Eagles Wake-Up Call: Draft Predictions (Part 1)
Over the next three days, we’ll offer our draft predictions, answering a different question each morning.
Ultimately, what will end up happening with Marcus Mariota? Where will he go off the board, and what team will he be quarterbacking next season?
Sheil: I totally understand the Mariota fatigue. For the past four months (and maybe longer), Mariota talk has dominated the conversation surrounding this team. There have been wild rumors, ridiculous speculation and hypothetical after hypothetical.
Thankfully, in two days, we get answers.
To answer this question, I’ve tried to take a step back from all the nonsense and focus on what we know. Ed Marynowitz laid out the the team’s three-pronged player evaluation strategy last week. It focuses on measurables, talent/scheme fit and #culture. No player in this draft will grade higher on the Eagles’ board than Mariota in those three categories.
He plays the most important position on the field, and Kelly very well may never get an opportunity to acquire him again if he misses out this time around.
OK, so we’ve established that Kelly will really, really, really want to land Mariota. That part is not new. The question is compensation. And that’s where it gets tricky. The Eagles let DeSean Jackson go for nothing and were reportedly prepared to do the same with LeSean McCoy. If players are not perfect scheme/culture fits, Kelly has shown he has no problem showing them the door. Because of that, I think he’ll be more than willing to part with players on the current roster such as Mychal Kendricks. And remember that Kelly had no issue parting with a second rounder for Sam Bradford. What, then, would he be willing to include for someone like Mariota?
Last year, the Eagles identified six players they wanted in the first round. Instead of trading up, they decided to stand pat. When it was their turn to pick, all six players were gone. I think that irritated Kelly and is one of the main reasons Howie Roseman was booted from his post as GM. Kelly’s approach seems less focused on worrying about value and more focused on aggressively targeting the players he wants.
Mariota is not Andrew Luck. But in Kelly’s eyes, he very well might be.
In the end, I think the Titans want to trade out of the No. 2 spot. If they were in love with Mariota, we wouldn’t be hearing all these trade rumors. It’s possible that another team like the San Diego Chargers or Cleveland Browns simply have more ammo than the Eagles to move up. If that’s the case, there’s nothing Kelly can do.
When all is said and done, I don’t see the Titans taking Mariota. And because I’m feeling bold, I’ll go ahead and make the prediction. It might end up being some kind of insane overpay, but ultimately I think Kelly winds up pulling the trigger and getting his guy.
Tim: Look at you calling your shot! Can’t say I’d be shocked if you’re right, though I’m leaning the other way.
It should be pointed out that the Eagles-Mariota buzz exists outside the fan/media realm. There have been “persistent rumblings” for weeks in some NFL circles that Kelly is trying to orchestrate a major deal to land the former Oregon quarterback. After calling around a bunch about this, I walk away with the impression that the interest is real and believe there is a chance that Mariota ends up in Midnight Green.
But the stars need to align.
First, Tennessee needs to pass on Mariota or trade away the rights to the No. 2 overall pick. I agree with you, Sheil, that if the Titans were 100 percent sold on Mariota as the answer, there probably wouldn’t be this level of uncertainty surrounding their intentions at this stage of the game. That doesn’t mean they won’t draft him, though. Listening to Ken Whisenhunt at the owners meetings back in March, I heard a coach that sounded genuinely impressed with Mariota following extensive pre-draft evaluation. Maybe he’s a great poker player but honestly, it didn’t feel like a game. I believe Whisenhunt likes him more than he was anticipating he might. Drafting Mariota is likely the smart play from his perspective. If Zach Mettenberger fails to shine, he could be out of a head coaching job in no-time flat. But with Mariota, he’ll likely be given time to groom the QB. And if Mariota hits, he could quickly ascend to the top of his profession.
To pass on that possible winning lottery ticket, the Titans will likely need to be well-compensated. What are the chances they agree to move all the way from No. 2 to 20? Unlikely unless that’s just a piece of juicy package that includes picks and players galore. While I believe Kelly is willing to play ball, I don’t think he’s in “name your price” mode. His offense has ranked in the top five each of the past two seasons with a combination of Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez playing quarterback. He might want Mariota, but I don’t think he feels he needs him.
Sam Bradford‘s reported unwillingness to sign an extension with any team other than the Eagles further complicates matters. He’s intent on being Kelly’s QB, and ultimately I think he gets his wish. I’ll say Mariota goes to Tennessee at 2.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Here are 15 defensive back prospects who could be Eagles targets.
The latest draft buzz: “The concept that Sam Bradford would be part of the deal? That’s a fairy tale in my mind.”
Searching for safeties: Mike Mayock on this year’s class.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane on the possibility of Kendricks getting dealt:
The workouts are voluntary, and Kendricks is expected to show up eventually, but if he doesn’t arrive this week with the draft looming in days it could signal even further that he is also possible trade bait.
Is it possible the Eagles, who likely have several trade scenarios in the works, told him to stay away from the NovaCare Complex? Kendricks certainly sees the landscape at inside linebacker with the addition of Kiko Alonso and must wonder what it means for him.
Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice looks at LSU edge defender Danielle Hunter:
The Eagles re-signed Brandon Graham to a long term deal to pair with Connor Barwin, so they have their starters in place, but have almost no depth behind them. And it’s not the worst idea to load up on players who can get to the QB.
Hunter is drawing comparisons for his size, athleticism, and lack of college production (in terms of sacks) to the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul. Hunter is 6’5, and he ran a freaking 4.57 40.
Two more days!