Eagles Draft Predictions: McManus Vs. Kapadia

It’s time for the first annual Birds 24/7 Draft Predictions, where Sheil and I lay it all on the line in a fight for bragging rights. Kapadia is still stinging from his sound defeat in our 53-man projections battle back in training camp. Let’s see if he can get on the scoreboard.

Q: Will they draft a quarterback? If so, who?

Sheil: It just feels like they have to. I don’t think Geno Smith is going to get out of the top-15, and I don’t think EJ Manuel is going to be available at No. 35. So where does that leave the Eagles?

Two names to watch: Zac Dysert (6-3, 231) out of Miami (Ohio) and Matt Scott (6-2, 213) out of Arizona. I’ll flip a coin and go with Scott. At the very least, he can replace Dennis Dixon on the roster and give you someone who can run the spread option.

By the way, McManus, I don’t think we can have Manuel continue his diary entries as a member of the Jets, Bills or Jaguars. That just won’t fly with our audience. You probably want to get on the phone with Scott or Dysert and set up something new.

Tim: Who needs a Dysert diary when we have Nicky Foles?

I think the Eagles would pick either Smith or Manuel if the price is right, but the draft will likely fall in such a way where they’ll end up taking a quarterback in the latter rounds instead. My guess is they grab Scott, especially if he’s available in the fourth round. He needs some work, but he has a skill set that Kelly may be drawn to, and he can hang in the background while Foles and Mike Vick run the show for now.

Sadly, we agree.

Q: What will they do at No. 4?

Sheil: I’m going to pull a bit of a surprise here and say they draft Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd. My guess is that the top of their board looks like this: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Dion Jordan. The problem? I think all of those players are going to be gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock.

The Eagles will be deciding between guys like Floyd, Lane Johnson, Ziggy Ansah and Star Lotulelei. If they really are committed to taking the best player available, I think it’s Floyd. He brings versatility to the defensive line, is only 20 years old and can team up with Fletcher Cox to form the core of your defense for years to come.

I can’t wait to re-read this around 8:30 tonight and realize what a dope I am.

Tim: You don’t have to wait until tonight to figure that out. (Rimshot.)

My pick is Jordan. I agree Fisher and Joeckel are gone. Then the Raiders are on the clock (assuming they stick at three) and will likely do something insane. I’m betting on Jordan being there, and the Eagles pulling the trigger.

Here is what I find interesting, though, Sheil: There is a chance that both Jordan and Johnson are there at 4, and one of them is guaranteed to be available. There have been serious rumblings about the Birds trading back. So out of Jordan and Johnson, they must not like one enough to grab at 4, right? Which one is it?

If they do move back, I change my pick to Star.

Q: Should Tavon Austin be a consideration?

Sheil: Well, I know you believe the Eagles’ receiving corps is the worst unit assembled in the past 25 years. But I also know you’ll probably slam your head against your desk if they add another target who is under 6 feet. Man, tonight is going to be fun.

I think we are probably over-thinking things with Austin. He’s fast (4.34 40), can line up anywhere (out wide, slot, backfield) and was ridiculously productive in college. In other words, of course Kelly is going to want to consider him!

And the truth is, he makes sense on many levels. Jeremy Maclin is in the final year of his contract, and Jason Avant (who is 30) doesn’t seem to possess the skill set Kelly covets.

If the Eagles think Austin can hold up (and he has said he’s never been injured in the last eight years), they’ll absolutely consider him in the first round. Size is the issue. Austin is 5-8, 174. Wes Welker was 21 pounds heavier when he came out of college. Percy Harvin was 18 pounds heavier. I don’t think the Eagles will take him at No. 4, but if they trade down, he should be near the top of the list of possibilities.

Tim: How about all the late Eagles-Austin buzz?

Loving it. Yes, Austin should be a consideration. He is the automatic front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, yes? This crop of talent lacks sure-fire studs, right? I think Kelly would have a ball with him. One connected person I talked to thinks the receiver goes in the 8-12 range. Would I be shocked if the Eagles trade back, and the Commish calls out Austin’s name when they are on the clock? Nope.

Q: Name one Day 3 prospect who will be an Eagle.

