Do the Eagles go for a quarterback in draft?

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden has size and arm strength, but his mobility is suspect.He is also 28 years old, which also pushes down his stock.
Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden has size and arm strength, but his mobility is suspect.He is also 28 years old, which also pushes down his stock. (MATT YORK / Associated Press)
Posted: April 26, 2012

With Michael Vick, coach Andy Reid is on franchise quarterback No. 3, following the Donovan McNabb era and the Kevin Kolb cameo.

Will he take a shot on No. 4 this week?

The NFL draft begins Thursday night with the Eagles holding the 15th overall pick, and most observers expect the team to use the first round to add an impact defensive player.

There is a deep defensive tackle class, with Fletcher Cox at the top of the list, though the Eagles would probably have to trade up to get him. The team could also look for a big, top-tier cornerback such as Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick after trading Asante Samuel on Wednesday, while many fans have set their hopes on linebacker Luke Kuechly.

On offense, a big wide receiver might give the team another weapon.

The top two quarterbacks in the draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, are out of reach, but this year's quarterback class includes a long list of second-tier prospects who could be available in the second round or later.

The Eagles' approach to quarterback could provide a clue about how much pressure Reid faces to win big in 2012.

Does he have the long-term security to use an early pick on another quarterback whom he could try to mold into a future franchise centerpiece? Can he afford to spend draft capital on a developmental player who may not start for several years?

Or, entering the final two years of his contract, does he need an immediate impact?

Reid has had one big hit at quarterback with McNabb and mixed results on Kolb and Vick. He would seem to have a complete set at quarterback: an established starter with Vick, a developmental prospect in Mike Kafka, and a veteran who can step in in an emergency in Trent Edwards.

But he had a similar setup in 2007 when he took Kolb 36th overall and might be tempted to go the same route again, especially with Vick turning 32 in June and entering the last year with big guaranteed money in his contract.

The intrigue begins with Ryan Tannehill, the third-rated quarterback prospect. He might be within reach if he slips past the Dolphins at eight.

Brandon Weeden, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, and Brock Osweiler could be available in the second round or later.

Wilson has the athleticism and college production the Eagles love. The biggest knock on him is his height - 5-foot-11 - but Reid has downplayed that issue when it comes to Vick, listed at just one inch taller.

Aside from Weeden, who may have to start immediately because he is 28, anyone the Eagles take would need time to become even a backup. But quarterbacks are so central to winning that if a franchise-type signal-caller is available, he could be more valuable than any other selection.

Quarterbacks taken outside the first round have rarely worked out. Of the 119 passers taken after Round 1 since 2000, only four - Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Marc Bulger, and David Garrard - have won playoff games. Bulger and Garrard managed just one postseason win apiece.

"You are betting against the odds" when you draft a quarterback after the first round, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said last week. The vast majority of top starters come from Round 1.

If the Eagles were to take a quarterback in the second round, they would expect him to be a starter. That's too valuable a pick to use on a project, Roseman said.

But he hinted that the Eagles won't shy away from gambling on a quarterback in later rounds, because the upside of finding a hidden gem is so high.

"You're hoping you hit the jackpot on some of those guys," Roseman said.

Does the team pull the lever again?


Contact Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @JonathanTamari.

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