The draft finally arrives this week, which means it's time to take one final look at the Eagles roster and figure out where the team stands, what spots are in good shape, and what is in desperate need of a talent infusion. Today we'll take on the offense, noting what I think the Eagles should do at each position against what I think they will do.
Quarterback: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon, G.J. Kinne -- one of these things is not like the others. I mean, sure, "Everybody has two legs," but plenty of read-option in mini-camp reinforces what kind of player Chip Kelly is looking for. Foles is not in the long term plans. Unfortunately, none of the other guys look like they are either. Vick is a workable stopgap, but the other two players are no more than third-string system fits. The question is whether this draft gives the Eagles an opportunity to add that franchise quarterback. Consensus seems to be that Geno Smith isn't worth the fourth overall pick. EJ Manuel is really the only other athletic quarterback likely to be taken early -- and he comes with even higher risk.
QB Should: Don't over think it. Quarterback is the most important position and you need to take them early and often. Smith has all the NFL tools plus experience running a fast-paced offense. I would trade back a few slots and draft him. And if not Smith, than seriously consider getting Manuel at the top of the second round. QB Will: Nothing, maybe a late round pick. Start looking at the 2014 class.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy said the new offense is "like a freaking track meet," yet as of this moment there are only three running backs on the roster: McCoy, Bryce Brown, and Chris Polk. Assuming he has worked on his fumbling issues, Brown joins McCoy to make one of the most dynamic 1-2 backfields in the NFL. But who else will be taking the baton? Polk was a good player in college, but he had a shoulder injury and didn't play at all as a rookie -- although the team kept him on the roster all year. Can't expect anything from him at this point. The niche this group needs to fill is a smaller third-down back to slot in with McCoy's shifty stardom and Brown's raw, big-bodied talent. If Kelly's offense works out, there should be plenty of space for all three to run through.
RB Should: Early round running backs need to be players who can start, but I'm focused on later in the draft. Whether it's Kenjon Barner or Kerwynn Williams, a speedster with bonus kick return skills would be a perfect fit. RB Will: At least one late-round back plus another two UDFAs.
Wide Receiver: The Eagles currently have 12 receivers on the roster. Most of them aren't much more than camp bodies, but there are hard decisions to be made at the top. In the short term, I doubt Jason Avant is long with this team seeing as old, slow receivers wouldn't seem to be at the top of Kelly's wishlist. Jeremy Maclin, meanwhile, is entering his contract year. No one can deny his overall production over his first four seasons, and I'm always in favor of retaining young talent. That said, he's never developed into the star that many expected and probably isn't worth top free agent money. Outside of those two and DeSean Jackson, there's not much to go on. Riley Cooper and Arrelious Benn have flashed talent and it would be fabulous to see one of them step into the valued "big WR role" we've been waiting for.
WR Should: Trade "culture carrier" Avant to Andy Reid for some seventh round pick he doesn't want. Draft a WR in the fourth-fifth round with starting potential; without knowing exactly what Kelly's looking for, it's tough to pick out one or two. WR Will: Keep Avant at least through training camp, draft a late round receiver.
Tight End: On the surface, you don't need to tinker much with this spot. Brent Celek has been an above-average tight end for years and the team just signed James Casey to take on expanded, versatile role. Clay Harbor deserves some competition but otherwise they're in good shape. I wonder, though, what Kelly and Howie Roseman think about Celek long term. You don't sign Casey if you think the incumbent can already perform as well, and starting in 2014 Celek costs nothing to cut.
TE Should: Focus on more pressing needs and check back in a year. Add a high-risk, high-reward late round pick or UDFA to compete. TE Will: In a good class, draft a third-fourth round tight end with upside. Travis Kelce, anyone?
Offensive Line: I've called the offensive line the biggest question mark on the team. Ideally, Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, and Jason Kelce will return from injury, joining Evan Mathis as four-fifths of a great line. But that's no guarantee, and it doesn't start to answer any of the subsequent questions: what about right guard? what about depth? what about the future? The unit needs an infusion of talent to compete across all positions and the team did next to nothing to address that in free agency.
OL Should: Outside of my general admonishment to never pass on a QB, this is where I'd put my focus with the fourth overall pick. Eric Fisher looks like a perfect combination of need and value. Best case scenario he would start at right tackle immediately, pushing Herremans inside. I also wouldn't hesitate to pick up another linemen or two later on. OL Will: Draft Fisher. I'd peg this as the most likely outcome on Thursday.
Photo from Getty.