Eagles Wake-Up Call: Five Options At No. 35

The Eagles landed offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the No. 4 pick.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done. Here are five options for Birds with the 35th pick:

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – I’ll admit I didn’t see this coming. The West Virginia QB spent all of Thursday night in the green room without a team taking him. Only one signal-caller was selected in the first round, and that was Florida State’s EJ Manuel, who went to the Bills at No. 16. The Eagles did plenty of homework on Smith, and as I’ve written, there are likely aspects of his game that Kelly finds appealing. There are two picks before the Eagles are on the clock: Jacksonville and San Francisco. The Jaguars could certainly take Smith, or a team could trade up. If the Birds have the chance to take Smith at 35 and pass, it’s probably fair to say he’s not on their board at all. And that has to be considered a possibility at this point.

Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International – I thought he would go in the first round, but Cyprien is still available. Three safeties went off the board on Thursday: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (No. 15 to the Saints), LSU’s Eric Reid (No. 18 to the 49ers) and Florida’s Matt Elam (No. 32 to the Ravens). Cyprien (6-0, 217) and South Carolina’s DJ Swearinger are probably the top two safeties still available. It’s a need area for the Eagles, and there are still good players on the board.

Tank Carradine, OLB/DL Florida State – I was way off on my projection here, thinking Carradine would go in the top half of the first round. At 6-4, 276 (34 3/4-inch arms), he has size and versatility. But Carradine suffered a torn ACL in November, which could explain why he’s still available. The Eagles had him in for an official visit to the team facility. Chip Kelly said Thursday night that Dion Jordan was an option with the No. 4 pick. While Carradine’s a different player, perhaps he will be the outside linebacker the Eagles end up with. Update: Bad news on Carradine’s medical could cause him to drop.

Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State – He could be the best cornerback on the board. Taylor (5-11, 192) ran a 4.39 40 at the Combine, and many projected him to be a first-round pick. Four cornerbacks were taken Thursday night: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (No. 9 to the Jets), Houston’s D.J. Hayden (No. 12 to the Raiders), Washington’s Desmond Trufant (No. 22 to the Falcons) and Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (No. 25 to the Vikings).

Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford – The Eagles did plenty of work on tight ends during the pre-draft process. Ertz (6-5, 249) had 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns last season. And Kelly knows his talents all too well. Against Oregon last season, Ertz caught 11 balls for 106 yards and a score. He could be an option at No. 35.

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac has the full story on the Birds going with Johnson.

And here is what Johnson had to say about being selected fourth.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers his take on Johnson:

Johnson is a great athlete. His Combine workout would have been solid for a running back or linebacker, but it was phenomenal for an offensive tackle. He ran faster in the 40-yard dash than Anquan Boldin did at the Combine. Johnson is also strong, agile and explosive. His arms are 35 inches long, giving him an ideal frame for the offensive tackle position. Don’t think of Johnson as a finesse athlete. He has a big-time mean streak. He loves to run block and wants to bury his opponent in the ground. Johnson has excellent potential and could develop into a Pro Bowl player.

Rich Hofmann of the Daily News thinks the Eagles made the right choice:

I like it. We all have seen this team, in past seasons, attempt to prove that they were the smartest people in the room. To be fair, they did some smart things in the past. The way they have manipulated their picks in the later rounds of the draft really has been smart and profitable.

But in their first big spot together, Roseman and Kelly chose a solid, sensible guy who fit both the coach’s philosophy and the long-term needs of the franchise. We don’t know if Johnson can play, obviously, but the reviews have been good and the athletic potential is interesting.

COMING UP

More reaction on the Johnson pick, and we’ll look ahead to the rest of the draft.

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