Mayock thinks Eagles Need Long-Term Answer at QB
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — As the NFL world converges on Indianapolis, the likelihood of Sam Bradford returning to the Eagles seems to be growing.
Two different NFL sources told 973espn.com that the bidding for the pending free agent quarterback will probably will not reach as high as Tom Condon would like and that, couple with a significant increase in the salary cap, will make it much more palatable for Philadelphia to bring back the veteran.
That said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock still believes finding the long-term answer at the game's most important position should be mission No. 1 for the Eagles in late April.
"If I'm the Eagles, my priority is a quarterback number one," Mayock said Tuesday during his annual pre-combine conference call with reporters. "I don't know what they're going to do with Sam Bradford, but they better figure it out. If they think there's a franchise quarterback at No. 13, they better take him. My belief is that (Jared) Goff and (Carson) Wentz will not be there. The question then becomes, is Paxton Lynch there?
"If Paxton Lynch is sitting there at 13 -- if they believe he's the guy -- they better take him. Even if he doesn't play one snap this year, I think they have to take Lynch, or maybe a Connor Cook."
The king-sized Lynch (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) has Joe Flacco-like size but significant mobility to go along with it, which Mayock compared to Pittsburgh Steelers' star Ben Roethlisberger.
That's a bit of a tortured comparison, though, because Roethlisberger's ability to extend plays generally comes from his pocket awareness and imposing strength while Lynch is a far better athlete than Roethlisberger ever was even when the two-time Super Bowl winner was much younger.
That's not to say Lynch will ever become the player Roethlisberger is, just that he's got a rare skill set and most observers believe the University of Memphis product has the highest ceiling of the three top-rated prospects at the position, although Lynch is regarded as very saw and unlikely to be ready by 2016 after throwing for 3,778 yards and 28 touchdowns against just four interceptions for the Tigers as a junior last season.
If the Eagles don't go quarterback at No. 13 overall, Mayock believes the offensive line and the defensive backfield are next on the list of needs for the team.
"After (quarterback), it's probably offensive line," Mayock assessed. "The Eagles need to take two or three offensive linemen in this draft. After that they have to take a couple of defensive backs. ...It all depends on the board. If there isn't anybody at 13 who they're all that wild about and they can trade down and pick up a second, I'd be all about that."
The Eagles, of course, don't have a second-round pick after trading it to St. Louis in the Branford deal last year.
In our first mock draft we did have Philadelphia selecting Lynch in the first round. Stay tuned for the post-combine mock next week.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen