Draft Buzz: Geno Smith Comparison; 2nd-Round Safeties

With the draft exactly two weeks away, here is the latest buzz to get you through the afternoon.

The discussion about where Geno Smith should be selected figures to rage on until the moment that Roger Goodell calls his name on April 25.

Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com has a good piece up about Smith and provides a comparison I had not yet heard:

Geno Smith is Tony Romo! The streaks, the lapses, the rhythm passes, the highlights, the head-scratchers, the athleticism, the polarization. He’s Romo, and he takes too much blame when things go wrong for his team, even though he deserves some of that blame. He can develop into a quarterback who wins five or six games per year for his team all by himself, then loses about two or three all by himself, then plays at a fairly high level in the other eight. Like Romo’s Cowboys, that can result in 13-3 seasons or 6-10 seasons, depending on who is surrounding him.

It’s an interesting comp. Both players are 6-2. Romo is listed at 230, while Smith weighed in at 218 at the Combine. Romo ran a 5.01 out of college, while Smith ran a 4.59.

I’ll probably get killed for this, but the truth is, if Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman believe Smith can be Romo, the Eagles would have to strongly consider taking him with the fourth pick. For all his faults, Romo has a 64.7 career completion percentage, 177 touchdowns and 91 interceptions. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler.

But as I’ve said before, my feeling is they’ll pass on Smith.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com disagrees with me. The former scout for the Eagles has Smith going No. 4:

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.

A bunch of the mocks we posted earlier this week also had the Eagles taking Smith.

With the Eagles’ second pick, they very well could eye safety help. Greg Cosell of NFL Films broke down some of the top safeties in this year’s class in his Yahoo Sports column. One name to keep in mind – and he might not be there when the Eagles pick in the second round – is Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien:

What really stood out was he played the game fast, with velocity, passion and tenacity. There’s no question there were times he was over-aggressive and reckless, although overall he played with an efficient mix of ferocity and control. Given his height – over six-foot – and his physique, he exhibited surprising (to me, anyway, since I had not seen him on television and knew little about his game before my tape study) athleticism, with excellent change of direction and closing speed.

I could see Cyprien becoming the best safety in this draft class three or four years down the road.

Speaking of safeties, the Eagles held a private workout with Arkansas State’s Don Jones, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. Jones (5-11, 191) ran a 4.42 and a 4.40 at his Pro Day, according to NFL.com. He’s projected to be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

Click here for all of the Eagles’ prospect visits and workouts.

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Draft Profile: Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

This is the eighth in a series. Click the link for all of our profiles. Between now and April 25, we’ll look at as many prospects as possible.

THE RESUME

Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson didn’t take the usual path to becoming a first-round prospect.

The 6-6, 303-pounder played quarterback in high school and didn’t draw much recruiting attention, eventually landing at Kilgore (junior) College. But Johnson kept filling out his frame and was moved to tight end in the spring. By that time, he had bulked up from 220 pounds to 255.

Oklahoma offered him a scholarship, and Johnson red-shirted in 2009 as a tight end. He kept putting on weight and was now up to 280. The coaching staff decided another position switch was in order, moving him to defensive end.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The Sooners suffered an injury on their offensive line, and Bob Stoops asked Johnson if he wanted to give tackle a shot.

“I told him no at first,” Johnson said at the Combine. “Then in one of the pass-rush drills, they switched me there, and I’ve been stuck there ever since.

“I thought he was joking or lying to me at first. I didn’t really believe him. After I found out he was serious, I took it a little bit more into consideration.”

Johnson played right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior. He is now expected to be taken in the top half of the first round, likely in the top-10.

While college tape is still the most important part of evaluations, Johnson excelled in the pre-draft process. Adam Caplan said he’s never seen a more dominant performance at the Senior Bowl. And this from NFL Network’s Mike Mayock:

Jimmy Kempski had a good post for the Allentown Morning Call, putting Johnson’s Combine into perspective.

