The draft is roughly three weeks away and while we have been keeping busy on BGN with piles of draft profiles, it is time to add some more fun before the big day. I have offered my opinion on the draft in comment sections and on Twitter and have obviously done my evaluation on the several players that we have spotlighted. That said, I get emails and Twitter questions all the time about my opinion on certain areas of the draft and I figured a new Saturday series would be a good way to explain my outlook. I want to start a discussion, so I will address a few topics per weekend and we can go from there. We began last week and now we will go back to the well today. The following is strictly my opinion. Here we go:
Drafting a quarterback: I asked this question last weekend and it started a massive wave of conversation on Twitter:
Teddy falls to 22. What do you do?— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) April 13, 2014
Since then, several beat writers, Brandon Lee Gowton and BGN Radio have run with it and made the premise a bit more fleshed out. It has since become a hot topic of debate and I figured I'd weigh in on it.
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that Teddy Bridgewater is my top quarterback in this draft and Johnny Manziel is number four for me. You may not like that opinion, but I can assure you, it is the result of hours of tape watching and my philosophy when it comes to quarterbacks. Having said that, I do think there is a chance that Bridgewater, Manziel or both could fall into the 20's. I have not been shy about my lack of enthusiasm for the top of this quarterback class, but the position is at a premium in this league and these guys are not last year's crop. I could make a case for at least five quarterbacks being able to be full-time starters in the league in 2-3 years.
Bridgewater has the best tape in this class as far play is concerned. He is accurate, intelligent, understands the game and is a leader. That said, he is also thin, has small hands and never really tested the long ball in college. Conversely, Manziel never had to learn a playbook in college, played more of street ball-esque game and was able to get by on his speed and arm on tape. Is he coachable? Can he adapt to the professional game? Will he last with either potential durability issues or outside interests? Teams will have to predict those answers.
Both prospects have question marks and only fit certain schemes passed on tape. Add in the fact that the overall talent pool is so deep that some guys are bound to fall through the cracks, even quarterbacks. In my opinion, both players should go in the first round based purely on need, not necessarily because they are surefire first round guys. However, a team will have to fall in love with one of them.
If that team is the Eagles, so be it. There are certainly still skeptics and critics of Nick Foles, who aren't comfortable with him as a long-term answer. That is fine. I am not one of those people, nor would I be thrilled to draft one of these kids following the season that Foles had in 2013. Having said that, I am a big believer in trusting your board and drafting a quarterback at some point in every draft. I would be a hypocrite to be annoyed if the Eagles felt one of them was premium value and selected them. That said, I believe Foles would beat both out in camp and they would be regulated to the bench unless the season was lost. I am not sure how you sell that to a fanbase, who is under the impression that their head coach is always in "win now" mode.
The most beneficial thing for the franchise in a situation where Manziel or Bridgewater stares the Eagles in the face at No. 22 is to trade back with a quarterback-needy team. The plethora of talent in the second round is good enough to go back 8-18 spots and be satisfied with the value of collecting an extra third round pick (and more) as well as a possible starter. A team needing a quarterback would be well served to trade up, especially if they have already added a piece like Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans or another stud.
The Eagles could then add a premium players that fall the second round (and there will be plenty). This is a draft that you have to trust your board and its depth. The Eagles could add one or two extra key players by dealing No. 22 with quarterbacks on the board. I understand the folks that want to take a quarterback, "because you can never have too many," but I also think you don't take a step back to take a step forward in the most talented class in years. That just seems a bit silly to me.
Trade partners: So you may be saying to yourself, "Mike, who would pass on a quarterback and then be willing to trade up to take one later on?" Well, thanks for asking. The Texans, for one, are in need of a quarterback and a pass rusher. The Texans will more than likely take Jadeveon Clowney and then target another player down the line. They pick at 33 and could want to jump ahead of the Browns at No. 26 if they pass on a quarterback in the Top 10 as well.
The Vikings and Raiders both have veteran starters that would allow them to pass on taking a passer in the Top 10. That said, Oakland owns No. 37 and Minnesota owns No. 40, so missing out on a potential late-first round run on quarterbacks could scare them into moving up.
