The Eagles Draft Pick: It’s Not all X’s and O’s

@TheFrankCap

So the draft is just over 2 weeks away.  Let me re-state that.  In 2 weeks, the Eagles will be in position to draft a future star with the 4th overall pick.  It is a pick that will define which way the new era of Eagles football will go.  Right now there is a lot of debate surrounding Geno Smith and if the Eagles should draft him at 4th overall.  I’m here to help you understand that it’s not ALL about what the draft experts tell you and taking the Best Player Available.  Economics, time value appreciation and a long-term strategy is also part of the decision-making process.Eagles

Scope

The only hole along the offensive line is at Right Guard.  Danny Watkins has been a complete failure.  Jason Peters has been quoted as saying that he has been “100% since December” and is still “elite”, Evan Mathis is ranked by Pro Football Focus as a top 5 guard in the league, Kelce is a young, emerging  center and Todd Herremans is still a good right tackle when healthy.  There is no need to draft an offensive tackle 4th overall to put in at right tackle because if the Eagles were to do this then they would basically be moving Todd to LG where he played at 3 years ago, to then go and move Mathis to RG which he hasn’t played in 3 years.  Essentially what you are doing is using the 4th overall pick to improve the RG position which is something that can be done cheaply through free agency or the 2nd or 3rd round.  Also keep in mind that drafting a player 4th over will come with a 4 yr, 19.8 million dollar contract based off of the previous two drafts.  There is no real negotiating on this due to the newest CBA.  The last two players drafted 4th overall each received a 4 year contract at 19.6 mil and 19.7 mil respectively

My Stance

If the Eagles think Geno is a franchise QB who will be better than Nick Foles for the future and significantly better than any other QB in this draft class, then you need to take him regardless of how much better the other prospects are on the board. To sum it up:

  • Can he be a franchise QB?
  • Does he have a higher long-term ceiling than Nick Foles in this system?
  • Is he significantly better than any other QB prospect in this draft?

If the Eagles answer yes to all of the above questions then I see no reason why to pass on him.  There is enough offensive line and defensive line depth to wait until the second round to draft a starter.  There are NO GUARANTEES on who will and will not be an elite QB or Lineman.  If there was an obvious elite player in this draft, there would be no debate on who was being drafted first overall.  These are a few guys that can be starters in the NFL this season that will be available later:

DJ Fluker– Powerful run blocker from Alabama who can be placed into the RG position and eventually moved to the outside tackle spot in a few years.

Justin Pugh– OT from Syracuse who will might be better suited for Offensive Guard since he is only 6’4″ and has shorter arms.

Barret Jones– Bama Center, who has played guard, that may fall to the 3rd round because of lack of value for Centers.

Reason

Having the opportunity to draft inside the top 5 means you have the opportunity to find a player to build around for the next decade.  Super Bowl teams don’t build around OT’s or pass rushers.  They build around a QB.  If you think that building around an OT is a long-term winning strategy, then tell me why elite OTs like Jake Long and Andre Smith who were both drafted very high were allowed to hit free agency this year.   It’s because after their 5 or 6 year deals are finished, their teams aren’t willing to pay the market value when these tackles can be replaced through the draft at half the price.  It’s not all x’s and o’s when it comes to football.  Other than Peyton Manning, which was due to an extenuating circumstances, when was the last time you saw a top 15 QB ever leave his team through free agency?  Furthermore, look at the ridiculous contracts they get for ONE play-off win!  Why do they get so much money?  It’s because of the lack of skill in EVERY draft at the QB position to replace the above average QBs on their respective teams.

When I look at this draft, I know Geno isn’t the fourth best player based off of what he has done the past season, but their strategy shouldn’t be to take the best player available with the first pick.  That’s a strategy you use in rounds 3-7.  They need a cornerstone player that this team can build around over the next decade and with Vick in place now, it will allow the Eagles to develop and teach a young QB that can someday be the future of this team.

Some questions to Ask yourself

  • Do you think the Raiders regret taking Robert Gallery 2nd overall and passing on Big Ben or Phillip Rivers back in 2004 just because they weren’t the BEST player available?
  • Do you think the Dolphins wish they would have taken Matt Ryan instead of taking Jake Long in 2008?
  • Think the Panthers are happy the didn’t listen to so-called ‘experts’ when it came to Cam Newton?
  • I wonder if the Arizona Cardinals wish they would have taken Joe Flacco instead of going with BPA and taking DRC?

Nightmare Scenario

The worse thing that can happen is if we pass on Geno Smith and he becomes a Pro-Bowler or even worse wins a Super Bowl.  Would fans ever let that go?  Would fans be okay in 2014 with Nick Foles as the starter when the 3 other QBs in the division will be Eli Manning, Robert Griffin and Tony Romo?  We have seen what Nick Foles can do on an NFL offense.  He won 1 game on a last second play against a non-playoff team.  That offense was a west coast offense.  Chip Kelly won’t run that type offense so we need to deal Foles while he still has value.  EJ Manuel could be an option in the second round, but would require the Eagles to trade up to get him in the first round. Are you willing to trade a 3rd rd pick next year to move up in the draft and take EJ Manuel who probably isn’t worth a first round pick in the first place?

Bottomline this Thing

All I ask is for you to think about the questions I’ve proposed.  Think about what the best long-term strategy is for the Birds.  Run through best case scenarios and worst case scenarios for a OL, QB and DL.  Which best case scenario is highest for the Birds? All worst case scenarios end with a big fat zero. Economics. Research. These are the things that go into deciding who the best player for the Eagles is a long-term. Not some ‘draft guru’ on television, because if these guys were any good, they’d be in a front office somewhere ‘banging the table’ for their guy.  But there not.  All they are doing is telling you how to think.  All they’re telling you to do is look at the x’s and o’s. The 40 times in the combine.  They steer you away from the production on the field.  They nitpick to impress executives.  They don’t tell you about the 71.2% completion rate or that he threw an interception once every 87 (86.3) passes.  I bet most of you don’t even know he had 42 touchdown passes last year.

He is a 6’2″ 220 lb quarterback and every scout (except one idiot) says he has the best tools and can make all of the throws.  That is key to build upon.  If the Eagles can help him with his reads and receiver progression, we will have a QB and at the end of the day it is the most important position in sports. I refuse to settle for the Nick Foles or the second best QB in a below average draft class.  I’m not settling for the ‘we can draft someone next season’ because chances are we won’t be in the top 10 next season.  I want to rebuild right now around the most important position in sports and not one day curse the Eagles for passing on franchise quarterback.  If you want to settle for upgrading at RG, have at it, but that’s a short-term loser mentality. And so as it goes in the schoolyard, loser’s take the walk.

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