With just over one week until the NFL draft, mock drafts are everywhere. Some experts guarantee the Philadelphia Eagles will select Geno Smith to run their offense, others say E.J. Manuel is a better fit and others think Chip Kelly will roll the dice with Michael Vick and Nick Foles.
Kelly’s first draft will be instrumental in setting the tone for his coaching career. If he selects a quarterback in the first round, his tenure in Philly will live or die with that signal-caller’s performance. And if he doesn’t select a quarterback in 2013, he’s going to have to coax a good season out of 33-year-old Vick or the slow-footed Foles.
There’s always a chance Kelly could trade down to acquire more draft picks. Then again, he may even trade up to be in prime position to snag his player. No one really knows what to expect from the Eagles’ rookie coach, but his first draft will be fun to watch.
It seems logical that this pick will come down to three players—Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei and Eric Fisher. Dion Jordan will likely go to the Jacksonville Jaguars or Oakland Raiders, and it doesn’t seem probable that Chip Kelly will gamble with Geno Smith.
Floyd and Fisher are the favorites, but Floyd is the logical choice to go to Oakland. The Raiders already lost Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly, and Richard Seymour is entering his 13th NFL season. That means Kelly would be wise to add Fisher, the offensive tackle from Central Michigan.
Fisher is a big man at 6’7” and over 300 pounds. He’s athletic, having played multiple spots on the offensive line as well as quarterback in high school. The Philadelphia Eagles could opt to play Fisher at right tackle and slide Todd Herremans inside to Danny Watkins’ right guard spot.
Or if All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters struggles to return from multiple Achilles injuries, Fisher could play Peters’ position.
Either way, Fisher is the type of player that can hold down a tackle position for the next decade.
Other Alternatives: DT/DE Sharrif Floyd, DE/OLB Dion Jordan, CB Dee Milliner, QB Geno Smith, NT Star Lotulelei
The 35th pick may be a slight reach for Matt Elam, but it’s doubtful Jonathan Cyprien will still be around at this point. Elam would compete for a starting spot from Day 1, and he’s proven he can make plays all over the field.
Elam was a playmaker at the University of Florida. He intercepted passes, blitzed quarterbacks and even stopped the run. He would provide a huge upgrade to a Philadelphia Eagles secondary that was torched for 33 passing touchdowns in 2012.
His only downside is that he tends to over-pursue plays, but the Eagles could use that kind of aggressiveness on defense.
Elam would probably begin the season behind Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung, but he will see his time. And given the injury history of the latter two, Elam will probably start at one point.
Alternatives: DT/DE Johnathan Hankins, QB E.J. Manuel, G/OT Kyle Long, NT Jesse Williams, C Travis Frederick, CB Johnthan Banks
A good 3-4 defense is predicated around a massive 3-4 nose tackle. Brandon Williams may be Chip Kelly’s guy.
He’s no Star Lotulelei, but Williams should be able to occupy the traditional zero-technique role in a 3-4 defense. He clocks in at over 340 pounds, which he used to dominate Division-II competition at Mississippi Southern. Williams is a player that can line up directly over the center and require double teams simply because of his sheer size.
Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry/Cedric Thornton would surround Williams on the line, giving the Eagles a young but talented front three. With Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin rushing the quarterback from the edge as 3-4 linebackers, Chip Kelly’s defense would be a formidable pass-rushing unit.
Alternatives: QB Matt Scott, CB Jordan Poyer, CB Logan Ryan, S Shamarko Thomas, WR Ryan Swope, ILB Kiko Alonso
If Chip Kelly grabs Dee Milliner with the fourth overall pick, it’s unlikely he will pick a cornerback later in the NFL draft. But Sanders Commings isn’t viewed as more than a fourth-round prospect, although he’s going to push for playing time immediately.
Commings has good size for a corner and plays physical football. That’s a far cry from what the Philadelphia Eagles got from $60 million man Nnamdi Asomugha. Commings would compete with new acquisition Bradley Fletcher and last year’s nickel corner Brandon Boykin.
Alternatives: DT Kwame Geathers, WR Chris Harper, G Dallas Thomas, S Bacarri Rambo
The Philadelphia Eagles need another 3-4 defensive end in the mix, and William Gholston would be a good pickup. Gholston won’t wow anyone with his game tapes from Michigan State, but he’s going to push for playing time as a rookie.
He’s a natural fit as a 3-4 end. He’s not an ideal pass-rusher, but he is a situational player that could work his way into the rotation.
Alternatives: DT/DE Akeem Spence, S Shawn Williams, WR Denard Robinson, CB Brandon McGee, WR Ace Sanders
Nick Clancy provides depth at the inside linebacker spot in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 3-4. DeMeco Ryans is entering his eighth season, he’s suffered a serious injury in the past, he’s due to make $6.7 million in 2013 and he was a poor fit in the Houston Texans’ 3-4.
If Clancy can work his way into the defense and play well, the Eagles will hope he can play a bigger role in 2014 and forward.
The Philadelphia Eagles just traded away Dion Lewis to the Cleveland Browns, which does free up a roster spot. D.J. Monroe may make the team and he may not, but he’s worth taking a shot on.
Monroe is as fast as they come. He would give DeSean Jackson a run for his money in the 40-yard dash.
Monroe is undersized at 175 pounds, which means Chip Kelly will have to be creative in ways to use him. He could make the team as a return specialist, too.
Patrick Ward adds depth to the offensive line. The Philadelphia Eagles lost King Dunlap in free agency and released Demetress Bell. That leaves Dennis Kelly as the sole backup behind Jason Peters and Todd Herremans (players like Ed Wang, Matt Kopa and Nate Menkin are long shots to make the roster).
Ward would provide competition to Kelly as the top backup tackle. He’s definitely a project, but he's built like an NFL tackle and has experience at guard as well.
As long as Jordan Kovacs isn’t thrust into a starting spot a la seventh-rounder Kurt Coleman, he would be a fine addition. Kovacs was an established player in college, earning several awards, including freshman All-American.
He did struggle with injuries, but he would be fighting for the fourth spot on the Philadelphia Eagles.