Mock Draft Roundup: With the Fourth Pick, the Eagles Select

Mock Draft Roundup: With the Fourth Pick, the Eagles Select

Today is the day. What will
the Eagles do with the fourth-overall pick in the NFL Draft? We checked with
the wisdom of crowds for answers, where we found only more staggering
uncertainty.

Most years experts can predict
the first five or 10 picks of the draft with a fair degree of probability. This
is not the case in 2013. The mock drafts are so wildly varied, there is no
consensus at all beyond the number one selection – and even that has only been
narrowed down to a position (offensive tackle), not a name.

Luke Joeckel and
Eric Fisher are considered by many to be prospects 1A and 1B in this draft, and
it’s said to be so close, the Chiefs could go either way with the first pick. For
that reason, I don’t believe either player will be available by the time the
Eagles are on the clock, so therefore we largely ignored any mocks that indicated
otherwise. My guess is either the Jags will take whichever one of them falls to
two, or a tackle-needy team such as the Lions or Cardinals will trade ahead of
the Birds.

So on that note, let’s jump right into our first
batch: the third-best tackle in the draft.

Mike Mayock (NFL.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

He's the
freakiest tackle I've ever seen in my life. And because of what Chip Kelly does
-- up-tempo, maximize snaps, throw the bubble screens, throw the tunnel screens
-- he needs a great athlete at left tackle.

Charley Casserly (NFL.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

Both of the
Eagles' starting offensive tackles are coming off surgery.

Evan Silva (Rotoworld): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

NFL Network's
Mike Mayock suggested Tuesday that the Raiders might select Johnson at the
third pick. I just don't think they'll have Johnson highly rated because
Oakland is transitioning to a power-run scheme and Johnson is more of an
athlete than mauling run blocker at this stage. The Eagles could really use
Johnson's quick-twitch athleticism and second-level movement skills in Chip Kelly's
up-tempo offense. His addition would allow Philly to move Todd
Herremans
to right guard, with Jason Kelce
at center, Evan Mathis at left guard, and Jason Peters
back at left tackle.

Dane Brugler (NFLDraftScout.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

The offensive
tackles are going to fly off the board fast and even if both Joeckel and Fisher
are still available at the fourth pick, Johnson might be the best fit for Chip
Kelly and his offense. Johnson is just scratching the surface of his potential
at tackle.

Jeff McLane (Philly.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

If it’s Johnson, it’s safe to speculate that Chip Kelly wrestled control and made the first pick.

The “just scratching the
surface” bit makes me a little leery that Johnson is more of a project than
Joeckel or Fisher. After last season’s debacle on the offensive line, I doubt too
many people will mind. Besides, it’s not like they need him to take over for
Jason Peters at left tackle from day one.

Jared Sherman (CSN): Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

Fisher is big and athletic - both traits Chip Kelly wants to see in his linemen. With Todd Herremans possibly kicking back inside to guard, there's a hole at right tackle. And with Jason Peters coming off Achilles surgery, Fisher is a pretty good backup plan at left tackle too.

Well, you never know I guess...

Switching gears, there are several
different defensive players being tied to the Eagles. Somewhat surprisingly, there
were virtually no mocks that had Philadelphia native Sharrif Floyd coming home,
although that’s probably because most of them have him going in the top three.
Defensive tackle was a popular pick however.

Don Banks (Sports Illustrated): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Again, if
Lane Johnson remains available, the Eagles should have trade options, or could
even take the athletically freakish ex-Sooner themselves. But Philly has been
focused on finding talent to make the transition to a 3-4 defense work, and
Lotulelei is the best available Vince Wilfork-type cog among the defensive
linemen.

Rob Rang (CBS): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Chip Kelly is
known for the fast pace of his offense, but if the Eagles are to improve in the
NFC East it is their defense that will need to improve the most. With
Philadelphia expected to make the transition to a 3-4 scheme, it needs help up
front, which the powerful Lotulelei can provide. The Eagles are one of three
teams currently picking in the top 10 who have both worked out Lotulelei and
invited him to visit their facility, NFLDraftScout.com has learned.

Josh Norris (NFL.com): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Don't pigeonhole
Lotulelei as a nose tackle; he can win from multiple spots along the front
three.

Pete Prisco (CBS): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

They can't
pass up on this power player.

From a pure need standpoint,
Lotulelei might make the most sense for the Eagles. Whatever Chip Kelly and Billy
Davis has in mind for the defense, we know it’s not going to be a pure 4-3, but
they are lacking some of the big bodies up front that make those other schemes
work. Lotulelei is versatile, and unlike Floyd, available – at least according
to most of these things.

