I’ll review each of the 4 NFC East teams’ drafts over the next few days, once I wrap my head around what each team tried to do. The Eagles’ draft is by far and away the easiest to figure out. Every time they were on the clock there was a value pick just staring them right in the face, often times at need positions, and they simply said, “OK, we’ll take that guy, thanks.” The degree of difficulty wasn’t overly high, but that’s just how the draft falls for you sometimes, and the Eagles were flat-out lucky the way this thing unfolded.
The Giants’ draft was another one that’s pretty easy to decipher. I’ll probably get to them next. Then the Redskins. And then hopefully I’ll have a better idea what the Cowboys were doing.
Anyway, back to the Eagles.
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St., First Round, 12th overall
It started out Thursday night, when Fletcher Cox started to fall. With the Seahawks on the clock at 12, the Eagles only had to move up 3 spots to get their guy, and all it cost them was a 4 and 6 to do so, in a draft in which they already had 10 picks. Done and done. Perfect fit as a rotational UT in the Eagles wide-9 in the short term, eventual successor to Cullen Jenkins in the long term. Best pass rushing DT in the draft, and just an exceptional athlete for his size.
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California, Second Round, 46th overall
Kendricks had the best 40 time among LB’s this year at the Combine at 4.47. He also had the best vertical leap at 39.5 inches. At roughly 240 lbs. That is what you would call an athletic marvel. But unlike some star of Combines past, Kendricks can play. He was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and is just sort fun to watch on film. You can check him out here, here, or here. Or just YouTube his name.
The only real knock on him is his size, at 5’11. The Eagles are saying they’ll use him at SAM, which is a bit of an oddity for a sub 6 footer. It’ll be interesting to see how well he can handle pass coverage against the likes of Jason Witten (6’6) and Fred Davis (6’4). It’s probably also worth noting that the WILL is likely Brian Rolle, who is also very undersized at 5’10, and DeMeco Ryans, who is 6’1. That would have to be the smallest group of LB’s in the league, and probably by a wide margin.
Still, this group of linebackers is instantly an enormous upgrade over last year’s group.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall, Second Round, 59th overall
The Eagles were on the clock at 51, and I would have been elated to just take Curry there. And then the Eagles traded out, picking up the Packers’ 4th round pick. D’oh! Oh well. The 4 was good value. Eight picks went by and Curry was still on the board. The Eagles pounced. Vinny Curry was one of my favorite players from the NFL Combine in February. I already wrote a lot about him last night. Read on here about Curry if you’re interested, but here’s what the Eagles defensive line depth chart looks like now:
|LDE||Jason Babin||Brandon Graham||Darryl Tapp|
|UT||Cullen Jenkins||Fletcher Cox||Cedric Thornton|
|NT||Mike Patterson||Antonio Dixon||Derek Landri|
|RDE||Trent Cole||Vinny Curry||Phillip Hunt|
Much more after the jump…
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona, Third Round, 88th overall
I wrote about Foles last night, and I still don’t think I’m a fan of this pick. You can pretty much pencil Foles in as the #3 QB in Philly this year, with Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards battling it out to be the 2. Foles has a bigtime arm, and the Eagles have said they picked him because they liked his toughness hanging in against stiff pass rushes in front of his inexperienced offensive line, which was apparently comprised of a few freshmen. This pick just sort of felt forced, as in… The Eagles were going to draft a QB come hell or high water. And they did. Perhaps a little earlier than may have been appropriate for the player they chose.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia, Fourth Round, 123rd overall
Remember that extra pick the Eagles picked up from the Packers to move back 8 spots. Well, this was it. Before the pick, Eagles fans all over Twitter were begging for Boykin. Almost unanimously. They got their guy. How rare is that, that in the 4th round most of the fanbase has one specific player in mind, an the team actually picks him? And what’s funny is that most of the fan base also wanted Fletcher Cox when the Eagles traded up and Vinny Curry when they was on the board at 59. It was almost as if Eagles GM Howie Roseman was on Twitter, seeing who the fans wanted to take, and just making that pick. (I guess he was on a bathroom break for the Foles pick).
