What is smoke and mirrors? What is real? General manager Howie Roseman met the media on Thursday and said pretty much what he has said all along: The Eagles are keeping their options open and they are considering everything and everyone and what they say isn't necessarily what they are going to do.
Here are some things I believe as we enter the final days of draft preparation …
- Andy Reid has his target lined up. Maybe that target isn't one player, per se. But I think he knows which player he wants to get should he trade up, and which two or three players he will choose from should the Eagles stay at 23 in the first round, and he knows which group of players he would back out of the first round to take later in the first, or early in the second round.
- I believe defense is going to be strongly emphasized in this draft. And I think the Eagles can go just about anywhere on that side of the ball.
- The Eagles will address cornerback, but I am just not certain it will be in the draft. Reid and Roseman have the big picture in mind here. The expectation is that there will be, at some point, some kind of free agency. And there very well could be a boatload of talented players available to sign. The Eagles, with director of pro personnel Louis Riddick leading the way, are on top of this completely. Don't judge this roster until it is complete, and that means waiting to see what it looks like the week before the opening game in St. Louis.
- The Kevin Kolb story is one to follow, of course, and I have absolutely no feel for what happens with him. What if the new collective bargaining agreement dictates that players can't become unrestricted free agents until their sixth season of play? That would put Kolb, due to play his fifth season, in a really tough spot. I don't have a feel for what happens with Kolb, although I believe Reid when he says he wants to keep Kolb an Eagle and that he will do "what is best for the Philadelphia Eagles." Don't assume that the Eagles will trade Kolb this year, as I think many fans have assumed.
- I'm preparing to be surprised throughout the draft. It makes sense for the Eagles to get all the good players they can get, no matter the position. So I am ruling nothing out. Does that mean the Eagles would consider a wide receiver in the right spot? Absolutely. They are looking to upgrade the return game and they want to add depth at wide receiver. Sure, they could select a wide receiver fairly early. Why not?
- Defensive end is a really interesting position to watch. With Brandon Graham rehabbing and "a stretch," in Reid's words for the early part of September, will the Eagles go with what they have, including Darryl Tapp, Juqua Parker and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim? I think new line coach Jim Washburn likes his group quite a bit, and he thinks Te'o-Nesheim can be an explosive player off the edge. But maybe the Eagles will give their new coach a talented gift or two, as well.
- Keep an eye on safety. The fact that the NFL has not conducted an offseason of business prior to the draft means the Eagles haven't addressed the deep part of their defense. Do they re-sign veteran Quintin Mikell? Do they count on Nate Allen to step back in as a starter after his knee injury? Do the coaches think that any of the young safeties on the roster, including Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson, are more than role players? Is there a veteran out there the Eagles want to bring in when free agency begins?
- At the end of the day on Saturday, it wouldn't surprise me if we have more questions about the Eagles' intentions than we do now. There are so many pieces to the puzzle that three days of the draft can't complete.
- I disagree with some – including my good buddy Adam Caplan from FoxSports.com – who say that linebacker is a huge position of need. I like Jamar Chaney a lot. I think Stewart Bradley will return and be a force in the middle and Moise Fokou and Rashad Jeanty will compete at SAM. The Eagles are going to add to the position because they have roster spots to fill, but I guess I would be surprised if they go for a linebacker high, really high, in the draft.
- Finally, a lot of things can change in the final week before the draft opens. The Eagles have finished their "grind," as Reid explained to me last week the process when he and Roseman narrow down their opinions on players and hone in on their strategies, and now they have a chance to work the phones, explore scenarios and fine-tune the first night of the draft and all of the ramifications that go with it. Do I have a name who I think the Eagles will take? Not really. Not yet. I don't have a confident feel at all. I don't expect to have one until about 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 28. Then it will start to fall into place as the draft creeps closer to the middle of the first round.