This years draft will set the tone for new head coach Chip Kelly as he beings to rebuild the Eagles and make his mart on the NFL. All eyes are on Kelly and the Eagles who own the #4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and there has been a whirlwind of speculation as to what direction the team will go. As I sat down to analyze how I see the draft unfolding with the Eagles I decided to take a look at the roster as it is today and what the Eagles need going into this season.
Quarterback: Chip Kelly is looking for his future team leader. It's yet to be seen if that guy is in this draft or on the roster or what. New head coaches often look for their guy in the first year however, so I expect that he'll take a hard look at everyone in this class.
Geno Smith is someone obviously linked a lot to the Eagles as he's considered the top quarterback in this years class. He's got a first round grade but I don't like him at 4, I tend to think he's more of a late 1st round early 2nd value but given the drought of available guys at the position and passing league the NFL has turned into he'll most likely be pushed up. I'd rather take someone later or even next year if that's the case.
I see a lot of talent in the second round with a guy like EJ Manuel. Manuel is a guy with great size and a ton of talent. He can be inconsistent at times but I think he'd make a great fit in Kelly's system.
Matt Scott is another guy that intrigues me. Lacks the typical size you'd look for in a quarterback, but he's mobile and a very tough player. Could easily be available in the late 3rd early 4th, possibly even 5th round.
As a undrafted free agent I like Robert Marve. This guy has a lot of buzz early on in his career. Unfortunately he's had 3 ACL injuries so he'd be a developmental prospect for the Eagles, but with a guy who was that highly touted it's a pretty low risk.
Running Back: The Eagles are pretty set here. LeSean McCoy is clearly the guy no argument so there's no need to search for a starter. With Bryce Brown showing a lot of promise last year the biggest need for the Eagles here is to get Brown to hang onto the ball. However, there are some guys this year that I think could be nice additions.
Jonathan Franklin out of UCLA is a really quick guy who could fit Kelly's fast paced offense. Guys chase him all over the field. He'll probably go in the 3rd which is a little expensive for me given the teams other needs.
Another guy I see as a 3rd rounder is Andre Ellington. The reason I think the Eagles need to look at him is he's a guy that can line up all over the field and that's the type of player Chip Kelly loves.
The former Oregon Duck, Kenjon Barner is clear choice just given the fact that he used to play for Kelly. He's shifty, has got good hands, and has punt and kick return experience. Could see him in the 5th which would be a nice spot for the Eagles to get a guy like him.
Reggie Dixon is another guy I could see doing PR/KR for the Eagles. He's a smaller guy with a fast 40 time. Will most likely go undrafted which could equal to a big time steal.
Full Back: I don't see the Eagles NEEDING a fullback seeing as Kelly traded away the only one on the roster, and brought in the H Back/TE James Casey. It was that signing though that brought my eye to one guy in this draft.
Kyle Juszcyk has been listed as both a FB and a TE. He was also used as a WR at Harvard so he's another one of those players Chip looks for to create mismatches and confuse defenses. I see him going in the 4th or 5th. I like him better in the 5th.
Tight End: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, and James Casey leave us pretty well rounded at this position, but there are two guys I think are worth a look.
Nick Kasa is a guy who used to play DE so he hasn't had that much experience at the TE position. However, he's an extremely aggressive blocker and has improved his receiving ability. He will only get better with increased time at the TE spot, so if he falls to the 6th round he could be worth it.
Levine Toilolo was overshadowed a lot at Stanford by Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, because of that he's projected to go in the 6th or 7th round, might even go undrafted. He's got great size and athleticism, and again he's a Chip Kelly type player meaning he's able to cause match-up problems for defenses.
Wide Receiver: I see the Eagles pretty set here. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are clearly the starters for this team so going after a wideout early more then likely isn't happening. Mid to late rounds is a different story.
A guy I'd consider taking a bit earlier is Stedmen Bailey. He's probably going in the late 3rd to 4th round, but he's got good lateral quickness and deceptive speed. Might make a nice slot receiver.
Aaron Mellette is a big body guy, 6'3'' 217lbs, who moves very well and, here's the big plus, he goes up to get the ball. The Eagles have lacked that big body red zone threat for awhile. If Mellette is available late in the draft, 5th or 6th round, he'd be a nice addition.
Another versatile guy this year is Sam McGuffie. He's played both RB and WR for Rice. Good speed and quickness, but has had a few concussions. Because of this he'll most likely end up going undrafted.
Offensive Tackle: This is one of the areas that the draft shines. This class is packed with top talent and with the injuries the Eagles suffered last year along the offensive line I see them needing to grab one of the top guys.
My overall pick for the eagles is Eric Fisher, he's started to become the guy considered to be taken #1 overall by a lot of people, and with good reason. He seems to be neck and neck with Luke Joeckel, but Fisher has been said to have the higher upside.
Another guy with huge upside is Lane Johnson. If the Eagles are going to use their first round pick on an offensive player I'd like it to be him, Eric Fisher I most likely see being gone then. Johnson has a ton of natural athletic ability, and while some consider him to be a work in progress he's a day one starter. Due to his natural athletic ability however, he just might have the most potential out of any tackle in the draft.
Kyle Long is the last tackle I would target because I believe the Eagles should have already used their top pick on the offensive line. That being said, Long is another Oregon player so the familiarity could be great. Long is versatile however, playing both guard and tackle which could help the Eagles a lot. He's also an impressive athlete, and comes from a football family (Son of Howie Long and brother of Chris Long). He has light feet and is very mobile. No one will know better then Kelly if Long has peaked or not and thus if he'll be worth the 2nd or 3rd round pick he's projected to be taken around.
Offensive Guard: The right guard position is the biggest hole on the offense as of right now. It could be filled by taking a tackle and sliding Todd Herremans back inside, but that doesn't solve the problem of depth behind the starting offensive linemen.
Chance Warmack is the top guard in the draft and will go in the top 10. He's got long arms, and very few flaws. The main thing I like about this guy though is it is very hard for opposing players to move him. Should all three top tackles be gone Warmack could be a possibility for the Eagles.
Alvin Bailey is another guard I'd like to see the Eagles target because he could turn into a solid starter. He's a bit of a weak pass blocker but he is a very good run blocker. He has slow feet but despite that he is surprisingly quick. I don't love him in the 3rd where he's slated to go, I'd rather take him in the 4th. If the Eagles pass on an offensive linemen in the 1st and Long in the 2nd, Bailey might have to be taken in the 3rd.
Center: I like Jason Kelce I think he's a solid center, and a hard worker. I don't think the Eagles need an upgrade here but because of what happened last year to the offensive line they're going to be grabbing some linemen, although I don't necessarily see the Eagles taking a center.
Matt Stankiewitch is a guy I like however. He should be available in the late rounds, and is a gritty player. Also played guard while at Penn State, he seems like a tough guy who battles all the way through a play.
So, forgetting about the defense for now and speaking strictly offensively, here's how I'd like to see the Eagles draft:
1st - OT
2nd - QB/OT/OG
3rd - OT/OG/RB
4th - WR/RB
5th - TE/WR
6th - NO PICKS
7th - C/WR/KR&PR/TE