AN EAGLES SLANT

We’ve made the case several times for the Eagles to take a tackle in the first round. Todd Herremans and Jason Peters are 30 and 31, respectively. The team looked at tackles during free agency and could decide to slide Herremans back inside to guard, where they have a void.

Johnson could come in, play right tackle early in his career and then eventually replace Peters. He’s the most athletic tackle prospect in the draft, which has to intrigue Chip Kelly.

But would the Eagles consider taking him at No. 4? Don’t rule it out. Caplan Tweeted recently that some teams have Johnson rated higher than Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. And Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says Johnson has “the most upside of any offensive lineman in this entire draft class.”

He could also be an option for the Eagles if they trade down.

The Birds worked Johnson out last week.

MOCK PROJECTIONS

Jeremiah has Johnson going seventh to the Cardinals.

ESPN’s Todd McShay also has Arizona landing Johnson with the seventh pick.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Johnson falling all the way down to 11 to the Chargers.

Josh Norris of Rotoworld has the Dolphins trading up to No. 6 to take Johson.

VIDEO BREAKDOWN

Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com, here’s Johnson in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.

You can see there has to be a projection with him since Johnson’s only played the position for two years.

At the 2:58 mark, he blocks the outside linebacker way upfield and out of the play. On the very next snap, Johnson takes the defensive end to the ground on a run play.

And at 5:16, you can see him get his hands on a defensive back at the second level. Didn’t see as much of this as I had expected though, given Johnson’s athleticism.

Lance Zierlein of The Sideline View wrote recently:

The one thing that concerns me with Johnson is that he doesn’t bring his feet with him upon contact in the running game and there are times when linemen never quite pick that up.

That makes sense when you watch the cut-ups. Johnson was not as effective in the run game as one might expect (at least in the games I watched).

Here is another game against Texas.

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Trade Talk: What Can Eagles Get For the No. 4 Pick?

In five of the last six drafts, the Eagles have made a first-round trade.

In three of those instances (2009, 2010, 2012), they traded up for Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, respectively. In 2007 and 2008, the Eagles traded out of the first round.

So while we continue to discuss and analyze what the Eagles might do with the No. 4 pick, the prospect of a trade definitely exists. Even though this is not considered a top-heavy draft, all it takes is one team looking to move up.

The obvious questions are: Who might those teams be? And what could the Eagles get in return?

Let’s start with the latter. There are a few different ways to evaluate what the No. 4 pick is worth. There’s the old draft value trade chart; there’s this table from Harvard Sports Analysis; and there’s this chart from Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com.

I asked around about the old chart earlier this offseason, and while it’s outdated, the sense I got was that it still comes up in conversation among general managers. The chart was created in the 1980s and over-values early picks. But it doesn’t appear to be extinct. We might see a new league-wide value chart in the next couple years, but that hasn’t happened yet.

In the last two years, the Eagles have made three trades on the first two days of the draft that have not included players or future picks.

Trade 1: Eagles move up three spots in the first round to take Fletcher Cox. Eagles acquire the No. 12 pick (first round) from the Seahawks for Nos. 15 (first round), 114 (fourth round) and 172 (sixth round).

Trade 2: Eagles move down eight spots, dealing the No. 51 pick (second round) to the Packers. They acquire Nos. 59 (second round) and 123 (fourth round).

Trade 3: Eagles move down five spots, trading the No. 85 pick (third round) to the Ravens for Nos. 90 (third round) and 191 (sixth round).

Here’s how those trades stack up using the old value chart:

 
Value Given Up
Value Received
Difference
Percentage Change
Trade 11138.61200+61.4+5.4%
Trade 2390359-31-7.9%
Trade 3165155-10-6.1%

If you’re wondering, I crunched the numbers for the Harvard and Football Perspective charts too. The values didn’t come nearly as close to matching up.

Getting back to this year, below are some teams that have been rumored to be interested in moving up. There’s always the possibility of players or future picks being involved, but for our purposes, let’s see what the Eagles might be able to get from each team, using the three different charts.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona has the No. 7 pick and is in desperate need of offensive line help. There are three stud tackles expected to go in the top-10: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. The Cardinals could sit tight and wait for Fisher or Johnson to fall. But that could be risky, and they could look to move up. They have seven overall picks.

Draft Value Chart: The Eagles could move down three spots and also pick up a third-rounder (No. 69 overall), a fifth-rounder (No. 140) and a sixth-rounder (No. 176).

Harvard: Not as generous. According to these values, the Eagles could move down three spots and pick up a sixth-round pick (No. 176).

Football Perspective: The Eagles could move down three spots and pick up a fifth-rounder (No. 140).

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

You’ll notice a pattern here. The Chargers could also move up for a tackle. Staying put for one of the top three guys is much riskier for them, considering San Diego has the No. 11 pick. The Chargers have seven overall selections, one in each round.

DVC: This one really shows how the original chart put too much weight on early picks. The Eagles could move down seven spots, pick up an extra second-rounder (No. 45), a fourth-rounder (No. 11o), a sixth-rounder (No. 179) and a seventh-rounder (No. 221).

Harvard: A huge difference using this chart. The Eagles could move down seven spots and pick up a fourth-round selection (No. 110).

Football Perspective: A little more generous. The Eagles move down seven spots and pick up a third-rounder (No. 76). Another option would be to move down seven spots and pick up a fourth (No. 110), a sixth (No. 179) and a seventh (No. 221).

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Similar scenario to San Diego. Miami is in the market for a tackle. But the Dolphins have a lot of ammo – 11 picks overall, including five in the first three rounds (two second-rounders and two third-rounders). If they target a player in the top of the draft, they can afford to be aggressive.

DVC: The Eagles could move down eight spots and pick up a second-rounder (No. 42), a fourth-rounder (No. 111), a fifth-rounder (No. 146) and a seventh-rounder (No. 217).

Harvard: According to these values, the Eagles could move down eight spots and pick up a fourth-rounder (No. 111).

Football Perspective: The Eagles could move down eight spots and pick up a third-rounder (No. 77) and a seventh-rounder (No. 224).

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

They are one of two teams with a pair of first-round picks (St. Louis is the other). Would the Eagles be willing to slide all the way down to 23? I’m not sure. But Minnesota has 12 total picks and can afford to be aggressive.

DVC: According to the old chart, the Eagles could get quite a bit from the Vikings: two first-rounders (Nos. 23 and 25 overall), a third-rounder (No. 83) and two fourth-rounders (Nos. 102 and 120). I doubt Minnesota would consider giving up that haul, but those are the numbers.

Harvard: According to these values, the Eagles could get one of Minnesota’s first-rounders (No. 23) and a second-rounder (No. 52). That doesn’t seem like enough from the Eagles’ perspective.

Football Perspective: Similar idea here. The Eagles could move down 19 spots to No. 23, while also picking up a second-rounder (No. 52) and a sixth-rounder (No. 176).

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

This will make you feel good about the Tom Gamble addition. Coming off a season in which the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, they have 14 draft picks, including five in the top 100. If San Francisco wants to add a stud early in the first round, it can move up pretty easily. Perhaps someone like Star Lotulelei or Tavon Austin could catch their eye.

DVC: Another great example of how this chart puts so much weight on early picks. The Eagles would need to receive the 49ers’ first five picks to match the value for No. 4. Those are a first-rounder (No. 31), two second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 61) and two third-rounders (Nos. 74 and 93).

Harvard: These values would give the Eagles with Nos. 31 (first round) and 34 (second round) in exchange for the No. 4 pick.

Football Perspective: According to these values, the Eagles could get Nos. 31 (first round), 34 (second round) and one of the 49ers’ four seventh-rounders.

Those are the numbers, but as always, compensation depends on the market. For example, if the Eagles get multiple teams interested in No. 4, they’re in a great spot. On the flip side (and perhaps more likely given the nature of this draft), they might not get a serious offer at all.

If history is any indication, Howie Roseman will be talking to several teams leading up to the draft. We’ll find out in a couple weeks whether the Eagles will draft in their original first-round slot for just the second time in seven years.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Latest Draft Buzz

With the draft just 15 days away, here’s a roundup of the latest buzz.

Josh Norris of Rotoworld/NFL.com has a new mock out that includes a twist – projected trades. While he has the Eagles staying put at No. 4 and taking Utah DT Star Lotulelei, Norris predicts that the Cardinals trade up to No. 3 to take Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher:

The Cardinals can’t afford to wait until pick No. 7, just in case the Eagles, Lions, or another team trade up to target the remaining two tackles. Fisher and Johnson are more proven commodities than many prospects in this class, so they should go off the board early.

If Fisher or Luke Joeckel makes it to No. 4, the Eagles could definitely get a call or two. Of course, if the offers aren’t good enough, it makes perfect sense for the Birds to just draft the offensive tackle and move on.

In an ESPN Insider piece, Ron Jaworski ranks his top-eight quarterbacks. Jaws has Geno Smith first, followed by Ryan Nassib and EJ Manuel. He has an interesting comp for the Florida State QB:

I’ll be honest, when I first started watching Manuel on film, I didn’t really like him. Then, last week, when I broke him down a little more, he reminded me of another notable recent prospect: Colin Kaepernick.

With Kaepernick, I went back and forth a lot. Same thing here. I don’t like a lot of the negatives I see with Manuel — too many misreads, too many throws into coverage — but if you speak to NFL scouts and coaches, they’ll tell you that when it comes to projecting prospects, it’s more important to see the high end of the talent spectrum than to focus on mistakes. Once you know a QB is capable of making the great plays, you can spend time on eliminating the mistakes. It’s easier to erase flaws than to teach greatness.

Jaws doesn’t see Manuel getting out of the first round, but some mocks have the Eagles grabbing him with their second-round pick.

Chris Burke of SI.com offers a safe pick and a surprise pick for each team. He’s got Fisher as the Eagles’ safe pick and Tavon Austin as their surprise selection:

May as well go all out here, eh? Geno Smith is the obvious “surprise pick” candidate for the Eagles — it’s hard to tell if Chip Kelly is sold on Michael Vick and Nick Foles does not seem to be a very good fit for Kelly’s new offense.

Austin, on the other hand, feels like a natural for the Kelly spread. Just imagine him in the slot, flanked by DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, with LeSean McCoy coming out of the backfield. Good luck defending that.

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at how DeMeco Ryans fits in a 3-4.

Many analysts are projecting Geno Smith to the Eagles. Here’s the latest mock draft roundup.

Chip Kelly talks Michael Vick, draft strategy and roster-shaping.

Jon Gruden offers his thoughts on this year’s QB class.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Brian Solomon of McNabbOrKolb.com wonders whether Trent Cole could play 5-technique defensive end in the Eagles’ new scheme:

He’s no prototypical 5-technique defensive end, but Cole works there if you think more about the player and less about a rigid scheme. First, he’s still great against the run, which is that player’s primary job. Second, it allows him to keep his hand on the ground, rather than convert to a stand-up linebacker in his ninth season. Third, it keeps the team’s best personnel in the game, and actually aids scheme flexibility.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com isn’t sure Jason Avant will have a spot:

Jason has been a good Eagle since he was drafted in 2006, but he’s not fast, he’s not a huge guy, he doesn’t have RAC ability.  There’s just nothing compelling about him, besides having good hands and being a very polished receiver.  Is that good enough in the Kelly offense?

COMING UP

Plenty to get to today.

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Eagles Mock Draft Roundup: Will Geno Be the Pick?

Here’s the weekly mock draft roundup, along with projections for who the Eagles will take with the fourth pick.

Lots of love for West Virginia QB Geno Smith this time around.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has the Eagles taking 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.

The crew at OurLads.com also:

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. The Raiders have big outside speed and Smith is the guy that can get them the ball. Carson Palmer’s best days are way behind him so Smith makes sense. A def tackle is also in the mix.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com too:

Michael Vick can’t quarterback these guys. Someone else must, and Smith is my choice.

And Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com:

Michael Vick is a short-term answer at QB and Nick Foles should be in a different offense. Draft Smith and trade Foles. If the Eagles pass on Smith they should come back around for EJ Manuel in the next round.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times also has Smith:

Philadelphia isn’t going to spend all that money to hire Chip Kelly, then leave the cupboard bare at quarterback. Michael Vick is at best a short-term solution.

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News goes with Smith:

Sure, for the moment, Michael Vick and Nick Foles look like they’ll be battling to be the starting quarterback for Chip Kelly. But there’s no denying Smith has the basic skill set (arm, accuracy, athleticism) that Kelly could mold into something special in his up-tempo passing offense.

Meanwhile, Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com goes with Utah DT Star Lotulelei:

Because of their free agency spending, the Eagles do not have a critical need to fill, allowing them to go in a variety of directions with this pick. Lotulelei is an excellent nose tackle prospect but is not locked into that position and could help in a variety ways along the front three.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has the Eagles landing Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel:

Chip Kelly understands the importance of protecting the passer, which is why drafting Joeckel makes complete sense in this scenario.

Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting has the Birds taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson:

Switching from Dion Jordan last week, after re-evaluating the Eagles needs, finding a starting 5-technique opposite Fletcher Cox would be ideal. Chip Kelly values versatility and athleticism, and Richardson fits both of those categories well.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk goes with Richardson also.

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com has the Eagles taking Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd:

Philadelphia wants to add big, strong athletes to the roster and adding Floyd to the mix fits that description. He is a similar prospect as the Eagles’ first round pick from last year Fletcher Cox, but a talent like Floyd might be too good to pass up.

Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com devises a “consensus” mock and ends up with Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher:

This is the first draft of the Chip Kelly era, so no one knows what to expect. The Michael Vick contract extension threw much of the chorus off the Geno Smith scent, but unlike the Alex Smith trade, the cap-friendly Vick deal does not look like a serious investment. The smattering of Geno interest in picks 2-4 could force one of the quarterback-hungry teams in the 7-10 spots to make a move. Or that just might be what the Jaguars, Raiders and Eagles want us to believe.

Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post also says it’ll be Fisher:

Need OL help after Jason Peters’ injury and Demetress Bell’s release; Fisher provides instant upgrade.

Don Banks of SI.com goes with Alabama CB Dee Milliner:

I’m not ruling out the possibility the Eagles are Geno Smith’s landing spot, but I’m also not convinced of it by any stretch. Maybe the next three weeks will help clarify that question. Offensive tackle Eric Fisher would be an easy card to turn in, but with both Jason Peters and Todd Herremans returning from injury in 2013, I keep coming back to the notion that the draft’s top cornerback might have more rookie impact in Philly than drafting a future starter/insurance policy at left tackle.

Russ Lande of the National Football Post goes with LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo:

While Chip Kelly will be disappointed that Dion Jordan is already gone, they are excited about the potential that Barkevious Mingo has. A special athlete who constantly makes big plays rushing the passer; he would be a great fit at outside linebacker in the Eagles new 34 defense.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com goes with Mingo too:

Pass rushers are always a nice pick this high.

Chris Steuber of OurLads.com has the Eagles taking Oregon OLB Dion Jordan in the first and Florida State QB EJ Manuel in the second.

OurLads.com has the Eagles taking Florida safety Matt Elam in the second round:

A playmaker who made big plays in big games. Instinctive with the ability to read quickly and diagnose the play. Good anticipation with quick reactions. Aggressive on the ball in the air. Brings the hammer when schemed to blitz the quarterback. Physical in his play. Ability to stay on his feet and play off blockers. Competitive wrap up tackler.

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Eagles Check Out RB Marcus Lattimore

Last month, Marcus Lattimore tweeted about getting a cheesesteak while in Philadelphia.

And today, a league source confirmed that the South Carolina running back was in town for an official pre-draft visit with the Eagles.

Lattimore suffered a devastating knee injury in late October, tearing his right ACL, MCL and PCL. The 5-11, 221-pounder played parts of three seasons with the Gamecocks, totaling 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported recently that teams interested in Lattimore are looking ahead to 2014, but Lattimore doesn’t necessarily agree.

“After the surgery, Dr. [James] Andrews said everything was great, everything went perfect,” Lattimore told PFT. “And I’ve just been rehabbing my tail off. He wants me ready by the beginning of the season, so that’s our timetable. Beginning or middle of the season.”

Lattimore did concede, however, that some teams have told him he would sit out 2013. Others have said he’ll be put on the PUP list. And some have refused to put any restrictions on him at all.

“Whatever’s best for me and best for the team, I’m good for,” he said.

“There’s no concern, I’m going to be the same back I was in my mind, and the same back I was physically, even better.”

Projecting where Lattimore might be picked is tricky because it all depends on the medical evaluations from various teams. That’s a big part of the official visits and likely the reason the Eagles wanted to bring him in.

Some think Lattimore could be a Day 2 pick, but it’s probably more likely that he gets taken on Day 3.

As for the Eagles, they have LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk and Dion Lewis on the roster. They’re looking to deal Lewis though if any teams are interested. If Lattimore slips and their medical evaluations suggest he still has upside, perhaps the Eagles could take a flier on him in the later rounds.

Click here for our full list of prospect visits and workouts.

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Eagles Host Darius Slay, Draft’s Fastest CB

The Eagles added a pair of cornerbacks – Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher - in free agency, but they very well could look to add another in the first few rounds of this month’s draft.

Alabama’s Dee Milliner is the consensus top option on the board, but behind him, there are several quality corners who are expected to go in the first three rounds. One of them, Mississippi State’s Darius Slay, had an official visit with the Eagles, according to Adam Caplan.

Slay (6-0, 192) has great measurables. In addition to size, he ran the fastest 40 time (4.36) of any cornerback at the Combine. Slay and his college teammate, Johnthan Banks, are both expected to be Day 2 picks. Banks (6-2, 185) has better length, but he ran a disappointing 4.61 at the Combine.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote recently that Banks is better today, but Slay has a “much higher ceiling.”

A junior college transfer, Slay played two seasons at Mississippi State and had five interceptions in 2012, earning second-team All-SEC honors.

Below is a cut-up of Slay, courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com. But I would warn that cornerbacks and safeties are especially difficult to evaluate off of TV tape.

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Eagles Mock Draft Roundup

Here’s this week’s roundup of mock drafts, along with projections for who analysts have the Eagles taking with the No. 4 pick.

ESPN.com’s Todd McShay thinks the Eagles will go with Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher:

The Eagles have addressed a lot of other needs already this offseason, especially in terms of finding good fits along the front seven in their new 3-4 scheme. Many personnel evaluators in the NFL think Fisher is just as good as — if not slightly better than — Joeckel, and Philadelphia would get one of the premier players in this class. Both Jason Peters and Todd Herremans return from injury this season, but there is no guarantee they will remain healthy, and Fisher’s movement skills make him a good fit in the up-tempo scheme new head coach Chip Kelly will install.

McShay also lists second-round picks and has the Eagles getting Florida State QB EJ Manuel with the 35th overall selection.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks it’ll be Fisher too:

Fisher has shown that he’s light on his feet and moves very well. I think he’ll get much better as he gains experience; he’s an excellent, excellent prospect.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also goes with Fisher:

He’s been rising after a strong showing at the combine.

Optimum Scouting has the Eagles taking Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan:

New head coach Chip Kelly has said that he wants more size and versatility on the defense. While Star Lotulelei would add to the interior of the defense, adding his former dynamic defender may have more value for Kelly’s defense.

SI.com’s Don Banks also goes with Jordan:

Chip Kelly got a little vague last week at the NFL annual meeting when I asked him how you get a whole new team to practice at the extreme up-tempo pace he prefers. But I suppose having a talented former Duck like Jordan around to help set an example on defense would prove useful. Especially if he happens to be an ideal upgrade for an Eagles pass rush and a ready-made cog to help Philly in its transition to a 3-4 defense.

Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com has Jordan as well:

Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will both be playing elsewhere in 2013 and it appears as though Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams could be the new starting cornerbacks in Philadelphia. Dion Jordan, a young man who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, could be the guy at No. 4. Jordan is most favorably compared to Aldon Smith, the electric outside linebacker in San Francisco.

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com thinks it’ll be Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd:

Philadelphia wants to add big, strong athletes to the roster and adding Floyd to the mix fits that description. He is a similar prospect as the Eagles’ first round pick from last year Fletcher Cox, but a talent like Floyd might be too good to pass up.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com has the Eagles landing West Virginia QB Geno Smith:

OK, I’ve bought in. Chip Kelly can’t depend on Michael Vick to run his offense. Someone better must be there, and Smith might be that someone.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com also has Smith to the Birds:

Mike Vick is a short term answer at best and Nick Foles doesn’t really fit in this offense. Chip Kelly may want to wait one round for EJ Manuel but Jeff Lurie did attend the Smith workout.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com goes with Smith too:

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.

Akbar Gbajabiamila of NFL.com has the Eagles landing Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel:

Chip Kelly’s NASCAR offense is about to hit the NFL, and the Eagles have many of the skill positions covered. But in order to get the offense going, the quarterback must be protected. Joeckel fits the need. This would give the team a stellar pair of bookend tackles in Joeckel and five-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters (expected back from injury).

Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star also goes with Joeckel:

Fisher would be the pick if Chiefs go with Joeckel.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has the Birds taking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner:

Yes, they signed some corners, but they take another here.

Russ Lande of the National Football Post predicts Utah DT Star Lotulelei:

As the Eagles make the switch to a 34 defense they need to fill a number of positional needs and none is more important than a nose tackle. With his ability to physically dominate blockers at the POA, now that he appears to have overcome medical questions he would be an ideal choice to anchor the middle of the Eagles’ defensive front.

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Draft Buzz: Eagles Work Out Stanford TE Ertz

Several draft nuggets to get to from over the weekend…

The Eagles had new tight ends coach Ted Williams work out Stanford’s Zach Ertz, according to Adam Caplan. Ertz (6-5, 249) had 69 catches for 898 yards last season, scoring six touchdowns and averaging a healthy 13.01 yards per catch. He had 20 catches of 15+ yards and six catches of 20+ yards.

Not known as much of a blocker, Ertz is described by many as a “move” tight end, meaning he can line up in various places on offense.

“I think Jason Witten is somebody that I’ve kind of look towards the past couple of years,” Ertz said at the Combine. “He truly is a complete tight end. A very good run blocker and a very good pass catcher. I think that’s something that I kind of try and emulate.”

The Eagles currently have Brent Celek and Clay Harbor on the roster. They also added James Casey in free agency. But Harbor’s no lock to make the roster, and they could look to add another tight end in the draft. Analysts project Ertz as a Day 2 (second or third round) pick.

EAGLES WORK OUT LOCAL OL

The Eagles are one of several teams to have worked out Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh, according to NFL Draft Insider. The 6-4, 307-pounder from Council Rock South played tackle in college, but could be moved to guard since he doesn’t have the longest arms (32 inches).

“Well it’s actually crazy,” Pugh said at the Combine. “I played three years never knowing I had short arms. …It didn’t really hurt me then. I didn’t know I had short arms until I got to the Senior Bowl.”

Pugh’s draft projections range from the first to third rounds, likely depending on whether teams view him as a tackle or a guard.

MORE WORKOUTS

* The Eagles will hold a private workout with Miami cornerback Brandon McGee (5-11, 193), according to Aaron Wilson. McGee was a top-100 recruit coming out of high school and started 25 games in four seasons with the Hurricanes. He’s expected to be a mid-round pick.

* The Birds also worked out another defensive back, Cal’s Josh Hill, according to Tony Pauline. Hill (5-10, 203) did not participate in the Combine and projects as a late-round pick. He showed versatility in four seasons at Cal, playing nickel corner, safety and special teams.

* Eagles player personnel executive Rick Mueller worked out Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin (6-5, 216) per NOLA.com.

“I probably threw about 30 to 40 (passes) again,” Griffin said, comparing it to his workout with the Saints. “This was a little bit different. It was more just working me out, putting me through drills rather than just throwing to receivers.”

Griffin added: “(Mueller) didn’t really talk a lot — it went well. The feedback I did get said I did well.”

Draft analyst Matt Waldman describes Griffin as a “classic pocket passer” and says he lacks the mobility to make plays with his legs. Doesn’t sound like a Chip Kelly guy, but clearly the Eagles are doing their homework on all QB options (as usual). Griffin could be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

* USC center Khaled Holmes worked out for the Eagles on campus, per CBSSports.com. Holmes (6-3, 302) played right guard as a sophomore before switching to center in his final two seasons.

* And finally, the Eagles had a private workout with Princeton defensive end/outside linebacker Mike Catapano, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com. Catapano (6-3, 271) projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Brandt suggests Catapano could be a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

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Could the Eagles Look To Trade Down?

While all the mock drafts we list in this space project who the Eagles will take with the No. 4 pick, another possibility exists: They trade down.

It’s an option that makes plenty of sense, and the organization has been more than willing to deal in the past. Consider this: The Eagles have made a first-round trade in five of the past six drafts.

This year’s class is not considered top-heavy, and the Eagles are coming off a 4-12 season. If they can grab an extra pick or two to slide down and still get a player they covet, Howie Roseman could definitely consider the option.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com recently put out a list of the three teams most likely to trade down, and he included the Birds:

Philly already addressed several of its needs in the offseason. The Eagles added experienced starters to all three levels of their defense via free agency. The offensive line should be drastically improved, as long as key players like Jason Peters and Jason Kelce return to form following injuries in 2012. There is still a question mark at quarterback, but there isn’t a glaring weakness at another position that could only be addressed with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Eagles could easily slide down a few slots and still get an impact player who fits into their new defensive scheme.

The obvious follow-up question here is: Which teams might be interested in trading up?

Jeremiah addresses that too, listing the Dolphins (No. 12 overall), the Vikings (Nos. 23 and 25) and the 49ers (No. 31). The Cardinals (No. 7) and Chargers (No. 11) also get a mention.

The key will be who’s available at No. 4. Offensive tackle is a an area to watch. It’s widely expected that either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher will be gone by the time the Eagles pick. And it’s possible that both players get taken in the top three. But if one of them is available, the Birds could receive some calls.

There is also the question of who the Eagles might target if they do move down. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said earlier this offseason that the early picks probably won’t be much different than picks 20 or 25. The sense I get from the Eagles is that they partially agree with that statement, but aren’t willing to go as far as Mayock. In other words, there might not be a huge difference among the first 10 or 12 guys, but after that, there is a gap.

I could see someone like Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson grabbing the Eagles’ attention. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder is the most athletic of the top-three tackles. He’s still expected to be a top-12 pick, but maybe the Eagles could move back and still land him.

Tavon Austin is a wild card. Many teams in the bottom half of the first round could be looking to move up to grab him. I’ve got to think Chip Kelly wouldn’t mind his first pick as the Eagles’ head coach to be on the class’ most dynamic offensive playmaker.

Defensively, there really are several options. Guys like Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Utah DL Star Lotulelei and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner could be top-five picks, or they could slip. All three could be fits for the Eagles as they rebuild their defense.

In a later post, we’ll explore potential compensation the Eagles could net for moving down, but clearly, sliding down is an option for them.

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