With the 2013 NFL Draft less than a week away, we still don’t have a great idea as to what Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles will do.
Unless they trade back to the 12th spot or later, the Eagles’ first-round targets will most likely be one of these guys: Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson, Dion Jordan or Star Lotulelei. If they trade back to No. 12 or later, that list will be completely different.
Most of the focus surrounding this draft has been at OT, OLB and DT, even into the second and third rounds. However, there is a very real possibility that the Eagles take a pass-catcher on Day 2 of the draft.
Whether it’s a WR or a TE, Chip Kelly could be looking for another offensive weapon.
Conventional thinking is that with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek entrenched as the starters along with the additions of James Casey and Arrelious Benn, there is no need to take a player at one of these positions so high.
And to be honest, I agree with that notion.
However, what we think and what Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman think could be completely different.
There was a statement by an Eagles beat reporter early in the offseason that said Kelly wants to “stockpile” tight ends. This was before the addition of Casey, though. Also, there has been speculation that Maclin might not be in the team’s long-term plans and his contract expires after the 2013 season.
Furthermore, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson and Arrelious Benn are not locks to make the roster and certainly can’t be counted on for the future. Adding a WR makes sense if you think you can find a future starter or at least a dynamic slot receiver.
I’m not of the opinion the Eagles should draft a tight end on Day 2, but there were rumblings of them being enamored with few players projected to go in this area. Casey is presumably going to be part TE, part FB and part H-back.
Behind Celek at strictly TE, there isn’t much…unless you still have hope for Clay Harbor. Though we don’t yet know what Chip’s offense will actually look like, there’s a decent possibility that he will want two dynamic tight ends, ala New England.
So, who are the possibilities at these positions in Rounds 2 and 3? Tavon Austin and Tyler Eifert are not on the list because they’re expected to go in Round 1.
Robert Woods, Southern Cal, 6′ 1″ 201 lbs
Besides a private workout for Tavon Austin, Woods is the higest rated receiver the Eagles have been linked to as they had him in for an official pre-draft visit. He’s projected to go in the late first, early second round area.
Scouting report from NFLDraftScout.com:
Sharp in-and-out of his breaks with strong plant-and-go quickness. Not naturally explosive but accelerates quickly with very good body control and balance. Fast hands with very good hand/eye coordination and drops are rare with him. Fluid frame and smooth hips to adjust and make tough catches. Can climb the ladder and snatch the ball out of the air.
A lot of screens and asked to create on his own with good vision with the ball in his hands. Deceiving strength to come down with contested grabs with the toughness and fearless attitude to fight for every yard and go over the middle. Unselfish player and gives good effort as a blocker.
Always looking to get better and improve, known as a strong practice player and hard worker. Good production the past three seasons, leaving college with 252 career receptions and experience as a kickoff and punt returner.
Weaknesses: Not an elite size/speed/strength athlete and has some stiffness in his ankles. Lacks track-like speed and won’t be able to win with his wheels alone. Limited bulk and muscle tone and can be out-muscled in his routes.
Aaron Dobson, Marshall, 6′ 3″ 210 lbs
The Eagles were in attendance at Dobson’s pro day, which shows interest in the player. He has good size and speed and National Football Post’s scouting report (below) called him a “poor man’s version of A.J. Green.”
A poor man’s A.J. Green is still a pretty damn good receiver! Currently, Dobson is projected to go anywhere from the second – fourth round. Scouting report from NFP:
Dobson has tremendous hand size and arm length to go with prototype size for the position at the NFL level. He is an exceptional athlete who displays outstanding speed, body control and balance.
He is a legitimate vertical threat on every snap of the ball. He has rare hands and makes extremely difficult catches look easy, and he extends his long arms and plucks the ball away from his frame consistently.
He has great reach and uses his body to shield defenders away from the ball. He is going to be a big red zone threat in the NFL. He has elite ability to track, locate and adjust to the ball in the air, especially down the field and in the end zone.
He has great hand/eye coordination and does a masterful job of adjusting to poorly thrown balls. He can win against all types of coverage. Dobson won’t explode off of the ball, but he does run crisp routes with the football IQ to quickly break off a route and sit into an open area.
He has the strength and toughness to generate a lot of RAC yardage. He is not a consistent blocker in the running game, but he is willing and could benefit from NFL coaching in this area.