Sheil: Ready for this one, T-Mac? Joe Kruger, DE, Utah. Philadelphia continues its tradition of getting the lesser-known brother! Sure, the Browns signed Paul, but the Eagles were just waiting to pounce on Joe. The 6-6, 269-pounder has long arms (34 3/8-inches) and ran a 4.83 40. He’s projected to go somewhere between Rounds 4 and 6.

Tim: Look at you going with the Kruger. I’ll throw you two tight ends. I could see them taking Florida’s Jordan Reed in the third round. A late-round name to watch is Pittsburgh’s Mike Shanahan. He is a wide receiver converting to tight end. The Eagles have apparently shown a little interest.

Q: What’s one bold Eagles prediction?

Sheil: The Birds will draft a wide receiver or tight end in the first three rounds.

Free agency was spent building up the defense (aside from James Casey), but it’s time for Kelly to start adding his kind of guys on offense. I mentioned the team’s wide receiver situation above. Chances are they don’t take Austin in the first, but the team could certainly address the position in the second or third rounds.

Tight end is also an option. It seems like the Eagles have worked out every tight end prospect in the draft. There are plenty of versatile options who can line up in different spots and stretch the field. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles grab one on Friday evening.

Tim: I am not so sure the experiment of moving Trent Cole and Brandon Graham to linebacker (particularly Cole) is going to work all that well. They are going to need some ‘backers that can play in space. That’s part of my thinking in picking Jordan. If not him, they’ll try to address outside linebacker somewhere along the line.

Also, I think they grab two corners.

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Floyd Expecting Eagles To Run 4-3 Under

Whenever he has talked to reporters this offseason, Chip Kelly has been hesitant to put a label on his defense.

And for good reason. He just got them out on the field for the first time last week, and the roster won’t be complete until the draft is over.

While we should gain some clarity on scheme after the Eagles make their selections, it’s worth taking note of what the team is telling prospects.

For example, Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd joined Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic today and was asked if he would be miscast in a classic 3-4.

“I know I’m disruptive in a 4-3, but the package the Eagles run is the hybrid 3-4, which is a 4-3 in a sense,” Floyd said. “It’s just the outside linebacker walks out. So it’s not a bad deal. It’s still a 4-3, but it looks like a 3-4 front. It’s more of an under front, and we did that at Florida. We did the 3-4, we did the 4-3, and we also ran under. So it’s all the same, just a walk-down linebacker. That’s all it is.”

Back in February, we discussed some of the intricacies of the 4-3 under. And Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently wrote a Yahoo Sports column about the differences between a true 3-4 and a 3-4 look with 4-3 principles.

A true 3-4 is a two-gap scheme, Cosell explains:

The supposition with 3-4 fronts has always been it’s a “2-gap” scheme, with the two defensive ends aligned directly over the offensive tackles, and the nose tackle head up on the center. The term “2-gap” derives from their responsibilities as run defenders. All three of those defensive linemen are responsible for two gaps along the line of scrimmage. They do not penetrate through a single gap at the snap of the ball; rather, they stalemate the blocker in front of them, at the same time reading where the back is going. They are accountable for the gap to each side of their respective offensive lineman. Once the back declares, the defensive linemen ideally shed their blockers and get to the ball.

That’s where the question arose with Floyd. His strength is bursting into the backfield and creating disruption. In the two-gap 3-4 described above, that strength would be negated.

But given what he said, I’m not ready to rule out guys like Floyd or even Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson as bad scheme fits. They both seem versatile enough to be potential options. Floyd could play DE in a 3-4, and he and Fletcher Cox would form an impressive duo in four-man fronts.

As for the 4-3 under, Floyd or Cox could potentially line up as the weak-side defensive tackle (3-technique), and maybe the other plays strong-side DE (5-technique). There’s also the strong possibility that the Eagles will use some kind of rotation on defense.

It’s only April, and there would be plenty of details to work out. And admittedly, we’re just guessing here. But if Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are off the board, and the Eagles are committed to taking the best player available, Floyd’s name should probably be in the conversation with guys like Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson and Utah DT Star Lotulelei.

Answers will come soon enough.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Draft Cheat Sheet: Defensive Options

If you missed part one on the offense, click here.

