These are a few things I think I think about the Eagles, about the #4 pick, about how the next few days might unfold… heading into the 2013 NFL Draft...
I think I think that for all the talk in all the various and sundry places, Dion Jordan is not going to be the Eagles' pick. If Coach Kelly and the Front Office are looking at the same roster I see, there's just no way that adding a player (albeit a talented one) to the mix at OLB is as valuable to this team as solidifying the offensive line or pairing a legitimate 34 lineman with Fletcher Cox. I see why connecting Jordan to the Eagles makes sense… but it's not happening.
I think I think there's no QB to take. Clearly none at #4. But is adding a middle-of-the-road talent really what this team needs right now? Vick, Foles, Dixon, and Kinne on the roster. If you throw Manuel into the mix tomorrow, here's a guy who's about as well regarded a prospect as Foles… that is to say he's a guy who's gifted and talented, but has a good deal of work to do before he's ready to lead an NFL team. "Yeah, but…" you say, "He fits the system!" Well… Foles fit the previous system. But having a middle-of-the-road prospect who fits your system is just biding time, isn't it? You're still just waiting for the right quarterback to come along aren't you? If Andy had stayed and system hadn't changed… would we all be thrilled with Foles moving forward? I'd be intrigued. But not thrilled. The closer it gets to Draft day the more it looks like getting Manuel would take the #35 pick. I think there are corners and safeties and tackles, oh my, that are too valuable to pass on. Trading back into the 20s to get Geno Smith is the only way I see a real value in adding a quarterback from this particular group. In the meantime watch tape of Teddy Bridgewater and ponder how much it'd take to trade for the #1 overall pick in 2014.
I think I think Lane Johnson may just be the guy. Not only… he may be the guy that happens to be left by pick #4… but he may actually be the right guy for this team. The man is an athletic wonder. Jason Peters, assuming his health, is another athletic freak at tackle. The pair of them would seem to be a duo out of one of Chip Kelly's most favorite dreams. That one where his tackles can run with an offense running plays at a one per 10 second clip… the one where his tackles can get into the second level on run plays and pull along with guards in exotic blocking schemes. That dream. The man, Lane Johnson that is, out jumped A.J. Green, out ran Anquan Boldin, and outweighed Andy Reid… well, if you shaved the mustache. A 310 pound man who can move like that is so incredibly rare (as in… he'd be the only one in the NFL) that his upside is hard not to love. He's less experienced at tackle than Fisher or Joeckel, yes… but it's not as if two years at tackle for Oklahoma is something to laugh at. And the fact that he's spent a lot of time at RT (where any of these guys would likely be asked to play day 1 as an Eagle) is promising. Lane Johnson, folks. He'll be a top 5 pick. Will it be #4? I'm thinking maybe.
I think I think the people who are down on Star Lotuleilei are nuts. Watch the USC tape from this season. Just sit down, take 8 or 9 minutes, and watch the whole thing. He's electric. As in… when he touches guys they shoot backwards as if they've just been shocked. Most of that game he's going against Khaled Holmes. He's about to be a mid-round pick. And Lotuleilei made he and his mates look foolish on a great many plays. He is the first person off the snap on virtually every snap… he consistently moves laterally and sheds blocks to inhibit running lanes. He makes plays in the backfield… including one where he tosses Silas Redd (NFL Class of 2014) to the ground like he was a rag doll. He even tackles Marquise Lee (a guy teams will be lining up to Draft next year) 9 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in the open field. Watch the tape. It's as dominant a single game tape as I've seen on any prospect in the Draft. Sure, he doesn't repeat that performance every week. But if he rises to the big occasions… well… the NFL is all big occasions. He has the chops to be a truly dominant (different from Haloti Ngata but equally impactful) force all along the line in a 34 or 43 scheme. If he's what the Eagles end up with… we're gonna be a happy bunch watching him play.
I think I think the most exciting thing about this whole offseason is the talk about the tempo. If Chip Kelly can really motivate grown-ass millionaires to run and run and run until they're sick… this team is going to be night and day different from the one we've hated to love for the last two years. A team built on conditioning wouldn't, for instance, lose a massive lead to the 49ers in the second half after looking dominant in the first half. If the players that matter… the leaders… truly buy into the system, I can't wait to see this team on the field.