Day 2 Eagles Draft Targets: 15 Names To Know

We’ve discussed the Eagles’ first-round options quite a bit in this space.

But there’s plenty of talent to be found on Friday and Saturday too. The Birds currently have a pair of Day 2 picks:  Nos. 35 (second round) and 67 (third round). They could acquire more if they trade down in the first round.

So here’s a list of 15 names to know. These are potential Round 2 or Round 3 options. Obviously, there’s plenty of guess-work involved since we don’t know who’s going to go in the first round, so consider this a starting point. I’m sure you all have names that I left off, so feel free to chime in with those in the comments section (as if you need any encouragement!).

Also, before we start, I wanted to pass along some helpful draft resources:

* The PhiladelphiaEagles.com film room series with Greg Cosell, Adam Caplan and Fran Duffy.

* The Shutdown Corner podcast with Yahoo Sports’ Doug Farrar and Cosell.

* Mike Mayock’s top-100 on NFL.com.

* Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 on NFL.com.

These are in no particular order:

EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State (6-5, 237) – Readers of Birds 24/7 know the name well. Manuel has been providing us with an insightful draft diary over the last couple of months. He has the physical attributes Chip Kelly is likely looking for in a quarterback, even if the college production didn’t always match the potential. Manuel has created a lot of buzz throughout the pre-draft process, and there’s certainly a chance he could go in the first round. But Mayock said recently he believes only one QB will go off the board Thursday night.

If the Eagles really like Manuel, they could consider using the 35th pick to trade back into the back end of the first round. The Jaguars could take Manuel at No. 33, but there’s a chance the Eagles could stay put and still land him.

Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama (6-3, 323) – We know the Eagles are in the market for versatile defensive linemen, and Williams falls into that category, with the ability to play nose tackle or the 5-technique. Cosell of said recently that he doesn’t see a major difference between Williams and Star Lotulelei. The problem? Williams might not last to No. 35. Several mocks have him going in the back end of the first round. One team to watch is the 49ers, who lost Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency. They’ve got picks 31 and 34, and could snag Williams.

Kyle Long, OL, Oregon (6-6, 313) – We’re going to find out just how much Kelly values familiarity. Long, of course, played for Kelly at Oregon and also falls into the versatile category, with the ability to play both guard and tackle. Another plus is athleticism, but Long has just one year of experience at the D-1 level, having transferred from junior college. He’ll turn 25 in December, but Long might not face much of a learning curve if he plays in Kelly’s system. There’s a chance he goes in the first round, but if not, Long would certainly be an option at 35.

D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina (5-10, 208) – The Eagles want to add toughness to a secondary that has looked soft the past couple of years. Swearinger is one of the biggest hitters at the position, but he’s not a one-trick pony. A four-year starter in college, Swearinger showed coverage chops as well. He’s not the tallest guy (5-10) and only ran a 4.67 40 at the Combine, but Swearinger could be the best Day 2 safety on the board, assuming Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro and Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien are taken in the first round.

Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State (6-0, 192) – We mentioned yesterday that this is a deep and talented cornerback class. But it’s a need position for many teams, meaning we could see a run in the end of the first round. With his size (6-0) and speed (4.36 40), Slay might even hear his name called on Thursday night. But if he’s there at 35, the Eagles could pounce.

Margus Hunt, DL, SMU (6-8, 277) – If Kelly really likes long players on defense, he has to be intrigued by Hunt. A physical specimen, Hunt ran a 4.60 at the Combine and benched 225 pounds 38 times. Originally coming to America from Estonia with track and field aspirations, Hunt is still relatively new to the game and will be 26 in July. But he had eight sacks last season, blocked 17 (!!!) kicks in college and has a blend of length and athleticism that is unmatched. Hunt projects as a 5-technique in a 3-4 and figures to go off the board in the second round.

Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State (6-0, 241) – This time of year, analysts, scouts and others spend a considerable amount of time poking holes at very good prospects. But in doing my research, I really had trouble finding anyone saying anything negative about Brown, other than that he’s not the biggest guy. Bryce’s brother finished up a stand-out career at Kansas State and figures to be one of the first inside linebackers off the board. Cosell called him his favorite linebacker prospect overall. If the Eagles spend a second-round pick on him, it would fall in the “best player available” category. With Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans on the roster, they have starting inside linebackers in place. But they don’t have a lot of depth, and the Eagles could find Brown’s production and versatility appealing.

Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati (6-5, 255) – Let’s stick with the brother theme, shall we? The Eagles have done a lot of homework on tight ends, including Jason’s brother, Travis. Kelce had off-the-field issues at Cincinnati, and sports hernia surgery kept him from working out at the Combine. But on the field, he presents a versatile skill set, with the ability to block, make plays in the vertical passing game and rack up yards after the catch. He is expected to be a second- or third-round pick.

It’s a deep tight end class, and I didn’t want to include them all here as separate entries. But some other Day 2 guys to watch: Stanford’s Zach Ertz, San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar and Rice’s Vance McDonald.

Robert Woods, WR, USC (6-0, 201) – Wide receiver is an under-the-radar position to watch for the Eagles. They added Arrelious Benn in the offseason, and Jeremy Maclin is in the final year of his contract. Woods had 32 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans and caught 20 balls for 183 yards and three scores in three games against Oregon. Woods does not have elite speed (4.51), but he can probably line up inside or outside and has experience as a returner. He’s expected to be a Day 2 pick.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn (6-1, 195) – The Eagles signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, who are 6-1 and 6-0, respectively. Wreh-Wilson is one of the longer cornerback prospects available, and he ran a 4.53 at the Combine. Could be an option in the second round.

Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Mississippi (6-3, 250) – If the Eagles don’t take Dion Jordan in the first round, Collins could be an option on Day 2. In addition to his height, Collins has long arms (33 3/4 inches). He had 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a senior and tested well at the Combine (4.64 40, 41.5-inch vertical).

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas (5-9, 183) – An elite athlete, Goodwin ran a 4.27 40 at the Combine and competed in the Olympics in the long jump, finishing 10th. He is not a polished receiver, but can use his speed in a variety of ways – catching the ball, running the ball and on special teams. Obviously not the biggest guy, but Kelly has to be intrigued by Goodwin’s speed and versatility. Tommy Lawlor over at IgglesBlitz.com has a good write-up on Goodwin and projects him to be a third-round pick.

Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-5, 306) -It’s not a deep class of offensive tackles, but Armstead possesses a good blend of size (34-inch arms) and athletic ability. His 4.71 40 at the Combine is the fastest time ever clocked by an offensive lineman in Indy. According to NFL.com, Armstead got offers from D-1 programs, but wanted to participate in track and field also, so he chose Arkansas-Pine Bluff. There is obviously a projection involved with Armstead, given his level of competition, but he’ll likely go off the board in the second round.

Brian Schwenke, G/C, California (6-3, 314) – The question on the Eagles’ offensive line is at right guard. They could move Todd Herremans over and find a new tackle. Or they could simply add legit competition with interior linemen in the draft. Schwenke played against Kelly in the Pac-12 and tested well at the Combine, showing good athleticism. He can play guard or center and has a “mean streak” according to Cosell. Schwenke could be an option in the third round.

Dallas Thomas,OL, Tennessee (6-5, 300) – One more offensive lineman the Eagles could take a look at on Day 2. Thomas spent two years at tackle, before switching to guard his senior season. He was reportedly one of the team’s 30 official visits to the NovaCare Complex.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking In On Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox has learned quickly to get used to change.

He’s played 15 games as a pro and is already on his third defensive line coach, third defensive coordinator and second head coach.

Cox is surrounded by several new teammates as well.

“It’s different,” he said during last week’s mini-camp. “The first day I came back, no Cullen [Jenkins], no Darryl Tapp, no Mike P. [Patterson], none of those guys. So it felt kind of weird, but you’ve got to understand this is a business and things happen.”

2012 was a year full of disappointments for the Eagles, but Cox was not one of them. He looked very much worthy of being a first-round pick, notching seven tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 24 hurries. If Cox is able to build on that foundation, the future is bright, and it will involve trips to the Pro Bowl.

“I think I played pretty good,” he said. “I know I’ve got a long way to go to be a great player in this league. Just going back, looking at the guys that are great in this league and going back and evaluating myself, I know I’ve got a long way to go.”

Cox was hesitant to provide any hints about the Eagles’ defensive scheme and his new role. Last year, he played defensive tackle almost exclusively and was tasked with aggressively trying to charge into the backfield on every snap. Now, he figures to make the transition to defensive end in a 3-4.

“Coaches got me doing so much, all guys doing so many different things,” Cox said. “We talked about nothing is written down right now.”

When the Eagles drafted Cox last year, they knew a move to a 3-4 might be coming. His versatility was part of what made Cox so attractive to Howie Roseman and Andy Reid.

We’re only in April, and the Eagles still have to fill out their roster in this week’s draft. If they move to more of a 4-3 under, Cox would likely play the 3-technique, and expectations will be for him to develop into a big-time pass rusher.

As for the change at the top, Cox said he’s upbeat about the start of the Chip Kelly era.

“It’s real different,” he said. “It reminds me of a year ago when I was in college, practice-wise, how fast everything goes, the tempo of practice. Just having fun out here and enjoying it.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac takes a look at how things have changed from Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock in January to now.

The latest draft buzz takes a look at Darrelle Revis, EJ Manuel and Matt Scott.

An Eagles-related look at Mike Mayock’s top-100 list.

Are the Falcons looking to trade up?

Manuel discusses his visit to Philly in his latest draft diary.

Casey Matthews talks about the similarities between what Kelly did at Oregon and what he’s doing in Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders takes a look at the state of the Eagles:

In Kelly’s system, the quarterback must be mobile. That’s non-negotiable, and it’s the reason why Foles will not win the starting job here. The question is whether Vick can handle the reins. He’s not as explosive as he once was, but he obviously remains one of the most mobile signal-callers in the game. Simply being able to run around is not enough, though. Kelly’s quarterback must make multiple reads on the move and disciplined decisions. Sound mechanics are usually needed to facilitate this. There’s no sense debating whether Vick can perform this role. His past three years as the starter in Philly, as well as his body of work before that, provide a clear answer: no –- not overall, anyway. Sometimes, Vick can thrive in Kelly’s system. More often than not, he’ll be erratic or injured.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com wonders whether the Eagles could take a look at LSU pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo:

Mingo can cover. He can rush the passer. I think he’s underrated as a run defender. Mingo needs to add some bulk and he must get stronger, but he’s not a finesse player. He will fire into blockers and fight to  hold his ground or to push them backward. He uses his hands well and isn’t strictly a “run-around” guy. Some speed rushers are allergic to contact. Not Mingo.

COMING UP

Three days away from the Eagles being on the clock. Plenty to get to.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Draft Buzz: Mayock Releases Top-100 List

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently released his list of the top-100 prospects in this year’s draft.

You can check out the whole thing for yourself, but here are a few things that stood out.

* Houston’s D.J. Hayden is Mayock’s top cornerback (No. 14 overall), ahead of Alabama’s Dee Milliner. Hayden has probably the most remarkable story of any prospect in the draft. During a practice last November, he collided with a teammate and nearly lost his life.

From NFL.com’s Andrea Kremer:

“The main blood vessel, the vena cava, bringing blood from the lower extremities back to the heart, was nearly completely torn off the back of the heart,” [Dr. Ron] Albarado said.

“It’s an unusual day at work to have a guy rushed to your surgical suite right off the football field with an injury we’re used to seeing coming from a major trauma setting,” said Dr. Walter Lowe, team doctor for the University of Houston and the Houston Texans. “There’s no precedent on the athletic field. There’s car wrecks and those kinds of things, but not in an athletic event — in explosions, war or other places.”

Per Mayock, as teams have done their homework on Hayden, they’ve reached the conclusion that his medical is not a concern.

“Most of the teams have come to the conclusion that it was a once-in-a-gazillion situation,” Mayock said. “That has no more chance of happening than it did in the first place.”

Greg Cosell of NFL Films also has Hayden ranked as his top corner, telling Yahoo Sports he’s “the most physically gifted cornerback in this class.”

If you think Alabama’s Milliner could be an option for the Eagles in the first round, you have to include Hayden in the mix too. I think it’s unlikely that the Birds go with either guy at No. 4, but if they trade down, corner is a possibility.

* Mayock has Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher as his top player. The guess here is that the Chiefs still go with Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. Fisher is an option for the Eagles at No. 4, but a team might want to move up (either with the Eagles or the Raiders at No. 3) to take him.

