The 2010 NFL Draft is upon us. Get your geek on.
Before I inflict you with my first-round mock draft (Coming Soon! Get your arrows out!), I thought it might be more informative to forecast what the Eagles won’t do in this year’s draft.
It’ll be much more accurate, and quite frankly, it’s lot easier than figuring out who the Birds might take in the first round, let alone in the seventh.
So based upon my conversations with the Eagles, analysis of past drafts, reading the lines on Andy Reid’s forehead and the ever-changing wind, here are a few anti-predictions (Editors note: I reserve the write to delete this entry once the Eagles do exactly the first thing that I said they wouldn’t do.):
1. The Eagles won’t trade up to draft Tennessee safety Eric Berry. They had him in for a workout. GM Howie Roseman was effusive in his praise. They need a free safety badly. But I just don’t see the Eagles giving up two, three, maybe four picks in a swap with the Chiefs, who hold the fifth pick. OK, maybe they make the trade if it’s just two picks, but it won’t be. I think the Redskins, who are at four, are willing to deal away their top pick. Philly and Washington have direct lines to one another, as we know. But the Redskins need picks, picks, picks. And what would be the point in giving Washington back the second round pick the Eagles received in exchange for Donovan McNabb? I’m also not sure if the Eagles will be able to partner up with anyone else before Berry is gone.
2. The Eagles won’t deal away the McNabb pick on the first day. If the pick wasn’t the 37th overall and the fifth on the second day, the Eagles might be inclined to package it with its first rounder and move up. But Reid loves having that early second-round pick. He’s said it on several occasions. It gives the Eagles a night to sleep and some leverage if they end up wanting to package it and move up on the second day. That sort of move would also protect a draftee from always having the label of being the guy the Eagles got back for McNabb.
3. The Eagles are more inclined to move up seven picks than they are 14. Even though Jacksonville (No. 10), Denver (No. 11) and Miami (No. 12) are supposedly shopping their spots, I don’t think the Eagles are willing to do what it takes to move up that far. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has the Eagles exchanging picks with the Dolphins to get Georgia Tech (and Coastesville) defensive end Derrick Morgan. The Eagles normally don’t draft ends as big as Morgan, although he’s better suited to a 4-3 scheme. They like the sleek guys, say a Jason Pierre-Paul. Still, I think the Eagles would rather move up just several spots like they did last year when Jeremy Maclin fell. Someone is going to fall this year. It could be safety Earl Thomas. It could be cornerback Joe Haden. It could be center Maurkice Pouncey. If one of them does, the Eagles will have the ammunition to get them – within reason.
4. Cornerack Kyle Wilson, Thomas and Pouncey will not be around at 24. Wilson has moved up on plenty of draft boards. I think he’ll be taken before Haden, who doesn’t have Wilson’s speed. The fact that Thomas could project as either a safety or a cornerback will be too much for one team to pass up. I can’t see Pouncey getting past Pittsburgh at No. 18.
5. Even if Pouncey and guard Mike Iupati are still around at No. 24, the Eagles won’t take them. I’m less sure about Pouncey because he can also play guard, but I keep thinking the Eagles aren’t as worried about their center situation as others. When I saw Eagles offensive line coach Juan Castillo talking with Iupati at the Senior Bowl for quite a while I thought, “This is their guy.” But I think there are worries that he won’t be able to make the eventual jump to tackle. And what’s the point in paying a guy first-round money if he’ll never project to being a franchise left tackle?
6. The Eagles will trade down before they trade up. I’m probably in the minority here. I just think No. 24 is a bad spot for the Eagles. Sure, they can get a quality player there. But can they get “their” guy or a guy capable of stepping in right away and being a difference maker? I have a feeling they won’t find a partner to trade up, will start to see the board not playing out as they had liked and will trade down, maybe to later in the first round or completely out of the first round. Reid has done it before. This is a deep draft. Why not get more picks if you’re not happy with getting a good but not great cornerback (Kareem Jackson or Patrick Robinson)?
7. Taylor Mays will not be wearing midnight green. There are a lot of mock drafters that have the Southern Cal safety headed to the Eagles, but I don’t see it. He’s a freakish athlete, but his size (6-3, 230) just doesn’t suit the Eagles’ defensive scheme for safeties. He needs to cover just as well as he tackles and hits, and Mays has issues there. Maybe Mays slips to 37 or 55 and the Eagles take him then thinking he’s the best athlete there, let’s grab him and decide later what to do with him. I think he projects better as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Of course, the Eagles don’t need one of those. They have three – Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan and Omar Gaither.
8. Tim Tebow will not be wearing midnight green. What would be the point of drafting a high-profile college quarterback, especially one that could go in the first two rounds, when you just promoted a young quarterback as your starter? When the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb three years ago everyone knew it didn’t portend a bright future for McNabb. He certainly had that hanging over his head for three seasons. Kolb doesn’t need that kind of pressure right now. Maybe the Eagles would take Tebow based on his athleticism and the intangibles alone. But I just don’t think the Eagles need that kind of distraction even though they love attention and have done stranger things before (see: Michael Vick).
9. Speaking of Vick, he’ll survive the draft. I think I believe the Eagles when they say they’re happy having Vick as their backup to Kolb. Vick didn’t show much last year, but you have to remember he hadn’t played organized football in years and was thrown into a new offense. He might not be the player he once was, but he’s as good a backup as most in the NFL. And the Eagles expect to get something out of their backup even if he doesn’t play under center. Vick will be back as the Wildcat and a significant part of Reid’s toy offense.
10. The Eagles will take only one offensive player with their first five picks. The Birds have five selections from 24-87. I think they use four on defense; say they take a cornerback, safety, defensive tackle and defensive end or linebacker. They’ll use the fifth pick on an offensive lineman. The Eagles keep saying -- in public and in private -- that they’ll address a defense that was worse than spotty last year. I can’t see them straying too far from that game plan unless running back C.J. Spiller, wide receiver Dez Bryant and scat back Dexter McCluster all fall into their laps with their first three picks. That’s not going to happen.
In the end, I imagine the Eagles will do something in the first round that nobody had forecasted. Nevertheless, free to take your swipes at my predictions. Not that you need any encouragement.
In other news, the Eagles signed punter Sav Rocca to a one-year deal. Rocca was the last restricted free agent to sign his tender. He had until today because they Eagles tendered him at a right-of-first-refusal level.