Draft Debate: Will Eagles Take A QB?

As we count down to Thursday, Tim and Sheil give their takes on how the Eagles will approach the 2014 draft.

In case you missed yesterday’s installment, they each gave their three most likely targets for the Birds at No. 22.

Today’s question: Will the Eagles spend one of their draft picks on a quarterback?

McManus: I’m not ruling it out.

If you stay true to the best player available approach, there is a chance that you will end up selecting at a position of strength rather than one of need. That was true when the Eagles used the 35th overall pick on tight end Zach Ertz last April despite already having Brent Celek and James Casey on the roster. The idea is to concern yourself with acquiring the most talented players rather than settling for a lesser prospect simply because of the position he plays, and sort it out from there.

Quarterback is a unique animal, though. Asked how he would find enough playing time for Ertz, Casey and Celek, Chip Kelly put three fingers in the air, suggesting that he could deploy packages that have all three tight ends on the field at once. No such luxuries at quarterback. Only one can play at a time, and the Eagles seem to have a pretty good one in Nick Foles. If the Eagles are going to use one of their six picks on a signal-caller, they better be sold on him.

My sense is the Eagles don’t view any of the quarterbacks in this class as can’t-miss prospects. They spoke with Derek Carr of Fresno State “at length” during the Senior Bowl and did some follow-up work, we’re told, but did not schedule a visit with him. They had shown “no interest” in LSU’s Zach Mettenberger the last time we checked in. Local product Tom Savage hasn’t received much love from the Eagles. And the Tajh Boyd camp wasn’t looking at Philly as a likely landing spot when we spoke with them a couple weeks back. There has not been any overt interest in any of the quarterbacks leading up to the draft, though it’s possible they are high on one or two behind the scenes.

I don’t see Johnny Manziel slipping into their range, and the odds are against a quarterback being the clear-cut best player available when they are on the clock. So I’ll say they come out of the draft without a quarterback and head into the season with the trio of Foles, Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez.

Kapadia: My sense is that the Eagles will not end up drafting a quarterback this year.

Having said that, Kelly’s philosophy on QBs seems to be similar to Andy Reid’s. The basic premise? Don’t pass up talent. You can always use two. And worst-case scenario, you take advantage of needy teams down the road.

One tough part about this question is we don’t know exactly what Kelly wants. Last offseason, the team brought back Michael Vick. The Eagles then drafted Barkley. And this offseason, they added Sanchez. Good luck trying to find similarities between those three players. And that’s without even mentioning Foles, the QB who had the most success.

Kelly has gone on record as saying he values accuracy and decision-making first and foremost. Beyond that, we can point to hand size. And while it’s not a requirement, athleticism/mobility should be considered a plus because it opens up the playbook for a prospect who might be lacking in one of the other categories.

Last week, Howie Roseman said the Eagles have first-round grades on three QBs, and there is debate whether a fourth belongs. Given the scrutiny that Teddy Bridgewater has been under, the guess is opinion is split on him within the Eagles’ organization. The top three? In no particular order: Manziel, Carr and Central Florida’s’ Blake Bortles.

Manziel is the most intriguing name. But it seems highly unlikely that he falls to No. 22. And even if he did, would the Eagles take him there?

As for later-round prospects, there are a couple intriguing names. One is Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas. At 6-6, 248, he is a unique specimen. Thomas has giant hands (10 7/8 inches) and ran a 4.61. Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently wrote an interesting piece on Thomas, suggesting he’s more advanced than Cam Newton was coming out of college. If other teams see that potential, Thomas could go off the board on Day 2.

And one final name to know – a favorite of friend of the blog Sam Lynch: Wyoming’s Brett Smith. At 6-2 with 10-inch hands, Smith ran a 4.51 at his Pro Day. He threw 29 TDs and 11 INTs last year, while also running for 571 yards.

If you’re looking for a Day 3 sleeper, Smith might be the guy to keep an eye on.

The other factor to consider is roster construction. Assuming the Eagles only want to keep three QBs, drafting one would open up the possibility of Barkley not making the team. Foles and Sanchez (considering what he’s being paid) appear to be locks.

Keeping all that in mind, the guess here is that the Eagles don’t end up taking a QB.