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The NFL Draft Is Upon Us

Apr 25, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT

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The Sixers are done
(mercifully), the Flyers are playing out the string, and the Phillies are just
plain hard to watch at the moment. Now who’s ready to watch Roger Goodell read some
names off of index cards?

The NFL Draft is always an
event of tremendous intrigue, but even more so than usual when the Eagles are
picking as high as fourth overall. Assuming they stay in that spot, that’s a
player who should define the franchise for years to come – for better or for
worse.

Case in point: the last time
the Birds were up this high in the order, they wound up taking Donovan McNabb
with the second pick in 1999. Is there any one individual player who better
personified the Andy Reid era than his quarterback of 11 seasons?

Coincidentally or not, that
was Reid’s first draft, the same as this is Chip Kelly’s first draft. Whatever
the Eagles decide to do with the pick, it will be somebody who could ultimately
become synonymous with the future successes or failures of this head coaching
regime.

Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel will
be off the board. If the Raiders stay at three, their pick should be Sharrif
Floyd. I believe at this point we can narrow the selection down to three
players: Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson, Utah DT Star Lotulelei, or Oregon OLB Dion
Jordan.

Jordan is a freak athlete, and
has the obvious ties to Chip, but I’m not sure they’ll have him ranked as the
best player available for this spot. Lotulelei fills a bigger need for the
defense, and seems to be the more NFL ready of the two, so he should be higher
up on the board. If Johnson is legitimately the best player available though,
and they can’t reach a suitable trade, it would make sense to bolster the
offensive line, which also happens to be the safest decision.

Don’t expect it to be a big
move. The teams that are interested in trading up will likely be targeting Johnson,
as the Lions (No. 5), Cardinals (No. 7), and Chargers (No. 11) all need help at
tackle. Detroit would probably try to jump ahead of the Eagles to play it safe,
or simply stay put and hope for the best. The Eagles may not be willing to drop
all the way to 11, and almost certainly not without San Diego’s second rounder
(No. 45) as part of the package.

Arizona seems to be the
logical partner. It keeps Philly within striking distance of the top of the
draft, where it’s possible somebody like a Lotulelei or BYU DE Ziggy Ansah
could still be available. That’s who I would expect them to target there,
unless Dion Jordan falls, or the buzz over Geno Smith is real. It’s worth
noting the Cards’ pick is one spot ahead of Buffalo, who might also take a hard
look at a quarterback there.

I would be happy with Johnson
or Ansah, less so with Jordan or Smith. If I was pulling the levers though, I
would select Lotulelei. The Eagles need a big body with scheme versatility,
whether it’s for a 3-4, a 4-3 under, or whatever defense you can dream up. He
fills a definite, immediate hole, and may very well be the best player
available.

I like the idea of trading
down a few spots with Arizona and seeing if they can steal Lotulelei at No. 7,
with Ansah being the backup plan. Neither the Lions nor the Browns need another
defensive tackle, so Star should slide. However, I would be just as happy with
Lotulelei at four overall.