When it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft, I see the words “Brandin Cooks” and “Eagles” in the same sentence so often it’s nauseating! If I didn’t know better, I’d think I could walk into the Eagles’ Pro Shop and buy his jersey already.
Between Cooks, Marqise Lee and a few other Wide Receivers, it seems everyone thinks it’s a given that the Eagles will draft that position in Round 1.
The reasoning is simple:
They released DeSean Jackson, only have ACL-challenged Jeremy Maclin signed for one year and don’t have much proven depth at the position. They have also shown a ton of pre-draft interest in various receivers with most being considered first round prospects.
I get all that, I just don’t agree with the notion of spending a first round pick on any Wide Receiver prospect in this draft sans Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins. Not that I don’t think other receivers are worth it, I just don’t see them being worth it for the Eagles.
Outside Linebacker is easily the Eagles’ biggest need, but unfortunately this draft is not too deep at that position. Clowney and Mack are the Evans and Watkins’ of the pass rushing group. They are the premier players at their position just as Evans and Watkins are of theirs.
However, the drop-off in prospects is faster and further at DE/OLB than it is at WR. Therefore, logic would dictate two lines of thought…
One is that the Eagles should grab a pass rusher as soon as they can because it’s their biggest need and there aren’t as many good ones available.
The other is that they shouldn’t reach for need and take a better prospect at a different position and hope to get lucky with an OLB prospect later in the draft.
That’s why I decided to look at what OLBs and what WRs the Eagles could have to choose from each time they’re on the clock in Rounds 1 through 4. Hopefully you can follow my train of thought here…
I’m going to assume that the Eagles will be selecting a WR and OLB within the first four rounds of this draft. Almost seems like it should be a given at this point, right?
What I’m attempting to do is give my best estimation of which prospects have the most realistic chance of being available to the Eagles at their current slot in each round. This is based mostly on multiple draft prospect rankings, mock drafts, and research into various draftniks’ opinions on players and where they might go in the draft.
Then, see what would seem like the better combination based on each player’s talent and potential. In other words, would the pass rusher they get in Round 1 and WR in Round 3 be a better combination than the WR they get in Round 1 and OLB in Round 3 (or any other variations of combinations)?
Hopefully you’re picking up what I’m laying down. If not, maybe you’ll catch on as we go…
First, let’s identify what receivers and pass rushers have the best chance of being there for the Eagles in each respective round between 1st and 4th…
WR: Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee, Cody Latimer, Kelvin Benjamin
OLB/DE: Kony Ealy, Dee Ford. Jeremiah Attaochu, Kyle Van Noy
WR: Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Donte Moncrief
OLB/DE: Trent Murphy, Marcus Smith, Trevor Reilly
WR: Jared Abbrederis, Jarvis Landry
OLB/DE: Will Clarke
WR: Kevin Norwood, Brandon Coleman, Jeff Janis, Josh Huff
OLB/DE: Christian Kirksey, Ronald Powell
*Note: I listed players in particular rounds as being available in that round because I don’t think they’ll be there at the Eagles’ pick in the following round. I also only listed players that either the Eagles have shown interest in or who I could see them having interest in.
Also, I don’t honestly believe all the receivers I have listed for Round 2 will be there, but I see them as all ranked pretty close to one another and at least one or two should be there.
So, based on the above, what combination do you see as the best?
Cooks in Round 1 and Smith in Round 2? Ealy in Round 1 and Robinson in Round 2? Maybe Lee/Clarke? Attaochu/Coleman? Smith/Norwood?
My biggest problem is that I’m not really thrilled with taking any of those players in Round 1. Of those receivers, I’d prefer Latimer. Of those OLBs, I’d prefer Van Noy. However, neither of those guys is worth the 22nd pick.
My best combo would be Smith in the second and Coleman or Janis in the fourth. After that would be Robinson in the second and Clarke in the third. However, would any of those OLBs in any round be considered an “impact player?”
Are you sold on Attaochu, Ford, Ealy, Smith, Van Noy or Clarke? Ealy seems more of a 4-3 DE prospect, Attaochu and Ford seem like one-trick ponies (speed rushers), Van Noy is a jack-of-all-trades master of none and Clarke could be a project.
We need impact at the OLB position and someone who can be a cornerstone for years to come. Unfortunately, they just don’t grow on trees so we have to take what we can get.
All of this leads me to believe, or at least think, that the Eagles will seriously look to trade back or take another position altogether in Round 1. Or, they could look to trade up in order to get quality over quantity if there is a player they truly covet.
At pick 22, there isn’t a receiver I’ll be happy with nor a pass rusher I’ll be happy with. Unless someone unexpectedly drops, the value just isn’t there at either position when considering the Eagles’ needs and talent level of the prospects that should be available.