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2013 NFL Draft: The Philadelphia Eagles Should Target Manti Te'o

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As the Philadelphia Eagles' 2012 season winds down, it's a safe bet that they will pick in the top 7 or 8 of the draft. That is unless they foolishly ring off 4 straight wins to end the season at 7-9. With the future looking brighter following Nick Foles' recent performances, it's time to look ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft.

Let's assume that they finish 4-12. Right now, there are several teams with worse records than the Eagles. The Chiefs and Jaguars both are sitting at 2-11 and will likely pick 1 and 2 respectively. Since both teams are desperately in need of a QB, look for one of them to pick West Virginia's Geno Smith with the #1 overall pick.

The Oakland Raiders are sitting at 3-10 and look like they'll be picking in the top 5 yet again. The Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals all have 4-9 records like the Eagles.

If the season were to end today, here's a rough draft order, without getting into tie-breakers: Chiefs 2-11, Jaguars 2-11, Raiders 3-10, Eagles 4-9, Titans 4-9, Lions 4-9, Panthers 4-9, Cardinals 4-9.  I'm putting the Eagles at #4 since they have a worse conference record (2-8) than the Titans (3-6) or Lions (3-6) and also lost to the Panthers and Cardinals.

This is a year unlike many years when there isn't much separation between the top pick and the tenth pick. Look for many teams to trade out of their slots to move down and acquire more picks.

There is a lot that can happen between now and April. Andy Reid will likely be gone by season's end. And, the coach replacing him could either have a defensive mindset or be hellbent on improving their tattered offensive line. The Eagles don't have the personnel to implement a 3-4 so it wouldn't make sense for them to draft one of the elite nose tackles with a top 4 pick. That is unless they completely overhaul the entire defense. Then Utah's star nose tackle Star Lotulelei (projected to be a top 5 selection) would be their pick.

They don't need a QB as of yet. It looks like Nick Foles has shown enough in limited action to deserve to be the team's opening day starting QB in 2013. Here are some possible players they can pick, should they have a top 5 choice.

Luke Joeckel, Tackle, Texas A & M

Texas A & M's Luke Joeckel is the premiere left tackle in this year's draft. Someone will pick him in the top 5. Stud left tackles are among the most coveted players in the draft. And, you can bet your arse that someone will pull the trigger on Joekel near the top of the board. The Eagles may decide that Jason Peters is no longer going to be a franchise left tackle and draft Joeckel. Peters not only ruptured his achilles tendon, but he reinjured it. He's also 31 years old. The odds of him ever regaining his prior form are slim and none. If I were a betting man, I would bet on the Eagles giving serious consideration to drafting Joeckel, regardless of what coach is here.

Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Jarvis Jones (a DE/LB) from Georgia is another elite talent. Jones is a one-man wrecking crew. He may go as high as #1 or #2 in the draft depending on how badly someone covets him.

Jones has 26 sacks in his past two seasons combined. And, he's a freak of an athlete, drawing comparisons to Jevon Kearse and Julius Peppers. He stands at 6-6 and 270 pounds.

Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame

Manti Te'o

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, who was a Heisman finalist is likely to go very high in the draft. Many people project him to become the next great linebacker in the league - drawing comparisons to Junior Seau and Ray Lewis. 

When you look at Manti Te'o's stats during his senior year at Notre Dame, it reads like a video game highlight reel. He finished with 103 tackles (5.5 for losses), 7 interceptions, 1.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery.

While the Eagles have Demeco Ryans on their roster, he's clearly not the same player he was in Houston before the achilles injury. Manti is certainly a possibility for the Eagles.

 

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Should They Move Down...

Another possibility for the Eagles would be to trade out of their spot to acquire more picks. Safety, cornerback, O-line, linebacker, and defensive end are all serious needs. LSU's Barkevious Mingo could provide help at linebacker.  Texas A & M's Jake Matthews (the son of legendary offensive linemen Bruce Matthews) is projected to go in the middle of round one, and could be a possibility. Johnthan Banks, a cornerback out of Mississippi State is another option.

As of now, there aren't any highly touted safeties projected to go in the top half of round one though. As we have seen (suffered watching) all year, this team needs two starting safeties.

If I were the Eagles' GM, Manti Te'o would be my pick. He's the best player in college football and a once-in-a-generation talent at middle linebacker, which is one of the most important players on defense.

Now the question is, just who will be making the decision come April? Eagles GM Howie Roseman played a big part in the Eagles disastrous 2010 and 2011 drafts. And, the jury is still out on their 2012 draft. Should he be the one making the call, we should all be nervous. Hopefully Jeffrey Lurie does the right thing and cleans house completely (sending Andy Reid and Howie Roseman packing) and hires Bill Polian to be the Eagles' new GM.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com

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