Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper's Latest: Geno Smith to Eagles (And It Could Be Ok)

The NFL Draft is quickly approaching (but not quickly enough) and mock drafts are appearing and re-appearing at a rapid rate.  Yesterday, ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his mock version 4.0, two rounds-worth of educated guesses that will undoubtedly be debated and cited with a high level of frequency.

With the fourth overall pick, Kiper has the Eagles selecting West Virginia QB Geno Smith, a departure from his earlier mocks.  According to Kiper:

There are two realities the Eagles must face in evaluating their future at quarterback. One is that Michael Vick, while an intriguing fit under Chip Kelly, isn’t a long-term solution, even if we’re optimistic. Two, there’s no such thing as a useful free-agent market of starting quarterbacks in this league. If you have a great quarterback, or even a pretty good one, you’re going to lock him up. In drafting Smith, the Eagles are in a good position to develop an athletic, talented thrower to succeed specifically in Kelly’s offense, but without the requirement that he must start from day one. I don’t like the idea of Smith as a Week 1 starter in 2013 — but for a roster that’s already in a good position to compete this season, he could be a great fit for the franchise in 2014, and most importantly, a great fit for the coach.

It’s a bit shocking, given the criticism for Smith by trusted analyst Ray Didinger and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, among others.

According to Didinger:

He’s not that guy. He can throw, but look at the tape – poor pocket awareness, bad sacks. A project.

And Mayock:

I watched a bunch of Geno Smith and he can make every throw. He’s athletic. The ball jumps out of his hand. But there’s a lot of things that make me nervous about him. He misses people by wide margins for no reason. I see a little bit of hesitancy with the blitz. When that first read is not there, it’s not as pretty on the second or third read. His eyes come down. He makes mistakes.

But on some levels, Geno Smith makes sense.  I’ve written before why the Eagles will draft Smith, primarily because taking a first-round gamble on a QB is not as risky a proposition as it once was, thanks to the rookie wage scale.  But is it worth the cost of a legitimate O-line starter?  Or impact on defense?  Therein lies the rub.

To his credit, Kiper recognizes the Eagles need to draft offensive line and has them selecting OT Menelik Watson from Florida State in the second round.  Watson is a beast of a man, standing 6’5’’ tall and weighing 310 pounds.  He is also athletic.  He grew up playing soccer in England, then basketball before taking up boxing.  But his football experience begins in college, and he is 25.  Basically, he’s a project.  I find it hard to believe the Eagles would draft two developmental players with their first two picks in the draft.  Because let’s face it, Smith is far from a finished product.  But he doesn’t need to be.

Smith just needs to be the shiny new car for a year, parked in a garage, cleaned and polished with care.  Then, when the time comes, rev the engine and see how fast, and how far, he goes.

Here is the rest of Kiper’s first round mock:

Pick Team Player
1 Kansas City Chiefs Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2 Jacksonville Jaguars Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
3 Oakland Raiders Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
4 Philadelphia Eagles Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
5 Detroit Lions Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
6 Cleveland Browns Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
7 Arizona Cardinals Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
8 Buffalo Bills Johnathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
9 New York Jets Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
10 Tennessee Titans Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
11 San Diego Chargers Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
12 Miami Dolphins D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
14 Carolina Panthers Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
15 New Orleans Saints Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
16 St. Louis Rams Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
17 Pittsburgh Steelers Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
18 Dallas Cowboys Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
19 New York Giants Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
20 Chicago Bears Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame
21 Cincinnati Bengals Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
22 St. Louis Rams (from WAS) Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
23 Minnesota Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
24 Indianapolis Colts Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
25 Minnesota Vikings (from SEA) Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
26 Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
27 Houston Texans Robert Woods, WR, USC
28 Denver Broncos D.J. Hayden, CB, Denver Broncos
29 New England Patriots Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
30 Atlanta Falcons Kyle Long, OL, Oregon
31 San Francisco 49ers Margus Hunt, DT, SMU
32 Baltimore Ravens Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida Int’l

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft Geno Smith Mel Kiper Menelik Watson Mike Mayock NFL Philadelphia Eagles Ray Didinger

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