Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Eagles NFL Draft Pick, Or Philadelphia's Dark Age Continues

You Do Have To Call Him Johnson
This is the first time in 18 years that Philly sports teams have gone 0 for 4 in the act of going to the post-season (mostly because the Flyers almost always qualify, but still)... and it's not just that there's been losing, it's also that the losing has been ill-timed. (See Turner, Evan. I digress.)

Consider this week's NFL Draft, where the Eagles hold the #4 pick. Last year, this got you the choice of OT Matt Kalil, WR Justin Blackmon, CB Morris Claiborne, S Mark Barron, QB Ryan Tannehill, LB Luke Kuechly... and while none of that is terribly sexy, at least the top part of the draft had Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson to make you dream that someone might slip to you. In 2011, the 4th slot gets you A.J. Green (instead of Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson and Aldon Smith); damn, that's a draft. 2010's #4 was OT Trent Williams from the Skins (though Russell Okung from Seattle at 6 is the better move), and 2009 gets you LB Aaron Curry over OT Andre Smith. (To be kind, that 2009 draft looks pretty awful now.)

The point is this: nothing in this off-season has helped the stress level of picking fourth in the least. I dreamed of the Chiefs blowing the pick on QB Geno Smith; no one has any idea where Smith is going now, but it's not before 4. I had hopes of Luke Joeckel somehow slipping as the teams in front of them went for sexy; instead, the Texas A&M beast is seen as the consensus #1. I wanted Dee Milliner, the CB from Alabama, if Joeckel wasn't available, and now it's disclosed that he's had five surgeries and probably won't be able to start the season; some mocks have Milliner now going in the late teens. (To the Giants, where he'll be great, of course. I hate life.)

I could talk myself into Eric Fisher, the prospect OT from Central Michigan that might be the best physical specimen, but it's looking more and more likely that he'll be off the board by 4. I'd like to avoid Dion Jordan, the speed LB from Kelly's Oregon team who's lack of turnover and sack production makes me worry; now it looks like he'll be there. I'm worried that Sharrif Floyd, the Florida DT and local kid, would just wind up duplicating DT Fletcher Cox's role here, and couldn't take the heat of being the local savior; he's going to be on the board, too. DT Star Lotuleiei from Utah worries me with the past medical condition, relatively low level of competition and fact that his full name is Starlight (seriously).... but, well, I don't want to trade down, either.

Which leads us to the new hope, assuming that Joeckel and Fisher are off the board... OT Lane Johnson from Oklahoma. He's 6-6 and 303, so roughly the same size as Joeckel, but more of a speed guy than power. (Believe it or not, he was a QB as late as 2008, and only made it to the line in 2011 after a detour at TE.) As you might imagine from the movement, he's crazy fast for a tackle, and should be able to add weight in an NFL conditioning program. He played great in 2012, and it's obvious that he's got Big Potential and Combine / Senior Bowl love all over him.

But the idea of drafting a guy with one year of tackle experience at the 4th slot, a guy who has bounced all over the field because his body kept changing, a guy with past problems keeping off weight (RED ALERT RED ALERT RED ALERT)...

Well, it speaks to how fluid and deep this draft is, and why Eagle Fan is kind of dreading this draft, despite having the highest pick in years. (Can someone at least make sure that Johnson doesn't also want to be a fireman, and isn't secretly 35? That would ease my mind.)

Normally by now, we'd have a good idea of who was coming, and maybe even allowed ourselves a nice little spasm of hope. Now, we just have to trust that the new guys know what they are doing, even if it means trading down.

And man alive, is it No Fun At All to just trust the new guys with no track record.

Especially with absolutely no playoff team to distract us, or anything good that's happened in the last year to make us think this also won't end very badly.

So. High pick, high stress, low hopes. Fun!

And if they take QB Geno Smith, who so isn't what a rebuilding team with severe line issues needs...

Well, I suppose the last first round QB drafted to a chorus of boos worked out, right?

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