Eagles' focus now may be on the draft

Ravens coach John Harbaugh: Eagles "could get into the top 10."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh: Eagles "could get into the top 10." (Tony Fitts)
Posted: March 23, 2009

DANA POINT, Calif. - The page is in the process of being turned.

Free agency in the NFL is in its final stages, with most of the biggest names and best players already employed.

Now it's time to start thinking about the draft, and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh thinks his former team is in an enviable position.

"With 12 picks, they have a chance to bring in a lot of new faces," Harbaugh said yesterday after checking into the St. Regis Hotel for the start of the NFL owners' meetings.

The Eagles will have four picks in the top 85. They are picking 21st and 28th overall in the first round, 53d in the second round, and 85th in the third. Only Detroit, with five, has more picks in that span. The focus, naturally, is on what the Eagles plan to do with their two first-round picks.

Harbaugh was asked how far he thought the Eagles could move up in the draft if they parted with the two first-round picks. "Pretty far," he said. "I'd say they could get into the top 10."

The big question: What do the Eagles plan to do with their two first-round picks?

Since former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke at an NFL reception last night, made more appearances in the hotel lobby than coach Andy Reid, team president Joe Banner and general manager Tom Heckert combined, it was a question that could not be asked of the Eagles' decision makers.

There will be plenty of speculation between now and April 25, the first day of the draft.

After trading out of the first round in the last two years, the Eagles are more likely to trade up simply because they are armed to make a significant move.

Do the Eagles think one of the highly touted offensive tackles in this draft is worth moving up for? The top two tackles are Virginia's Eugene Monroe and Baylor's Jason Smith, but the Eagles might have to move into the top five to get one of them.

Alabama's Andre Smith is generally considered the third best from a talent standpoint, but a series of events - starting with a suspension from the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl game and continuing with his unannounced exit from the scouting combine last month - may have dropped him out of the top 10.

After the departure of free agent Tra Thomas, the Eagles' most pressing need is at left tackle. A team source said recently that Thomas' replacement might not be on the roster now.

If that's the case, then the Eagles probably have their eye on a tackle in this draft.

Rice's take. An avid football fan, the former U.S. secretary of state talked about a number of issues related to foreign policy and even handled some questions about football. She joked that there's no good reason to ever use a prevent defense.

Rice also said she believes the NFL could have mass appeal in places such as Britain, Germany and Australia at some point in the future. She suggested that the league not expand to places where they also play cricket.

Rice said she would sometimes debate with George W. Bush about whether football or baseball was America's game.

Extra points. Harbaugh said former Eagles tight end L.J. Smith, who signed with the Ravens on Friday, would help Baltimore's passing offense in the middle of the field. . . . Ben Dogra, the agent for offensive tackle Jon Runyan, said the free agent had his surgically repaired right knee examined by surgeon James Andrews last week in Birmingham, Ala. "He thinks he'll be ready by May," Dogra said. What the Eagles do in the draft will likely dictate if the team has any interest in re-signing the 35-year-old Runyan.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover

at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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