Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions for Philadelphia
With the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, new head coach Chip Kelly will look to turn around the team's franchise, just like Andy Reid did when he selected Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft.
Kelly has a number of different options with his first-round pick. He could look for a quarterback in Geno Smith. He could go with one of the two left tackles, Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. He could nab one of the defensive linemen in Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd. Or he could go for defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan.
Or he could trade up, trade down or surprise the world by picking a player like Barkevious Mingo or Tavon Austin.
This is an unusual draft class, with no player standing out as a must-grab at pick No. 4. Plus the Eagles don't know how the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will pick before them (or if they even will pick, barring trade options).
Round 1: Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle
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I've changed my mind on this pick more than a dozen times. I just cannot make up my mind. There are so many different options the Eagles could choose to go with this pick, and I'm not even talking about trading down.
I've never wavered on Luke Joeckel going to the Kansas City Chiefs with the top overall draft pick. I think Eric Fisher heads to Jacksonville with the second pick, and I think Oakland picks Geno Smith third, despite his recent drop in most mock drafts.
That makes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei the best fit for the Eagles, where he can fill in at nose tackle in the likely 3-4 defense in 2013. He was originally projected to be a surefire top-five pick but his draft value took a tumble after a heart condition scare several weeks ago. He was medically cleared, however, and there's no reason for the Eagles to pass him up.
Round 2: EJ Manuel, Quarterback
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The Eagles desperately need a quarterback for this season. I don't care if Michael Vick was re-signed, Nick Foles hasn't been traded and Dennis Dixon was brought in to compete for the starting job. None of the three is the guy to run Kelly's offense.
Enter EJ Manuel, who recently said that the Eagles want him pretty bad. I believe it. I don't see the Eagles selecting Manuel with the fourth overall pick, but I also don't expect any other team to draft Manuel in the first round.
He'd be a perfect option at the start of the second round. I wouldn't expect him to win the job in training camp or the preseason, but after Michael Vick's first concussion of the season in Week 4, I expect Manuel to grab the reigns and never look back.
Round 3: Margus Hunt, Defensive End
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Margus Hunt was my Eagles' third-round pick from my mock draft a month ago, and I'm sticking with him here.
The Eagles need another pass-rusher, and the 6'8" Hunt would have an excellent chance of starting as a rookie in the team's new 3-4 defense.
A defensive line of Star Lotulelei, Fletcher Cox and Hunt, with last year's rookie Vinny Curry and 2010 first-round draft pick Brandon Graham also in the mix, would give fans lots of hope for the future. You can't have too many defensive linemen in this generation, as the New York Giants proved during their Super Bowl runs in both 2007 and 2011.
Round 4: Shawn Williams, Safety
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With the additions of free agents Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips, the Eagles don't need to be in the market for a starting safety. They just need better depth on their roster.
Shawn Williams provides that, as he has excellent tackling abilities and solid ball-hawking skills. He would likely be an upgrade over Kurt Coleman, who would become expendable.
The safety position featured Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman as its starters in 2012. That was a total disaster, as the Eagles endured a brutal eight-game stretch without an interception, the second-longest streak by a team in the history of the National Football League. So yeah, improvement is needed.
In 2013, Allen would be delegated to a backup role, and Coleman would be off the team.
Round 5: Rick Wagner, Offensive Tackle
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With veteran Jason Peters scheduled to return in 2013 from his torn Achilles, the Eagles don't need a replacement at left or right tackle for a few more years.
They do need more depth though. The backups in 2012 failed to get the job done when thrust into a starting role.
Rookie Dennis Kelly will be a year older and more experienced, and free-agent bust Demetress Bell was cut immediately following the season. Veteran King Dunlap signed with the San Diego Chargers, leaving the Eagles with a hole at tackle.
Rick Wagner, who stands 6'8" and can play left or right tackle, would be an ideal candidate for the fourth tackle spot behind Peters, Todd Herremans and Kelly in the 2013 season. If one of the starters suffered an injury, he could compete for playing time, depending on how well he grasped Kelly's new offense.
Round 7: John Boyett, Safety
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With four seventh-round draft selections, the Eagles can afford to take a gamble or two. Here's one on a former Chip Kelly standout.
Former Oregon Ducks safety John Boyett has suffered tears to both patellar tendons throughout his college career. His inability to stay healthy will obviously impact his draft status, but while healthy, he was one of the better safeties in his class.
He will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot or at least earn a chance on the practice squad. If he can stay healthy, he has lots of upside. Consider this the definition of a low-risk, high-reward draft pick.
Round 7: Brandon Sharpe, Linebacker
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Brandon Sharpe can play either defensive end or linebacker, making him a good fit in the team's new defensive scheme.
He collected 13.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks as a senior at Syracuse. He would likely compete for a roster spot against current backups like Casey Matthews and Jamar Chaney, but I would be surprised if either of those two managed to beat him out on the 53-man roster.
After all, Matthews and Chaney have both been disappointments over the past couple of seasons, and Sharpe won't have had a chance to prove himself yet on the NFL field.
Round 7: Michael Williams, Tight End
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Michael Williams stands 6'6" and weighs 269 pounds, a significant increase in size over any of the current tight ends on the Eagles roster.
At Alabama, he proved his worth as a solid pass-receiver and an excellent blocker, something new head coach Chip Kelly really looks for in his offensive players.
As a seventh-round pick, Williams would likely spend his first season on the practice squad. But I honestly wouldn't be totally stunned to see Kelly cut a veteran player like Brent Celek, which would give Williams a decent chance at earning the No. 3 tight end spot.
Round 7: Braden Hansen, Guard
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Braden Hansen played guard and a little bit of center at college, which would come in handy if the Eagles don't bring back Dallas Reynolds for the 2013 season (and I hope that's the case).
Offensive line depth is extremely important, and the Eagles have had their fair share of injuries over the past few seasons. Centers Jason Kelce (in 2012) and Jamaal Jackson (in 2010) have basically missed the entire season, while Jason Peters and Todd Herremans (both in 2012) have missed significant time with injuries.
Hansen earned FBS All-Independent honorable mention as a senior in 2012, where he closed out his college career by making all 52 starts in four seasons.