NFL Draft Chalk Talk With Mel Kiper Jr. Takeaways

Nov 28, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles former players Brian Dawkins (left) and Ron Jaworski attend a NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles former players Brian Dawkins (left) and Ron Jaworski attend a NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

On Tuesday, Mar. 28, football fans from the tri-state area flocked to the Pennsylvania Convention Center to see draft experts Mel Kiper Jr., Brian Baldinger, Louis Riddick, Greg Cosell, and Ron Jaworski discuss the 2017 NFL Draft.

There was only standing room left in the Michael Nutter Theatre by the time Ron Jaworski took the stage to do his introduction speech. Jaws stepped on the stage and the theater gave him a nice ovation. Well deserved for the man who took the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in 1980. He went on to hype up the draft and said that it will be the biggest draft ever, they’re expecting over 200,000 people in attendance on night one of the draft.

He then stepped to the side and showed a preview video for the draft including but not limited to, clips of the first four picks last year. When the video showed Carson Wentz walking across the stage the theater damn near broke the sound barrier with cheers. When the video showed Ezekiel Elliot walking across the stage two picks later the theater was just as loud as it was for Wentz but you know, with boos. Total Philly move, am I right?

Jaws then went on to introduce the panel which included analysts Greg Cosell, Louis Riddick, Brian Baldinger, and Mel Kiper Jr. All respected names in the NFL community. After each panel member was situated on stage Jaworski began questioning the panel.

First question to the panel, “How deep is this draft?” The answers were pretty much the same across the board, Riddick and Baldinger agreed that it is a very deep defensive draft, Cosell commented on the depth and high talent at the safety position (and how there will be at least 5 safeties drafted in the top 50, something that he’s never seen before), and Kiper said that it’s a strong defensive draft but weak at offensive line. He added that it’s one of the best he’s covered.

Related Story: Eagles Draft Preview: EDGE

One of the interesting things that was discussed in the following minutes was what it is like to find undrafted talent. Kiper went on the record to say the first round can be overrated. Then Jaws asked Baldinger about his 11-year career as an undrafted player. Baldy responded,

"“I played with a chip on my shoulder. I thought of my little brother who got drafted by the New York Giants. My thought was ‘That lazy son of a b****!’ Undrafted guys have their priorities straight, every year I sized up every player at my position and thought ‘that guy isn’t better than me, I’m just as good as the drafted guy.”"

Baldinger was trying to convey that, undrafted guys have that work hard mentality that is hard to come by.

After Baldy’s rant about going undrafted and using his lazy little brother as motivation, Jaws turned and asked Greg Cosell what the NFL draft process is like. Cosell responded by saying the hardest part is differentiating running a good 40 time and testing well to actually being a good player. Louis Riddick chimed in by saying,

"“Too many people have opinions because it’s not football season. If you judged players strictly by 40 times Jerry Rice would have been a 4th or 5th round pick. He’s arguably the best player of all time.”"

This really rings home as testing isn’t everything, it’s just the last thing that happens before the draft. At the end of the day, the front office needs to find someone who can play football well. 40-yard dashes, three-cone drills, and 225-pound bench presses don’t win championships.

Jaworski then turned and asked Cosell, “Who are the Eagles looking at in the first round?” Cosell responded in a generally vague way, “Wide Receiver is no longer a definite need, I’d look at corner, look at pass rush, and explosiveness on offense. You have to come out of the draft with at least two corners.” Once Cosell was finished Baldinger jumped right in and said:

"“The biggest mistake in Eagles history is letting Reggie White go to Green Bay. Derek Barnett broke White’s sack record at Tennessee. If Barnett is there at 14 I’d get him. I could also make a case for corner. This draft is dripping with corners. There’s ten corners and it’s hard to separate them. If Wentz is truly the guy, we want to supply him with a lot of weapons, Dalvin Cook comes to mind. I can’t find a game where he didn’t look special.”"

For what it’s worth, I agree with Cosell and Baldy, you need to get at least two corners and I wouldn’t be mad if Derek Barnett is in midnight green next year.

The last topic of conversation before it was opened to fan questions, was general thoughts on Joe Mixon. The consensus is that he’s a top ten talent and that he will get drafted. Kiper thinks he won’t make it out of the second round.

Once Mixon talk ended, Jaws opened it up to fan questions. Fan one asked, “With the signing of Chance Warmack and resigning Stefen Wisniewski, does Wentz have enough protection?” Baldy responded by saying that if Lane Johnson starts 16 games he is the best right tackle in football. The offense will be good. He added the Isaac Seumalo is the center of the future.

Fan two asked a question about drafting and analytics. The panel responded by saying that drafting in the NFL is kind of a crap shoot. If you look at Ryan Leaf vs. Peyton Manning more scouts liked Leaf over Manning. Look how that turned out. On a similar note, Riddick went on to throw some serious shade, “Some coaches shouldn’t be coaching pop warner who are coaching in the NFL.”

Finally, fan three asked, “The Birds clearly aren’t afraid to do something in the draft. Do you think they should trade back?” Kiper responded by saying that they’re in the “sweet spot” they could stay pat or move back if they want. Kiper then chimed in that he would absolutely take Sidney Jones in the second round over Adoree Jackson.

Next: How will the Long and Robinson signings affect the Eagles offseason?

It was incredible to see four respected NFL analysts discuss the draft and hear their opinions. It was a great pump up event for next month’s draft, it really got Philly fired up.