* Star Lotulelei is down at No. 11. If the Eagles really like him, perhaps Lotulelei is a trade-down candidate.

* Geno Smith is down at 21, but he’ll likely still go in the top-10, and quite possibly, in the top-five. Mayock’s No. 2 quarterback is E.J. Manuel, who he ranks 41st overall. If NFL teams agree with him, chances are, Manuel won’t be around when the Eagles are on the clock with the 35th pick (second round).

* I fully expect the Eagles to add more pieces to their secondary in the first three rounds. Mayock has 14 cornerbacks and six safeties in his top-100.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Draft Buzz: Falcons Looking To Trade Up

Last week, we looked at five teams that could be interested in trading up in the first round of next week’s draft.

But it looks like we should add one more to the mix: the Atlanta Falcons.

According to SI.com’s Peter King, the Falcons are trying to trade up from the No. 30 spot. The obvious question is: Who are they targeting?

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com has identified two names: Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

So how does this affect the Eagles? I’d be surprised if they were willing to drop all the way down to 30, but everything obviously depends on compensation. The Falcons have 11 picks overall, but four are in the seventh round. If you look at the old draft value chart, even if Atlanta offered all its selections to the Eagles, it still wouldn’t add up to the value of the No. 4 pick.

In the first three rounds, the Falcons have picks 30, 60 and 92.

But just because the Eagles might be unlikely to make a deal with the Falcons doesn’t mean they won’t be affected. A team like the Raiders (No. 3) could make a deal, potentially changing which prospects are off the board when the Birds are up.

Also, teams looking to move into the top five appear to have plenty of options. That will impact asking price.

The Eagles held a private workout with Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, according to The Wichita Eagle. Brown (6-0, 241) is the brother of Eagles running back Bryce Brown. As Tommy Lawlor points out, he also played against Chip Kelly in the Fiesta Bowl last year.

Brown is projected to be a second-round pick and could even sneak into the first. The Eagles currently have inside linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. They need to add depth, but it’s probably unlikely that they’d do so early in the draft.

The Eagles are also showing interest in Florida defensive end Earl Okine, according to Aaron Wilson. Okine (6-6, 284) projects as a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4. He could be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Mock Draft Roundup

With the NFL draft only eight days away, here’s the latest mock draft roundup with projections for the Eagles at No. 4.

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com has the Birds taking West Virginia QB Geno Smith:

With Michael Vick currently under contract, quarterback isn’t a huge need for the Eagles, but head coach Chip Kelly will be on the lookout for the long-term solution at the position. Smith has all the physical tools for Kelly’s offense and would be able to sit and digest the playbook and not thrown into the fire on day one.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com thinks it’ll be Smith too:

With this move, Chip Kelly would be getting a young quarterback who has experience playing in an up-tempo offense. Michael Vick’s veteran presence will give Smith some time to sit and learn before he takes the reins in Philly.

OurLads.com also has the Eagles taking Smith:

Demonstrates good accuracy vertically as well as horizontally. Sudden release. Snaps ball out to perimeter receivers after setting his feet. Ready to pull the trigger at all times. Right on target with his passes.Student of the game. Can fire a dart through a smoke ring.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com has Smith:

I know it’s too high for him, but the Eagles can’t survive with Michael Vick.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com says it’ll be Smith:

Michael Vick has proven unreliable. Nick Foles, despite what the Eagles are saying publicly, is clearly not a fit in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense. Thus, this seems to be the logical spot for Smith, the most gifted talent of an average quarterback class. The Eagles are certainly doing their homework on the strong-armed quarterback. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly traveled to Morgantown to put the former Mountaineer quarterback through a personal workout three days before WVU’s scheduled Pro Day.

Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle goes with Smith:

I was told to “plug Geno in here” by a league source and I usually listen when this guy speaks.  Kelly’s offense probably won’t ask the QB to run as much as people would like to believe, but I do think his offense will try to stretch the field and play up-tempo which is something that Geno Smith is used to.

Will Brinson of CBSSports.com has the Birds trading down to No. 7 with the Cardinals and picking Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei:

Honestly I could have Philly going four different ways with this pick. Part of me wants to give them an athletic guard, part of me wants to give them Geno with a move down and part of me wants them to take a pass-rusher. But I think they’ll see serious value in Lotulelei as a guy who can wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines.

