The Eagles stayed in their fourth overall spot on Thursday night and selected the offensive tackle from Oklahoma, Lane Johnson. Needless to say, I'm a big fan of the pick. As I've discussed on multiple occasions, the offensive line was a huge question mark given age, injuries, and general uncertainty on the right side. With one move, the Eagles have turned the line into a strength. If Johnson can start on the right side immediately, it moves Todd Herremans back to an easier position at guard and eliminates Danny Watkins from our collective memory. Johnson also injects youth and versatility onto the line. He has the potential to take over at left tackle from Jason Peters down the line.
One of the things that came across in Chip Kelly's press conference was that Johnson is still raw, but the Eagles have confidence in a player of his athletic ability. Check out how he scored in the combine versus other tackles via his Mockdraftable profile at right. Johnson is elite across the board, with the biggest detriment coming with his skinny frame of only 303 lbs. Fun fact, though, the Eagles apparently measured his wrists and ankles to determine that he can add up to another 20 lbs without problem (#SportScience). As Jimmy Kempski writes, the Eagles now have one of the most athletically gifted offensive lines in the NFL. Kelly must love that. Read more on Johnson from Tommy Lawlor.
Another intriguing aspect of the first round was drama surrounding quarterback. EJ Manuel was a surprise as the first QB selected, way up at #16 overall. Manuel himself suggested that the Eagles were one of just a few teams heavily interested. I'm not surprised by that, since he would be perfect for Kelly's offense. But it seems that the Bills, anxious to beat other teams, jumped on Manuel before anyone else had a shot. I wonder if the Eagles were prepared to go back into the bottom of the first round to get Manuel. They certainly could have hoped that Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib would have drawn more attention early. At this point I doubt that Smith would remain a target for the Eagles at 35, although you never say never.
What I'm really looking for next on the Eagles draft board is some defense. While the team will (and should) certainly be open to tight ends with potential, the other side of the ball is what needs the most help. The Eagles have eight remaining picks, and could gather some more if they trade down at all. I tend to think at least six of those will be used to aid the defensive transition. Another safety, perhaps, like Johnathan Cyprien, or a big body like Jesse Williams or John Jenkins could be in order in the second round.
Photo from Getty.