Now, for the defense. Here are 23 potential first-round prospects to round out the top-40. With each name, you’ll find a short description on how he might fit with the Eagles, along with the likelihood of the player ending up in Philadelphia.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Sharrif Floyd, Florida – I’ve really struggled with determining whether he could be an option for the Eagles. On one hand, pretty much everyone agrees that Floyd is best suited as a 3-technique (lining up between the guard and tackle) defensive tackle in a 4-3. Floyd’s strengths are his quickness and ability to burst into the backfield and be disruptive. That’s negated in a classic 3-4. Then again, not all 3-4s are created the same, and we don’t know exactly what the Eagles plan on running. Floyd (6-3, 297) is only 20-years-old, from Philadelphia and could quite possibly be the “best player available” at No. 4 when the Eagles are on the clock. My sense is that the Eagles won’t want to spend a high pick on a player who might not be a perfect scheme fit, especially since they’re essentially building from the ground up. But I won’t rule Floyd out completely. Teaming him up with Fletcher Cox on the interior in pass-rushing situations would give opposing offensive lines fits.

** Note: I changed my mind a bit on Floyd. Details here.

Sheldon Richardson, Missouri – The write-up for Richardson (6-2, 294) is similar. He seems best suited as a 4-3 DT, but does bring some versatility to the table. In a 3-4, he would be a 5-tech defensive end. I watched one game where he lined up all over the place, often standing up in a two-point stance across from the guard and center before rushing the quarterback. Richardson is not tall, but he has long arms (34 1/2-inches). Don’t think he’s on the Eagles’ radar at No. 4, but can’t rule him out if they trade down.

Star Lotulelei, Utah – There are no scheme questions with Lotulelei (6-2, 311). He can play the nose or 5-technique in a 3-4 and can be an interior pass-rusher in sub packages. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart issue at the Combine, but Howie Roseman said he’s been cleared by the Eagles. Still, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, at least three teams have taken him off their boards. If Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Dion Jordan are all off the board at No. 4, Lotulelei could be an option. He could also be a candidate if the Eagles trade down.

Sylvester Williams, North Carolina – You can see why evaluators and analysts really like this group of defensive linemen. Lots of first-round talent. Williams (6-3, 313) can play in multiple spots on the defensive line, including nose tackle. I don’t think he’s a first-round target, but he could be an option at No. 35 in the second round.

Jesse Williams, Alabama – Absolutely a name to watch at No. 35, as I mentioned yesterday. Greg Cosell of NFL Films said recently that he doesn’t see a huge difference between Lotulelei and Williams (6-3, 323). It’s no secret that the Eagles are in need of bodies on the defensive line, and Williams can play either the nose or 5-technique.

Bjoern Werner, Florida State – Everything I’ve read projects the 6-3, 266-pounder as a 4-3 defensive end. Nothing I’ve heard suggests he’s a scheme-flexible player who could play outside linebacker in a 3-4. In other words, don’t think he’s an option for the Eagles.

Datone Jones, UCLA – Another potential second-round target. Jones (6-4, 283) can play 5-technique in a 3-4 and move inside in four-man fronts.

Margus Hunt, SMU – And one more second-round target. We wrote about him yesterday too. You won’t find too many humans who are 6-8, 277 and can run a 4.60 40. Hunt would play the 5-technique defensive end spot, although I’m not sure how versatile he would be.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Dion Jordan, Oregon – I think there’s a pretty good chance we might be over-thinking things with Jordan. He has length (6-6, 248), versatility, upside, and Kelly loves his make-up. If Fisher and Joeckel go off the board in the top three, and the Eagles stay put, I’d label him the favorite to be the pick. At the very least, you get a movable piece on defense, who can rush the passer and cover at a high level. And his ceiling is a double-digit sack guy off the edge.

Ziggy Ansah, BYU – Let’s start with numbers: 6-5, 271, 4.63 40, 35 1/8-inch arms. If Ansah, a native of Ghana, had started playing football two or three years earlier, he might be the consensus top pick in the draft. But he only started playing the game after years of soccer, basketball and track. And he ended up with only one year of real playing time at the D-1 level. In other words, he’s incredibly raw (and will turn 24 in May).

Ansah seems best-suited to play defensive end in a 4-3, but I included him in the outside linebackers category here. Given his size and athleticism, he could probably rush the passer from multiple spots in a four-man front. It’s easy to label him a Combine creation, but the truth is Ansah is just new to the game. Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com put up a good post about Ansah, and I agree with him. If I had to pick a side right now, I’d say he’s more likely to have a really good career than be a bust. And with his length and versatility, I’m not ready to rule him out as a surprise pick for the Eagles at No. 4.

Tank Carradine, Florida State – Ansah is my sleeper if the Eagles stay at No. 4. Carradine is my sleeper if they trade down. At 6-4, 276 with 33 3/4-inch arms, he has the size and athleticism to play in a variety of spots – DE or DT in a four-man front, rush linebacker in a 3-4. The question with Carradine has been medical. He tore his ACL in November, and the Eagles reportedly had him in for one of their 30 official visits. If healthy, many analysts believe he could end up being the best pass-rusher in the draft. You might not see him up high in a lot of mocks, but don’t be surprised if Carradine goes in the top half of the first round Thursday night.

Barkevious Mingo, LSU – Another pass-rushing outside linebacker. I have a difficult time seeing the Eagles going with Mingo (6-4, 241) over Jordan, but I’ve been wrong before. If the Birds trade down, though, he could be an option.

Jarvis Jones, Georgia – He was the most productive defensive player in college football last year. Playing in the SEC, Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles. He has the spinal stenosis issue and did not test well at the Combine. Jones (6-2, 245) doesn’t have the measurables Kelly seems to find appealing. But he falls in the “just a football player” category. It’ll be fascinating to see how his career plays out, but I don’t see the Eagles using their first-round pick on Jones.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Alex Ogletree, Georgia – If I’m being honest here, I have no clue how many inside linebackers are going to go off the board in the first 40 picks, but I only included Ogletree. He’s had several “character” issues, including a DUI arrest in February, but Ogletree (6-2, 242) will likely be one of the first inside linebackers off the board. I don’t expect the Eagles to take an inside linebacker early, but a couple other names to know are Kansas State’s Arthur Brown (6-0, 241, brother of Bryce) and LSU’s Kevin Minter (6-0, 246).

CORNERBACKS

Dee Milliner, Alabama – Has a cornerback body (6-0, 201) and ran a 4.37 at the Combine. The only thing I’ve seen people question about his game is his backpedal. Milliner also required shoulder surgery this offseason, but remember that he played through the injury in the final four games last year and participated in the Combine. Only two corners in the last 10 drafts have been taken in the first five picks, and they both had return ability. Milliner could be an option for the Eagles if they trade down.

D.J. Hayden, Houston – Mike Mayock and Cosell both have him as the top corner in the draft. Hayden (5-11, 191) nearly lost his life after a collision in practice last November, but seems to now be in the clear (I know, easy for me to say). He has good size, good athleticism and is expected to be a first-round pick. As for the Eagles, same line as above. If they trade back, corner could be an option.

Xavier Rhodes, Florida State - If the Eagles prefer bigger corners, Rhodes (6-1, 210) could be a fit. The three-year starter for the Seminoles ran a 4.43 at the Combine. Again, expected to go in the first round, so I’m not sure the Eagles will be in a position to draft him.

Desmond Trufant, Washington – Kelly should be familiar with Trufant from his time in the Pac-12. The four-year starter clocked a 4.38 at the Combine, and Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports recently compared him to Asante Samuel. Trufant could land in the back end of the first round, but if he slips to 35, the Eagles could take a look at him.

Jamar Taylor, Boise State – The draft projection for Taylor (5-11, 192) is similar. He ran a 4.39 at the Combine and should get a look from CB-needy teams at the bottom of the first round. But if Taylor is still on the board Friday night, the Eagles could take him.

SAFETY

Kenny Vaccaro, Texas – One of these years, the Eagles have to hit on a safety, right? Vaccaro (6-0, 214) has the versatility to come up and play the slot or hang back and play center-field. He’s expected to be a first-round pick and could be an option if the Eagles trade back (I know, I sound like a broken record). The guess here is that they address safety later in the draft.

Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International - Some believe he could be a better prospect than Vaccaro. Cyprien (6-0, 217) has similar measurables to Vaccaro and will likely go in the second half of the first round. He’d be a fit with the Eagles, but they probably won’t be in position to take him.

Eric Reid, LSU – Safety rankings likely vary quite a bit, depending on the team, but Roseman has said there are a lot of starting-caliber players at the position this year. Reid (6-1, 213) ran a 4.53 at the Combine, but there are some questions about his versatility (specifically in coverage). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com said teams are split on Reid. It’s difficult to guess how the Eagles have their safeties ranked, but Reid could be an option at No. 35.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Examining Three Draft Scenarios

Chip Kelly’s response drew laughter, but there was actually probably some truth behind his words.

“Yeah, and I get bored,” Kelly said last week, when asked about the process of working through different draft scenarios with Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ personnel team.

“To be honest with you, when they give you a million different scenarios, I think the same thing in the back of my mind.  What if one team will trade 17 picks for us? You would say that would never happen. But the New Orleans Saints did it for Ricky Williams, so you have to talk about it. So we talk about it.”

Kelly is only three months into his tenure, but the sense here is that he’s at his happiest when he’s on the field coaching, or in the meeting room with his staff working on offensive concepts and X’s and O’s.

April in the NFL, however, is draft season. And that means teams are making sure they’re ready for any and all scenarios – specifically in the first round.

So while there continues to be uncertainty at the top, even though we’re only one day away, let’s go over three potential scenarios and try to sort out what each could mean for the Eagles.

SCENARIO 1

1. Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
2. Dion Jordan (OLB, Oregon)
3. Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)

What do the Eagles do? This is probably the most appealing scenario for the Birds. The simple solution is to pick Central Michigan Eric Fisher and call it a day. And my guess is that’s probably what the Eagles would do.

But if Fisher is still on the board at No. 4, Roseman’s phone is going to be ringing. If he gets offers from a team like the Cardinals (No. 7), the Chargers (No. 11) or the Dolphins (No. 12), he will at least listen. If the Eagles have Fisher rated much higher than other prospects on their board, they probably won’t make a deal. If they have him lumped in a tier with several other guys, they’ll think about it, if the compensation is right.

Note that this scenario is basically the same if the Chiefs take Fisher. The decision would then just come down to whether to draft Joeckel or trade the pick.

SCENARIO 2

1. Joeckel
2. Fisher
3. Floyd

What do the Eagles do? As I’ve said before, this scenario comes down to what the team thinks Jordan is capable of as a pass-rusher. I’m not saying that’s all he would do in their scheme, but that’s the determining factor in whether you think he’s worthy of the No. 4 pick. We know he has traits that Kelly values: He’s long and he’s versatile. We also know Kelly loves him from a character/make-up standpoint (unless he has just been blatantly lying).

With Joeckel and Fisher off the board, my guess in this scenario is that the Eagles go with Jordan over guys like Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and Utah DT Star Lotulelei. And while it’s less likely that Roseman gets calls from other teams under this scenario, it’s possible that someone wants to sneak up to grab Johnson.

It’s even possible that a team sees Jordan as one of the few prospects in the class with elite upside as a pass-rusher and wants to move up to take him.

SCENARIO 3

1. Joeckel
2. Jordan
3. Fisher

What do the Eagles do? This is the trickiest situation for the Birds. Note that even if the Raiders don’t take Fisher at No. 3, they could trade the pick to a team that does want him.

We wrote yesterday about how Roseman will talk to different GMs before Thursday and get trades in place should the board fall a certain way. My guess is that this was the primary scenario he called about. If the Eagles were to stay put, they could go with Johnson or Lotulelei.

But there certainly are wild cards. Remember, we know very little about the team’s exact defensive scheme. Perhaps someone like Floyd or even Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson would actually fit better than we think. Maybe they see BYU DE Ziggy Ansah as a movable chess piece. Perhaps they see upside in LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo. Or maybe they stun everyone and just take West Virginia WR Tavon Austin.

Again, my sense is the Eagles would like to trade down if Joeckel, Jordan and Fisher are off the board. But if they can’t find a partner and stay put, my guess is they go with Johnson and solidify the offensive line.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Are the trade winds blowing? Here are some thoughts on the latest Eagles-related draft buzz.

Enough about the first round. What about Day 2? Here are 15 potential Eagles targets.

The latest mock draft roundup shows there’s still no consensus on the Eagles’ pick.

Greg Cosell offered up some high praise for Jordan.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Albert Breer of NFL Network writes about Kelly’s approach:

“It’s high energy and high efficiency in everything you do,” said Bellotti, who became Oregon’s athletic director in 2009, when Kelly was elevated to succeed him. “In meetings, it’s not just looking at the play. It’s, ‘Here’s what happened, here’s why,’ and it’s coming rapid fire. And there’s competition in everything you do. He did it on the field, but with everything else, too, it’s, ‘How can get I better? Did I learn something watching that other guy get coached?’ It starts with the players. He empowers the players to be the best.”

The three words you hear most: Win the day.

Fullback Leonard Weaver retired as an Eagle yesterday. From the Daily News’ Les Bowen:

“It’s just been a great honor to be here. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed,” he said.

He said he felt he was embraced here because he understood the fans, and played with heart.

“They work hard. They’re going to talk bad about you. They’re gritty. They’re going to tell you to your face what time it is, but at the same time, they’re going to get it done,” he said.

Liz Spikol over on the Property blog takes a look at DeSean Jackson’s new pad and notices an ex-Eagle selling his Old City condo.

And finally, Janine White introduces the new Eagles cheerleading squad over on The Philly Post.

COMING UP

We’ll be churning out draft content, with pieces on Tavon Austin and a complete first-round cheat sheet. A reminder too that we’ll be hosting live chats for all three days of the draft as we report from the NovaCare Complex.

And T-Mac will be representing the Eagles in ESPN’s mock draft today so be sure to tune in. I’m offering him 20 bucks to go with “Sheil Kapadia, little-used slot receiver out of Ball-So-Hard U.”

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

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Three Thoughts On the Eagles’ Draft

With the draft exactly three weeks away, here are three thoughts on what I think the Eagles are going to do with the No. 4 pick:

1. If you asked me to project the Birds’ pick right now, I would go offensive tackle – either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.

Andy Reid and the Chiefs will likely take one of the two, and it’s possible that the Jaguars or Raiders take whichever player is remaining. But if either Joeckel or Fisher is available, I think that’s who the Eagles take.

This team’s identity under Chip Kelly will be its offense. That’s what got Kelly promoted from New Hampshire to Oregon and now to the NFL. The Eagles have made significant investments in skill-position players (LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, etc.), but as they found out last year, a leaky (or injury-plagued) offensive line can go a long way in derailing a season.

During free agency, the Eagles poked around on some offensive tackle options like Jake Long. Moving Todd Herremans inside might very well be their preference at this point. An offensive line of Joeckel or Fisher, combined with Herremans, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters has potential to be one of the best in the league. Remember, the offensive line in 2011 was a major strength with four of those five same players.

A lot depends on how Kelce, Herremans and Peters bounce back from injury. That’s another reason why offensive tackle makes sense. Peters is 31, and Herremans is 30. Joeckel or Fisher would provide much-needed youth at a critical position, something the Eagles don’t currently have on the roster. In the short-term, you give yourself a starter at right tackle and a backup at left tackle. In the long-term, you have Peters’ replacement.

2013 will be about getting Kelly’s system in place. The best way to do that is to solidify the offensive line and give the team’s playmakers a legitimate chance to be successful and learn their roles. That’s why I think the Eagles go offensive line.

One wild card worth noting: The availability of Fisher or Joeckel could prompt teams to want to trade up. In that scenario, I’d expect the Eagles to consider moving back for the right compensation.

2. Let’s address the other scenario too. What happens if Joeckel and Fisher are both gone when the Eagles pick? I think they then move to the top defensive player on the board, and two names stand out: Oregon OLB Dion Jordan and Florida DL Sharrif Floyd.

The Eagles have a significant advantage over other teams in evaluating Jordan. Over on The Sideline View, Greg Peshek has a good breakdown of this class of pass-rushers. There has been a lot of talk of discussion about how Jordan was used at Oregon. He was not an every-down pass-rusher and got far fewer opportunities to rush the quarterback than the other first-round defensive ends and outside linebackers.