Geoff Mosher (CSN): Alabama CB Dee Milliner*

Birds get the
corner they so desperately need, and get some extra picks.

Our first trade! Mosh has the
Eagles swapping with the Cardinals, moving down three spots to number seven, in
what would seemingly be one of the more popular scenarios. I’m not sold a team
that signed two starting cornerbacks in free agency is looking this high to
grab another

As an aside, the folks who
mock and don’t account for trades are doing it wrong. There are always trades.

Bucky Brooks (NFL.com): BYU DE/OLB Ziggy Ansah

New coach
Chip Kelly would love to take on former Oregon charge Dion Jordan, but Ansah is
a better fit as a potential five-technique.

Ansah is probably the biggest
curve ball. I’ve seen him going as high as second, or not a player in the top
five at all. Few are mocking him to the Birds, but don’t rule it out, either.
Of course, the other name Brooks drops in there undoubtedly represents the
plurality of these lists.

Greg Cosell (Yahoo!): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

This is where
the most intriguing defensive player comes off the board. That’s Oregon
DE/OLB Dion Jordan. I was fortunate to be on the
field at the scouting combine, and to watch this 6-foot-6, 250-pounder move was
a revelation. He looked like a wide receiver. On film, he was naturally
athletic, very smooth and fluid, and surprisingly explosive given his length.
At Oregon this past season, he primarily played in space, which he did
exceptionally well. I had to study a lot of games to get a feel for his pass
rush skills. They were impressive, and I believe he will become a very good
edge rusher in the NFL. He showed the ability to get low and bend the edge with
the needed flexibility to succeed against quality NFL offensive tackles.
There’s much to like about Jordan, and he’s just scratching the surface. Want a
comparison? How about Jason Taylor.

Peter King (Sports Illustrated): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

Chip Kelly
bypasses the strong tackle market and a need at CB to pick an old friend from
Oregon. He'll fill those other spots later.

Peter Schrager (FOX Sports): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

The Eagles’
defensive backfield has undergone an extreme makeover. Four new defensive backs
Bradley
Fletcher
, Cary Williams,
Patrick Chung
and Kenny
Phillips
— should be in the starting lineup. With those additions, I
don’t see the Eagles going with Dee Milliner, the cornerback out of Alabama, as
many have suggested. Jordan, a fantastic athlete who played for new Eagles head
coach Chip Kelly at Oregon, could be the guy at No. 4. Jordan is most favorably
compared to Aldon Smith,
the electric outside linebacker in San Francisco. Everyone’s fascinated to see
what Kelly and GM Howie Roseman do here — I think Jordan can be the guy.

Zach Berman (Philly.com): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

Without a tackle on the board, the Eagles could trade down. They
could also take defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. I’m sticking with the
player I’ve had here all along – one who Chip Kelly knows better than
any player in this draft, and one who has the upside to become an elite
pass rusher.

Pat Kirwan (CBS): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

The Eagles
are building a 3-4 defense and need an OLB with pass rush skills. Jordan played
for Chip Kelly. If they take Jordan I would expect them to re-enter the first
round late and grab a QB. Either Geno Smith or EJ Manuel could be the choice.

I’ll say this much about
Jordan: if the Eagles do wind up going with the Oregon product, I don’t think
it will have the slightest thing to do with the fact that he played for Chip.
That’s a stupid reason to use the fourth-overall pick on somebody, and a less
relevant nugget I can’t think of.

Finally, Kirwan broached our
final group of mocks: the quarterback.

Clark Judge (CBS): West Virginia QB Geno Smith

Chip Kelly
knows he can't win with Michael Vick. So who's next? You're looking at him.

With Fisher left on the board?
I don’t think so. Besides, this is way too high for Geno by most accounts.

Gil Brandt (NFL.com): West Virginia QB Geno Smith*

Smith has
been criticized, but I myself think he's a pretty good player. Moreover, with
his athletic and passing ability, I think he can fill a system need for new
Eagles coach Chip Kelly. There's a chance Smith might not be there at No. 11,
but I think the Eagles can still afford to trade with the Chargers, because
even if Smith is gone, Philly can try to move down a few more spots and get EJ
Manuel.

Brandt has the Eagles swapping
with the Chargers, another of the tackle-needy teams, to get down to number 11
where a team might actually have interest in Smith. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t
have EJ Manuel going in the first at all, so I don’t know why the Eagles would
take him later in the round if that was is going to be the case – they have the
fourth pick in the second too after all.

Geno Smith still seems like
one of the unlikelier scenarios for the Birds in this draft, although it hasn’t
gone away. We’ll find out along with the rest of these guys and everybody else
soon enough.

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Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.