Twitter Mailbag: Pondering A Tavon Austin Pick

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @heemy224:  each year the Linc has that huge photo of a player on the stadium symbolizing the face of the team.Who is the face of the Eagles now?

Funny you should mention that. I was driving past the stadium with my wife recently and we noticed that there is only one of those long, vertical images attached to the outside of the Linc at the moment. I believe the jersey number was 25 but it didn’t have a real likeness to LeSean McCoy. From what I gather those are designed to be generic and not represent any specific player, but didn’t one just recently closely resemble DeSean Jackson? Am I crazy?

Anyway, I think the answer is that no player is the face of the franchise right now. And the Eagles aren’t trying to force one, either. They’re focused on selling the name on the front, not the back, at least until a clear-cut leader emerges (likely in the form of a franchise quarterback).

Consider their three top-selling jerseys from 2012:

1) McCoy
2) Jackson
3) Michael Vick

McCoy is coming off that ugly Twitter exchange with the mother of his child, Jackson is a risky bet, and Vick has not been guaranteed the starting job (plus he has one year left on his deal). There is no reason to try and heavily market any of those players right now.

What I also found interesting is that Brian Dawkins‘ jersey was very competitive this past season in terms of percentage sold. Yes, he had his number retired, but it also speaks to the connection fans continue to feel with No. 20, and maybe the lack of connection they had to last year’s team as well.

With no player standing above the rest, the face of the team has to be Chip Kelly. There is a freshness and an excitement surrounding the new head coach, and I fully expect the Eagles to embrace that.

From @aerelorn: I’ve seen more than one person mock Tavon Austin to the Eagles at 4 or after trading down. How likely do you think that is?

So Kelly has gone through the game tape of all these potential picks by now, you would imagine. Picture him in a dark office. The projector comes on. Up flashes cut-ups of Austin. Darting through traffic. Cutting, stopping, starting. Embarrassing Division I athletes. Lining up in the backfield. Returning punts. Returning kicks. Scoring touchdowns.

It’s enough to give an offensive junkie the shakes, right?

I am sure the powers-that-be have talked about him, and I’m sure I am not the only one that wonders if he can be Kelly’s NFL version of De’Anthony Thomas.

The Eagles have been adamant that they plan on taking the best available player. It is not inconceivable that they have a very high grade on Austin. If they stay true to the plan, maybe they would take a skill position player over, say an offensive lineman,  if they truly felt he was best available. (Would anyone be shocked if Austin won Rookie Of the Year, by the way?) It all depends on that top-secret draft board of theirs.

While this draft in particular is difficult to project, it seems likely that the Eagles could trade back a bit and still snare the West Virginia receiver if that’s their target. I am not predicting it happens, but I can’t say I would be shocked.

From @Barltrop19: if a team offers the Eagles enough for them to trade down to mid 1st, who do they take? Hope OT Johnson or DT Star falls?

Even if Austin is not their man it is certainly possible they trade out. (Sheil has a good breakdown of what they could potentially get in return.)

The most likely scenario to me would be if Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are both off the board by the time they are on the clock. They might be able to move back a few spots at that point and grab OT Lane Johnson or a player with a similar grade. Star wouldn’t be a bad bet, either.

My sense is that teams feel there is a drop-off after the first 11 or 12 picks, so I don’t anticipate the Eagles moving too far back if they decide to give up the No. 4 spot.

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

    Mixed feelings on a potential Austin pick… part of me doesn’t think it’s a good use of resources, with us already having DeSean to fill the speedy receiver niche.. and we have needs at other positions……but then I just watch this kid play, and can’t help but lick my chops thinking of what Chip could do with him. He might be the same height/weight/speed as DeSean but they’re just built differently, Tavon can do so much more. WR/KR/PR/RB.

    And then I tell myself, well we’d have to trade back for me to be okay with this move. But there really is no other offensive player in this draft that has as much potential to become a game changer. If he were to become Chip’s NFL Black Mamba, he would easily be worth 4th overall pick.

    Truly a fascinating player. Glad I’m not the person who has to make the decision on April 25th.

  • jabostick

    Well, thanks a lot Tim. I was perfectly content in my expectation that we draft one of the Tackles, Star or Sharrif, or Dion. Now I kind of want Austin ha.

  • knighn

    Since Chip Kelly is the face of the franchise now, does that mean we trade in our Jerseys for Visors?

    Tavon Austin is unquestionably a playmaker. However, I would have an issue with the following players all on the field at the same time: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Tavon Austin. You put that all together and that’s a lot of “little” out there! If we stick with Kelly’s “bigger people beat up little people” idea, that would mean the Eagles are about to get their asses kicked!

