Paul Domowitch, a young Philly sportswriter on the rise, put out a column today about the Eagles and their need to find a QB in the upcoming draft. He focused on 3 main players: Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, and Matt Scott.
The Eagles have been linked to these players so that does make sense. You could think of Smith as a potential 1st round target, Manuel a 2nd round target, and Scott a 3rd round target. There is also a case to be made for each player.
Smith is the top QB in the class. If the Eagles truly think he can be a franchise QB, take him and be done with it. Manuel has the highest upside of the trio. He is big, strong, athletic, and went 25-6 as a starter at Florida State. Scott runs the best of the trio and seems like the most natural fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. He’s also not going to take a super-early pick so there is less risk with him.
Obviously there is a case against each player. While Smith is the best QB this year, he would have been 4th or worse last year. He isn’t great at anything. He just happens to be the top dog in a weak QB class. Manuel is a project, but started for 2 full seasons at a major school. That’s a red flag. Scott is also a project, but only started one full season. He’s more raw than the other two QBs.
I agree that it is important for the Eagles to add a rookie QB to the fold. It would be great for Chip Kelly to have someone to start developing. The key is for the Eagles to find a QB they do like, whether in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or whatever round. Obviously there is a big difference in taking a QB early and taking one late, but the point is that you can’t force the issue. You must find a player you like. Based on Chip Kelly’s comments about players yesterday, I don’t think we have to worry about him being casual with QBs. He’ll only bring someone in that he does want and believes can succeed.
Let’s talk about a few prospects now. Gil Brandt recently said on Twitter that he doesn’t see the top 5 teams taking Geno Smith, despite the fact those teams are meeting with him and working Smith out. Brandt reads this as false interest to make someone trade up.
Daniel Jeremiah (aka MoveTheSticks) did a recent mock draft for NFL.com and had the Eagles taking DL Star Lotulelei and Geno Smith falling to Buffalo at #8.
I’ve state my case against Smith. I just don’t think he is worth the #4 pick. It seems that Brandt and Jeremiah feel the same way. That doesn’t mean we’re right. This is just how we’re thinking.
I won’t be angry if the Eagles take Smith. Right now, I trust Chip Kelly. If he wants Geno, go get him. My guess is that will not be happening. We’ll find out in a month.
Manuel is a lightning rod-prospect. Some draftniks, bloggers, and football people love him. They see a big guy that has excellent potential. Manuel seems like a high character kid. He went 4-0 in bowl games at FSU. There are lots of reasons to like him.
I don’t. I get worried when a star high school player goes to a major football school and comes out still a major project. Think of this as the Jake Locker rule. Locker played a ton of football at Washington, but came out as raw as he went in. He’s the same guy in the NFL. You love his toughness and athleticism, but Locker isn’t an efficient pocket passer. I see Manuel as a similar player.
You can make a really compelling case for why teams should like him, but I see a guy with too many question marks. Had he played for a small school or just one year or gone to an option team or something like that, I could accept the fact he’s so raw.
Jeremiah offered some thoughts on Manuel that somewhat meshed with mine. He said Manuel would need time to develop. He mentioned that he doesn’t see Manuel as a franchise QB. He also added this:
“During his career, E.J. Manuel has started 7 games against top 25 opponents. Stats: 6 TD’s, 9 INT’s (3-4 record)”
I know many people want to compare Manuel to Colin Kaepernick, but I think that is a forced comparison. I’ve mentioned this before. Kapernick came out of Nevada an overachiever. Manuel never became the star at FSU he was supposed to be. He was good. No question about that. But Manuel was supposed to be a stud QB that would play at an elite level. Instead, he leaves with a good career and as a pro project. I’m just not investing a high pick in that guy.
Chip Kelly may feel differently. He recruited Manuel to Oregon, as many people like to point out. The problem is that Manuel just spent 4 years at FSU and is a different player now. He played for a team that believed in good defense. They were somewhat conservative on offense. Manuel threw 47 career TDs. Redshirt Freshman Marcus Mariota threw 32 for Oregon this year. That should give you an idea of how different the attacks were. Manuel still has raw ability, but based on the pick involved to get him, he might not be worth the risk.
Matt Scott is the guy I’ve liked for a while, but he’s got issues as well. I love the fact that he’s a natural QB. He can run and throw and makes it look easy at times. Real good arm. Scott has good physical tools. The biggest concern is the mental side of things. Arizona ran a very simple passing attack this year. Scott made a ton of quick throws. I know he has the physical tools to be an NFL QB, but I don’t know if he can read defenses and consistently make good decisions. He threw 14 INTs this year. He forced the ball at times. The question is whether he did so due to confidence in his arm or because he didn’t see the defender and it was more of a mental mistake.
Since Scott played so little, he doesn’t have bad habits built up over time. You could possibly coach that stuff out of him. Meeting with him and picking his brain would be crucial to making a good evaluation. As an outsider, I’d value him in the 4th round. If you think he’s a really bright guy that just needs coaching, he might rate a 3rd round pick.
There are other QBs to cover. I focused on these 3 since Domo did and they’ve all been linked to the Eagles. The team sent a group to West Virginia to meet with and workout Geno. Matt Scott came to Philly to meet with the team. They’ll send a coach out to do a full workout with him (you can’t do individual workouts at the team’s facility). The Eagles have a meeting scheduled with Manuel. I’m not clear if that’s in Philly or Florida. We don’t know who the team likes, but they are checking out all 3 guys closely.
* * * * *
Jimmy Bama wrote something on the Eagles and high school stars. Kinda interesting.