But even on a percentage basis, Jordan only got pressure on the quarterback once every 10.64 chances, a lower rate than the rest of the top-tier pass-rushers.

Of course, stats only tell part of the story. Jordan, who turned 23 last month, played the final five games of the season with a shoulder injury. Is that why Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro had him playing more in coverage? Or was that just what the team needed at the time?

Jordan’s versatile skill set and length will undoubtedly attract the Eagles. And Kelly seems to love Jordan from a character/intangibles perspective. But the bottom line will be what the team thinks his upside is as a pass-rusher. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock compared Jordan to Aldon Smith earlier this offseason. If the Eagles feel the same way, he could be the pick. But you don’t draft an outside linebacker at No. 4 because of his cover skills.

As for Floyd, his upside has to intrigue the Eagles. At 6-3, 297, he could play the 5-technique in a 3-4, and Floyd could be an interior pass-rusher in a 4-3 alignment. Pairing him with Fletcher Cox would give the Eagles two young defensive linemen with Pro Bowl ceilings.

And don’t forget that Floyd is one of the draft’s younger prospects. He will still be 20-years-old when his name is called in a few weeks, meaning he has plenty of room for growth and improvement. He’s about 29 months younger than someone like Utah DT Star Lotulelei. If the Eagles have both players graded closely, you would have to think they’d go with Floyd.

3. I don’t think Geno Smith is going to be the pick. Clearly, the Eagles need to find their quarterback of the future. And just because there’s no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III doesn’t mean this is a horrible class.

I could see the Eagles going QB at No. 4 for one of the following two reasons.

a.) The prospect fits the precise mold of what Kelly is looking for. Even if he might not be as polished as Luck or RGIII, if he had the athleticism and skill set Kelly wanted, I could see the Eagles pulling the trigger.

b.) The prospect doesn’t fit Kelly’s precise mold, but he’s just too good an option to pass up and worth building an offense around.

As of right now, I don’t see Smith falling into either of those two categories. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think their interest is a smoke-screen. I think they’re doing their due diligence and want to gather as much information as possible. That’s part of the process. But in the end, I think the Eagles will pass on Smith.

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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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Eagles To Host Sharrif Floyd, Eric Fisher

Add two big names to the list of players the Eagles are taking a look at in front of the 2013 NFL Draft.

According to sources, the team will be bringing in Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd and Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher for visits.

Both are potential top-5 picks, and could conceivably be selected by the Eagles at No. 4.

Sheil profiled Fisher on Tuesday. The 6-7, 306-pounder played both right and left tackle in college, and also saw some time at right guard. The Eagles have not been aggressive in their pursuit of offensive linemen in free agency, perhaps a sign that they feel comfortable they can address the front in the draft.

“Certainly you talk about a couple guys [tackles] at the top [of the draft] that are really impressive players and people, and those guys go quick in the draft,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “And as you go through it there are some interesting guys throughout.”

Fisher and Luke Joeckel are largely considered the top tackles in this class. Several mock drafts have Fisher landing with the Eagles.

Others project Floyd to be the pick. The 6-3, 297-pound Philadelphia native has proven a versatile player in his time with the Gators. From NFL.com:

A rough childhood did not prevent Floyd from earning national accolades for his play in high school, as he won the 2009 Maxwell Football Club’s National Player of the Year award. And by the end of his sophomore year at Florida (he racked up 1.5 sacks against Ohio State in the team’s Gator Bowl win), Floyd began showing scouts the athleticism, strength, and motor they require in a top tackle prospect. He has been an incredibly important and versatile defender up front for Florida, playing both one and two-gap techniques at defensive end, one and three-technique, and as a true zero-technique nose tackle. While Floyd is rough around the edges and will take time to develop as a two-gapper, the Gator’s quickness, athleticism, and scheme versatility will make him coveted by 4-3 and 3-4 teams alike in the first round.

More on that rough childhood here, courtesy of Jeff Darlington.

Be sure to bookmark the master list of all of the Eagles pre-draft workouts and visits.