Boykin has excellent return skills, both as a kick returner and punt returner, and could challenge Joselio Hanson as the Week 1 slot CB. That’s incredible value at 123. I’m curious if there were any Eagles fans out there that didn’t like this pick.
On a side note, the Kevin Kolb trade is now complete. For Kevin Kolb, the Eagles got Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Boykin. Thanks, Cardinals.
Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue, Fifth Round, 153 overall
The Eagles’ current swing tackle, King Dunlap, is listed at 6’9, 330. In person, he almost looks kind of skinny, at least in comparison to the other offensive linemen. Dennis Kelly is 6’8, and only 304. Kelly is a project for offensive line coach Howard Mudd who could eventually take over for Dunlap as the team’s swing tackle in 2013 if the Eagles like his progression. He’ll have to battle DJ Jones for a roster spot.
Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa, Sixth Round, 194th overall
McNutt’s production in college was very impressive, and he improved every year at Iowa:
Possession-type receiver. Big body at 6’3, 216. Excellent value at the end of the 6th round. The knock on him is that he shrunk against better competition. Riley Cooper, meet your competition for the #4 WR spot.
Brandon Washington, OG, Miami, Sixth Round, 200th overall
Washington was a standout guard at Miami before they moved him out to tackle, where he struggled. The stink of his average play on the edge caused him to drop way down to the 6th round, when the Eagles picked him up. They intend to play him at guard. The Eagles have a very deep, very talented set of offensive and defensive lines.
Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas St., Seventh Round, 229th overall
When the Eagles picked Brown, his highlight reel was a bunch of 2 and 3 yard runs. As far as highlight reels go, they were about as exciting as that punter that the Jaguars took in the 3rd round. His college stats are about as unimpressive as they come:
I knew noting about Brown, but apparently, he was the #1 overall recruit out of high school in 2009. That’s #1 overall, not just #1 RB. That was a recruiting class that included Trent Richardson. Obviously, both players had wildly different college rides. Brown’s story is rather fascinating, and this is, in my opinion, a clever, “thinking out of the box” pick by Philly. Very little risk with a 7th round pick, but some serious upside. Lottery ticket pick.
Positions that could be addressed, and did the Eagles address them:
For this section, we’ll look back to what I wrong about each team in the mega-preview from Thursday, and see if each team addressed each spot.
Preview: Wide Receiver – DeSean Jackson was locked up to a long-term deal, so the Eagles should be set for a while at 1-2-3 with Jackson-Maclin-Avant. I’m not sure if Riley Cooper is the productive big-body receiver the Eagles thought he might be. I also think they could very easily upgrade the #5 WR roster spot, currently occupied by Chad Hall. Dreams of Arkansas’ Joe Adams in that role dance in my head. This WR class is so deep and so talented, that I’d be surprised if they didn’t draft one at some point.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Marvin McNutt
Preview: #2 Running Back – It’s a decent bet the Eagles will take a RB at some point during the draft. If they don’t there are a few decent vets still on the market. RB’s have come off the shelf slowly in free agency this year, so that possibility exists in the next couple weeks. Do the Eagles see Dion Lewis as a legitimate #2? As a compliment to LeSean McCoy, I think they might. But if LeSean McCoy goes down for a few weeks, is Lewis ready to come in and be an every down back that can run, catch, and most importantly, block? That’s the real question.
Addressed? Eh, sort of. OK, not really. While they did address the position, Bryce Brown can’t realistically be counted on for anything at this point.
Preview: Quarterback – I still think the Eagles need to add a backup QB, and yet, I don’t think the Eagles should take one in the 2nd round or higher. Plus, at this point, the vets out there (or at least the desirable ones) are gone. So I guess I’m saying I don’t really have any answers here.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Nick Foles.
Preview: Swing tackle – When Jason Peters was lost for perhaps the season with a ruptured Achilles, the Eagles did a good job by immediately pouncing on Demetress Bell. Behind Bell will be King Dunlap, who has made himself into a valuable reserve. However, Dunlap is on a one-year deal, and while I believe Peters will eventually return to form, that’s certainly not a sure thing.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Dennis Kelly.
