The Eagles got off to a roaring start in free agency. Now that the initial frenzy is over, it's time to begin shifting our attention fully towards the 2013 NFL Draft. Each week, we'll be reaching out to a panel of NFL Draft experts around the country to get their opinions and the latest news on prospects at every position to get you ready for the big weekend in late April. The Pro Day circuit is in full swing, and with individual workouts right around the bend we start on the offensive side of the ball, where there are some exciting players from the top to the bottom of this draft class.
Quarterback: West Virginia's Geno Smith
Obviously all the buzz surrounding the quarterback position as far as the Eagles concerned centers around West Virginia signal caller Geno Smith. The former Mountaineer was put through what was reportedly described as "a rigorous workout" by the team in early March, and fared very well at his Pro Day later that week. Smith was a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy early on in 2012, but after several weeks of inconsistent play from the offensive line, the West Virginia defense and Smith himself, those whispers soon quieted. In a quarterback class that has been highly scrutinized since the start of the postseason, where does Smith fit? We asked USA Today's Tony Pauline that very question ...
"Geno Smith is the top-rated signal caller in April's draft, bar none. He offers a terrific combination of athletic ability and experience at the quarterback position. Smith has the arm strength to make all the NFL passes, the foot speed to elude defenders and make the throw on the move and, for the most part, accurately delivers the ball. His field vision and decision making are questionable at times and are the primary reasons Smith does not rate with Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, the top quarterbacks from last year's draft."
Running Back: South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore
With supreme physical talents at the position such as LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, it wouldn't appear that the Eagles would have an extreme need at the running back position. Still, the team will do their homework on talented players who could fall through the cracks, which is why last week's speculated visit with South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore came as no surprise. Lattimore burst onto the college football scene as a freshman in 2010, looking like a future top 10 selection. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the talented Gamecock's sophomore and junior campaigns. After deciding to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft, the question remains - where does Lattimore stand healthwise for next season? We asked Sigmund Bloom from FootballGuys.com ...
"Anyone who saw Lattimore's gruesome knee injury last fall won't soon forget the image, but Lattimore seems to have put the injury behind him. Dr. James Andrews said Lattimore was ahead of schedule, and if anyone has the strength of character to come back from three torn knee ligaments and a dislocation, it is the South Carolina running back. He is the best suited back in this whole class to play all three downs. He has excellent hands out of the backfield. He is a very good pass blocker, and Lattimore possesses a workhorse mentality.
"He is not an exceptionally fast, quick or powerful back, but Lattimore's vision is superior. He picks and glides his way through holes like Houston Texans' All-Pro Arian Foster. If he was healthy, Lattimore would be in consideration in the second half of the first round. Any team that is willing to chalk up one year of his development can get that kind of value in the third round or even the third day if they believe in Lattimore as much as he believes in himself."
Wide Receiver: Texas A&M's Ryan Swope
One of the top stories following February's Scouting Combine at the wide receiver position was Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, who tore up the track with an official 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. Swope is a talented prospect who caught 72 passes a year ago from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Swope is a fearless slot receiver who made a living over the middle during his time in College Station. The savvy route runner was reportedly drawing interest from Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell at his Pro Day, and has helped himself throughout the pre-draft process. Where will Swope end up hearing his name called? Optimum Scouting's Alex Brown explains ...
"Ryan Swope is not your traditionally undersized, slot possession receiver. Swope should never be compared to a player like Wes Welker, as he has developed his running back-body type and run after-the-catch skills to become a dynamic weapon at the next level. Swope also possesses a well-strung-together frame at 6-0 and 200-plus pounds, legit 4.3 speed and an explosive element, as confirmed by his 37-inch vertical and 10-5 broad jump.
"Recruited out of high school as a running back, Swope converted to receiver once he realized that it would be the quickest route to playing time. Since his freshman season, Swope has continually improved as a route runner, learning to set up his breaks with a variety of release and stem techniques. This former Aggie does everything you want your slot target to do at the next level in terms of route running and physicality in traffic and should end up being a third- or fourth-round selection in a draft class that is loaded at the wide receiver position."
Tight End: Nevada's Zach Sudfeld
One of the big surprises left off of the Combine invite list earlier this year was that of Nevada's Zach Sudfeld. In a deep class of tight ends, Sudfeld is one of the more intriguing prospects because of his combination of size and athleticism. A high-character prospect who was a "move player" in Nevada's pistol offense, Sudfeld reportedly ran in the 4.74 range in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and exhibited soft hands throughout his workout, something he put on display during practices at the East-West Shrine Game as well. For more on Sudfeld, we asked former Philadelphia Eagles scout Dan Shonka of Ourlads for some analysis ...
"The 6-6, 253-pound Sudfeld is an impressive looking athlete who had a strong Shrine game week and impressed the scouts with his hands in both catching the ball and blocking ability. He plucks the ball at the highest point with his long arms and has an extended catching radius. Durability is a concern, and has been throughout his career. Sudfeld was granted a sixth year of eligibility in 2012 after he broke his leg in the 2011 season opener. He missed the 2008 season due to injury and has averaged one surgery a year during his six years at Nevada. Fortunately, Sudfeld was clean and injury-free his senior year. In his final season at Nevada, he caught 45 passes averaging 13.3 yards per catch and scored eight touchdowns."
Offensive Line: Central Michigan's Eric Fisher
In what is widely regarded as the most top-heavy position group in the 2013 NFL Draft, the class of offensive linemen is loaded with talent. While a lot of the early talk circulated around Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel (and for good reason), another player has steadily grown momentum throughout the draft process. Central Michigan's Eric Fisher went to the Senior Bowl (an event Joeckel obviously couldn't attend as a junior), and put on a dominating performance day after day in drills during practice, proving that he could more than hold his own against the best talent in the country.
A few weeks later, Fisher went to the Combine and tested as well or better than Joeckel in almost every category on the field. So, while Fisher may have proven to be the superior athlete, is he the superior prospect? We asked CBS Sports' Dane Brugler, who had Fisher going No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs in his most recent mock draft, how the two blindside protectors stack up against one other ...
"This is a strong offensive tackle class in the top 10 with three prospects fighting for a spot. Eric Fisher developed into one of the nation's top blockers as a senior, but that's expected against MAC competition week in and week out. At the Senior Bowl and Combine, however, Fisher look dominant during drills and workouts with his fluid athleticism, quick feet and balanced base. Although he isn't as battle-tested as Luke Joeckel, who proved himself in the SEC, Fisher provides the better athletic upside, which is why the Chiefs will absolutely consider him with the No. 1 overall pick. Joeckel and Fisher both project as long-term starters at left tackle in the league."
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