Wake-Up Call: How Early Is Too Early?

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The Eagles weren’t planning on taking a quarterback in the fourth round last year, exactly. There wasn’t really a plan at all in that sense. They had Matt Barkley rated significantly higher than any of the remaining prospects, and decided the best value play was to move up to grab him. Pretty straightforward.

Funny thing about this time of year: We know that the Eagles have been disciplined about choosing the best available player in recent drafts and that most teams try to stay true to that approach, yet we often predict and project based on need. It’s our answer to the blindfold  as we try to make our darts fly a little straighter. We’d be better served looking back at the Zach Ertz pick in the second round and the Barkley selection in the fourth and realize it’s about the player and not the position.

If it was about the position, it would be about quarterback. It’s no secret that this league is largely about having quality signal-callers, and Howie Roseman has made it known that the Eagles won’t stop hunting even though Nick Foles laid claim to the starting gig with a spectacular 2013 season.

“I think we have to be careful in saying what we don’t need or what we may have on the roster because you never know what you may need going forward,” said Roseman immediately following the season, when asked how Foles’ emergence would affect the offseason approach to the QB position. “The way we’ll look at it, if there is a talented player player at any position and we have him highly ranked in the draft and he’s on the board when we pick, we’re going to be interested in him. I think if you get into the mode of, ‘We have this so we don’t need,’ you never know where the league is going to take you.”

I was thinking about this quote on Wednesday as a couple respected analysts suggested that at least one top-ranked quarterback could be facing a free-fall on draft day. Albert Breer believes Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater could drop, noting that while some teams like him, he was having a difficult time finding one that loved him. Paul Domowitch added this:

It’s less about Bridgewater specifically and more about the general idea. How early is too early to use a pick on a quarterback when you appear to have a long-term starter in place? On one hand, the Eagles only have six picks in this draft at the moment and have plenty of other areas that need addressing. On the other, there is no greater commodity  in this league than a quality quarterback. If there is one on the board that carries the highest grade of the players available, do you snag him?

From what we gather, the Eagles don’t view any of the quarterbacks in this class as can’t-miss prospects. They spoke with Derek Carr of Fresno State “at length” during the Senior Bowl and did some follow-up work, we’re told, but did not schedule a visit with him. They have shown “no interest” in LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, according to another source. Local product  Tom Savage hasn’t received much love from the Eagles. And the Tajh Boyd camp isn’t getting the vibe that Philly is a likely landing spot.

Could be that the team’s actual interest goes beyond what they’ve shown so far. Might very well be that they have eyes for some other QB in the draft. At the very least, it’s plausible that they’ll run into a situation where they are on the clock, and the player with the highest grade happens to play quarterback.

Last season, the logical play was to pull the trigger. Foles was an unknown, Michael Vick was a short-term option and the job was up for grabs. This time around, Foles is coming off a 29-2 campaign and the backup options (which include that fourth-round pick from a year ago) seem passable.

But, as we need to remind ourselves regularly this time of year, the Eagles are trying to go best player available. And the BPA method is almost guaranteed to draw a surprise or two — at least for those that are looking exclusively at need.

WHAT YOU MISSED

DeSean Jackson owes Drew Rosenhaus some money.

In the latest installment on Draft Daily, we go one-on-one with Calvin Pryor. 

Sheil on the possible tweaks that Chip Kelly will make in Year 2.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

One of Kelly’s former playmakers is reportedly on the trade block. From the Sacramento Bee:

According to a league source, the 49ers have been shopping running back LaMichael James, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft…

As for possible trade partners for James, the Eagles at one point seemed like a realistic destination considering head coach Chip Kelly was James’ coach at Oregon and that the man who scouted James for the 49ers, Tom Gamble, is now with the Eagles organization. Philadelphia, however, traded for another running back, Darren Sproles, last month.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has the Eagles selecting Ohio State corner Bradley Roby in the first round.

Roby is a talented cover man with the speed, athleticism and movement skills to thrive in an aggressive scheme.

COMING UP

A Twitter Mailbag and more pre-draft goodness.

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