Overall, he deserves second-round consideration because of his physical tools, red zone skills and ability to stretch the field. He looks a lot like a poor man’s version of A.J. Green coming out of Georgia except that he lacks Green’s explosiveness and top end play-making speed. He is a legitimate No. 1 WR prospect for the NFL level.
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M, 6′ 205 lbs
Like Dobson, the Eagles were in attendance at Swope’s pro day. In fact, Eagles WR coach Bob Bicknell was talking and working with him so much, that it generated several tweets from writers taking notice of the Eagles’ perceived fascination with him.
Swope caught everyone’s eye by running a 4.34 40 at the combine and is viewed by most as the ideal slot receiver in the NFL. The most common comparison? You got it, Wes Welker. He’s projected to go in Round 3.
Here’s NFLDraftScout’s scouting report on him…
STRENGTHS: Sturdy frame with long arms and good muscular definition. Exhibits strong initial burst off the snap. Flexible hips to sink, burst and separate across the field. Displays strong awareness and anticipation of zone windows, and exhibits suddenness to flip, sit and locate the ball. Plucks the ball routinely, then looks it in and secures it before turning upfield. Fearless over the middle, and looks to extend plays after the catch. Possesses quick, agile feet and has a knack for shaking coverage with jukes and stabs.
Shows strong awareness of mismatches with linebackers and safeties, and possesses the 2nd level acceleration to beat either one. Tracks the ball well vertically, and adjusts his body nicely to throws off his frame. Effective 2nd-level cut-blocker when asked to support the run or quick WR screens. Consistently gives good effort to the whistle. Does not shy away from contact after the catch and flashes some power on contact to drag a defender.
WEAKNESSES: Struggles to break down and redirect rapidly, particularly when asked to plant and burst out of a pivot on underneath routes. Could be more physical against press, as he doesn’t always utilize his solid frame to create space like he could. Isn’t a real “burner”, and relies more on quickness and fakes to create separation vertically. Will sit down and wait for the throw at times rather than drive back to the ball. Doesn’t possess a huge “catch radius” and isn’t a guy you can necessarily just throw it up to and rely on to go get it.
Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech, 6′ 3″ 217 lbs
The Eagles have not been linked to Rogers in any way, which may lead you to believe they have no interest in him. And when you add in the fact that he had a troubled college career, you could basically completely write him off as a prospect for the Birds.
However, teams don’t always show public interest in players they like. And as we learned last year with Janoris Jenkins, talented on-field players with troubles off the field can sometimes provide you a nice reward if you take the risk.
Rogers ended up having to leave Tennessee after being suspended indefinitely for multiple failed drugs tests (for marijuana). He also has a history of being hot-headed as he was involved in a brawl as well as a couple of arguments with coaches.
A common thing I’ve heard about him is that he lives with, and plays with, an edge.
Rogers’ history of off-the-field issues is the only reason he is viewed as a third or fourth round prospect at this time. However, many analysts believe he has first-round talent.
After researching him, I came away quite intrigued by his potential and if the Eagles are considering a WR on Day 2, Rogers should certainly be in the conversation.
For all intents and purposes, Rogers was a model citizen and player in Tennessee Tech and seems to have changed his habits. Based on various scouting reports, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rogers went off the board in the early second round, ala Janoris Jenkins last year.
Here is what WalterFootball had to say about him…
There is a lot to like about Rogers. He has good size, quickness, athletic ability and is physical. Rogers has some swagger to him and plays the game with an edge. With his natural talent and play-making ability, he should be a starting receiver in the NFL – if he has the character to put his mistakes in the past.
When watching Rogers, a number of things leap out at you. First of all, he has toughness in spades. Rogers is fearless across the middle and makes many tough catches while taking big hits from safeties. He has fabulous concentration with great hands. The senior makes sure to secure the ball even though he knows he’s about to take a big hit.
Rogers’ toughness is also displayed in his physicality. Regularly you see him deliver the blow to the defensive backs when he is running with the ball. Rogers finishes his runs well and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The ability to rack up some yards after the catch is undeniable.
