Star Lotulelei had his Pro Day earlier this week. Here is the inside info from Gil Brandt of NFL.com:
“Lotulelei measured in at 6-foot-3 1/4, 314 pounds at Utah’s pro day. He ran the 40-yard dash (after being advised not to run it, but doing so anyway since he desired to join the rest of his teammates who were running), and recorded times of 5.31 and 5.36 seconds. He had a 4.65-second short shuttle and did the three-cone drill in 7.66 seconds. Lotulelei had a 30-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot-9 broad jump. Lotulelei performed 38 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press, which would have tied Lotulelei with SMU’s Margus Hunt and Missouri Southern State’s Brandon Williams for most at this year’s combine.”
The Eagles are scheduled to meet with Lotulelei. He does make sense as a draft target. The Eagles would take him to be the 5-tech DE. His job would be to set the edge against the run and then try to get upfield on passing plays.
Value comes into play. Is a guy doing those two things worth the #4 pick? This is a philosophical decision. There is no right or wrong answer. Personally, I’d lean more toward using a pick that high on someone who could really impact pass plays.
The Eagles might feel Lotulelei could do just that. In the Nickel and Dime sets he would slide inside to DT and could help get after the QB from the inside. He did have 5 sacks this year so he’s got the ability to get upfield. Lotulelei has good burst off the ball. He doesn’t have the agility you ideally want in a pass rusher.
Obviously the huge question is still his heart condition.
“…it was reported on February 24 that abnormalities seen in his echocardiogram — Lotulelei’s left ventricle was pumping at 44 percent efficiency compared with the normal range of 55 to 70 percent.”
You only draft Lotulelei if the team doctors give him a passing grade. Some teams will do this. Some won’t. I have no idea how the Eagles feel. I think it is smart for them to take as close a look at Lotulelei as possible. He’s too good a player to dismiss casually.
Let’s now shift over to a couple of odd possibilities at #4. What about the Eagles going for OT Lane Johnson or WR Tavon Austin?
Johnson at 4 may seem early. I’m trying to think like Chip Kelly and the Eagles might be thinking. Johnson does make a lot of sense. He is the most athletic of the stud OTs. Chip loves athletes. Johnson played RT in 2011 and LT in 2012. He could step in at RT this spring and play right away. This wouldn’t be a crazy projection where you hope he could handle playing on that side. If anything happens to Jason Peters, you could slide him to the left side.
Johnson also has a really good nasty streak. He loves to pound guys into the ground. I think he plays with a chip on his shoulder and Kelly would love that.
Austin at 4 would absolutely seem early. The only reason I bring him up is that he seems like the ultimate Chip Kelly player. Austin is 5-8, 174. He’s tough to find on the field. You just look for the blur with the ball. You know how Kelly loves to say he’s an equal opportunity coach…we can score running or passing? Austin scored 40 career TDs. He ran for 6, caught 29 TD passes, ran back 4 KOs, and one punt for a TD. He is an equal opportunity weapon.
Austin is small, but he’s not completely a finesse player. He is deceptively strong. I don’t mean that he’s going to run over defenders, but he’s able to play through some contact and maintain good balance. That is a huge difference between him and other small guys that are good playmakers.
As you look at this draft, you try to identify if there are any special players. Austin is one such guy. For my money, he’s the best playmaker. Austin produced at a high level for 3 years. Teams had a chance to adjust to him and couldn’t do it. Defenses were scared of Austin no matter where, when, or how he got the ball. Because of his size, you have to figure out what his value is. I think he’s a Top 20 player for sure. I do wonder if some Top 10 team will see him as such a valuable chess piece that they’ll roll the dice.
The Eagles would put him in the slot right away. They’d used him as a runner out of the backfield and on end arounds. Austin would be the primary PR and KOR. He would be a potential impact player. Is that worth #4?
We’ve mentioned Austin as a target if the Eagles move back, but now I do think it is reasonable to talk about the fact that if you like the guy enough, maybe you consider him with the #4 pick. The defense needs more help, but the argument for Austin is that he’s a special player you don’t always have access to and would fit the creative, versatile offense. Is he too much of a luxury item, though?
In the last month or so we’ve talked about Geno Smith, Shariff Floyd, and Dion Jordan quite a bit. I’ve touched on Ziggy Ansah as well. All of those guys remain prospects.
If the Eagles want to add a RT, Eric Fisher would make sense for that. I don’t see him as a great pass blocker, but he is an outstanding run blocker.
The Eagles are scheduled to meet with OLB Jarvis Jones. I just can’t see him being a target at #4. He had a bad Pro Day. There are questions about his long term health. He is 6-2, 241 and we know Kelly wants taller, longer players. Jones is talented. No one questions that. I’m not sure he’s a great fit or great value.
* * * * *
Any time I see notes on the Eagles going to a Pro Day or talking to a prospect, I put the info up on Eagles Blog. Be sure to check over there. I’ve posted a few nuggets already today.