2013 NFL Draft: Handicapping the Fourth Pick
The 2013 NFL Draft is just over a week away and the Philadelphia Eagles currently hold the fourth pick in the draft. There has been a lot of speculation as to what the Eagles will do with this pick. Will they take a defensive tackle or an edge rusher to play in the 3-4 defense? Do they land one of the stud offensive tackles in this draft? Or, will they roll the dice on a potential franchise quarterback? What are the chances any of this happens come next Thursday?
Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia): Smith is widely regarded as the top signal-caller available in this year’s draft. On the surface the Eagles do not appear to have a long-term solution at the most important position. Michael Vick is only under contract for one more year and is approaching his mid-30s. Nick Foles held his own during his rookie season given the hand that was dealt him, but it remains to be seen how Foles progresses and whether he can get it done over a 16 week season.
Bottom Line: It feels as though there is not a QB that Chip Kelly is terribly enamored with in this draft. If he were then one would imagine the team lets Vick walk or, at the very least, dealt Foles. If Foles is moved prior to the draft then Smith could very will be the guy, but at this stage it seems pretty unlikely the Eagles grab him with the 4th pick.
Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M) or Eric Fisher, OT (Central Michigan): Provided that everyone comes back healthy this summer the Eagles will have a solid nucleus along the offensive line in Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Todd Herremans. Those three, however, are all on the wrong side of 30 and Peters and Herremans are both coming off of major injuries. One of the major hurdles the Eagles faced last season was finding guys to plug into the offensive line last season that were actually qualified to play. The lack of depth along the line killed the offense last season and the team would do well to get some younger guys who could step in and contribute right away next season. If they were to land a tackle at #4 they could move Herremans back inside to replace Danny Watkins who had been less than impressive at RG the past two years and put the rookie at RT.
Bottom Line: Joeckel is largely regarded as the top prospect in this draft and is expected to come off the board at #1 to the Chiefs. Fisher should be there, however, at four and seems to be one of the guys the Eagles are taking a long, hard look at. It would not be surprising to see him end up in Philly. This draft is, however, deep at OT and the team could wait and grab a RT at the top of the second round.
Star Lotuleilei, DL (Utah) or Sharrif Floyd, DL (Florida): This team needs difference-makers on the defensive line. After Fletcher Cox there is little to be excited about when trolling the depth chart. There are some solid rotational guys there in Antonio Dixon, Cedric Thornton, and Clifton Geathers, but none of those guys really scare anyone. Lotuleilei could potentially play end or tackle in a 3-4 front and give them a second player that teams have to account for in the gameplan. Floyd has been rocketing up draft boards during the spring workout season and would provide a nice bookend to Cox who is expected to move to end for the upcoming season.
Bottom Line: There has been a lot of talk around Lotuleilei and the Eagles and he seems to be grouped with Fisher as one of the team’s finalists for the #4 pick. There has not been as much talk about Floyd but he could also be in the mix. This draft is also deep on defensive line talent and there is also a good chance the team could target someone like Kawann Short or Jesse Williams at the top of the second round.
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB (Oregon): Jordan is widely regarded as the top pass rushing prospect in this draft, an athletic freak of nature often compared to Aldon Smith who has been one of the league’s premiere pass rushers his first two seasons in San Francisco. Jordan does not fill an immediate need for the Eagles though as they signed Connor Barwin via free agency with Brandon Graham and Trent Cole expected to migrate to the OLB position this spring.
Bottom Line: If not for the fact that he is a legit top 10 prospect who played for Kelly at Oregon one wonders if he garners serious consideration here. However, the main consideration here could be is he regarded as the best player available at this stage of the draft? Is he simply too good to pass up?
Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama): The Eagles added Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams via free agency, but neither guy is considered an elite cover corner and Fletcher has a history of missing long stretches due to injury. The team is still in need of a lockdown corner and Milliner is considered the top cover guy in the draft.
Bottom Line: Seeing as the team cancelled its pre-draft meeting with Milliner it seems unlikely they are strongly considering him here. It could be a smoke screen though, but it seems doubtful. This draft is also pretty deep at corner and they could be targeting someone at the top of the second round. Xavier Rhodes could be good fit in the second.
Chance Warmack, OG (Alabama) or Jonathan Cooper, OG (UNC): Danny Watkins has failed to impress his first two years at RG for the Eagles. Either one of them would go a long way to sure up the middle of the offensive line. The question would be whether the team is better suited grabbing a tackle and moving Herremans back to guard.
Bottom Line: Warmack and Cooper are both considered to be top 10 prospects, however, most sites have them rated in the 8 to 10 range so taking one of them would be considered a bit of a reach at four.