    EDIT:
    This has me wondering about a couple of other ideas:
    1) If the Eagles pick up Tavon Austin, would they try to trade DeSean Jackson?
    2) If the Eagles keep DeSean Jackson, would Kelly then use his O-players in certain “packages”? Maybe he doesn’t keep DeSean and Tavon on the field at the same time in all situations. Maybe, like in basketball, there would be times he would want to “go big” and there would be times he would want to “go fast”. Just a thought.

    • jabostick

      If those were your 3 WR’s, I’m guessing he’d try and compensate with a big/playmaker TE and just play the mismatch. Red Zone would also be more of an issue

    • southy

      imagine austin under center in a wildcat with desean and damaris johnson as split backs running crazy misdirection plays.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Who is your big productive receiver?

      With Desean or Tavon stretching defenses, who’s going to work the middle of the field with the Safeties playing deep center field? Maclin nor is Celek dependable catching in traffic between the hashmarks. The Best chance an offense has is to split Tavon and Desean and let Shady run behind Peters as the Tight End keeps the Linebackers busy in coverage. Receiver screens fit perfectly in the spread option offense.

      • theycallmerob

        Benn?

        • GGeagle

          Desean is untradeable compared to Maclin. If a Reciever will be dealt, it would UNDOUBTABLY be Maclin. NO SHOT IN HELL they keep Maclin, but trade Desean and eat all that dead money…If they trade Maclin and grab Tavon(I cant even believe Im talking baout this fantasy shit lol), Tavon would stay in the slot, DJax on the outside and Cooper/Benn/or another drafted reciever would compete for the recievr spot opposite Desean…Maybe if we already traded Maclin off the team, Talking about trading Desean might make a little more sense..Desean and Maclin would get the same compenmsation in return, so you would look to trade the 1 that is only signed for a year, and the one you dont have to take the Cap hit to trade.. you arent eating a ton of dead money to swap desean for Austin, while Maclin goes into the final year of his contract…It just doesnt work that way

          • Token

            Again, just dont get this thinking.

            Maclin is the better overall WR out of the two. I dont question that for a minute. Jackson is a one trick pony and his production doing that has diminished year after year after year.

            Maclin on the other hand has been very consistent. Your going to get 800-900 yards and hes going to score TDs. If he could only stop missing a few games a year we would be looking at a 1000 yrd, 6-10 TD a year WR. And thats been with the same terrible QB situation Jackson has had.

            People undervalue Maclin in the redzone too. The majority of his TDs come in the redzone.

            If a WR would be traded it should be Jackson. For various reasons.

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          Is Benn any more productive than McNutt, or Cooper? I’d say the answer is imbedded in this draft, you think that’s a possible scenario?

          There’s alway the 6’8″ signee who clocked a 4.4 40, now that’s intriguing. Hell if I had a wish, that’s the one wish I’d desire, the 6’8″ signee turns in performances this year that rival those of Larry Fitzgerald, 70 receptions for 1100 yards……

          • Geagle

            Oh no my brother…this time next year we are going to be baffled at how we got Benn for so little. That kid is a serious talent..what happens is injuries derail your career, and it gets to the point where young toent needs a fresh start. I’m telling you right now, if Benn stays healthy, I think he will be so good that it makes Maclin expendable….been isn’t some Flier, the kid is a serious talent, with a physical presence we have seen since T.O

          • theycallmerob

            Mmmm….im with you there. I can only dream of Momah playing up to that potential…..and honestly, my dream would be to have Benn and Momah make the team over avant and cooper. Benn would make an amazing slot receiver if he played to what some expect of him/think he’s capable of. And though there are good WR in the draft, Im not sure we use a pick this year on a RB or WR (maybe UFA?)

  • atlvickfan

    I’m sure Alex Henery will be around for a long time, maybe they can market him.

  • @heemy224

    Austin is a top 10 talent. Defenses would shake at the thought of Austin, Mccoy, Jackson, Maclin…Whoa. I’m getting excited just picturing what Chip (the face) could create with theses young playmakers. I say drop back a couple ( maybe 7 or 8) and get Tavon. Also as for our Oline needs there is still a couple of beast OTs FAs.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Maclin isn’t a talent at receiver any Defensive Coordinator has to game plan for there are only Jackson and McCoy who command special attention from defenses and must be recognized when the Eagles break their huddle. Austin in the slot could present matchup problems for a base defense. It’s impossible to present 7 in the box with Jackson and Austin spread on either side, any line up with speedsters wide and in the slot loosens running lanes for Shady.