There is also Cleveland, who may take Watkins or Mack or Evans at No. 4 and would use No. 26 to simply trade a fourth round pick to jump a few spots to avoid having their guy get stolen. Another darkhorse could New England. The team has a relationship with Chip Kelly and may want to jump the Chiefs grab their successor for Tom Brady. They have been snooping around passers throughout the entire draft process.
Lee, Cooks or Beckham? This may be the question I get asked most on Twitter. My preference is Cooks having seen him in person and having studied literally every cut up I could find on him. He is a special player in my opinion. That said, I love Beckham and Lee. The knee injury is basically my only concern about Lee and it is a big one. He looked a bit slow and timid in 2013 and I hope the injury has been resolved. The Eagles had him for a visit and it was likely to give the knee checkup. If you watch his 2011 and 2012 tape before the knee injury, he would be a Top 10-15 pick.
Beckham has the best hands in this draft but I question his game speed and his ability to stretch the field. Brandon Gowton has a theory that Kelly doesn't believe in true No. 1 wide receivers and I completely agree. I don't think these three guys are prototypical No. 1 receivers but would work as dynamic pieces of the Eagles offensive puzzle. All three can play any spot and can run routes. They would be assets for Kelly and Foles.
If I had to rank them without knowing I could trust Lee's knee, I would go Cooks, Beckham and Lee. I think that is how they will be selected in May as well. I think Lee will be there at No. 22 and I would be happy with that pick. Kelly loved him in college and I think he will use him well in the NFL.
Ideal 7 Rounds: This is another one I get asked about a lot. Honestly, there is no good way to answer that because I don't know how the board will shake out. Certain guys are going to go earlier than I expect and vice versa. I am not a believer that the Eagles NEED a pass rusher, safety and wide receiver to be the first three picks. I trust the depth in this draft quite a bit. To tell you the truth, I am pretty apathetic to the first round because Day 2 and 3 is where we are going to make our bones, unless we make a mega-trade. The value is there.
I am not trying to offer a cop out, so I'll give you my realistic (I think) seven round mock if I am not allowed trades:
1) Marqise Lee, WR, USC
2) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State (if Pryor and Ward fall, Bucannon will as well)
3) Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
4) Trai Turner, OG, LSU
5) Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
7) Zack Kerr, NT, Delaware
NFL Draft Profiles: If you're bored of wide receivers, next week won't be for you. Monday through Friday, we will look wide receivers who will be taken anywhere from the first to seventh round. This wide receiver class is stacked. Hope you enjoy them.
Tom Savage: I know there is a lot of hype out there and I have been trying to find a healthy interpretation. I have quite a few passers ahead of him (Bridgewater, Bortles, Carr, Manziel, Fales, Murray, Mettenberger) but I do see the appeal. He is a smart kid and was essentially a redshirt freshman last season after transferring from Rutgers. He also had a terrible line and a hero complex. He interviews well and seems like a guy that has intangibles.
I think he is a solid third round pick, as his tape made me think fourth round, but after talking to Pittsburgh expert and all-around football genius, NFLGimpy, I opened up a bit and rewatched. I think most (if not all) of the class needs a year or two before starting, which would serve him well. However, I don't see him as an Eagles target.
BGN Draft Party: Unfortunately, it is not happening. There was not enough time to plan and there were too many moving parts, mainly my flight from Phoenix. We have something special planned this season though and will keep you updated. Sorry.
He is the remainder of the draft profiles, I have updated the schedule and even got two more on the lineup to give us a new round number of 65:
Wide Receiver Week (4/21-4/25)
M 4/21: Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
T 4/22: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
W 4/23: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
R 4/24: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
F 4/25: Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska
Variety Week (4/28-5/4)
M 4/28: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
T 4/29: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
W 4/30: Trai Turner, G, LSU
R 5/1: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
F 5/2: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
S 5/3: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Y 5/4: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Final Two and Big Board (5/5-5/8)
M 5/6: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
T 5/7: Will Sutton, NT, Arizona State
W 5/8: Mike Kaye's Big Board