The 10 Most Likely 1st-Round Draft Picks for the Philadelphia Eagles
The rebuilding for the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles has already started, as rookie head coach Chip Kelly has been very active in the first few days of free agency. Kelly signed eight players, including six on the defensive side of the ball who have a legitimate chance of starting next season: nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher and safeties Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips.
But the Eagles still have many, many holes on their roster. After all, they did win just four games, including one in the season's final three months, during a very forgettable 2012 season that saw longtime head coach Andy Reid lose his job.
Currently, the Eagles don't even know who will be their starting quarterback in 2013, as Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon will compete for the starting job in training camp.
So the rebuilding process is still active, and a lot comes down to what the Eagles do with their first-round draft pick. The fourth overall pick will be the highest for the Eagles since Reid selected Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft.
The McNabb pick helped turn the Eagles into one of the NFL's best teams during the 2000s, as McNabb earned six Pro Bowl selections and led the Eagles to five trips to the NFC championship game.
Just like Reid, Kelly faces similar pressure with his first pick. An offensive mastermind, Kelly could turn to the quarterback position and try to emulate Reid by landing his franchise quarterback in the top of the first round. Or he could help solidify the offensive line. And, of course, he could turn to the defensive side of the ball, where the Eagles were one of the league's softest squads in 2012.
The following 10 slides will highlight the players most likely to be selected by the Eagles with the fourth overall pick in the draft, barring a trade on draft day. They are in reverse order.
10. Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker
One of the high-risk, high-reward players expected to be drafted in the top half of the first round of the 2012 draft, Jarvis Jones has spinal stenosis in his neck and didn't participate in any workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I've seen him projected to the Eagles with the fourth overall pick, but I've also heard reports of him taking a massive dive on draft day, similar to defensive end DaQuan Bowers, who many expected to go with the first pick in the 2011 draft before knee injuries knocked him out of the first round.
If healthy, however, Jones is an elite playmaker. He led the country in sacks, tackles for a loss and forced fumbles as a senior despite missing two games with injuries.
His health is the mystery.
9. Bjoern Werner, Defensive End
Defensive end Bjoern Werner might be a bit of a stretch for the Eagles at the fourth overall draft pick, as he weighs about 265 pounds and would be an undersized defensive end in a 3-4 defense.
Then again, he could be a player similar to San Francisco's Ray McDonald, one of its 3-4 defensive ends who collected 44 quarterback hurries in 2012 despite weighing just 276 pounds.
Werner would be plugged in as a starter on the opposite side of last year's first-round draft pick Fletcher Cox and would hopefully become an immediate playmaker in a division loaded with talented quarterbacks.
8. Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle
I would be thrilled if Luke Joeckel somehow fell to the fourth overall pick, where the Eagles would undoubtedly snatch him up. But I highly doubt that happens, as Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs will likely make Joeckel the first overall selection in the draft.
But if Reid somehow decides that Eric Fisher is the better tackle prospect and picks him first overall, the Eagles might have a chance, especially if the Jacksonville Jaguars pick one of the top defensive players and the Oakland Raiders select quarterback Geno Smith.
Joeckel is basically a can't-miss prospect.
He's one of the main reasons why Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel earned the Heisman Trophy award. He's durable, starting all 37 games of his college career at left tackle. He's also experienced at blocking for mobile quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill and Manziel).
Any team lucky enough to select Joeckel can pencil him in as their starting left tackle for the next decade. For the Eagles, it would allow them to move veteran Jason Peters back to right tackle and Todd Herremans to right guard. Or they could keep Peters at left tackle and move Joeckel to right tackle.
The Eagles used the "best player available" philosophy for the 2012 draft, landing some pretty impressive defensive talents (Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Boykin). If Joeckel is still around at pick No. 4, I can guarantee they snatch him up.
7. Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle
The stock value of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has dropped recently, as he was diagnosed with a minor heart condition a few weeks ago. As a result, junior Sharrif Floyd is now likely the top option as a defensive tackle.
But if the Eagles decide that Lotulelei's heart condition isn't severe enough to avoid drafting him, they could look to select him with the fourth overall pick. He would immediately be plugged in as the starter at nose tackle, hopefully for the next decade or longer.
6. Chance Warmack, Offensive Guard
Is the fourth overall selection too high to pick a guard? Not if the player is Alabama's Chance Warmack, who is rated as the best prospect at his position since Steve Hutchinson a decade ago.
If Warmack is as good as the hype, and I think he is, I wouldn't have any problem with the Eagles selecting him, plugging him in at the massive hole at right guard and watching him earn six to eight Pro Bowl selections throughout the course of his NFL career.
The No. 2-rated player on NFLdraftscout.com, Warmack is a durable, powerful player who can dominate in both run and pass blocking. He'll likely never be able to make the transition to tackle, but it's not like we're talking about a fullback. Warmack is still going to participate in 100 percent of the offensive snaps.
Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Warmack and Todd Herremans? I could learn to live with that offensive line.
5. Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle
Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is the more likely option for the Eagles than Star Lotulelei, who was recently diagnosed with a heart condition that could make his value drop.
Floyd would be plugged in as the starter at nose tackle, a better option for the Eagles than veteran Isaac Sopoaga, who will be 32 years old at the beginning of the 2013 season.
The combination of Floyd and last year's first-round draft pick Fletcher Cox at defensive end would give the Eagles a pair of impressive talents on the defensive line.
4. Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle
The draft stock of Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher continues to rise, and I wouldn't be totally surprised to see him drafted ahead of Luke Joeckel.
Likely, he'll be the second tackle drafted, where he would be plugged in as a day one starter for the Eagles at right tackle, allowing veteran Todd Herremans to shift back to his natural position of guard.
Fisher stands 6'7, weighs 306 pounds and is elite as both a run-blocker and a pass protector. Put him on the Eagles with Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Herremans, and you have one of the top 10 offensive lines in the league. That'll automatically help whoever the Eagles decide to play at quarterback in 2013.
3. Dee Milliner, Cornerback
Cornerback Dee Milliner is the player I have seen appear on the most mock drafts for the Eagles.
The Alabama cornerback is easily the best at his position in the draft and would become an immediate starter for the Eagles from Week 1. Lined up on the other side would likely be Cary Williams, with Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin competing for the nickel position.
Milliner's blazing speed will help him in a division loaded with talented receivers, notably Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks. He's also a talented tackler, a major improvement over last year's tandem of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
2. Geno Smith, Quarterback
Count me among those who do not wish to see the Eagles draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with their first-round draft pick.
I'd rather play a year with Michael Vick, Nick Foles or Dennis Dixon than take a chance on a quarterback just because he's considered the best in a very weak quarterback class.
But Kelly is an offensive mastermind, and he's likely well aware that whoever his quarterback is for the 2013 season, it's not his franchise guy. So why wait until 2014 to find that guy when you can take him with your first pick next month?
If Kelly picks Smith, they're linked together for better or for worse, just like Reid and McNabb.
1. Dion Jordan, Defensive End/Linebacker
A couple of factors make Dion Jordan the most likely first-round pick for the Eagles.
First, he went to the University of Oregon, so Chip Kelly obviously has firsthand knowledge of his ability, having coached him for the past couple of seasons. That's huge. Every coach likes selecting players he already knows. Kelly already brought in Dennis Dixon, a former standout at Oregon, to compete for the starting quarterback job, for example.
Second, Jordan is versatile enough to play two positions: defensive end and linebacker. He's also a tremendous pass-rusher.
For an Eagles team that is very likely switching to a 3-4 defense, Jordan could fill one of the holes at end or linebacker. In college, Jordan even covered inside slot receivers.
Jordan played a little bit of everything at Oregon, and his speed would be a valuable asset in a conference loaded with fast quarterbacks: Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
Jordan's stock is currently on the rise, following a tremendous showing at the scouting combine. I'd say there's still way less than a 50 percent chance that the Eagles select him, considering all the possibilities at the top of the draft board, but he's probably the logical player, if you had to pick one.