Draft Daily: Why Jake Fisher Makes Sense
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. If you have a player you want covered, let us know on the Birds 24/7 Facebook page.
THE BACK STORY
Going into last year’s draft, the Eagles felt like they had a good opportunity to address the offensive line.
But in the third round, names started flying off the board. The Birds selected Josh Huff with the 86th overall pick, knowing they’d be on the clock again at pick No. 101. But in between the two spots, five offensive linemen were taken, and the Eagles ended up selecting DB Jaylen Watkins.
The Eagles ended up with seven players overall, but zero offensive linemen.
Fast-forward to this year, and it’s highly unlikely that the same thing happens again. They’re going to address the offensive line. It’s just a matter of when.
And one name to keep an eye on in the first round is Oregon’s Jake Fisher. Fisher obviously played for Chip Kelly in 2011 and 2012. Overall, he started 35 games and appeared in 50. Last year, Fisher was a third-team All-American at left tackle. He played right tackle the previous two seasons and was a guard as a freshman.
The 21-year-old offers versatility and athleticism. He’s also familiar with many aspects of the Eagles’ scheme, including the tempo.
Last month, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt said he thought he knew the Eagles’ pick at No. 20. He sealed his selection in an envelope and gave it to a colleague to be opened on April 30th. Recently, a friend asked me to predict the prospect Brandt was talking about.
My guess? It’s Fisher.
Fisher is 6-6, 306 with 33 3/4-inch arms. We know the Eagles value athleticism from their offensive linemen, and Fisher is off the charts in that category:
His time in the three-cone drill was the best of any lineman this year. And in the past five years, only two linemen have tested better in this drill: Jason Kelce and Anthony Castonzo.
Fisher isn’t quite Lane Johnson, but he’s an outstanding athlete who has all the measurables to play in the Eagles’ scheme.
It’s extremely difficult to evaluate offensive linemen without access to the All-22, so with Fisher, we’re going to rely on some people we respect who have actually watched the tape.
Doug Farrar of SI.com talked offensive linemen with Greg Cosell of NFL Films on a recent podcast.
“He’s likely to me to be looked upon as a right tackle, given the conventional wisdom,” Cosell said. “Whether he can play left tackle down the road, that’ll be interesting.
“I think it’s a perfect case of team and scheme specific with someone like Jake Fisher. I could easily see him playing left tackle in the NFL, but again, he doesn’t necessarily have – when you’re checking boxes – all the traits that we normally associate with the left tackle position.”
Cosell said he saw similarities between Fisher and Jake Matthews, the sixth overall pick last year, although he pointed out that Matthews was clearly a better prospect.
“He keeps his hands really, really low in pass protection,” Cosell added. “So he needs to be taught that. But when he did fire his hands, I thought that he was very effective. It’s just that they’re very, very low. He’s another guy that, to me, is a little bit robotic and mechanical in his lateral movement, and I think those guys can be vulnerable to edge speed at the counter moves.
“I think he’s a very good run blocker. He’s shown the ability to sustain blocks in the run game. He’s got strong hips, strong legs. I thought his athleticism stood out more as a run blocker than it did as a pass protector.”
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com offered his take:
If you are a zone-based team looking for an athletic, well-schooled tackle who can come in and compete for a starting position right away, then Fisher is your guy. He has the feet to play the left side and is savvy enough in the run game to man the right side. He needs more weight on his frame, but guard is also an option for Fisher.
Oregon’s offensive line coach, Steve Greatwood, offered this, via NFL.com:
“Jake emulates Kyle [Long] in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to a tough attitude. Jake’s been in the system a bit longer, so I think he’s a bit more polished than Kyle was as far as fundamentals,” Greatwood said. “Jake is still growing as a player, too. He’s a true senior and didn’t have that redshirt year. He’s athletic and could carry a lot more weight, maybe 20 pounds, and not lose anything.”
And finally, Daniel Jeremiah said he likes what he’s seen:
The more I study Oregon OT Jake Fisher, the more I like him. Quick feet, recover ability and can create movement in run game.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 30, 2015
If you want to check Fisher out in action, click here for the Draft Breakdown videos.
Todd Herremans is gone. Jason Peters is 33. Evan Mathis turns 34 in November and wants to be traded.
The Eagles have two young building blocks in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. But there’s not a lot of upside among the reserves. Matt Tobin might have a shot eventually, but he did not play well last year. Andrew Gardner is a journeyman, and so is Allen Barbre.
That’s why Fisher makes so much sense. He’s a scheme fit. Kelly knows him from a #culture standpoint. He possesses elite athleticism. And he has experience playing multiple positions.
Ideally, Fisher would come in and start at right guard. When the Eagles decide it’s time to move on from Peters, Johnson can move over to the left side, and Fisher can slide over to right tackle. Drafting Fisher makes sense both short-term and long-term.
I said this with UConn CB Byron Jones, and I’ll repeat it with Fisher: If I’m making a list of the five most likely prospects at No. 20, the Oregon offensive lineman is on it.