Boy would I give anything to be in this position. In the war room. Phone ringing off the hook. Trying to perfect the crapshoot called the NFL draft. As a general manager, here’s how I would want things to play out.
1. Resolve the CBA, then trade Kevin Kolb
If a new deal is not reached by draft day, no players can be traded for draft picks. That would throw a huge wrench in my dream draft for the Eagles. Assuming one is reached after the draft, I would deal Kolb for a package of 2012 picks that would likely be a first and a third rounder. Yes, you want insurance for a quarterback like Michael Vick, but I do think that Kolb is slightly overrated, and it’s a virtual certainty that if he is not traded, he will leave for no compensation after the 2011 season. Some potential trade partners would be Seattle, Arizona, and Buffalo. With the draft only two weeks away, I will assume that Kolb will be traded for 2012 picks, which may end up working even better for the Eagles in the long run.
2. Stay put at 23
I really like the 23rd slot this season. A couple players that I really like will still be available and there’s not a huge drop-off in talent from 13th to 23rd. After your six to nine elite players, there are about fifteen to eighteen prospects in the second tier. A few will be available when the Eagles pick. However, after the late twenties, the talent does thin out considerably. It would take an exceptional offer to get me to back off from the 23rd selection. At that point, I would take Jimmy Smith. He fills the Eagles’ biggest need, is probably the top talent on the board, and can make an immediate impact. He’s tall, lanky, and can flat out cover. You can plug him into the starting line-up and he will produce. The more I watch him, the more I think Antonio Cromartie. Physically, they are nearly identical and they play a very similar brand of football. Neither know when to shut their mouths and their teams cringe whenever they talk to the media. However, in Smith, you’re getting a pro bowl talent at 23, so you have to deal with the character issues. He and Asante Samuel could form one of the great cornerback duos in the league, and there would be great depth behind them with Trevard Lindley and Joselio Hanson. If by some miracle Smith is off the board, Gabe Carimi would be my pick. He doesn’t have the upside of Smith, but he’s a tough, reliable right tackle. The Eagles need a bookend for Jason Peters almost as much as a right corner, and Carimi’s length and nastiness fit the Andy Reid mold. I buy the comparisons to Jon Runyan, and I would take Carimi over Anthony Castonzo or Nate Solder. Mike Pouncey would be my emergency option, and if all three are gone, surely a talented front seven player such as Corey Liuget or Akeem Ayers would still be available.
Move: Draft Colorado CB Jimmy Smith at 23.
3. Probably trade the 54th overall pick
Either up or down, I don’t care. If Rahim Moore falls into the forties, I would trade 54 and one of my fourth rounders to go up and get him. I think he’ll be a very, very good player. He, Jimmy Smith, Nate Allen, and Asante Samuel makes the secondary a big strength. That scenario isn’t all that likely though. So, when my pick finally rolls around, I would take Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard or Miami guard Orlando Franklin if either is still around. Franklin reminds me a lot of Todd Herremans. He’s a complete player who pairs his athleticism with toughness. Sheard is very powerful at the point of attack and explosive enough to make a difference as a pass rusher. If both are gone, I would trade this pick to a team who wants to snatch up one of the last good quarterback prospects, whether it be Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, or even Ryan Mallett.
Move: Trade 54th selection to QB needy team for early 3rd round pick and 2012 4th round pick.
4. Take advantage of having 4 picks in rounds 3 and 4
With my first third rounder, I’m taking Alabama tackle James Carpenter. He can pass protect with the best of them, and can push for the starting job at right tackle or right guard. My next pick would be spent on Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy. He’s a big, tough, versatile player who isn’t the most physically gifted player, but can provide great depth and compete with Moise Fokou, Stewart Bradley, and Jamar Chaney. In the fourth round, Syracuse running back Delone Carter is my man. I think he has a chance to be the next great short, thick running back as he compares favorably to Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. Now, those are high expectations, but he can certainly be a great back-up to LeSean McCoy and Jerome Harrison, potentially forming a new three headed monster. Carter is shifty but tough to bring down, and is natural when catching the football. My last fourth round pick goes to Greg Romeus, the Pittsburgh defensive end. He had bad injury luck and consequently did not produce in his senior season, but was regarded as a high first round pick last year when he decided to return to school. Add him to the plethora of talented, young pass rushers trying to crack the rotation including Ricky Sapp, Philip Hunt, and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim.
Move: Draft Alabama OT James Carpenter, Miami LB Colin McCarthy, Syracuse RB Delone Carter, and Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus.
5. Late rounds
Just take flyers on guys who have potential in areas where there is a roster spot open. I like South Carolina receiver Tori Gurley, Portland State tight end Julius Thomas, Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue, Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman, and UCLA defensive tackle David Carter.
6. Look ahead to 2012
Now, I have two first, two third, and two fourth round picks in 2012. There should be many more NFC East crowns in the coming decade…