Why Eric Fisher Is the 1 Player the Eagles Must Grab in the NFL Draft

Yueh HoCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is sacked by Paris Lenon #51 of the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vick was injured on the play and missed a few plays as the Cardinals defeated the Eagles 21-17. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Even though the Eagles have many pressing needs, such as cornerback, outside linebacker and safety to name a few, the top priority should be the offensive line. The defense may have struggled last season, but the Eagles have many proven talented players on offense who failed to contribute in 2012 largely due to a weak O-line.

Passing up players like Dee Milliner and Dion Jordan may be difficult to do, but Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman must make the right decision and select a player based on both need and talent. Eric Fisher would fit both categories and would make a strong impact on day one.

Fisher has all of the tools to succeed. He has a large frame, being 6'7", and possesses a great deal of quickness. At a mere 305 pounds, Fisher certainly needs to add some weight, but his build would allow him to do that without losing any of his agility.

But the most important aspect of Fisher's draft stock is his production on the field. He is a dominant pass blocker and looks like a future Pro Bowl blindside protector. His quickness and intelligence allows him to completely mirror defenders and frustrate pass rushers.

Fisher has room for improvement in run blocking, an area where he sometimes makes mental mistakes, but the NFL is becoming more and more of a passing league by the season. When you can get a tackle that is as dominant as Fisher is in pass protection, you take him.

And although there are plenty of other talented players to choose from at the fourth overall pick, the O-line is simply an area of greater need right now as it has not been addressed as much in free agency.

The Eagles have added veteran players Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher at corner. Both players may very well be instant starters on the Eagles roster. And Patrick Chung and Kenny Philips, when healthy, are both significant upgrades at the safety position.

OLB was addressed with the signing of Connor Barwin. And while the other OLB position remains a question mark, the Eagles have many depth players on the roster who they can look to fill that spot with. The team seems confident that many of their defensive ends, such as Trent Cole, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Graham, are capable of moving to OLB and playing it effectively.

Therefore, most of the gaping holes on the Eagles roster are being addressed to some extent, with the exception of the O-line.

It's true that the O-line will be seeing many key starters returning from injury, including one of the league's best left tackles in Jason Peters and a very underrated center in Jason Kelce.

But both players are returning from season-ending injuries. Can they really be expected to return at full strength? This is more true when we consider that their injuries, ACL and Achilles-tendon tears, are known for reducing agility.

Even if both players return at 100 percent, the O-line is aging. Peters, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are all 30 years of age or older. Decline for them is inevitable at this point.

Fisher, therefore, is not only a signing for the present, but also one for the future. If drafted, he can immediately start at right tackle, having had experience playing there during his sophomore season. That would allow Herremans to be moved back to guard, giving the Eagles an excellent starting five along the O-line.

When Peters' career ends, Fisher can return to left tackle and would be set to become one of the most dominant pass blockers in the NFL for many years.

The key to building long-term success is by putting together a strong O-line. In this particular draft, prioritizing the O-line would not only be a move for long-term success, but the Eagles would also be acquiring arguably the best O-line prospect available and a player who can be an immediate difference maker. 

While selecting Milliner or Jordan would also be attractive moves, Fisher is simply the most logical choice the Eagles can make with their fourth overall pick based on their circumstances.