What the Eagles Should Be Thinking Headed into Round 1 of the NFL Draft

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 25, 2013

Dec 13, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas Day has arrived for frustrated, hungry and antsy Philadelphia Eagles fans. On Thursday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET, the Eagles—barring a trade—will announce their highest draft pick since Donovan McNabb

This pick could very well define the Chip Kelly era in the same way McNabb helped define the Andy Reid era, so you can't overestimate how important it is. And it goes beyond that, because this entire draft class will have to play a crucial role in the rebuilding process in Philadelphia. 

We've picked the draft apart from all angles, so we'll avoid jumping into more conjecture and falling victim to more smokescreens, and instead just leave you with a few final thoughts on what we believe the Eagles should be thinking in the war room as the clock nears 8 p.m. ET.


Forget quarterbacks

We've gone back and forth on this, and so has the media, but ultimately, it doesn't feel as though Geno Smith is worth the risk this high. If we trade down, things could change, but the focus should really be on adding an offensive or defensive lineman in Round 1. 

Do the Eagles need a quarterback badly? Yes, but they can't change the shape of the market. They'll just have to hope that E.J. Manuel or someone else they like is available when they're on the clock again with the 35th overall selection. 

Recently, desperate teams have forced the issue in Round 1 with guys like Brady Quinn, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden. The Eagles can't be one of those teams. They understand how rare it is to have a top-five pick, but this year they're in the wrong place at the wrong time. 


Philly's open to a trade, but also happy to stay put

You always have to be willing to listen, and we're not thrilled with the top of this draft class. That said, there are still some superb prospects up top and Philly's come to the conclusion that they're not going to get a great deal in order to drop down. In a seller's market, nobody is. 

The Eagles are slated to pick fourth, and Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd all have the ability to make this team substantially better. They're guaranteed to get at least one of those guys, with Lane Johnson and Dee Milliner also wild cards. There's no reason to run from this pick.


Need must trump best available

Notice how we didn't mention Dion Jordan above? The draft's best pass-rusher is intriguing, especially since the new head coach has a history with him at Oregon, but the reality is that the Eagles don't need an outside linebacker who can rush the passer close to as much as they need a stout defensive lineman or offensive tackle. 

Look, everyone get the Jordan appeal and understand the best player available philosophy, but there have to be limits there. The Eagles already have Brandon Graham, Trent Cole and Connor Barwin to rush the passer, so it would be silly to use such a valuable pick on a similar player. 

Typically, coaches and general managers will tell you that need trumps best available players when the gap between the two is small. Only when a player really high on your draft board drops significantly do you have to go the "best available" route. Well, where the Eagles pick, it's impossible for that gap to be wide. Jordan's out.