The moment has finally arrived. Even though there are still no official football games for more than four months, the NFL draft is here and that counts for something.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, April's draft is extremely important. First of all, it's going to be the first time that new head coach Chip Kelly gets to work his magic in the draft. Second, the Eagles need to do everything they can to turn their franchise around from the disaster in 2012, where the team lost 11 of its final 12 games, effectively ending the Andy Reid era after 14 seasons.
The Eagles have nine picks in this draft: one in each of the first five rounds, plus four in the seventh round.
With the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected offensive tackle Lane Johnson out of the University of Oklahoma.
Johnson projects to start immediately for the Eagles at right tackle, which will allow veteran Todd Herremans to slide back to his natural position of guard. Expect him to replace Danny Watkins, the team's 2011 first-round draft pick who has been a major bust through his first two seasons.
That gives the Eagles a projected 2013 starting offensive line of Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Herremans and Johnson.
Johnson may have been considered a bit of a reach with the fourth pick, although his draft stock has been rapidly rising over the past few weeks. He is extremely athletic, having been a junior college quarterback just two years ago, and should be a more than ideal fit in Chip Kelly's new offense.
Personally, I would have selected defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the fourth pick, but I have no problem with the Johnson selection. I give Johnson a very low probability of turning into a bust. If he can turn into the next Jon Runyan or even the next Todd Herremans, the Eagles will have gotten their draft value.
The big surprise of the first round involved West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith dropping out of the first round, despite projections just a few weeks ago that the Eagles were interested in him with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Expectations were high that the Eagles would grab their potential franchise quarterback at the top of the second round, although nose tackle and defensive back still existed as pressing needs.
But the Eagles instead added another weapon for Kelly's new offense, as Zach Ertz will compete with veteran Brent Celek for the starting tight end job.
I expect Ertz, who stands 6'5'' and weighs 249 pounds, to add physicality to an offense that has grown rather soft over the years (I'm looking at you, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin).
Ertz compares to Jason Witten, according to NFLdraftscout.com, and has tremendous size with the ability to make something happen after the catch. He's not going to blow by anybody but he should be able to create mismatches, as he has experience lining up in the slot, at receiver and in the backfield.
After selecting offensive players with their first two picks in the NFL draft, everybody figured the Eagles had to look to the defensive side of the ball in the third round. They did, selecting defensive tackle Bennie Logan from LSU.
Logan will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job at nose tackle with veteran Isaac Sopoaga, who was signed from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. But Sopoaga is 32 and nearing the end of his career.
Logan doesn't offer much as a pass rusher but he is a very good run stopper, standing 6'2'' and weighing 310 pounds. He is a typical Chip Kelly pick, an athletic player with lots of upside.
Some draft picks are surprising, such as the Eagles grabbing Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the top of the second round. Then there's the Matt Barkley pick, as the Eagles traded up to the top of the fourth round to grab the USC quarterback.
This wasn't a curveball. This was a split-fingered screwball.
The former USC quarterback was originally projected to be the number one overall pick in the 2012 draft but he opted to return for his final year at college. A poor senior season really hurt his draft value (and cost him millions and millions of dollars).
By selecting Barkley, Kelly clearly has shown that he doesn't need a running quarterback to succeed. It likely means that either Nick Foles or Michael Vick is expendable/trade bait. I fully expect Barkley to become the quarterback of the future.
I'm seeing parody Twitter accounts congratulate the Eagles for picking Matt Barkley with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. I must say that I'm excited. Kelly is an offensive genius and I have high expectations for Barkley.
Despite allowing 33 touchdowns and intercepting just eight passes in the 2012 season, the Eagles didn't select a defensive back until the fifth round of the NFL draft. That's largely because they added four potential starters through free agency in Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips.
Add NC State safety Earl Wolff to the mix.
Wolff is a 5'11', 209-pound safety who was called the heart of his team's defense in college. He is a big hitter who will add physicality to a defense that has grown extremely soft over the past few seasons.
Expect him to be in the rotation in 2013 with Chung, Phillips, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, but don't be surprised if Wolff comes away with a starting job.
The Philadelphia Eagles added their second defensive end of the draft, grabbing Utah's Joe Kruger with their first of three seventh-round draft selections.
He has excellent size, standing 6'7 and weighing close to 280 pounds. He has the strength to make an immediate impact as a situational pass rusher.
The Eagles grabbed perhaps the steal of the later rounds in the draft, selecting Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer with their second seventh-round draft pick.
Poyer was regarded as a potential second or third round pick by many experts. NFL analyst Mike Mayock rated Poyer as the 85th best player on his big board.
Poyer also has ability as a special teams return man, so don't be surprised if the Eagles look to use him instead of Brandon Boykin or Bryce Brown.
With the final pick in the first Chip Kelly draft, the Eagles selected their third member of the defensive line, Oklahoma's David King.
King projects to be a five-tech defensive end, according to Phillymag's Sheil Kapadia. He could also play defensive tackle, which he did in college.
As a late seventh-round pick, it appears likely that King will spend the season on the practice roster, although he has a chance to make the 53-man roster.