Kiper: Jack Conklin Would Be Upgrade For Eagles

Jack Conklin. (USA Today Sports Images)

Jack Conklin. (USA Today Sports Images)

During a 75-minute conference call with reporters Monday morning, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said he believes the Eagles need to focus on building their offensive line, and that Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin could be a good fit at No. 13 in this year’s draft.

“I think, in terms of offensive line, I think that’s the [Eagles’] big need area, the big problem they have right now and going into this year, is solidifying the guys up front for the quarterback, whoever that may be,” Kiper said.

“Jack Conklin, from Michigan State, an outstanding left tackle in college. If you feel he’s immediately needed at right tackle, you can play him there, or guard, which has happened before, where you draft a collegiate tackle and initially they play at guard.

“So Jack Conklin would be a major upgrade over what they have inside, and even as far as the bookend situation, depending on how that comes back and how they decide to go with that. I think a versatile lineman like Conklin, who projects to three different positions, in this day and age in the NFL, is tremendously important. So I gave them Conklin at 13.”

Conklin was named a first-team All-American by Sporting News and USA Today, and first-team Big Ten by coaches and media. He started 35 games at left tackle and three games at right tackle during his career with the Spartans. He’s forgoing his senior year to enter the draft this spring.

The Eagles have drafted just one offensive lineman since 2012; in 2013, they used the No. 4 overall pick on right tackle Lane Johnson, whom they recently signed to an extension and has solidified himself as a franchise cornerstone.

This past season, the Eagles used a rotation Allen Barbre, Dennis KellyMatt Tobin and Andrew Gardner at the guard positions, each of whom were widely regarded as underwhelming throughout the season and contributed to DeMarco Murray‘s lowest yards per attempt average of his career.

Here are a few other topics Kiper touched on that could relate to the Eagles’ interests.

On how the quarterback situation could fall at the top of the draft:

“I think it’s going to be interesting, because the quarterback that doesn’t go at No. 2, okay, ends up being in the mix for Dallas. If Dallas doesn’t take the quarterback left over, be it [Jared] Goff or [Carson] Wentz, then you’ve got San Francisco at No. 7, and then you get into that free fall. Then, does somebody trade up to get that quarterback? It’s going to be interesting, if Dallas doesn’t take a quarterback at No. 4, how far that second quarterback off the board drops.”

On the viability of the mobile quarterbacks in this draft:

“I think Cardale Jones is going to be the interesting one, because he’s so big, so strong, and so talented, but he had a year that didn’t go the way he wanted it to after those three great games two years ago. He could’ve been a second round pick last season.

“He’s the intriguing guy, I think. Vernon Adams, from Oregon, is another interesting guy, because he could draw some comparisons to Russell Wilson. Dak Prescott, from Mississippi State, certainly would be another.”

On wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and where he could land in the first round:

“If Laquon Treadwell runs a good 4o, the Ole Miss receiver’s a top-10 pick. If he doesn’t, he’s a mid- to late-first. He’s one to watch.”

On quarterbacks who might fit Chip Kelly’s offense in San Francisco:

“In terms of Chip Kelly, we don’t know yet. Everybody says ‘mobile quarterback’ because of Oregon, but Sam Bradford he made a deal to get. He had Nick Foles, he had [Mark] Sanchez. So it really depends.

“I think in terms of that type of quarterback, yeah, you would think it would be a quarterback who is versatile, and mobile, and athletic, and can do both [run and pass]. It’s hard to really gauge they’re going to go, and what type of quarterback fits.

“I think an interesting guy to watch is going to be Vernon Adams from Oregon, based on what he did at Eastern Washington, and what he did at Oregon for that one season, what Russell Wilson has done at under 5-11, Adams is the same type of thing. He had a real good all-star game. He’s a fourth-round type of guy.”