Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eagles stayed in their Lane; now what?

As the Eagles prepare for the second round of the NFL Draft, some significant names are available at No. 35.

Eagles stayed in their Lane; now what?

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (42) runs to the end zone for a touchdown against Georgia during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Atlanta. (Jamie Martin/AP)
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (42) runs to the end zone for a touchdown against Georgia during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Atlanta. (Jamie Martin/AP)

Some thoughts while waiting for evening and the second round, where it seems inevitable the Eagles will get a widely-projected first-rounder with their 35th overall pick.

First, I like Lane Johnson, the first-round pick. At least, I like the idea of Lane Johnson. I haven't pored over hours of tape, but I talked to Johnson and his quarterback, Landry Jones, at the Senior Bowl, and I was intrigued by the whole QB-TE-DE-OT progression. Bottom line, this was a starless draft where to get a future stud, you probably had to gamble a little. The Eagles did that.

Thursday night at NovaCare, after Chip Kelly lauded Johnson's athleticism and upside, somebody tried to throw back in Chipper's face his statement from last week, when he said there were no "can't miss" prospects in this draft. Kelly didn't back off an inch. "I'll stick with what I said last week," he replied.

The past few days, I've seen quotes from Kelly, Johnson, and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops using the term "raw," and they weren't raving about the excellent sushi place by that name on Sansom Street. Johnson faces a steep learning curve. He said Thursday night he thinks he's ready to start right away, but really, what's he going to say there, after being drafted fourth overall? "Nah, I'm gonna need a year or two on the bench"?

More coverage
Best players left in NFL Draft
Eagles have plenty of second-round options
What they're saying about Eagles' next pick

Kelly and Howie Roseman took a huge guy with startling athleticism, whom Kelly says "lives and dies football." That last part has been a problem for the Eagles in previous drafts. Seems like a gamble worth taking.

Now, tonight. Geno Smith at 35? I wouldn't be real excited. Immature guy. Unless you know he's a franchise QB, why draft him? The Eagles have many needs, and there were a lot of first-round talents who slid last night. The strong safety class feaures Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International, a guy I loved at the Senior Bowl and would take in an instant at 35.

They also could be looking at SMU DE Margus Hunt, Alabama RB Eddie Lacy, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, Mississippi State CB Johnathan Banks, Stanford TE Zach Ertz, Florida State DE Tank Carradine, Georgia NT John Jenkins, Kansas State LB  Arthur Brown (brother of Bryce), Tennessee WR Justin Hunter, Boise State CB Jamar Taylor, Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore or Cal WR Keenan Allen, among others, including local product Ryan Nassib, the QB from Syracuse.

If the Eagles, who pick 67th tonight in the third round, don't get a quality corner or safety before round 4 starts Saturday, I'll be surprised. But there sure are a lot of positions they could address at 35.

Daily News Staff Writer
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