Pre-Draft Mental Workouts: Narrowing the Field of Eagles’ Prospects
As we discussed Around the Cooler this week, the Eagles could feasibly take a number of prospects in this year’s draft. However, I don’t feel like waiting for the draft to take place. So, I’m going to sift through the sands of confusion to find the
Ark of the Covenant Eagles’ draft choice at number four.
Let’s begin by examining the list of candidates that the Eagles have worked out:
Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M
Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
Sharrif Floyd, DL Florida
Star Lotulelei, DL Utah
Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
Ziggy Ansah, DL Brigham Young
Dion Jordan, LB Oregon
From this list, you can immediately cross out Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel. I recently explained why the Eagles will not take Smith. Manuel is universally considered a second-round graded prospect so there’s no chance that he goes at the top of the draft. He could be the Eagles’ choice at the top of the second round or perhaps a player that they jump into the late first round to grab, but don’t expect a quarterback at four. NEXT!
Let’s take a look at offensive tackles. Joeckel will be going to Kansas City. Period. The Chiefs wouldn’t have considered trading tackle Branden Albert, who they just franchise tagged, to the Dolphins unless they had a replacement. Joeckel is that replacement. Eric Fisher is considered the second best tackle prospect in the draft and an option for the Eagles at four, but going with my gut here (very scientific), it’s growing more evident that Lane Johnson of Oklahoma is the better choice for this team.
Johnson is a specimen. As NFL analyst Mike Mayock stated, “He ran 4.72 in the 40—at 303 pounds. That’s as fast as Anquan Boldin ran. He jumped 34 inches, which is what A.J. Green jumped. And he broad-jumped 9’ 10, which is what Stevan Ridley jumped. That’s the freakiest combine ever.” To make it even more interesting, Johnson spent some time as a quarterback, tight end, right tackle, left tackle and defensive end in college. In other words, Johnson is the symbol of the Eagles’ newest buzz word: versatility.
If the Eagles were to land Johnson, they could potentially create a number of exotic sets where Johnson would have to be accounted for as a receiving option. Like a new age version of The Fridge. That would be tons of fun. He also already has experience playing both tackle positions, which would make him a versatile contributor in the trenches.
On the defensive side, the two biggest options are Floyd and Lotulelei. The biggest obstacle here in determining the Eagles’ choice will be the Oakland Raiders, who pick third. Oakland just lost Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly on the defensive line and will probably be looking for a high-impact replacement. Floyd is considered the consensus pick for the Raiders, which leaves Lotulelei available. There’s also Ansah, but he is a very raw player and doesn’t seem to be a likely choice that high in the draft.
That leaves us with Jordan and Millner. Dion Jordan seems to be a lock for going to the Jaguars at second overall. New head coach Gus Bradley has generated solid linebacker play over the last few years in Seattle and Jacksonville’s linebackers were god-awful last season. Dee Milliner will be available for the Birds. Since he’s a tough, physical player that can press and make tackles, that’s by no means a bad thing.
As a result, the Eagles’ options with the fourth pick look like Lane Johnson, Star Lotulelei, or Dee Milliner. If you have to choose between one of these three, Lotulelei seems to be the no-brainer. He’s proven to be a force over the course of his career and has the versatility (there’s that word again) to play multiple positions on the defensive line. Given that the Eagles will be regularly shifting fronts, a defensive lineman will be much more important for the team’s overall success than a corner or tackle. It also helps that Lotulelei will be the best player available at that point, which fits into the Eagles’ drafting strategy. Therefore, the stars align, bringing Star to Philly to be an NFL star or star in something about stars on Starz.
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Posted on April 19, 2013, in Eagles, Posts, Vince Quinn and tagged dee millner, dion jordan, Eagles, ej manuel, geno smith, lane johnson, luke joeckel, sharrif floyd, star lotulelei, ziggy ansah. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.