2013 NFL Draft primer: Philadelphia Eagles
The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the fourth in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 4: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
2012 record: 4-12
Key offseason acquisitions
Connor Barwin, linebacker
Kenny Phillips, safety
James Casey, fullback/tight end
Isaac Sopoaga, defensive tackle
Patrick Chung, safety
Arrelious Benn, wide receiver
Donnie Jones, punter
Chip Kelly, head coach
Key offseason departures
Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback
Cullen Jenkins, defensive tackle
Mike Patterson, defensive tackle
Mat McBriar, punter
Biggest holes in roster: Cornerback, offensive line
The Nnamdi Asomugha experiment is over, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is now a Denver Bronco, leaving the Eagles very thin in the secondary. They poached ex-Giant Kenny Phillips and former Patriot Patrick Chung to provide help over the top but still need someone who can defend on the outside.
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner might be the most logical choice given this need. The six-footer is known for his ability to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and his solid technique. He has NFL-caliber speed (4.37 40-yard dash at the Combine) and good hands (three picks, nine passes defensed in 2012) and could help the Eagles handle the likes of Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant twice a year.
Then there's the offensive line. Eagles quarterbacks were sacked 48 times (fifth worst in the NFL) and hit a league-worst 118 times last season. Jason Peters is expected to return after rupturing his Achilles tendon last offseason, but the Eagles still need help. If that's the case, Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson would be their guy. Both Fisher (Central Michigan) and Johnson (Oklahoma) are good pass blockers who would provide an instant upgrade at tackle. Fisher is the more pro-ready prospect of the two -- Johnson is incredibly athletic (he was a former QB at Kilgore College and has spent time at TE and DE), but is a bit more raw in terms of technique.
Even with these holes, the Eagles still need to deal with three of the game's better QBs six times per year. They signed former Houston Texan Connor Barwin to help at linebacker but could foreseeably go for another pass-rushing threat to help neutralize Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo. Bjoern Werner of Florida State and BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah are both good options. Ansah is a step faster than Werner -- Ansah clocked a 4.63 40-yard-dash at the Combine versus Werner's 4.83 -- but both have enough speed and technique to make it at the next level.
Could the Eagles draft West Virginia QB Geno Smith if he's on the board at this point? Possibly. Vick is getting old, and his concussion history is scary. Smith could be the eventual replacement for Vick, and he'd fit well into Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. The question is whether or not the Eagles' new coaching staff thinks Foles is the future. The Arizona product is more of a pocket passer, while most of Kelly's QBs in college had more mobility.