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2013 NFL Draft: Looking Ahead at the Eagles’ 1st-Round Strategy

With the playoffs completely out of the question for Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles, he and most fans will already be looking to the 2013 NFL Draft for comfort. Unless this team gets on another end-of-season roll, it is a great possibility that the Eagles will hold a Top 5 pick in next year’s draft at least, and that could provide the team with a serious upgrade at one position. However, what position that is could be under much debate and discussion over the coming months, as Eagles fans and analysts try to predict what name will be called out as the Eagles’ 1st round selection in 2013.

Offensive Tackle

The first potential upgrade is at Offensive Tackle. Due to the team’s extreme struggles at this unit in most of the 2012 season, and the resultant number of pressures on the Quarterback every game; many fans will clamor for the team to select a starting-caliber OT as their top pick.

Joeckel, winner of the Upland Trophy.

There are two tricky sides to this debate; on one side, it is arguable that without the immense injuries suffered in the Eagles offensive line, with 4 of the 5 original starters out for than 5 weeks or more at some point in the season. This included Todd Herremans, right tackle, and of course Pro Bowl left tackle, Jason Peters. If these two high-quality players were to return next season and play at similar form to 2011, the Eagles would have really wasted a first-round pick on a position of complete lack of need. If the injuries clear out by next season, the Eagles will just need depth at OT rather than immediate talent, and that’s where a mid-draft pick comes into the equation, as opposed to a 1st rounder. Also, there are multiple free agents available at the end of the season, that could provide a pro-ready solution to the OT unit; such as Jake Long, or a high-cost, high-reward solution in the form of Ryan Clady.

However, the other side of this debate is that no risks should be taken, and that this team has such a glaring need at OT that the draft pick must be used on it. This approach looks safest, as Jason Peters’ ACL has already been hurt twice and could prove to slow him down or even bring his career to an end if the injury occurs for the third time. Also, Todd Herremans could be upgraded by a top rookie OT, such as the likes of Luke Joeckel or Taylor Lewan. These players could be drafted as replacements rather than cover, and that is what the pre-draft scouts may have to consider. This would allow Herremans to move into the more suitable guard position as well.

In my opinion, the Eagles should indeed spend their 1st-round pick on an OT, and get some much-needed protection for their QBs, as well as a base to build their offensive line around.

Possible 1st-Round Offensive Tackle Prospects: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M); Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

Cornerback

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Alabama CB Dee Milliner is the best cornerback prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo via zimbio.com)

The cornerback play from star additions Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been extremely inconsistent, particularly against top-flight receivers. With Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks and other big-time receiving threats in the NFC East, the Eagles need their future secondary to be consistent and tight in seasons to come. With Rodgers-Cromartie a free agent at the end of this season, and very few young or injury-free FA candidates out there, the Eagles very well may choose to let him or Asomugha run; and go with a draftee, potentially in the 1st-round.

The only real first-round quality cornerback in the upcoming draft is Dee Milliner, out of Alabama. According to fftoolbox.com, Milliner “plays with a chip on his shoulder, does not shy away from contact, and plays with a focused intensity”. Also, he has “long arms and a knack for breaking up the passes”. Milliner really sounds like a complete opposite corner to Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC was too often known for avoiding tackles and letting runners slip by. Milliner looks like an aggressive, all-round corner that can cover, tackle, press and break up a LOT of passes. While Milliner is projected at around the 8th pick, there is a possibility for the Eagles to trade down for more picks, something that Howie Roseman will not be afraid to do, and then take Milliner early in that 1st-round.

Out of all options, I definitely see cornerback as the 2nd best, as this team needs new personnel at secondary; and with poor Free Agent options, the draft may very well be the best place to find a top cornerback of the future. However, past Milliner, there are several solid late 1st/early 2nd-round options, such as Johnathan Banks of Mississippi State or Xavier Rhodes of Florida State, and these prospects could provide solid depth at the cornerback position with potential to be starters in the NFL.