Not only does Rogers have strong hands, butr his superb body control allows him to make
acrobatic catches. He has made many highlight-reel receptions with defenders draped all over him. Rogers also had a number of one-handed catches on balls thrown off the mark. Entering the NFL, he should project to be a reliable receiver at catching bad passes.
Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com said that “Rogers is a virtual Julio Jones clone, exhibiting an exciting combination of size, strength and explosiveness.”
It sounds to me that Rogers should be worth the risk in the second round, and definitely in the third round. If you were able to get him in the fourth, that would be a huge steal.
As far as tight ends go, the Eagles have been linked to several with private workouts and official pre-draft visits. Their level of interest in tight ends in general is greater than wide receivers, but I see it as the lesser need of the two.
Here are the Day 2 potential picks…
Gavin Escobar, San Diego State, 6′ 6″ 254 lbs
The Eagles seem very interested in Escobar. They interviewed him at the combine, attended his pro day and brought him in for a visit. Currently, he’s projected as a second or third round pick.
Escobar is seen as a versatile offensive weapon that can line up at TE as well as in the slot. His biggest and really only weakness I’ve read about is his blocking ability, but that can be taught.
Here is a scouting report from NFP:
STRENGTHS – There isn’t a more natural pass-catcher at the position than Escobar. He has super-long arms and big hands, and he consistently plucks the ball away from his frame. He is a graceful athlete with a long stride, and his future is bright because of his ability to stretch the field and go up to get the ball. He has surprising quickness and can quickly separate from defensive backs as he gets out of his break. Escobar has deceptive ability to run away from defenders and is a very polished route runner, using his head and shoulders to sell fakes.
WEAKNESSES – Escobar is not a great blocker who is going to overpower defenders in the in-line blocking game. He does a better job using his body to wall off a defender, but it is an area where he needs to improve if he is going to help his teammates. He might end up being a good blocker with some time in an NFL strength and training program, as he lacks the strength to line up and push players around the field.
Zach Ertz, Stanford, 6′ 5″ 249 lbs
The Eagles held a private workout for Ertz. Like Escobar, Ertz is billed as a versatile weapon as he lined up out wide, in the slot and at tight end during his college career. Dane Brugler at NFLDraftScout.com compared him to Jason Witten, probably because of his toughness…
Smooth athlete with good route quickness to create some separation and sneaky speed to get behind the defense. Sturdy, well-built frame, adding 30 pounds of bulk and muscle since he arrived in Palo Alto. Tough with the ball in his hands and isn’t afraid to deliver hits, lowering his pads and finishing runs. Not afraid to get physical as a blocker and gives good effort in this area, always looking for someone to block downfield.
Tracks the ball well and does a nice job adjusting his frame to make the tough catch, extending and plucking. Looks like he has glue on his hands with some of the catches he is able to make. Does a nice job selling his patterns, getting good depth in his routes and immediately looking for the ball out of his breaks. Can deceive defenders and find soft spots in coverage. Does a nice job making something happen after the catch, averaging more than 13 yards per catch in 2012.
Compares To: Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys – Like Witten, Ertz is a strong, tough receiver who isn’t an elite athlete but gets the job done, finding ways to get open and create separation.
Those are the two tight ends I could most envision the Eagles selecting. Other Day 2 prospects that the team has shown interest in are:
Travis Kelce, Cincinnati, 6′ 5″ 255 lbs
Travis is the brother of Eagles’ starting center Jason Kelce. A projected third-round pick, the Eagles had him in for a pre-draft visit.
Vance McDonald, Rice, 6′ 4″ 267 lbs – Eagles held a private workout for him, projected as a second or third-rounder.
Jordan Reed, Florida, 6′ 3″ 236 lbs – Eagles not linked to him, but well-respected analyst Greg Cosell thinks Reed is a great fit for Kelly’s scheme. He’s currently projected as a third or fourth-rounder.
Ultimately, I think the Eagles would be better served using their two Day 2 picks on the defensive side of the ball. However, there seems to be a strong underlying feeling that at least one of these picks will be used on a WR or TE.
This is why I hope the Eagles can trade down in Round 1 and acquire an extra second or third-round pick. Having the extra pick or two would mean getting one of these guys and still addressing the defense with a safety, nose tackle or cornerback.
Let’s just hope that when the Eagles are on the clock at No. 4, the right team with the right deal is on their phone.