Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Could the Eagles draft Geno Smith in the second round?

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. (Christopher Jackson/AP file photo)
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. (Christopher Jackson/AP file photo)

With Geno Smith's free-fall through the first round, every Eagles fan wants to know: Will the Birds expend their second-round pick on the West Virginia quarterback as the NFL draft resumes tonight?

It won't take long to find out. The Eagles have the third pick in the second round after the Jaguars (No. 33 overall) and the 49ers (No. 34) pick. The Jaguars could be in the market for a quarterback. They have Blaine Gabbert, but he has not lived up to being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft.

The 49ers, who have Colin Kapernick, aren't likely to draft Smith.

If the Jaguars pass on Smith, the Eagles will have a decision to make. They need a quarterback of the future, unless Nick Foles qualifies. But they have many other holes to fill after taking Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson in the first round last night.

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  • The Eagles spent the offseason preparing for the possibility that they would not draft a quarterback. They re-worked Michael Vick's contract and brought him back for one season. They acquired Dennis Dixon, a mobile quarterback that played under Kelly when he was the offensive coordinator at Oregon.

    And they still have Foles, although many question whether he is the ideal quarterback to play in Kelly's up-tempo, spread offense. Foles is still here, though, and Kelly has had nothing but glowing things to say about the second-year quarterback since taking the Eagles job in January.

    If the Eagles still feel that Foles could be the eventual guy, then they might not see the need to take a quarterback, especially Smith. Considered to be the top quarterback in this year's class, Smith spent Thursday evening at Radio City Music Hall in New York watching player after player -- including another quarterback, Florida State's E.J. Manuel -- walk up to the podium to embrace NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after hearing their names called.

    Smith told ESPN last night that he was heading home and would not stick around for the second round. (Update: Smith altered his travel plans and will now stay in New York, per reports.)

    While he has athletic skills, Smith was strictly a pocket quarterback at West Virginia. He often refused to scramble for yards, determined to prove that he wasn't just mobile. He ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.59 seconds and said then that he could run the read option that has swept through the NFL if need be. But he, too, many not be a stylistic fit for the Eagles.

    Manuel, who was recruited by Kelly, made more sense. But the Bills traded up and drafted him with the 16th overall pick, much earlier than many analysts thought he'd go.

    If the Eagles pass on Smith, they have any number of areas to address. If they want to address safety, Florida International's John Cyprien is still on the board. Jamar Taylor and Johnthan Banks are probably the best available cornerbacks. Defensive end Margus Hunt would fill a need on the line. Damontre Moore and Jamie Collins would come aboard as outside pass rushers.

    If Kelly was looking to add to his offense, he could select Stanford tight end Zach Ertz or wide receivers Keenan Allen or Justin Hunter. There are other quarterbacks beside Smith. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, two more pocket passers, may not make sense either.

    The Eagles also pick fifth in the third round tonight. The draft ends on Saturday with rounds 4-7. The Eagles have selections in the fourth, fifth rounds and will pick four times in the seventh round.

    Jeff McLane INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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