Possible 1st-Round Cornerback Prospects: Dee Milliner (Alabama); Johnathan Banks (Mississippi State); Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)

Quarterback

If the Eagles part way with Foles, Smith is an option (via ESPN).

There is one man in question here, and that is Geno Smith from West Virginia. While he is predicted to fall at the #1 or #2 picks, Smith could potentially drop to the Eagles if his stock falls by a small amount.

It would all depend on Nick Foles, however. With speculation and doubts about Vick returning to Philadelphia for 2013, there may be the chance for Nick Foles to be called upon as the starting Quarterback for the Eagles next season. Foles has shown himself to be a good pocket passer that can cut it in this league, but maybe not for a few seasons as he reaches his full potential. A player like Geno Smith could come straight into this league and start, but there are doubts over his abilities in an NFL offense. The real positive about Smith for Eagles fans is his arm strength and deep throw accuracy, which could be a real weapon with the likes of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in the receiving unit.

Earlier in the year, Matt Barkley was a clear #1 pick prospect for the 2013 Draft. In fact, earlier in the year, if you’d have told me that the Eagles would be in a position to draft him with their 1st-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, I would have laughed. His draft stock has fallen as Geno Smith’s has risen, and Barkley may not even be in the Top 5. A strong bowl showing and Pro Day/Combine workouts could see Barkley slip back into #1 contention, but regardless of his mock position, the Eagles could definitely look at him as a future franchise quarterback. He lacks the deep accuracy that a Coach may want for Jackson and Maclin, but Barkley has the intangibles and intermediate accuracy of a pro-ready QB.

I feel that Roseman and the Eagles will stick with Nick Foles. He’s played his heart out in his starting opportunities with Vick’s concussion, and with a full offseason of practice and improving some weaknesses, Foles could very well become a high-quality starting Quarterback in the NFL. If the Eagles were to use their top pick on a QB, it would have to be Geno Smith after a slight dip in draft stock to the #5 pick, and I see Michael Vick being traded in return for a starting cornerback. In reality though, Foles looks like the future QB of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Possible 1st-Round Quarterback Prospects: Geno Smith (West Virginia); Matt Barkley (USC)

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Categories: Eagles, Editorial, NFL

Author:Will Eddowes

20 y.o Kiwi. Passionate about the NFL, both on the field & in the front office. Budding scout & salary cap analyst - Law and economics student at VUW - Also write for http://Overthecap.com.

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7 Comments on “2013 NFL Draft: Looking Ahead at the Eagles’ 1st-Round Strategy”

  1. December 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I don’t think Clady or Long will be available in Free Agency, hope they draft a tackle, then move Herremans to right guard. I don’t think the Eagles will be able to trade down as easily as they would have done last year, with no outstanding Quarterback prospects.

  2. sean s
    December 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I think they should go after clady or long in free agency.Then trade back in rd1 for matt elam and take Xavier rhodes in rd2.

    • December 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I completely agree. I think the Eagles should go after a tackle in free agency not the draft and I like Elam, but I think that if Teo is on the board when the Eagles pick they should get him. Would allow them to get a solid MLB and change to 3-4.

      • Bob
        December 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

        No 3-4 wouldn’t work for the Eagles, because to have a successful 3-4 defense, you need a rush linebacker. If you look around the league, all the successful 3-4 defenses have top of the line rush linebackers. From Matthews in Green Bay, Aldon Smith in San Fran, Suggs in Baltimore, I could go on and on.

        • December 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

          Yes but we could potentially sign/draft one, not to mention that Brandon Graham has the size and speed to play OLB in the 3-4.

          • Bob
            December 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

            Yes, but that would just open up another need for a team that has numerous more important ones. Yes, Manti Te’o is a great player, but he just doesn’t fit in with the Eagles. Also, I don’t think they’ll even have the chance to get him

          • December 16, 2012 at 8:40 am #

            Which need do you think it would open up? To fill the other DE spot I believe they could use Vinny Curry who played well when given the chance

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