Nate Davis of USA Today has the Eagles taking Lotulelei with the No. 4 pick:

It makes sense to connect Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan to the Eagles given new coach Chip Kelly’s familiarity with him from their days together in Eugene, Ore. But Philadelphia has already invested in free agent linebacker Connor Barwin and has some intriguing candidates to start opposite him in the team’s new 3-4 defense. But they really need help on the D-line, and Lotulelei can play anywhere along the three-man front.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com goes with Lotulelei also:

Big, fast, strong and tough. He would be a great fit in the middle.

ESPN.com’s Todd McShay has Lotulelei as well:

Of all the teams in the top five overall, the Eagles did the best job in free agency and are most free to take the best available player for their schemes. The D-line isn’t a pressing need, but Lotulelei is a top-five talent and would give the Eagles another solid 3-4 end and some flexibility in their new 3-4 hybrid scheme.

Russ Lande of the National Football Post has Lotulelei:

For the Eagles new 34 defense to be successful they will need to find a strong and powerful nose tackle to anchor the middle of it and Lotulelei fits the bill perfectly. He can be the man in the middle of their 34 defense and brings the versatility to also line up at DT when they align in four man fronts.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com thinks it’ll be Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan:

Chip Kelly coached him and needs a guy like Jordan for the new 3-4 defense. Mike Vick is a short-term answer at QB and Nick Foles should be in a different offense. The Eagles could miss on Geno Smith, but could come back later for EJ Manuel.

Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com goes with Jordan too:

The Eagles’ defensive backfield has undergone an extreme makeover. Four new defensive backs — Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips — should be in the starting lineup. With those additions, I don’t see the Eagles going with Dee Milliner, the cornerback out of Alabama. Dion Jordan, a fantastic athlete who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, could be the guy here. Jordan is most favorably compared to Aldon Smith, the electric outside linebacker in San Francisco.

Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting thinks the Birds will take Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd:

While I prefer Sheldon Richardson over Sharrif Floyd as a prospect, Floyd seems to be more highly viewed by NFL teams, and can step in and play the 5-technique spot on day one opposite Fletcher Cox.

Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports also goes with Floyd:

The thought of Chip Kelly taking former Oregon endbacker Dion Jordan is obvious and appealing in some schematic senses, but when a team moves from 4-3 to 3-4 principles, versatility is the order of the day, and nobody plays more roles on the line with more impact than Floyd.

SI.com’s Don Banks thinks Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel will still be available:

I still can’t pull the trigger on the Eagles taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, because my sense is Chip Kelly views Florida State’s E.J. Manuel a more viable option early in the second round. In Joeckel, the Eagles get one of the draft’s elite offensive tackles and give themselves alternatives as both starters at the position, Jason Peters and Todd Herremans, return from injury-marred 2012 seasons.

Charles Davis of NFL.com has the Birds going with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner:

Some recent buzz had Geno Smith being a bit of a surprise pick here. Here’s my surprise choice, after previously penciling OT Lane Johnson into this spot.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Check Out USC WR, Tennessee QB

USC wide receiver Robert Woods had an official visit with the Eagles, according to Pro Football Talk.

Woods (6-0, 201) had 76 catches for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. He had 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 scores the previous season and totaled 32 TDs in three years.

When asked to compare his game to a current NFL player, Woods said, “I would say Reggie Wayne. He’s smaller, one type of receiver. He’s not like a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but he’s making plays all around the field, and I can see myself similar to him.”

Woods ran a 4.51 40 at the Combine in Indy. He also has experience as a returner.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is of course familiar with Woods, having coached against him in the Pac-12. In three games against Oregon, Woods caught 20 balls for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

Wide receiver isn’t a pressing need for the Birds, but it’s an area where they could look to upgrade. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin figure to hold down the starting jobs, but Maclin is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2013 season.

The Eagles also have Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson and newly acquired Arrelious Benn, but none of the four is guaranteed a roster spot.

Woods is expected to be a second-round pick.

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is visiting the Eagles today, according to SI.com’s Don Banks.

Bray (6-6, 232) is a classic drop-back quarterback with a big arm. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. Having run a 5.05 40 at the Combine, he doesn’t fit the mold of a typical “Chip Kelly quarterback” but apparently, the Eagles are doing their due diligence on this class of QBs.

Bray is expected to be a mid-round pick.

Hat tip to Tommy Lawlor, who is a doing a great job of keeping up with the visits and workouts.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Roseman On Trade Options: ‘We’re Open To Anything’

When asked about potentially trading out of the No. 4 pick, Eagles GM Howie Roseman recalled a tale from the 2006 draft.

Charley Casserly told us a story that he had the first pick in the draft with Mario [Williams] and he called the Jets and he said to Mike [Tannenbaum], ‘What will you give me for the first pick in the draft?’ ” Roseman said. “And Mike said to him, ‘What will you trade me to take that pick?’ I think that was based on the salary structure at that time. It’s a lot different now. The cost is a lot different to move up a couple picks than it used to be.”

The conversation between the two GMs happened seven years ago, but it pertains to the chances of the Eagles trading down in this month’s draft. Before the 2011 CBA, teams were reluctant to trade up because of the salaries that top picks demanded. But now, with the rookie wage scale in place, moving up for top picks carries less risk.

Take the No. 4 pick, for example. In 2010, before the new CBA, the Redskins gave offensive tackle Trent Williams a six-year, $60 million deal with a reported $36.75 million guaranteed.

However, last  year, No. 4 pick, Matt Kalil, got a four-year deal worth $19.77 million (all guaranteed) from the Vikings.

“It’s easier to maneuver with this new rookie wage scale,” Roseman said. “Before, it was cost-prohibitive in terms of cash and cap with your team to trade into the top-five, no matter how much you liked the player going forward because you were going to be hamstrung in some situation or another. It gives you some flexibility. You’re not as reluctant to trade up – not based on your evaluation, but based on how it’s going to affect your team in the future.”

Last week, we took a look at some of the teams that might be interested in moving up, like the Dolphins, Chargers and others. Offensive tackle is a position to watch. By all accounts, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson are the top three options, and then there’s a significant drop-off.

Oregon’s Dion Jordan might be another name to keep an eye on. If he doesn’t go in the top three, teams might be interested in moving up to grab him.

“Pass rushers are going to go quick like they always do,” Roseman said. “There may not be much of a run in the second or third round as you’d normally see with pass rushers. But I think there are high quality ones at the top and they’ll go quick.”

As for the process, don’t expect Roseman to frantically be working the phones in the minutes between the third and fourth picks. Conversations have already taken place this offseason, and the Eagles’ GM expects to talk to more teams next week.

There’s plenty of time for preparation, and it’s entirely possible that the Eagles could work out a deal ahead of time, in the event that a specific scenario plays out. That was the case last year when they swapped places with the Seahawks and drafted Fletcher Cox.

“I think there are teams that are very comfortable giving you scenarios they’ll stick to in that situation,” Roseman said. “With us and Seattle last year with [Seahawks GM] John [Schneider], it was very easy to get to an agreement on the compensation if the player we were interested in was there and they felt comfortable moving back.

“I think what that does, it takes the negotiating out of being on the clock, because when you’re on the clock, there’s a lot of things going on. You’re getting a lot of phone calls and when you’re starting something new or from scratch and you’re going through that process, time runs out fairly quickly.”

Last year (the first with the rookie wage scale), among the top-seven selections, only the Colts picked where they were originally slotted. And while that class had more firepower at the top, only one of the deals (the Rams/Redskins) was for a quarterback (Robert Griffin III).

This year’s class is not as top-heavy, meaning the Eagles might not get an offer that grabs their attention. But Roseman said he still believes there’s a “clear line of players” the team considers “elite talents.”

Asked if there’s a number he wouldn’t want to go past in the first round, Roseman said, “Yes. That’s usually our first meeting, and it was in this case, of what we think is the proper value, if we think there is a proper value, what we would do, what we wouldn’t do. That’s already been discussed and basically decided.”

While every deal depends on compensation, the hint seemed to be that the Eagles don’t anticipate dropping down to the 20s, or losing their first-rounder altogether. On the other hand, he didn’t rule out moving up into the top-three, although that seems like an unlikely scenario.

“We’re open to anything,” Roseman said.

While much of the discussion has been about the No. 4 selection, the more movable pick might be No. 35. There’s a lot of value in the second round, and Roseman expects to get calls about the team’s Day 2 selections.

“We don’t have 35 first-round grades, so you always hope that a guy you have in the first round slips to that spot,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of action because I think there’s going to be a lot of good players. I think that Friday’s going to be fun.”

Bottom line? The Eagles have not picked in the top-five since 1999. They’re coming off a 4-12 season and are in need of young, talented players with high ceilings. They’d be content staying put and selecting the top player on their board with the fourth pick.

But if a team offers up a sweet deal, and they’re still able to stay in the top half of the first round, they’ll absolutely consider moving down.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Draft Buzz: Eagles Linked To Star Lotulelei

Ten days to go until the draft that is expected to lay the foundation for the Chip Kelly era, and the buzz has ratcheted up a notch.

Let’s start with SI.com’s Peter King, who ran through the top-10 picks in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:

Eagles have been nutty about getting players who fit the 3-4. Hear they like Star Lotulelei a lot to play all along the line, even at nose. Where they go — Geno Smith, pass-rusher, best corner in the draft — I don’t know, but my guess is pass-rusher.

We profiled Lotulelei back in February. The 6-2, 311-pounder is considered one of the top defensive linemen in the draft and has the ability to play in a variety of places up front. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition at the Combine, but by all accounts, he has received a clean bill of health since. The Eagles reportedly held a private workout with Lotulelei and also hosted him at the team facility, presumably to do their own medical checks.

King reiterates that this year’s first round is especially difficult to predict. And NFL Network’s Mike Mayock tells him that one reason is because Chip Kelly is a wild card.

“And,” Mayock said, “you throw a Chip Kelly in there at number four. He could be so different. I’m not sure they value things in Philadelphia the way everyone else does in the league anymore.

One last note from King’s column: He writes that the Raiders want to trade the third pick, but adds that he “can’t see it happening.” This would obviously affect the Eagles if they are fielding offers for the No. 4 pick.

Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently wrote a column for Yahoo Sports about how offenses are changing. He didn’t mention Kelly specifically, but the new Eagles’ head coach definitely came to mind when reading certain passages:

The overriding, and superseding point is that they are all movable chess pieces, all “Jokers”, to use the term that I’ve used before and I think is aptly descriptive. That’s the “Cosell Doctrine”, and that’s the direction I see the NFL game trending. It’s about passing, and how you can create, and ultimately dictate favorable matchups. You do that with players that are amorphous and fluid in their ability to be utilized in ways both multiple and expansive, yet somewhat unstructured based on conventional definitions.

His point is about versatility, and it certainly applies to some of the things we’ve seen with Kelly so far, like the addition of James Casey, and to a lesser degree, Arrelious Benn. Guys who can line up in a variety of places and handle different responsibilities, depending on the look of the defense.

The one way Kelly’s approach might differ from what Cosell describes is that he (in college, at least) often looked for favorable matchups in the running game. But the concept still applies.

The National Football Post echoes what many have been reporting about this year’s offensive tackle group:

There aren’t many certainties at this point about how the players will come off the board in the first round, but there seems to be one, according to a buzz building in league circles: those top three offensive tackles will go fast. Not only are Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson highly rated, but they also are in high demand. Among the threats to take offensive tackles near the top of the draft are the Chiefs, Jaguars, Eagles, Lions, Cardinals, Chargers and Dolphins. Some would not be surprised to see a team trade up for one of the tackles.

As we’ve written about on several occasions, if the Eagles get calls about the No. 4 pick, chances are teams will be looking to move up for one of the three offensive tackles: Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson.

If the Eagles don’t get an offer they like, it’s probably just as likely that they use the pick on one of those three players.

The Eagles held a private workout with Georgia defensive lineman Kwame Geathers, according to Aaron Wilson.

Geathers (6-5, 342) was a rotational player with the Bulldogs and enters the draft after his junior year. The Eagles recently acquired his brother, Clifton, from the Colts.

Geathers is expected to be a Day 3 pick.

Click here for the full tracker of Eagles workouts and prospect visits.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Host Western Kentucky OLB, Alabama DL

With the draft just 12 days away, prospect visits continue for the Eagles.

The team hosted Western Kentucky defensive end/outside linebacker Quanterus Smith, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com. Smith (6-5, 250) was leading the nation with 12.5 sacks through 10 games last season before tearing his ACL. Because of his injury, Smith wasn’t able to participate in drills at the Combine.

Injury checks are a big part of pre-draft visits, and that was likely the reason the Eagles brought Smith to the NovaCare Complex. Brandt reports that Smith checked out healthy when he returned to Indianapolis for a medical re-check recently.

Smith’s primary skill is as a pass-rusher, meaning he’d transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4. He is considered a mid-round pick.

Meanwhile, look for the Eagles to address defensive line depth in the draft and through undrafted free agency. One guy who could fit the bill is Alabama’s Quinton Dial. Dial (6-5, 318) visited with the Eagles yesterday, according to Adam Caplan.

In addition to his height, Dial has 34 1/2-inch arms and could play defensive end (5-technique) in a 3-4. He began his college career at junior college because of academics before joining Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. Dial was a rotational player, notching 21 tackles, five for loss and 1.5 sacks.

He is projected to be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

Smith had three sacks against Alabama and five sacks against Florida International. Both cut-ups are below, courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kiper Expects Offers For No. 4 Pick

Earlier this week, we discussed the possibility of the Eagles trading down out of the No. 4 pick.

And while many believe teams at the top of the first round will have a tough time drawing significant offers, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the Eagles will get some calls.

“You’re going to get offers because it’s not costly to be up there,” Kiper said. ‘It’s a case where there’s going to be some hot players, and the hot players are going to be those left tackles. Everybody seems to want to go up and get those guys. After [Luke] Joeckel goes, if he goes one, that’s going to make Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson two possibilities for teams that are going to look to move up.”

The tackles seem to be the players to watch. Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson are the clear-cut top three options. It seems likely that Andy Reid and the Chiefs will go with one of them. But the Jaguars and Raiders at two and three could go in a number of different directions.

One team that has the ammo to move up is the Miami Dolphins. But Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins like Joeckel and Fisher much more than Johnson. There are plenty of smokescreens this time of year, but that’s something that could work in the Eagles’ favor.

Meanwhile, one option for the Birds with the No. 35 pick (second round) could be Florida State QB EJ Manuel. But will he still be there? Kiper said he loves Manuel, but has some concerns.

“I just saw a kid who didn’t go through progression to the third or fourth option,” Kiper said. “He’d go one, two, and underneath.  Didn’t have to read the whole field, read half the field, that’s a concern.  At times he made inaccurate throws, questionable decisions. That’s a concern. I didn’t see him take his game to an elite level despite having elite physical and athletic skills.

“On the numbers alone he’s first round. He tests like a first rounder. I thought his performance was more like a second or third rounder. Do the math on that, you’re thinking late one, early two.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

In his Twitter Mailbag, T-Mac discusses the Tavon Austin possibility.

Is Geno Smith the next Tony Romo? Here’s the latest draft buzz.

The Eagles traded Dion Lewis to the Browns for linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

Here’s our latest draft profile of Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson.

DeSean Jackson talks about the Geno Smith possibility.

The Eagles have released linebacker Ryan Rau and three others.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock tells Paul Domowitch of the Daily News that he doesn’t think Florida’s Sharrif Floyd is a great fit in a 3-4.

“I don’t think 3-4 teams are going to be very interested in Sharrif, unless they intend to use him like Houston uses J.J. Watt. The base 3-4 teams typically are looking for longer, bigger guys to line up head up on that tackle.”

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com would not be on board with a Geno Smith pick:

I will be highly disappointed if the Eagles use the #4 pick on Geno Smith.  If they trade back and take him, I’d be more comfortable, but that wouldn’t change the fact that I’m just not sold on Geno.  Greg Cosell has pointed out the “slow eyes” issue.  Geno is a smart QB, but as Ron Jaworski says so perfectly, a QB must process information quickly.  Geno doesn’t do this.  He’s late on his reads and decisions.  I’m not sure that can be coached out of him.  The situations in the NFL will only be tougher.  Receivers will be less open.  Pass rushers will be bigger, faster, and stronger.

COMING UP

Draft, draft and more draft!

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »