

    I’d really love Lotulelei. I’ve read much about him and how he is a game-changing DT. (I mean hell, DTs don’t go this high!) But there are a lot of DTs this year. If the Eagles can manage to squeeze another 2nd rounder out of this draft, they could be drafting a safety and a defensive tackle in a really deep S and DT draft, and save that #4 pick for Jockel, Fisher, or Millner. That’s 3 quality holes filled. I’d go that route. But again, Lotulelei can be a game-changing DT. I wouldn’t mind him at all. All in all, I’m pretty sure to state that I’ll be happy with almost anyone the Eagles draft. The top of the board has a lot of quality players that I don’t think they could go wrong unless they draft Geno Smith. (Not that he WILL be wrong, but we all know that Smith is a risk.)

    • B-West

      How you gonna get two 2nd rounders and keep #4?

      • UKEagle99

        +1

      • devCal

        trade maclin and/or trent cole.

        • B-West

          No chance you get a 2nd rounder for Trent. Hes an aging vet coming off a bad year with a large price tag. I know Philly fans don’t believe it, but his trade value is probably more in the 5-6th round range.

          Maclin is a little more intriguing, but hes overrated himself. Also, if a team gives up a pick to get him, it wouldn’t be for a one year rental. They’d be putting themselves on the hook to extend him, and that’s another hurdle. You can sell youth and upside with Maclin, but I don’t see anybody paying a 2nd rounder for him.

  • DutchEagle

    I think there’s enough value to trade down a few spots and still get a player we want/need. Fisher, Joeckel, Milliner, Lotulelei, Jordan (maybe Johnson, Smith); wouldn’t mind any of those. So in my opinion, we can safely drop 1-4 spots, get a 10 year star(ter) with our first round pick and maybe acquire another 2nd or 3rd rounder.

  • Warhound

    I’ve been wondering…. If you were an NFL GM or Head Coach would you accept that only about 8 QBs in the league can pull off a SB? Sooo…. If you don’t have one of those guys the best you can do is maybe one playoff win? Wouldn’t you want to figure out how to win championships without one of these guys? Comments?

    • jabostick

      QB reputations are a finnicky thing. There’s guys like Brees, Peyton, Brady, Rodgers that consistently look like superstars. Guys like Eli, Big Ben, Flacco can look downright pedestrian half of the time. Granted they’ve had a history of playing well in big spots, but they’ve also been incredibly fortunate too (the helmet catch, the insane Broncos breakdown this past season, etc) in addition to having good D’s and coaching around them. That’s probably the “how to win without one” formula.

      There’s no reason that Romo or Matt Ryan or Cutler or a host of the new young guys couldn’t get hot at the right time of year (again, combined with a D and good coaching and a couple of breaks) and get it done.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    A lot of us seem to be in favour of trading back. A few weeks back on Twitter Caplan said that trading back isn’t as easy as fans think it is. I wish he would have elaborated more,

    I wonder if it’s just the logistics getting it done in short time frame. Like say the number 3 pick just finishes, Buffalo or Arizona realizes that Geno is on the board and know Philly is open to moving back. You’ve gotta come to terms with another team in a few minute time span, do you have to fax the league? I’m sure some of these situations are pre arranged, but not all of them.

    Man it would be fun to be an NFL GM…. now.. back to my spread sheets.. :(

    • BlindChow

      I think it’s because you have to find someone to trade with. Chances are, if you think the players you want will still be on the board several picks later, other teams will feel the same way.

      I think our best chance will be if a team wants Milliner. He probably won’t make it past the Lions, so if he’s still on the board at 4, perhaps a team trades up, like the Cowboys did with Claiborne last year.

      I believe if a team wants Geno, they’ll be trading with KC to make sure the Jaguars and Oakland don’t take him.

      • jabostick

        Good call. Maybe if the Jets traded Revis they’d be a good target for a trade and we wouldn’t move so far back that we’d be out of the running for a top pick.

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    Taking a Defensive Tackle in the top 10 picks is a risky move, one that gets Coaches and General Managers Fired. In the last 10 drafts teams who had taken Defensive Tackles with one of the top 10 picks NOT named Raji, of the Packers, or Shu, of the Lions aren’t heading draft boards this year. Lotulelei is not Shu, or even played in a conference as tough as either Shu or Raji played in college. It really matters who Lotulelei and any other top pick matched up against to rack up their stats. Utah doesn’t play the schedule that Florida does, thus Lotulelei hasn’t faced the competition Floyd or Ohio St DT Hankins has in their college careers.

