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Kiper Projects QB Smith To The Eagles

On Sunday, will update its Mock Draft Tracker, but for a sneak peek at what to expect, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Eagles selecting former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 4 overall pick.

"There are two realities the Eagles must face in evaluating their future at quarterback. One is that Michael Vick, while an intriguing fit under Chip Kelly, isn't a long-term solution, even if we're optimistic. Two, there's no such thing as a useful free agent market of starting quarterbacks in this league. If you have a great quarterback, or even a pretty good one, you're going to lock him up," Kiper wrote on

"In drafting Smith, the Eagles are in a good position to develop an athletic, talented thrower to succeed specifically in Kelly's offense, but without the requirement that he must start from day one. I don't like the idea of Smith as a Week 1 starter in 2013 - but for a roster that's already in a good position to compete this season, he could be a great fit for the franchise in 2014 and most importantly, a great fit for the coach."

The Eagles held a private workout with Smith at West Virginia, which was attended by Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, and reportedly had him visit at the NovaCare Complex. Kiper ranked Smith as his No. 24 overall prospect in the entire draft class. Three months ago, Kiper believed that Smith would be, at best, a mid-to-late first-round pick. In fact, Smith is the only quarterback Kiper has mocked going in the first round. The question is whether the Eagles believe that Smith can become a franchise quarterback. The first draft pick of Chip Kelly's era will be a critical one magnified even more by the position where the Eagles are selecting.

Smith certainly wasn't the only potential target for the Eagles at No. 4, per Kiper. If the Eagles wanted to help the protection for the quarterback, Kiper could see them select one of the three elite offensive tackles - Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Oklahoma's Lane Johnson. The one defensive prospect Kiper mentioned as a possibility for the Eagles at No. 4 wasn't a front seven player, but former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

If the Eagles pass on Smith in the first round, Kiper indicated on a conference call this week that former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel could be an option in the second round. The Eagles own the No. 35 overall pick, which is the third pick of the second round. If Smith is the Eagles' choice at No. 4, there could be another former Florida State Seminole on the team's radar at No. 35 in right tackle Menelik Watson.

"With the talent and upside of a first-round pick, Watson fills another big need," Kiper wrote.

With offense dominating the early portion of the draft for the Eagles in his mock, Kiper projected the team selecting a cornerback – he mentioned B.W. Webb from William and Mary as a possibility - in the third round.

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