What if the Eagles Didn’t Wind Up With Mariota?
With all the speculation and rumors surrounding Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Eagles will almost assuredly be taking a stab at moving up to select him.
But what if he's deemed too expensive?
The Eagles obviously have a Plan B on the table if Mariota is selected by Tampa first overall, or Tennessee decides to take him for their own future.
That Plan B could still feature a trade up or down in the first round as the Eagles have liked to do in past first rounds of the NFL Draft. Just last season the Eagles didnt like what was left on their draft board so the decision was to trade down and select Marcus Smith.
Here are four players, in no particular order, that I have studied and believe the Eagles should target in the first round on Thursday if Mariota is too expensive in the eyes of Chip Kelly:
1. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon: Geoff Mosher, CSN Philly, spoke of this possibility last week on 97.3 ESPN FM. Chip Kelly knows Fisher first hand, recruited him to Eugene in 2011. Fisher is said to be more "polished" than that of 2013 Bears first round selection, Kyle Long, also out of Oregon. Fisher is over 300 pounds and comes in as a former tight end who can easily move down field to finish blocks in the running game. A selection at twentieth overall could be a reach, he missed some games in 2014 with an injury. Don't rule out a trade down to select Fisher and get more draft picks along the way.
2. Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: A surefire first round pick is Waynes from Michigan State. The former Spartan ran the fastest .40 time for a cornerback at the Combine, running a 4.31 Waynes has plenty of recovery speed, loves to compete one-on-one and likes to get his nose dirty and tackle. He could use some work on his anticipation and needs to loosen up on the physical nature of his cover skills. The Eagles will absolutely need to trade up for Waynes as many mock drafts have him being selected in the 8-13 range. He is the best corner in this class.
3. Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Has started the last 23 games at safety for Alabama and has experience at both safety positions. Comes from a list of first round Alabama safeties that have been drafted in the first round. Carries a first round body that can be physical with tight ends and will tackle you at the point of attack. Collins has average speed, average hands and has been beaten for long touchdowns in the past. The Eagles should be able to stay put at # 20 to select Collins, depending on how their board falls.
4. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: The Eagles need help at all three of these positions highlighted, as well as the wide receiver position after losing Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City. Strong is a Philadelphia native and a JUCO transfer from Los Angeles that needs some seasoning and won't be outrunning many premier defenders in the NFL. Strong is more of a possession wide receiver and can be selected in the late first round or even the second round is a possibility.
The Eagles need impact players at all four positions highlighted here and I would not have a problem if any of these players are thought of as their "Plan B." One thing is for certain, we won't have an answer until Thursday night.