  • peteike

    I think only way they would consider Austin is if they could trade DeSean. I also dont think DeSeans contract/skillset are as tradeable as Maclin. It wouldnt make sense to trade Maclin and keep Austin and DeSean, too similar. Imagine they took Austin in first and EJ in second, it sure would be exciting but no Oline or D players picked with first two. Hows that for a scenario, pick up depth at Oline and D later in draft ha. Sounds like Austin is in the Percy Harvin Mold

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    If Kelly, in that same projection room has viewed images of the 2012 Eagles offense there’s no way he’s going to bypass a tackle at pick 4, Given his assessment on the Offensive Line during the interview on the Network and his earlier description of the kind of Offensive Linemen he convents.

    What good is Austin if the Quarterback is laying on his back?

    • GGeagle

      what good is either when you only have 2 starting defensive lineman? Is there some crazy 2-5-4 defensive alignment that I dont know about? RIGHT NOW, we have 3 capable Lineman that we can count on..3tec Cox, and Thorton as his back up, and an old stop gap Sopo at NT…THATS IT! and people have the audacity to think about QB’s and Recievers? or a 4th OT?

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        It’s pretty obvious Coach Kelly and the team down at Nova-Care does not see things as you forecast them to be nor share none of the sentiments you project.

      • Jack Waggoner

        lots of decent d-tackle types should be available in mid to low rounds this year. DT and CB seem to be stacked with depth in this draft (when I say DT I am also referring to 3-4 DE)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.hartwell.58 Mike Hartwell

    I love the way he tosses the ball to the closest ref after every td. Shows some class imo….

    • http://www.facebook.com/mike.hartwell.58 Mike Hartwell

      wow….barry sanders moves, great vision, I want this guy on my team. Trade down a few and get him. Waits for blockers, sees everything…which is probably why he can do the perfect quick-toss to the refs…he knows where everyone is…

      • UKEagle99

        Waits for blockers/blocks could be the issue with this pick. The whole premise is built around 3 players coming back from fairly serious injuries.

  • ohitsdom

    Not sure I buy your logic, Tim. Teams wanting to trade up if Joeckel and Fisher are gone would be doing so to get Lane Johnson. The top 3 tackles are all close in grade, and there’s a big drop after. Our biggest chance at a trade back is to a tackle needing team, so we shouldn’t count on getting one of the three if we do trade back. I’m definitely hoping to trade with Miami and get Austin then.

  • GGeagle

    Only shot in hell that Tavon Austin lands in Philly is if they trade Maclin and get a decent pick in return. Amazing, electrifying Talent, but I would stay away from players that are destined to get a concussion. His style of play will probably get him killed at the next level, and thas a shame cause he is an amazing player. if you want to play in the NFL at his size you can only play 3 ways:
    1)Run Clear crisp routes like Marvin Harrison, catch the ball and GET DOWN IMMEDIATELY!
    2)Wes Welker, slot guy who will do his thing but make sure he gets down and avoid hits
    3)a Deep threat Homerun hitter who will never be anywhere near a linebacker a la Desean
    Maybe Tavon will adjust to one of these styles..i WORRY that his fearless nature will get him murdered. I dont see how he could play the way he played in College, You cant play like a running back at 174lbs in the NFL. 1 hit will change everything.
    The only skill position I would be ok adding in the first 5 rounds is a TE…When you arent set at Oline, or defensive front 7, wtf is the point in adding skill players? Thats not the way the niners were built…we already have so much potential at the skill positions. Now people are just being Fockin greedy, talking about Tavon Austin with our 1st pick…
    .Let me say this…I will want the HONEYBADGER on our team when we have to play against Tavon

  • UKEagle99

    Damn that’s a fine tune, good job I’m not in the war room I’d draft a waterboy after watching a tape with that tune on it!

  • GGeagle

    If Im a team, and I see that one of the teams in my division drafted Tavon Austin, Im doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to make sure I get the HoneyBadger

    • Jack Waggoner

      probably won’t take that much

  • GGeagle

    My expectations:
    Jets draft Tavon Austin at #9, then draft Geno Smith with the 13th pick that they will aquire from sending Revis to Tampa
    Take that to the bank!

  • Chuck Dougherty

    Whoa….Austin just gave me a football boner!

  • Stephen

    Desean Jackson is basically playing on a 1 year contract this year. All of his guaranteed money is in the first 2 years of his contract. In 2014, he is only guaranteed $250,000 of his salary.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast/post/_/id/37059/breaking-down-desean-jacksons-deal

    The Eagles could easily release/trade Jackson at the end of this season if Jackson doesn’t show Chip what he is looking for on and off the field. We already know Desean isn’t the most versatile player on the roster and I’m sure Chip wants to find out if Desean really loves football or if he thinks of it as a job.

    Maclin is also playing on a 1 year contract this year as he is a unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

    There is a possibility that both Jackson and Maclin aren’t here next year if they don’t show Chip what he is looking for.

