Bleeding Green Nation seems be torn over its draft prospects and potential picks. Some want Luke Joeckel. Some think we should take Star Lotulelei. Others want to bring in Geno Smith if he's there. Then, there's some outlandish picks. No matter what (who) your poison is, you have some sort of logic for wanting the guy you want. The issue with getting crafty in your mocks or going outside of the box with "your guy," is that the NFL is a league of trends and beliefs.
With all the back-and-forth of opinions, I decided to do some research on the 1st round of every draft over the last 5 years to determine what the Eagles historically "likely" options are.
I have broken the picks up in four different sections: Top 5 Picks, Picks 6-10, Picks 11-15, and Overall First Round. This will allow everyone's angle to be discussed, including trading backs.
This will be part 1 and will focus on offensive draft picks.
Top 5: QB (7), RB (2), WR (2). TE (0), OT (4), OG (0), C (0)
Rationale: As you can see, when you are going offense in the Top 5, you are most likely going for a quarterback or offensive tackle. Over the last five years, the league has continued its trend of being all about the passing game. If you are not in the market to improve your team with a passer, you are very likely to invest in protecting the guy who is throwing the ball. QBs are obviously the foundation of your offense and the foundation of the team in most cases.
The benefit of being in possession of a Top 5 pick is that you get a shot at the best quarterbacks in the draft, but that can also lead to a lot of QBs getting over-drafted (Mark Sanchez). That being said, drafting in the Top 5 does not always lead to drafting star players. Of the 15 offensive players taken in the Top 5 in the past five years, only 8 have made Pro Bowls and only 5 of the Pro Bowlers were drafted before this year.
Skill players that are not QBs, are few and far between in the Top 5, but that may be because of the fact that of the four running backs/wide receivers taken in the past 5 years, only one has made a Pro Bowl (A.J. Green). The league has apparently come to the conclusion that star WRs and RBs are easier to obtain and/or are less valuable than QBs and OTs. Then again, another factor would deal with who is available in each draft.
6-10: QB (3), RB (1), WR (3), TE (0), OT (4), OG (0), C (0)
Rationale: As we move along in the draft, there is more room for error. Still, the same positions (QB, RB, WR, OT) are the only positions taken in the Top 10. From 6-10, offensive tackle numbers stay the same, wide receivers jump, and running backs and QBs drop. There are all different reasons why this could happen: teams go more defense in the 6-10 range, WR are less risky out of the top 5, teams need less help then the bottom-dwellers of the Top 5 variety, and most importantly, who is left on the board. The aforementioned factors are important to remember for teams looking to trade into the Top 10 and for those looking to trade out of the Top 5.
Before the 2011 Draft, teams had to pay much more to incoming rookies, so the lower they could take the talent, the less expensive they would be. Offensive tackle and quarterback are premium positions that are worth the risk because you really, really need them, but wide receivers and running backs can be had in later rounds.
Of the WRs taken in the 6-10 range, only Julio Jones has made a Pro Bowl, while Michael Crabtree and Darrius Heyward-Bey have shown flashes but leave a lot to be desired. The one running back taken in the 6-10 range (C.J. Spiller) made his first Pro Bowl this season.
11-15: QB (1), RB (3), WR (2), TE (0), OT (4), OG (0), C (1)
The numbers fluctuate as we move down the draft. A lot of the reason for that is because the best QBs in the draft are normally grabbed in the top 10 (except apparently Christian Ponder in this case). Typically, offensive tackles are spread out throughout the first round, making their numbers consistent throughout. In the playmaker category, teams get a bit friskier and open to taking a shot at wide receivers and running backs. The one center to be added to a team in the Top 15 of the NFL Draft in the past five years is Mike Pouncey, who was most likely helped by his twin brother's (Maurkice) selection and subsequent Pro Bowl the year prior.
Entire First Round: QB (15), RB (15), WR (15), TE (3), OT (23), OG (4), C (4)
As you can see, the Top 15 is not the "be all, end all" for value in the first round of the NFL Draft, but is a good indicator of the value assessed to each position by scouts, general managers and coaches. Overall, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have the same amount of players selected over the last five 1st rounds. This tells us that QB's are valued high (duh) in the selection process and that the playmaking positions are valued in the bottom-half of the first round. That being said, the 33 playmakers (WR, RB, TE) taken in the draft, compared to the 15 QBs, shows how rare elite passing talent truly is.
Almost two-dozen offensive tackles have been taken in the last five years in the 1st round, which is likely due to the emphasis on the Franchise QB and protecting that guy. You could also say the rising talent and speed at the pass rushing positions has put an even bigger premium on blind side protection. The pass rushers have even extended itself to lesser valued positions like center and guard because it has made the offensive line that more valuable.
Knowing what we now know about the offensive numbers in the recent first round picks, what position do you think the Eagles should go for with the #4 pick in the 2013 Draft, if they choose to go offense?