It is always difficult to do a draft column a week ahead of time, because you have no way of knowing what trades or free agent signings the Eagles will make in the days immediately before the draft. With that disclaimer, I am going to try to tell you how I would conduct this year's draft. Remember, I'm the guy who said the Birds should have selected Randy Moss, but I also was adamant that we should have picked Ricky Williams and not Donovan McNabb!
Also remember that in an earlier column I said that Andy Reid has had a fairly good draft record, with a few abysmal first-round picks being balanced by some very good second- and third-round choices and some great finds in rounds 5 through 7.
Well, here goes. I would go against the conventional wisdom with our top pick. I realize that we need help on defense very badly, especially at linebacker and safety, but nevertheless I would choose to fill our greatest offensive need — a surefire red-zone playmaker — and select Michael Floyd, the wide receiver from Notre Dame. He is the big (6-3, 220 pounds), sure-handed touchdown maker we need. He seems to catch everything and he is an excellent downfield blocker, to boot.
You say Michael Floyd won't be around when the Birds make the 15th pick in the first round. Right you are! Most experts have him going somewhere from the ninth to the 11th pick. So I would trade up to get him. I'd package our No. 15 and our first choice in the second round (46) to get him. He'd be worth the price! With this added weapon, Michael Vick would make us the No. 1 point producer in the NFL.
With our remaining second-round pick (51) and with our third-round choice (88), I would fill our two most pressing defensive needs by selecting linebacker outside linebacker Bobby Wagner from Utah State and free safety George Iloka from Boise State. I still believe we need major help at linebacker, notwithstanding our excellent acquisition of DeMeco Ryans.
I'm not totally sold on his condition, because it seems like we gave up very little for a player of his talent. Even if he is 100 percent, we surely could a second addition to our depleted linebacking corps. Wagner could be very good. He was the MVP of the Senior Bowl, made 147 tackles last season, and is touted as a "high-motor guy who loves contact." Iloka anchored a good defense on that very good Boise team. He's very big (6-4, 225 pounds), can cover and is a good tackler (it's reported that he actually wraps up on his tackles).
In the fourth round, I would try to reinforce our defensive tackle position by taking Josh Chapman, a key component of that great Alabama defense. He's a winner and is projected to go in the third or fourth round. We have the 114th pick and, if necessary, I would package it and a 2013 pick to go up and get him.
In the fifth round, I couldn't resist taking Russell Wilson, the quarterback from Wisconsin, if he was still on the board. He's short (5-11) but is a flat-out great athlete and he reminds me a little of Baylor's Robert Griffin III. If he's gone, I would take the best offensive tackle left, and that's likely to be Mike McCants from Alabama-Birmingham (6-5, 308) or Troy Bergstrom from Utah (6-5, 313).
In the sixth round, I would use our two picks for a punter (Drew Butler from Georgia, rated No. 2 in the draft) and Brad Smelley from the national champ Crimson Tide, who plays tight end and H-back. If Wilson wasn't available in the fifth round, I would be sorely tempted to take Boise State's Kellen Moore. I know he doesn't have the strongest arm, but all he does is win, and I have a sneaking suspicion he could be the next Joe Montana.
If we can't make a deal to enable us to draft Floyd, then I would take Mark Barron from Alabama, clearly the best safety in the draft, in the first round. My second-round choices would be still Bobby Wagner to fill our linebacker need and Jeff Allen from Illinois, a top-flight offensive tackle. In the third round I would make sure we get Chapman. In round four I would take Wilson and in the fifth round Tommy Streeter, a 6-5 wide receiver from the Miami Hurricanes. He's not a sure thing like Floyd, but his height and speed make him worth the risk here. In the sixth round, I'd still draft Smelley and Butler. This scenario isn't as exciting as getting Floyd but it allows us to fill many of our short-term and long-term needs.
Well, that's it. I'm sure Reid will do something totally different, but I would just love to see Vick throwing to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Brent Celek and Floyd. It would be game on, Eli; try to outscore us if you can! n