    Just like in the 2002 Draft when the fans didnt see Lito and Sheldon being selected, the team was looking at the big picture. Chip is just beginning to build the roster. Over the next 2-3 years, many more players will be replaced as Chip looks to build his type of team with his type of players.

    Austin makes a ton of sense as he is a clone of D’Anthony Thomas at Oregon. Chip must be drooling at the thought of drafting Austin.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      It’s probably more advantageous to dangle Jackson now and see if there are any bites. Waiting til next year for either can result in receiving no compensation.

      • Stephen

        I agree 100%. I would definitely lean that way as I question just how much Jackson really fits into the mold of a Chip Kelly type of player. I doubt they go that route however unless Jackson wasn’t buying in early to what Chip is preaching and it doesn’t seem like that is happening…….yet.

        I just can’t help to think of what Chip would of thought when Desean wasn’t giving his best effort 2 years ago when he was unhappy over his contract. Chip is all about the team, next man up, put the team before yourself, live, eat, and breathe football. Selfishness is not in his vocabulary.

        Guys like James Casey were brought in to be tempo setters for this program. Chip will get rid of any player that doesn’t fit the mold he is looking for. I expect a drastic change of the roster over the next 3 years.

        • nicksaenz1

          he’s 8mil in dead money this year if traded and 6mil next year (2014). not all about base salary. next year he could be cut to save 6 mil but a restructure appears to be the more likely scenario since his total cap hit for 2014 is 12+mil, leaving some wiggle room in the numbers. he may be very inclined to restructure since he’s only 2mil in dead money to the team if they cut him in 2015, therefore restructuring would guarantee he gets money for a longer stretch. the wild card here, is if he manages to finally put together a full season and starts putting up numbers beyond our wildest dreams, which seems unlikely

  • Septhinox

    If the team did draft Austin, wouldn’t that be a sign that they are either not resigning Maclin or trading him?

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Interesting, would the Eagles possibly be ready to throw in their chips on Maclin already. I don’t think he’s impactive or performing as a first rounder should, however, could he possibly catch on in a new scheme? Trading Maclin is difficult now with the availability of the Free Agent Receivers to choose from.

      He’s not going to command the attention that Boldin got on the block nor can I see trading a pick in this draft or next year’s for Maclin when Randy Moss or some other credible receiver is laying on the wire.

      • Token

        One thing thats always amazing to me is Eagles fans hate for Maclin and love for Jackson. Ive tried to make sense of it but cant.

        I guess impact doesnt mean putting points on the board.

        • UKEagle99

          100% agree. The guy is 25 in May and has already achieved a lot. The perception is he has slightly under achieved but only because massive expectations were put on him. He led the league in red zone TDs in 2010, I guess he misses #5, his production seems to have dropped since that Easter day trade.

        • nicksaenz1

          Not only that but the unfounded claims to support it. Boldin never hit the block and the Ravens got a last minute 6th rounder instead of releasing him and there’s currently no free agent receivers available that aren’t RFAs. Like teams are clamoring to get their hands on Moss right now…

          • Token

            The reality is Boldin is 33 this season and has had at best the same production as Maclin over the last 3 seasons. Boldin is just a hot name right now. And yea, Randy Moss….. jesus.

            Is Maclin the next Nikola Vucevic or Sergei Bobrovsky? It would be a mistake to ship him out. If one had to go it should be Jackson.

          • nicksaenz1

            I agree. i was supporting your point while noting, even mocking, the fact that this guy never has his facts straight, well, never has facts.

  • Geagle

    I’m still on cloud 9 baffled at how we managed to get Arreluis Benn? What a coup that will prove to be if he stays healthy

  • Wilbert M.

    Austin is a luxury this team can’t afford when it desperately needs defensive talent. I have been all for drafting Joeckel/Fisher but I now think Star is the pick.

    • Jack Waggoner

      nah.

  • eaglesanch

    As much as I’d like some help on Defense, it would be nice for Kelly to get his players on Offense for him to lay the foundation. Eagles aren’t going anywhere this year anyways with the QB’s on this roster. Why not load up on playmakers and look to next year for a QB and some help on Defense? QB Draft class seems pretty weak this year.

  • Jack Waggoner

    ..replaced with other post

  • Jack Waggoner

    I don’t worry so much about need or position but what I do worry about is how you are going to use guys that you get. How do they fit with what you already have, or what would you have to do to make them fit.

    So if you’re telling me we’re going to package our first pick and Maclin and maybe trade down to pick up Austin and some more picks, that’s a plan. Just drafting Austin and trying to fit him in with Jackson and Maclin though doesn’t seem like it would work to me.