High Phive contributors Ben Haley and Josh Collachi collaborated to answer some pre-draft questions regarding the Eagles’ selections. Were you wondering about the lack of quarterback talent, who the Eagles are targeting, and what positions need addressing the most? Be assured there is no collusion here, only formulated draft analysis.
Q: What is the top priority for the Eagles in this year’s draft?
If not for free agency, there would have been numerous holes for the Eagles in this year’s draft. But, since the signing of Connor Barwin, Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, the impending need for defense has not become as huge a problem. I still believe the Eagles top priority for this draft is an offensive lineman. At 4, Eric Fisher could be available, and will be a top tackle for years to come. But if he is not, I think the Eagles could potentially trade down and select guards Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. The Eagles offensive line should be healthy this year, with Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce coming back after missing most of last season. But, none of these guys are getting any younger, it would be good to see a perennial pro bowl lineman taken by the Eagles in the first round. As for the rest of the draft, the Eagles need to add another corner, another safety and another linebacker to add depth to what promises to be a defense full of moving parts. I also believe the Eagles could look to add another TE, a potential deep threat such as Travis Kelce, Vance McDonald or in the later rounds in Chris Gragg.
Josh, I completely agree that one of the biggest needs in the draft is the offensive line. Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are both over 30 and have significant injury history. However, it is the secondary that is the biggest area of need for this team. Colt Anderson, Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips are a solid group at the safety position, but I worry about the ability of the Eagles’ corners. Cary Williams is not a legitimate option for a first string corner, and will struggle against top tier receivers with good size. Furthermore, be it Brandon Boykin or Bradley Fletcher, the second corner spot is in question. With the fourth overall selection, Philadelphia would be wise to target Alabama’s Demarcus Milliner, though he is not the end all be all of this year’s crop of defensive backs. The draft pool is very deep in the secondary this year, so I could see the Eagles taking the safe route, and selecting one of the offensive line-men you mentioned. In addition to Travis Kelce and Vance McDonald, Philadelphia would be wise to look at Stanford’s Zach Ertz in the second round. Ertz is a great vertical threat, and has one of the best releases of any receiver in the draft.
Q: Who is the biggest talent available in the first round? Specifically, a player who could make an impact in the starting lineup immediately?
I think there are a handful of players who can make a big impact immediately, but the ones who can step right in and play at a high level are not as abundant. I believe Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, Dee Milliner, Eddie Lacy, and Tavon Austin will contribute at a high level right away. DeAndre Hopkins is also another player who is NFL ready, but he will need a QB to get him the ball.
I can’t disagree with anyone you named, but will add a few of my own. Jarvis Jones’ stock has fallen since the NCAA regular season due to a spinal cord issue called spinal stenosis. The former Bulldog also has been questioned due to his low 40 yard dash time (4.92s) and his smaller than preferred, frame. As a consensus first team All-American, Jones was named the SEC’s defensive player of the year in his final season at the University of Georgia. Jarvis Jones could be a steal if he falls towards the end of the first round. Other impact players will be Shariff Floyd, Dion Jordan, and Star Loutelei, if the latter can be drafted into a scheme suitable to his run-stop ability.
Q: How would you rank the Eagles’ draft needs in terms of immediate necessity?
- Offensive Line – A guard or tackle, but Eagles need a starter from this draft.
- Cornerback – Even with Fletcher and Williams being added, and Brandon Boykin coming back, the Eagles still need another corner, specifically a nickel guy to add to Boykin. Honey Badger maybe?
- Safety – I like the signings of Chung and Phillips, but their knock has been staying healthy. Either one of them could get hurt and miss the season again, and neither one has a long-term deal. Matt Elam, Eric Reid, Jonathan Cyrien, Baccari Rambo or D.J. Swearinger would fit the bill.
- Defensive Line – I do not think the Eagles need defensive linemen as a top priority like others seem to think, because I think the current roster boasts some good players in Brandon Graham, Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Antonio Dixon, and others.
- Linebacker – Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans are solid, and I think Jamar Chaney may be a good fit in this 3-4 4-3 hybrid system with his speed, but I would like to see the Eagles add another tackler to the mix, to help out in the middle, and eventually take over for Ryans. In the later rounds, Jon Bostic, Kiko Alonso or Nico Johnson could be a good fit here.
- Tight End – I am a huge fan of James Casey as the H/Y back here, but not so much a Brent Celek fan. I like what he can contribute after the catch, but the Eagles need a vertical threat down the field. As aforementioned, Kelce, McDonald or Gragg could fit in here.
