NFL Draft Guide for Casual Eagles Fans

The only draft guide you need, if you have little-to-no interest in the NFL draft.

The NFL draft is a bore. I remember it used to be fun, when I was a kid. The TV production was slightly amateurish; it had the feel of an event only die-hards cared about. I’d sit in front of the TV watching ESPN, slogging through a few early picks—I remember wanting the Eagles to trade up to get Ki-Jana Carter one year—anxiously awaiting to see how the Eagles would screw up their first round selection.

I don’t know if the draft was every only for die-hards, but it’s become an overproduced, overexposed slog for me. Somehow by trying to build it up ESPN and NFL Network have made it less interesting for me. And the hype pre-draft is unbearable. The guys at Birds 24/7 (and lots of other beat writers) have done a great job compiling Eagles draft rumors the last few months, but, my God, I want it to be over.

Aside from coverage fatigue, I think this year actually should be pretty interesting. Andy Reid made some very good draft picks (McNabb, Westbrook, Trent Cole) but most of his other picks seemed to alternate between backup quarterbacks and linemen who wouldn’t work out. But now the Eagles have a new coach, and who knows what he’ll do? From minicamp reports it seems like the Eagles are going to use a mildly gimmicky read option offense next season, so maybe he’ll be drafting punters and fullbacks and five quarterbacks.

Or, probably not. Birds 24/7’s Sheil Kapadia compiled an exhaustive draft cheat sheet with 40 players the Eagles could take (offense, defense) in the first round. Forty players! I figure a lot of you are more like me: You barely care about college football and only watch your alma mater, and maybe Penn State or Temple if you’re bored. (The kickers are so horrible!)

I’ve narrowed the field down to 10 prospects. Which one will the Eagles draft and inevitably screw up? Probably somebody besides one of these guys!

Luke Joeckel

College: Texas A&M
Position: Left Tackle
Upside: The consensus No. 1 pick. 6-6, 310, three-year starter in college.
Downside: He’ll probably be drafted by ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid with the No. 1 pick.
Fun fact: He says he’d fit in well with Kelly’s offense! Crap, this means there’s no way the Eagles are getting him.

Lane Johnson

College: Oklahoma
Position: Left tackle
Upside: So athletic he started his college career as a quarterback.
Downside: Doesn’t have much offensive line experience. He’s also not a Canadian firefighter, so I’m not quite sure how he fits in on this offensive line.
Fun fact: Look how goofy he was in high school!

Geno Smith

College: West Virginia
Position: QB
Upside: For most of the draft run-up, he’s been the consensus No. 1 QB. Went 23-for-24 for 307 yards and four touchdowns in his final regular season game in college.
Downside: He might not be athletic enough for Chip Kelly’s offense.
Fun fact: I play in a competitive, complicated fantasy football league where we sign players to multi-year contracts and argue in an email chain year-round about the Eagles. I love it! When it became apparent this was Andy Reid’s last year on the job, my buddy Ron started passionately arguing for two people to revitalize the franchise: Chip Kelly and Geno Smith. Kelly actually happened, and his Geno Smith passion became so intense he’s now the Lord Voldemort of our email chain, with all talk being shut down and any references going to “the West Virginia guy.” Anyway, since these arguments have brought me so much joy this year, I am fully in favor of the Eagles drafting Geno Smith. Only the Eagles wearing kelly green uniforms would make me happier.

E.J. Manuel

College: Florida State
Position: QB
Upside: 6-foot-5, 237 pounds. Won four bowl games in college. Plus he knows how to throw the football in a spiral.
Downside: Manuel said “the Eagles want me pretty bad,” which my NFL Draft-obsessed friends insist is a bad thing for an NFL prospect to say.
Fun fact: “I think teams need quarterbacks,” Manuel said earlier this month. You never know with Chip Kelly! What if he comes out with a six lineman, five-running back offense?

Barkevious Mingo

College: LSU
Position: Defensive End
Upside: His name is Barkevious Mingo. The NFL better let him put his full name on his jersey.
Downside: His name is so incredible it might distract the rest of the team.
Fun fact: “My mom just kind of threw it together and wrote it on the birth certificate,” Mingo said at the draft combine.

Ryan Nassib

College: Syracuse
Position: QB
Upside: The Eagles have a good track record with quarterbacks from Syracuse.
Downside: Wikipedia says Nassib’s pursuing a masters in accounting. If he transfers to Wharton, his studies are going to wreck his chances to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback.
Fun fact: Nassib is from West Chester! He went to Malvern Prep, and if he becomes a star he’ll be Malvern’s biggest celebrity graduate ever.

Star Lotulelei

College: Utah
Position: Nose tackle/interior defensive lineman
Upside: Hey, this guy has a cool name too! Reportedly has good tackling technique, which you know the Eagles desperately need if you’ve watched any of their games the past three years or so.
Downside: Sportswriters cringe at having to spell his last name hundreds of times over a season.
Fun fact: He’s already 23! He is married with two kids! He’s from Tonga! I don’t know about you, but to me these are some pretty fun facts. Here’s an even more fun one about another recruit at the same time, from Lotulelei’s Wikipedia page: “However, he was overshadowed by Oregon-bound Simi Fili of Cottonwood High School, who was labeled the best defensive lineman from Utah since Haloti Ngata, but eventually bounced around between junior colleges before falling into obscurity and eventually becoming a strongman competitor.” No offense to anyone who loves the sport, but if you’re a strongman competitor, aren’t you still sort of in obscurity?

Dion Jordan

College: Oregon
Position: Defensive end
Upside: Played under Chip Kelly at Oregon. He’s very tall (6-6) for a defensive end.
Downside: He had surgery in late February to repair a torn labrum and will be out another month or two.
Fun fact: He suffered burns over 40 percent of his body in an accident in high school. It’s amazing he was able to return to football and play at such a high level.

Dee Milliner

College: Alabama
Position: Cornerback
Upside: He’s 6-0, 201 and has been viewed as a potential top corner since he was, like, 16. He’s super fast.
Downside: He should be fine for training camp, but he, too, has a labrum tear. In all, he’s had five surgeries.
Fun fact: Honestly, I didn’t find any. Do you know any fun facts about Dee Milliner? Share them in the comments!

Manti Te’o

College: Notre Dame
Position: Linebacker
Upside: Like I said, I don’t really follow college football that much, and I haven’t heard anything about Te’o since the National Championship game earlier this year, but I assume everything’s good and he’s still a projected first-rounder. He had a great year, was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and is known for being an incredibly likable, positive guy.
Downside: Eh, I can’t really think of any.
Fun fact: Holy crap, you guys, I just googled Manti Te’o and you have got to hear about this thing he was caught up in.