What do they get first? Defensive starter? An offensive lineman? Do they surprise everyone, as they seem to do every year, and take the "best player on the board," no matter the position?
Here is what I think I know about the Eagles two weeks away from the draft, one that I anticipate greatly ...
- Anything is in play for the first round. And I think that is the way it always is with the Eagles. They aren't going to trade up into the top five picks -- I just see no way -- so I'm not getting my hopes up at all for LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. I know he is the dream player for Eagles fans -- an all-everything cornerback who can also help in the return game, potentially. But what kind of ammo do the Eagles have to move up that high in the first round? They can only trade draft picks -- ones from this year, 2012 and 2013 (I think) -- and they can certainly move up. But I don't expect the Eagles to mortgage the draft for one player. They have other needs.
- It is important not to judge the entire roster after the draft, because there is going to be a free agency period at some point. The Eagles have a plan for free agency, and have had one since the end of February. I know it is difficult to project not knowing if a player becomes a free agent after four years in the league or after six seasons, but the Eagles have some targets. So, I wouldn't be surprised if we look at the roster after the draft and say, "Why didn't the Eagles address that position?" It could very well be ...
- Could the Eagles take an offensive lineman? Absolutely. We've seen the name Gabe Carimi for weeks and weeks. There are a few first-round quality offensive tackles in the draft. If the Eagles take one, I would think they want to see how that player reacts at guard. That has always been Andy Reid's way.
- I had a thought the other day: Could the Eagles take a linebacker in the first round for the first time since Jerry Robinson way, way, way back when? Could be. There are a handful of them, notably UCLA's Akeem Ayers, who was the pick I made for the Eagles in a mock draft for Patriots.com. It makes sense if the Eagles think that player can come off the edge and make plays in the backfield.
- The new kickoff rules mean that kickoffs will be devalued to an extent, but that doesn't mean the Eagles will ignore the need to improve the position. Or does it? Why invest in a return man if there will be 15 or 20 percent fewer kickoff returns?
- I know I don't know the "target" the Eagles have in the first round. Not sure that player has been defined. Thinking back to last year, I don't know when the Eagles established Brandon Graham as "the" guy. It could just be a matter of seeing who is on the board once the pick reach double digits, and then working on "what-if" deals with teams ahead in the pecking order.
- It is interesting that the Eagles have reportedly shown so much interest in running backs. I hate to ask this, but does it mean the Eagles want to go with more of a two-back rotation at halfback and maybe, just maybe, run the ball a bit more? I guess we won't know until the season, but it sure would be fascinating if the Eagles use a reasonably high draft pick on a halfback.
- Owen Schmitt did a fine job at fullback, and Leonard Weaver is still recovering from his severe knee injury, but doesn't it make sense for the Eagles to challenge the fullback position? The draft experts say there are only a couple of really good prospects there, but don't rule out that idea. Those extra picks in the seventh round are going to come in handy.