    Kelly being an innovative thinker and numbers man has to understand those statistics going into the draft. By the numbers, Lotulelei just doesn’t factor into being a pick that high. Last year Poe to Kansas City, and Fletcher to the Eagles were the first two tackles taken at 11 and 12, Both were good values at those spots. In 2010 McCoy to Tampa Bay was the third player drafted, Tampa has a new Coach and General Manager this year, 2008 Dorsey went 5th to Kansas City, Andy Reid is the new Coach in Kansas City and Paoli is out as GM.

    • limodriver27

      We all know that each position in the draft has a rating value, so to give up the fourth pick gives us X amount of points. We then evaluate what is offered to us in value of lesser (lower) picks and/or a player to equal the amount of the fourth that we gave up. Same goes for a player’s value at the draft position he is sitting at, the team faced with that choice and what that team values him at. Correct me if I’m wrong but supply and demand come into play. (“We’ve got what you want, what’s it worth to you?”).

    • laeagle

      I’d be curious to see what the failure rate of DTs is versus any other position. Your arguments sets it up as if they have a higher failure rate, but I don’t know that that’s the case. Not saying it isn’t, just saying that your evidence is currently thin. Based on just my impression of drafts and not on actual stats, I would guess that DTs do NOT have a higher failure rate than other positions (like, say QB or WR). Saying that picking a DT is risky doesn’t have much meaning without context. ANY draft pick is risky, and unless a DT pick is demonstrably riskier than any other position, all you’re really saying is that “making draft picks is risky”. Doesn’t reflect on Star at all if that’s the case.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        Review every defensive tackle drafted with one of the top 10 picks over the last 10 seasons.

        Every coach and general manger who drafted a defensive tackle with one of the first 10 picks except Raji, and Suh has been fired within 2 years of those picks

    • theycallmerob

      I think you need to understand the difference between correlation and causation before making such a stretch about the firings. Raji played in the ACC, Suh (not shu) played in big 12. Lotulei was pac12 this year, and Utah is not exactly a D-III school. Your argument has major flaws.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        How about this in keeping this simple,

        The replacing of General Mangers and their corresponding coaches correlates to those decision makers “Drafting” a defensive tackle with one of their top 10 picks over the previous 10 NFL Drafts. The exceptions were Shu and Raji, Green Bay and Detroit coaches haven’t been replaced as that information relates to their draft decisions.

        Lotulelei hasn’t faced in the Pac 12 this season the competition players in the SEC face week in and week out. There are but three NFL ranked offensive linemen in the Pac 12 this year who are contenders in this 2013 draft, Lotulelei has faced two of them in Utah playing Cal and USC.

  • Jack Waggoner
  • 1972

    grab the right nose tackle and the d is solid enough to make a playoff run.cox,/star or Floyd
    barwin and ryans reunited
    Phillips and chung/ elam on the back end. That’s a winning defense

  • Max Lightfoot

    I think of Star as Rats until he can prove he’s healthy.

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    Star’s in the same boat as Jarvis Jones. I’d be thrilled with having them but I get this feeling that if another team drafts them they play 15 years but if it’s the Eagles then the medical condition takes center stage.

  • Stankylegs

    Man, I hate Fletch is getting bumped outside for the 3-4 switch. He’d have an easier time making a pro bowl in a 4-3.

  • Bald eagel in va.

    Just get the best player on the board at the time of the pick..

  • Jimbo99

    Star Lotulelei is a disaster waiting to happen. Does he collapse in training camp or on the field during the season ? I see him like Mike Patterson, Eagles had to carry him thru that and they should have learned from that mistake. The Eagles can ill-afford another player to have an abnormality. Patterson’s defect showed after he made the team, this player’s defect is known long before even drafting him.

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp11/story/_/id/6832833/mike-patterson-philadelphia-eagles-tangle-blood-vessels-skull

    • Jimbo99

      Eagles are an upstanding organization, but before long, they start picking up players that are health issues and or troublemakers and before long the reputation for this is made. Dallas did it for while with certain players, never won a playoff game. Even Jones had to stop doing that. Obamacare will help these players out soon enough if medical attention is what they need. And a multi-million $ contract isn’t necessary nor is taking up a spot on the roster. I may sound heartless, but this won’t be the last one that needs surgery for something that’s been known for years and ignored. I doubt this is the first time anyone has diagnosed it. Only this time, the NFL was the employers that discovered it when this guy is actually looking for a high paying job.

  • adam

    i really think they will take geno smith with this pick, but i would like them to go after milliner or trade down to 8 and then get an additional second round pick and select chance warmack then get ej manuel round 2 BUT the eagles seem to be drooling over geno smith as of now