By Scott Crabtree (@TheScootCrab)
The NFL draft is tonight, which means that you’ve probably wasted a ton of time speculating on whom the Eagles will take, who will be available, and why Mel Kiper Jr. gives you the creeps. I can’t definitively answer any of these questions, but I can offer some advice and perspective. You may not like what the Eagles do with their picks in the short term; the team may not fill their immediate needs, but you have to be patient. Drafts shouldn’t be judged until at least the end of the rookie contracts, approximately 4-5 years after the fact. So have some faith in Chip and Howie.
I am of the impression that the best way to win a Super Bowl is to make the playoffs as many times as possible. This is an obvious statement, but allow me to explain. Teams often times see themselves as having a window of when their team is talented enough to win a championship. This causes them to start drafting players out of positional need, and not the most talented player available. A strategy such as this ends up shrinking the window to compete because short term success is favored over a long term strategy. My thinking is that you should always do what is best for your team in the long run, and that means drafting the best player available. Basically, the more shots you have at a championship, the more likely you are to win one.
In no particular order, the Eagles need: S, OLB, ILB depth, WR, and O-line depth. The Eagles aren’t going to prioritize these positions, and artificially inflate the value of a lesser prospect in order to fill a need. I know it’s tough to watch a defense that is full of holes, but drafting for need is how you end up with Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett in back-to-back picks. I fully encourage taking the best player available, and if that happens to be at a position that is already strong, so be it. Howie Roseman always says, “You never know what you’re going to need going forward.”
Don’t be surprised if you see the Eagles make some surprising moves on day two, and don’t be surprised if those moves get panned by Philly talk radio hosts that prefer yelling to insightful arguments. Let’s say the Eagles draft a WR in the second round, and again in the third. Or if they take a running back in the second round, obviously these moves are going to rankle some people, but these are moves that are made with the big picture in mind. If TE Eric Ebron is on the board at 22, he might be a possibility as well.
The following are a list of players that I like, and the reasons why (note: many of these reasons will not be football reasons and some of these players are slotted to be picked way ahead of the Eagles at No. 22 or later round prospects).
Buffalo DE/OLB Khalil Mack: Was offered only one D-I scholarship coming out of high school, and was subsequently given a 46 rating as a freshman in EA’s NCAA Football. He wore #46 for all four years in college as a reminder. How do you like me now?
Notre Dame DT/NT Louis Nix: His nickname is Irish Chocolate, and if that wasn’t enough, he generally seems like a delightful human being in all pre-draft videos.
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald: When you watch his highlight tape, you swear that he must be lining up in the offensive backfield based on how fast he gets there. He is a block shedding machine. Some coaches even asked him if he could play linebacker.
Georgia Tech DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu: He is an athletic and raw pass rusher, and he once used a clothes iron to heat up chicken wings because his hotel room didn’t have a microwave. When asked about it he said, “It was a real-life emergency. And when you have real-life emergencies, you do real-life things.”
Auburn RB Tre Mason: Not only is he the son of a member of the hip hop group De La Soul, but he also averaged 34 carries per game over his final four games of his college career, including a 46-carry game in the SEC championship.
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk: When asked what NFL player he thought his game most resembled, he responded with, “A combination of Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy.” He’s projected to be a fourth or fifth round pick. If there is one thing I don’t want in my skill position players, it’s humility.
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers: He exists to be big. His combine measurements were 6’7” and 352 lbs. with 36-5/8” and 11” hands. If you don’t know how big those hands are, they are measured from pinky to thumb, tip to tip. His arms were the longest for defensive linemen by nearly over 1.5 inches. Let’s hope there are plenty of opportunities for him to run with the ball after fumble recoveries and interceptions
Ohio State ILB Ryan Shazier: The first thing people notice about him is his sub 4.4 forty time, easily the best among linebackers. However, the special thing about him is his truly unsettling gaze. Check it out:
I will be at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philly for the first round of the draft tonight. I will be the one clapping when the Birds draft a TE in the first round.