Eagles draft strategy: They should stay put

Eagles draft strategy: They should stay put
April 12, 2013, 11:00 am
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Sure, the Eagles could trade out of the fourth spot in the draft, stock up on draft picks that would help them continue the rebuilding process and still get a pretty good player later in the first round. (Geoff Mosher thinks they should.)
 
Or they could forget about bailing out of No. 4, take advantage of this rare opportunity and start out the Chip Kelly Era the right way. By drafting a true impact player.
 
The fourth pick overall? These chances don’t come along very often. For the Eagles, this year’s draft is only the third in the last 40 years with a top-five pick.
 
They took Kenny Jackson No. 4 in 1984. Abject failure. And they picked Donovan McNabb No. 2 in 1999. The best quarterback in franchise history and one of the main reasons the Eagles were one of the NFL’s elite teams for a decade. And that’s it since 1973.
 
But they’ve also drafted three Hall of Famers among the top-five picks, including Steve Van Buren in 1944, Chuck Bednarik in 1949 and Bob Brown in 1964.
 
Maybe all the draft guides say trade out of No. 4, but the draft guides are wrong.
 
The Eagles need stars. The reason they were the winningest team in the NFC from 2000 through 2010 at 10.3 wins per year was because of stars. Not good players. Great players. McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Jeremiah Trotter.
 
Although you can find superstars anywhere in the draft -- Dawk was a second-round pick, Westbrook and Trott third-round picks -- your odds obviously increase dramatically the higher up you pick.
 
So if you get this kind of opportunity once every 10 or 15 years, don’t squander it. Don’t sacrifice it. Don’t give it away. Even if the Mel Kipers and Mike Mayocks of the world won’t stop talking about how the best value in this year’s draft is late in the first round.
 
Because the reality is that there will be superstars in the top handful of picks. No matter how many experts say otherwise, when we look back in 10 years at the 2013 draft, it’s a lock that a couple of the top guys taken -- Luke Joeckel, Star Lotulelei, Ezekiel Ansah, Dion Jordan, Tavon Austin, Eric Fisher, etc. -- will be multiple Pro Bowl picks, perennial all-pros, among the best in the league at their position.
 
And it’s up to GM Howie Roseman and his staff to figure out who those guys are and which one of them best fits into what the Eagles want to do.
 
What makes the most sense is for the Eagles to stay at No. 4 and take Fisher, the Central Michigan offensive tackle. Assuming Andy Reid and the Chiefs select Joeckel No. 1 and the Jaguars and Raiders go defense -- perhaps Jordan and Philly’s Sharrif Floyd -- it makes no sense to not take Fisher.
 
Think about it. The Eagles are a young team -- second-youngest in the NFL last year. But their best offensive linemen are older guys. In fact, they have only six position players who are in their 30s, and three of them are on the O-line.
 
Jason Peters is 31 and coming off two Achilles surgeries. And this fall, Todd Herremans turns 31 and Evan Mathis 32.
 
So you have a coach who wants to run a furiously paced offense and an offensive line whose three best guys are in their early 30s, two of whom are coming off major injuries. Hmmm.
 
Kelly is all about offense. He already has a couple stud tailbacks, some very good receivers and two solid tight ends. Line up Fisher at right tackle from the start, and just like that, whoever’s at quarterback will be that much more effective, and the offense that much more productive. And whenever Peters moves on, Fisher swings over to left tackle.
 
Naturally, if there were a quarterback the Eagles liked at No. 4 they’d take him, but the hunch here is they don’t feel that way about Geno Smith, and they’ll draft a quarterback somewhere along the line on Day 2 of the draft this year and then try to land their long-term franchise QB in the first round in 2014.

Why bypass a player who can potentially be a Pro Bowl-caliber stud for the next 10 years just to add some depth in the later rounds? And if you think the Eagles can get a player in the middle of the first round who’s just as good as what they can get at No. 4, then ask yourself why nobody is projecting guys like Jordan, Lotulelei and Fisher in the middle of the first round? Those guys are just better prospects. That’s why they’ll go first.
 
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Eagles. They need to take advantage of it and draft a once-in-a-generation player.

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