1. Offensive Line- You said it, the Eagles’ line is injury plagued and passing their prime.
2. Quarterback- No matter where they draft one, the Eagles’ must take a gamble on one of the top prospects. While drafting Geno Smith at number four would be too great a risk, should Matt Barkley or EJ Manuel fall into the second round, Philadelphia should try and find this year’s Russell Wilson.
3. Safety- The draft is deep with talent in the secondary, and with three picks within the first 75, the Eagles’ could find a potential impact player in any of the first three rounds.
4. Defensive Line- Drafting a versatile defensive lineman, preferably a DT who could play DE in a 3-4 scheme, would go a long way towards hiding the holes in Philadelphia’s secondary.
5. Tight End- Be it Zach Ertz in the second or another top talent later in the draft, the Eagles must try to improve on the current situation at TE.
Q: Who is the top second rounder you would like to see in eagle green?
At 35, there is a LOT of talent that will still be on the board. Obviously it depends who is there, but I would like to see the Eagles take the top player available at 35, unless it is a QB. I do not like any of the QB in this year’s draft, especially E.J. Manuel. I would love to see the birds take a safety or a corner at 35. Eric Reid, Matt Elam, Jonathan Banks or Jordan Poyer would make Eagles fans very happy at 35.
Matt Elam is priority number one should he fall into the second round. At Florida, Elam showed run stop ability and quickness in coverage prompting former Eagle Brian Dawkins to name him the best safety in the draft. EJ Manuel, Matt Barkely, and Jordan Poyer are also great value picks at number 35.
Q: Who are the top 5 players the Eagles MUST take should they be available at any of the ?
Five players the Eagles MUST take should they be available: Eric Fisher in the first, Matt Elam or Jonathan Banks in the second. Travis Kelce in the third. Tyrann Mathieu in the fourth and Jon Bostic in the fifth. This would be a fantastic haul should it fall this way.
Fisher would be great in the first, but Sharif Floyd would be an immediate starter as a defensive end. Matt Elam or Zach Ertz in the second, Travis Kelce or Derek Rodgers in the third, Mathieu would be a great gamble in the fourth.
Q: What is your take on Geno Smith? E.J. Manuel? Is either of these guys (or any QB) actually worth a first round pick?
A lot of people did not like ANY of the QBs coming out this year after watching film from the past season. Then Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel improved their stock at the combine and all of the sudden they are top picks? Please. No QB in this draft is worth a top 10 pick, and Smith is only worth a first rounder because of the rookie wage scale, and the ability to take risks with low rookie pay. Geno Smith may be a decent QB in the NFL, but mark my words, NO quarterback in this draft will win a Super Bowl as a starter, unless someone like Ryan Nassib goes to a great team and game manages his way to a ring. I have been on record saying I do not believe any of these QB will start more than 70 games in the NFL.
Consider what happened last year with Ryan Tannehill’s draft stock, it was driven up due to a lack of talent. While Tannehill had an adequate rookie season, in a typical draft year he wouldn’t have been targeted within the top 10, let alone the first round. The same thing has happened with this crop of QB’s, value driven up due to a lack of a viable market. Geno Smith has the best chance at success of any of this year’s crop, but EJ Manuel fits the prototype of a quality starting quarterback in the NFL, especially if the read-option continues to have success.
Q: Would Philadelphia be better off trading down?
If Eric Fisher is NOT available, the Eagles should definitely trade down. But, a team like the Dolphins would offer a lot to trade up to take Eric Fisher. It comes down to what the offer would be. If the Eagles get two firsts and a third, the Eagles would be MUCH better off if they traded down. If they trade with the Rams and get a mid -1st rounder this year (16 or 22) and a 2nd and 3rd next year, I do not think they should do it. But, if Eric Fisher is OFF the board, the Eagles should trade down. They do not need to reach at number 4, and if they can get a first and second this year in addition to a future 1st or 2nd, the Eagles could come away with Chance Warmack, Matt Elam, and an Arthur Brown in the first two rounds in the draft. That would be a perfect first two days.
Agreed should the dream scenario arise the Eagles might as well take it. However, Sharif Floyd could make the Eagles’ defensive line one of the deadliest in football. Eric Fisher is another must-have at number four, unless Philadelphia decides to draft Dee Milliner. There is enough depth in talent at many positions of need for the Eagles’ so acquiring the most amount of picks in the first few rounds possible, would certainly benefit the rebuilding franchise.Tags: Cary Williams, Charles Rodgers, Chip Kelly, Chris Gragg, Connor Barwin, Dion Jordan, Geno Smith, Jarvis Jones, Matt Barkely, Mike Wallace, NFC East, NFL, NFL Draft, Philadelphia Eagles, Sharif Floyd, Todd Herremans, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz