What should the Eagles do with the 14th pick in next week's NFL draft that Philadelphia is hosting for the first time since 1960, which of course was also the last time the Eagles won the championship?
It seems to be almost the only thing anyone is talking about. And why not? You want to talk about the Phillies? For a franchise that has screwed up some No. 1 picks in the recent past (see Danny Watkins and Marcus Smith, with Nelson Agholor apparently trending that way, too), this is one they must get right. Maybe even for the sake of Howie Roseman's job security.
A lot of people are saying this is a no-brainer, that the Birds can't get it wrong because there are just too many good players out there and at least one should fall to them. And that's probably true, even if there isn't an early run on quarterbacks but especially if there is. And you know how much bad teams love to take quarterbacks, many times way higher than they should. Hey, the Eagles took a shot last year and it looks as if they got their man for the next decade or so. The Browns are still trying to find that elusive guy. And have been for way too long. Which is most of the reason why they're the Browns. The Eagles, on the other hand, can at least focus on all the other things they still need.
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If you went strictly by position, they should take a cornerback. And they'll likely take more than one before they're through. They just might not take one at 14, even though there should be some projectable one there. We just don't know for sure which one. And there might be more still there when they pick in Round 2, if not beyond. So, there is that to consider.
There are folks who think the Eagles should go for an edge rusher, since they had issues getting to the other team's QB. The guy most targeted is Tennessee's Derek Barnett. Only problem is he might be gone. And do you want to settle for somebody who's viewed as a step down, say Missouri's Charles Harris, especially if there are other names there that could fill other holes?
What if Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who has had a few of those ever-popular off-field issues, is available? The Eagles could use more help at that position. But do they do that and try to get other things later? And don't you wish you had a crystal ball so you could see what these guys will be giving you three years from now?
Here's another possibility: Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who's expected to go late in the top 10, for whatever reasons falls. The Eagles already have a pretty good TE, but if Howard is that good, would it be a bad thing to have him and Zach Ertz? Just saying. I've seen what some other teams have done with multiple weapons at that spot.
Along those lines, let's say wide receiver Mike Williams is there. I know they just signed a couple of big-name free agents, but those were short-term deals. And this is a long-range plan. If you think Williams is the real deal, would you pull the trigger?
The way I look at this, once the Eagles took Wentz, they must put as much around him as possible. I know you need a defense, too. Just ask Donovan McNabb what that can mean, on both counts. The way the NFL is played these days, offense is given most of the advantages. The Eagles wideouts were bad. And the running game wasn't much better. They've addressed one area. But I'm of the belief you can never have enough, because there are no guarantees.
That brings us to Christian McCaffrey, the running back from Stanford who's a whole lot more. He can catch passes, even line up as a wide receiver, and maybe have an impact on your kick-return unit. I don't know if he's going to be a star, but I think he's going to be a very solid commodity. And he makes you better at two spots where you need help. And having someone like him probably makes Wentz better, which should always be the primary game plan. McCaffrey might not be there, either, in which case you hope that someone else is. I just don't think that someone else is Joe Mixon, although there are those who think the Birds might be interested if he's still on the board when they pick again in Round 2.
There are so many ways this could go. And many of them could be good. Again, there are few sure things. What they did in college doesn't always translate to the next level. If it were that simple, you'd never have a bust, and there are plenty of them every year.
Just in case you're wondering, in the last decade, here's the list of picks at 14, starting with last year and going back: Karl Joseph, S, Oakland; DeVante Parker, WR, Miami; Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago; Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina; Michael Brockers, DT, St. Louis; Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis; Earl Thomas, S, Seattle; Malcolm Jenkins, S, New Orleans; Chris Williams, OT, Chicago, and Darrelle Revis, CB, J-E-T-S Jets. There are more than a few decent picks in there, including some stars. So, who knows?
About the only thing that can mess this up for Eagles fans is if the commissioner gets to the podium when it's their team's turn and announces that the Birds have made a trade. It won't matter if they're moving down only a handful of spots and pick up a second-rounder in return. It won't go over well, just because. This is their moment, too.
Which is why I think when all is said and done, the Eagles will take someone they hope is going to send the crowd into a happy dance. I mean, if not, it could easily turn into another McNabb snapshot, which is just what the rest of the country is probably rooting for. One more thing to nail the city for. And nobody wants to see the Art Museum get trashed. We need another Rocky on those steps. Now all they must do is identify him. Without overthinking it.
Then we can start talking about the NBA draft lottery.