Scouting Combine Prospects That Fit Philadelphia Eagles' Biggest NFL Draft Need
The Philadelphia Eagles have already made a slew of intriguing moves this offseason.
They finally parted ways with long-time head coach Andy Reid, who immediately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. They brought on Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly to install his explosive offense at the NFL level. And just recently, they reached an agreement on a one-year deal with veteran quarterback Michael Vick.
The Eagles have several months to take a look at their roster before the NFL draft takes place. After finishing 4-12 in 2012, Kelly has a lot of work to do to get Philly back on the right track. Holes are everywhere on both the offensive and defensive side of the football, and the draft will be a big way to fix that.
The NFL Scouting Combine later this month will show the football world what many of the game’s top collegiate prospects can do. Players like Geno Smith, Manti Te’o and Matt Barkley could conceivably see their stock skyrocket or drop based on their measurables. Tests like the 40-yard dash and measurables like height and weight will drastically affect the stock of every player looking to get drafted.
Here are seven prospects who could rise or fall up the Eagles' draft board depending on their performance at the combine.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
No one really knows where Geno Smith will go in the 2013 NFL draft. For quite some time, he was looked upon as the unquestioned No. 11 overall pick in the draft.
Smith turned in a phenomenal college season, and he could capitalize on a weak quarterback class. If he performs well in the 40-yard dash and the interview process, Smith’s stock will be solidified. He can’t go much higher, but he could establish himself as a surefire top-five or top-10 pick.
Chip Kelly will definitely have his eye on Smith. Kelly is bringing back Michael Vick in 2013 on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. That likely means Nick Foles will be traded, as all reports have the Eagles bringing in Dennis Dixon to be the backup in Kelly’s offense.
But don’t rule out Smith to Philly. The fourth overall pick is too high, although Kelly could take a gamble. However, if he’s still around by the time pick No. 35 (the Eagles’ second-round pick) rolls around, that should be a sure thing.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
An offensive tackle isn’t a sexy pick, but it could be the right one.
The 2012 Philadelphia Eagles were plagued by a subpar offensive line. That unit should be much improved in 2013, though, as Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans will all return from injury. Considering how much of a bust Danny Watkins has been at right guard, it may make sense to move Herremans to right guard and draft Joeckel to play right tackle.
Joeckel seems to have all the physical tools to be a stud blindside protector next season. He’s 6’6” and about 310 pounds. If he excels in the bench press, that will only enhance his draft stock.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
If there’s one player that makes the most sense at the fourth overall pick, it may be Dee Milliner. He’s seen as the near-unquestioned best cornerback in the upcoming NFL draft.
Milliner may be a tad of a stretch with the fourth pick. He might be a better fit around the Arizona Cardinals at No. 7 or the Buffalo Bills at No. 8. How he performs at the NFL Scouting Combine will largely determine whether he’s a potential shutdown corner at the professional level.
Milliner is fairly big at 6’1” and close to 200 pounds. He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash coming out of high school, earning him a 5-star rating from both Scouts.com and Rivals.com. If he can get that time down to 4.35 or even lower, he could go even higher than fourth overall.
Milliner would be an excellent pickup for a team that was weighed down by an underachieving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and an overpaid Nnamdi Asomugha in 2012.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei is a mammoth-sized man at 6’4”, 325 pounds. He excelled at defensive tackle in college, and he has the size and ability to play both 4-3 defensive tackle and even 3-4 nose tackle at the NFL level.
The combine is the time when players stock rise or plummet based largely on their workout statistics. Last year, Dontari Poe shocked the world by running a 4.98 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds 44 times, all while weighing in at a ridiculous 346 pounds.
If Lotulelei can run a time faster than that, he’s going to be a potential top-five pick. Actually, he’s probably going to go top five regardless. If the Philadelphia Eagles switch to a 3-4, he could be the guy to occupy double teams in the middle of the line.
Imagine Fletcher Cox and Lotulelei on the same line, coupled with Trent Cole and Brandon Graham (who may move to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 defense). That's scary.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher’s draft stock seems to be rising as of late, and if Luke Joeckel underwhelms at the scouting combine, that will only help Fisher.
Fisher is listed at 6’7”, 305 pounds, which means he could still afford to put on as much as 25 additional pounds. He came out of high school at just 6’7”, 230 pounds, which means he has already put on 75 pounds in four years.
If Fisher shows he has the muscle mass to perform at the NFL level, he could go to the Philadelphia Eagles with the fourth pick. There’s even a chance Fisher gets drafted before Joeckel.
Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
A player like Jarvis Jones really needs the NFL Scouting Combine to enhance his draft stock. Jones is already 23 years old, and he has a condition called spinal stenosis, which forced former San Diego Chargers offensive lineman Marcus McNeill into retirement at just age 28.
If Jones performs at a subpar level in the Scouting Combine, he could conceivably fall out of the first round. Pass-rushing defensive ends are heavily valued, but Jones has some scary physical issues that come with drafting him.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Mock drafts have Damontre Moore going anywhere from second overall to the 10th pick, but don’t rule out Moore to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1.
Moore is an explosive pass-rushing force. He will need to perform well in the 10-yard dash and the bench press to show he’s fit to be a wrecking machine at the NFL level.
Moore’s college statistics certainly don’t lie. He registered 11.5 sacks in his first six games of the 2012 season and earned a first-team All-American selection by almost all major media outlets.
If he runs well in the 40 and looks like he can play 3-4 outside linebacker, there’s definitely a chance the Eagles take him with the fourth overall pick.