Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be on the conference call with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. yesterday because it was at the same time as the Eagles’ media availability.
But the fine folks at the world-wide leader provided a transcript of Kiper’s Q&A with reporters. Below are some noteworthy nuggets, as they pertain to the Eagles, along with my take.
Kiper on who the Eagles might take in the first two rounds: “Well, it’s going to be the Geno Smith discussion. Obviously a new coach, do you bring in your new quarterback with the new coach and go that route when you’re in a division with [Tony] Romo and Eli [Manning] and RG3? Do you go the offensive line route? You’ve got some outstanding left tackles. [Luke] Joeckel if he goes No. 1 is out of the loop, but then obviously Eric Fisher from Central Michigan and Lane Johnson from Oklahoma. You want the cornerback Dee Milliner from Alabama, you could go there. Then you can look quarterback second round, whether it’s an EJ Manuel, you hear his name for the Eagles in the early second round some.”
“So the Eagles, it depends on the first-round pick. That dictates what they do in Round 2. You take Geno Smith, you’re not taking an EJ Manuel. You take Geno Smith, then you’re probably looking at maybe a [Menelik] Watson, the offensive tackle from Florida State in the second round. Third round maybe a corner like B.W. Webb from William & Mary. So that’s some of the ways the Eagles could go.”
My take: As I mentioned earlier today, I don’t think Smith is going to be the pick at No. 4. My best guess right now is that they go with Joeckel or Fisher if one of the two is available. Lane Johnson (Oklahoma OT) is an interesting name. If the Eagles trade down, he’s someone I could see them targeting. And of course, EJ Manuel (Florida State QB) is an option in the second round.
Kiper on West Virginia’s Tavon Austin: “This kid is going to be drafted in the top 16. I think the furthest I could see him getting down to, well, the furthest I could see him is 23 to Minnesota; 16 to St. Louis is where I have him going. You could see him in the mix for Carolina, Tampa. A lot of teams could be in the mix for him, but I think St. Louis will be a good fit at 16.”
My take: Can’t you just see Chip Kelly begging Howie Roseman, Tom Gamble and company to take Austin? It’s probably unlikely, but if the Eagles trade down, I’m not ready to rule out the possibility of them targeting the most dynamic offensive playmaker in the draft. Austin might be the biggest wild card in the first round. Several teams could be interested in trading up to the middle of the first round to take him.
Kiper on the safety class: “There’s an elite group that are all going to go high. You’re going to have a run on safeties in the second round. If Jonathan Cyprien is not a first-round pick, out of Florida International, he will be a second. Matt Elam, if he’s not a 1, he’ll be a 2 out of Florida. Shamarko Thomas out of Syracuse will be a 2. J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern. Shawn Williams from Georgia could be a 3. D.J. Swearinger from South Carolina probably a 2. Eric Reid, LSU, probably more of a 3. Duke Williams is an interesting guy out of Nevada. I think Don Jones from Arkansas State is an underrated fifth-to-seventh round pick. Same thing with Ray Polk from Colorado. Rontez Miles from Cal PA has moved into that fifth-round mix. Zeke Motta would have been a third-round pick had he run better. He didn’t. Now he’s a late-round or priority free agent out of Notre Dame. Melvin White is a versatile kid out of Louisiana Lafayette.”
My take: The Eagles have not had good luck with safeties in the second round (Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett), but they could end up taking one there again. They signed Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips in the offseason, but Chung is coming off a down year, and Phillips has to prove he’s healthy. Don’t be surprised to see the Birds take a safety on Day 2.
Kiper on Matt Scott: “He’s probably in that four-to-five, four-to-six round area, and he’s probably going to go to a team that doesn’t have as critical a need, but wants to look at a young quarterback that maybe feels like, okay, let’s see if we can develop him, put him off the radar for a couple years and develop him the old-school way and see what happens there.”
My take: Scott should be a name to watch in the later rounds. The Eagles have shown pre-draft interest in the Arizona quarterback, and Kelly has a familiarity with him from his days in the Pac-12. If the Eagles don’t take Manuel in the second, Scott on Day 3 could be an option.
Kiper on San Diego State TE Gavin Escobar: “Yeah, Escobar is an interesting guy. I’ve liked him. You look at his skill set and how it translates to the NFL, I think ideally at 6-5 1/2, 6-6, 250 to 255 pounds, he runs well, he plays fast too many times, he’s got the hands, he’s got the natural receiving skills. I think he’s in that late-second, early-to-mid third round discussion. The 49ers could look at him at 61. There’s a couple teams, Tampa Bay could look at him in the third-round mix. There are some teams that could be looking at tight ends. Seattle even in the third round.”
My take: Tight end is a bit of a mystery. It’s not a pressing need for the Eagles. They have Brent Celek and James Casey in the fold, but we don’t know exactly how Kelly plans on featuring the position. We know he likes versatility and length. Escobar, who is one of the Eagles’ official visits, could be a third-round option. They could choose to wait on tight end and pick a lesser known prospect later in the draft.