The gang ended its time at the Scouting Combine and returned back to the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, preparing now for the crunch time as the NFL draft comes into focus. No matter the labor picture, the Eagles are preparing for the draft on April 28 with great expectations and the understanding that they have a fantastic opportunity to add to the roster.
Where will the Eagles go in the first round? It's almost impossible to predict. It could be an offensive lineman, or a cornerback, or a defensive lineman, or a safety. Or the best player on the board, regardless of the position. Or the Eagles could move up in the first round and get their guy. Or they could move back in the first round and pick up a couple of extra draft picks.
We know this about the draft: Defense again rules the day. There are a bunch of linemen who are going to go in the first round. There are plenty of edge rushers who are going to go high in the draft.
Based on the Combine, there are tremendous athletes in the secondary, at running back and along the offensive line.
"You see speed everywhere," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who was there for every bit of the proceedings.
Here is a stab at some of the questions you might have for the Eagles, Combine and non-Combine related, right now ...
Who Fits Best For The Eagles?
Hard to tell with the offensive linemen here, but there are a few the Eagles need to consider. I just wonder how new line coach Howard Mudd feels about what he has. He has no allegiences here. He does, of course, have some talent. And with all of the expectations pointing to the right side of the line for the Eagles to address, isn't the biggest factor how Mudd feels about right tackle Winston Justice and his rehabbing knee?
It will be very interesting to see.
There are going to be cornerbacks around in the late teens and early 20's (Colorado's Jimmy Smith?) when the Eagles pick, and there are going to be defensive linemen who can help. Linebackers? Maybe, but is there a standout player who is going to come in here and help right away?
There are several "best fits" for the Eagles. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson wowed everyone with his athletic ability at the Combine, but unless the Eagles want to trade up to the top of the draft, they have no chance to take him. Von Miller would make a great edge rusher for Jim Washburn to use, but he's going to be drafted early, too. Mike Pouncey appears to be a shouldn't-miss interior offensive lineman.
The guess here is that the Eagles are going to weigh every option and see if they can move up to get an impact player. Given the history of this team, I think that is probably the safest way to approach Round 1.
Are The Eagles Considering Any Of The Newly-Cut Veteran Players?
As expected, the Eagles have not made any move toward the likes of Tommie Harris, Jeremy Shockey, etc. No question the Eagles anticipated those releases and have a grade on all available players, and it is possible that as some point down the line the Eagles will think more seriously about adding one of them. But there are going to be a lot of veterans moved off of rosters between now and training camp. A lot. And the Eagles are in position to make the moves they want to make.
As it stands now, they have 14 players on the current roster scheduled to be unrestricted free agents (not including Michael Vick, who was given the franchise tag, and David Akers, who was assigned the transition tag) and the Eagles have to gain a clear understanding of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement before they make too many roster decisions.
And that leads to ...
What Is The Latest On The CBA Talks?
I know what you know from reading all of the accounts of the meetings between the NFL owners and the Players Association. It is difficult to get a true handle on the talks. We know they have met on Tuesday and that the Owners are scheduled to meet on Wednesday and time is dwindling before the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Thurday to get a new deal done.
How a work stoppage would affect the Eagles is a huge question, of course, and it one that every team is considering. The Eagles must be prepared for every scenario. As it is now, the team is taking a business-as-usual tact. The Combine is over. Soon the Eagles will invite two dozen players to the NovaCare Complex for more in-depth visits and interviews.
And beyond that, we don't know. If there is a work stoppage, the Eagles are not permitted to contact their players or have workouts at the NovaCare Complex. The coaching staff and personnel staff would concentrate solely on the draft process. Beyond that, well, let's hope we don't have to worry about that.
What Is Happening Now At The NovaCare Complex?
There are still a few players working out and taking treatment. Players like defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen are rehabbing from injuries. Defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has been working out on a daily basis. Same with offensive lineman Austin Howard and defensive tackle Trevor Laws and several others.
In a normal offseason, the strength and conditioning program would begin in mid-March. This, we know, is not a normal NFL offseason. So the players are getting their work in and they are waiting for the collective bargaining agreement to get settled, and then everyone can breath a little easier.
Until then, the draft is the story to discuss.