Much ado has been made recently about the Philadelphia Eagles potentially selecting West Virgina QB Geno Smith at No. 4 in the 2013 NFL draft. I’m here to tell you that it simply won’t — or at least, shouldn’t — happen.
All of the recent buzz started because Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie held a private workout for Smith. The fact that Lurie attended is what raised a bunch of eyebrows amongst the media-type and ignited the fire under the Smith-to-the-Eagles speculation.
It’s one thing for Kelly and Roseman to go, but for the owner to make a special trip to see a player workout is another. I mean, logic says he wouldn’t go through all that trouble for just any player, but Smith is being looked at as a potential franchise QB.
Hell, Lurie didn’t even attend the workouts for any of the top quarterbacks back in 1999, including Donovan McNabb’s. And, just as is the case now, they had a new regime, but were even worse-off at the QB position than they are now.
So why wouldn’t Lurie attend those workouts back then, but attended the Smith workout?
Smokescreen. Yes, I’m saying that Lurie made the trip to help reinforce said smokescreen.
During the Andy Reid era, the Eagles were the masters at the smokescreens during March and April. They rarely offered any hints as to who they were eying-up the most in regards to their first round draft pick.
The Eagles would commonly bring in first-round prospects for visits, but you’d probably have to go all the way back to 2000 for the last time they publicly showed interest in a player that they actually drafted in Round 1.
Of course, in 1999 and 2000 the Eagles picked at No. 2 and No. 6 respectively, so it’s probably pretty hard to shield your interest in a potential pick.
The Eagles will show public interest in the player they select this year because they’re picking so high (barring a trade-back), so you have to do due diligence. Therefore, the smokescreen has to be done in a different way.
Let’s look at a few things here…this draft has been widely regarded as an extremely weak draft at the QB position. Not a single quarterback, including Smith, is perceived as being a true top-10 talent.
Will Smith go in the top-10? Most likely. But, that doesn’t make him a top-10 talent. Teams always have to reach for quarterbacks because good ones are in such high demand and in short supply.
Furthermore, draft experts are in agreement that there probably will not be much trading going on in the top-10 because, simply put, there isn’t anyone worth trading up for. Plus, the general consensus is that the player you can get in the mid-late first is at basically the same talent level as a top-5 or 10 player.
When you’re talking about trading-up in the top-10, teams are most inclined to do it for a quarterback, wide receiver or running back. Unfortunately, there are no receivers or running backs slated to be top-10 picks.
That leaves quarterback as really the only position a team might trade up for in this draft. Again, unfortunately, this is a weak QB class. However, Smith generated a little buzz at the combine with his 40-yard dash time.
The Eagles saw a little spark about Smith and decided to try and fire-up the hype machine by showing everyone how “serious” they are about Smith as a potential pick at No. 4. Hell, if people think they’re seriously considering Smith at No. 4, it serves a couple of purposes…
It can help generate positive buzz and help sway other teams that are “on the fence” about Smith as well as put the thought in the heads of QB-needy teams that they may have to consider trading up to ensure they get him if he’s the guy they’re targeting.
And, they have nothing to lose. In essence, the Eagles are killing two birds with one stone by doing what they did with Smith. They’re generating interest while doing due diligence. After all, if they really are considering Smith, you need to do everything they did…and more.
Look, the Eagles didn’t retain Michael Vick and for now, Nick Foles, just so they can draft their future franchise QB at No. 4. Especially in a draft that has the potential to be the second coming of the 2007 QB draft class (JaMarcus Russel, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb and John Beck were the first four QBs taken…ugh).
If anything, they’ll look for E.J. Manuel in Round 2 or 3 or take a flier on a guy in the mid-rounds. If they took Smith at No. 4, keeping Vick will have been a waste of money.
Remember Chip Kelly’s comment at the time they retained Vick? On the reasoning behind that decision, one of the things he said was “you also have to look at what the landscape is out there for other quarterbacks.”
He may have been referring to just the free agency landscape, but he very well could have been looking at the big picture, including the draft (which is what I think). And, it’s true. The landscape for other quarterbacks this year is terrible.
There is no guarantee that the Eagles will be in any position to draft their QB of the future next year, especially if they win more than four or five games this season. But, you can’t use that as a reason to “settle” for a guy like Smith with such a high draft pick.
The speculation as to whether the Eagles will take Smith will get heavier and heavier as the draft grows closer. Would it completely shock me if they took him? Not really, but I’d be a tad-bit surprised.
Prior to this ballyhooed appearance by Lurie at Smith’s workout, the vast majority of journalists, blog writers, NFL analysts, draft analysts, mock drafters, sports radio, etc, thought the Eagles would be taking either Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Dee Milliner, Dion Jordan, Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd.
Combine Lurie’s appearance at Smith’s workout with the players they just acquired in free agency, all of a sudden Smith is the favorite?
I’m not buying it.
Did anyone really think the Eagles wouldn’t look at Smith? Are we really just going by Lurie’s appearance at the workout? Is Smith such a “special player” to whom Kelly hitches his wagon to and bets on him defining his NFL career?
Again, I’m just not buying it because I don’t see it. Furthermore, any one of the players listed above as possible first round selections are still in play, regardless of what just happened in free agency.
I will concede, though, that the main thing is we don’t know whether or not Kelly sees Smith as a guy he can win a lot of games with. Obviously, that’s the key. If Kelly views him as “his guy”, then Smith could very well be the pick.
However, it also stands to reason that Kelly sees other QBs in this draft that he feels can run his offense just as effectively as Smith could and it would cost them less in terms of draft pick value.
Right now, I’m hedging on the latter being the case.