Preview: Interior OL depth – The Eagles were able to re-sign Evan Mathis, as expected, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a little extra depth here, especially with such a deep OG draft class.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Brandon Washington.
Preview: Linebacker (across the board) – In Week 14 of 2010, Stewart Bradley was lost for the season in the 2nd quarter. In came Jamar Chaney. In 2 and a half quarters, he had 7 tackles. In the next 3 games to close out the season, he had 33 tackles (4 TFLs) and 2 forced fumbles. It looked like the Eagles had their MLB of the future. Hell, Brian Baldinger had him going to Canton:
Jamar Chaney is already one of the best MLBs in the league after his first start. He was phenomenal in every phase of the game on Sunday against the Giants, in terms of recognition, physicality, getting off blocks, stopping the run downhill and sideline-to-sideline speed. It’s no knock on Stewart Bradley, but Chaney gives the Eagles their best play from the position in years. He was all over the field. When your MLB is fast and plays fast, it makes the entire defense look fast.
And then somewhere along the line, Chaney forgot how to tackle.
Meanwhile, Casey Matthews, despite the last name and great dinner conversations, wasn’t good enough to start from Day 1 and was benched after just 3 games.
Really, the only LB that showed any promise last season was Brian Rolle.
The Eagles linebacker situation in the Andy Reid era has been nothing short of comical. The Eagles made a great trade by adding DeMeco Ryans to play MLB, but they should absolutely be looking to get better at SAM.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Mychal Kendricks.
Preview: Safety – I like Kurt Coleman. Plays hard, smart kid, just a football player through and through. Unfortunately, he’s very limited athletically. I like him more as a backup. The wildcard here is Jaiquawn Jarrett, the Eagles’ 2nd round draft pick in 2011. Jarrett couldn’t get onto the field for most of the season, and when he did, he struggled. A full offseason should help, but Year 1 was not promising. Nate Allen is firmly entrenched on the other side.
Preview: Defensive tackle – One spot that would make a lot of sense in the first round is UT position, or the “under tackle” position in the Eagles’ Wide 9. The two DT positions in the Eagles defense, the UT and the NT, are different. The Eagles like to line up the NT in the gap between the C and the G. It’s his job to shoot that gap and try to command a double team. The Eagles go three deep at NT: Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, and Derek Landri. The UT, meanwhile, typically lines up on the outside shoulder of the other G. The idea is for the UT to get one-on-one matchups with that G, while also forcing one-on-one matchups with the DE on the OT. You want your UT to have some good pass rushing ability. That’s the position that Cullen Jenkins plays. Behind Jenkins, the Eagles are thin at the UT spot, and they could use a long term answer there to develop before it’s too late and they have to send the 31 year old Jenkins to the glue factory. You know how you keep seeing Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox’s name repeatedly linked with the Eagles. Well, he would be perfect in that role.
Addressed? Yes. They did indeed get themselves some Cox.
Preview: Defensive end – Not a big need here, but it’s worth noting that the Eagles were looking heavily at DE’s at the Senior Bowl, and they love them some pass rushers.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Vinny Curry.
Preview: Cornerback – Asante Samuel is gone. For a 7. Barf. Nnamdi Asomugha turns 31 in July, and while I believe he still has plenty left in the tank, I can’t help but recall the 2003 draft, when the Eagles spent first and second round picks on Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown when they already had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor in place. It’s also noteworthy that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a free agent in 2013. Not to mention, take a gander at the immediate depth behind Asomugha and DRC. Curtis Marsh is a project that has some good upside, but in the present tense, the depth here is not ideal.
Meanwhile, last offseason, the Eagles cut Joselio Hanson and I threw a hissy fit. Hanson had a great 2010 season, and I didn’t understand why the Eagles were dumping salary at the slot CB position, even with 3 uber-talented CB’s already in place. They wound up re-signing him, and he wasn’t nearly as good as he was in 2010. Hanson still probably sees the back of Wes Welker’s jersey in his nightmares. Plus, he’s 30. Expect the Eagles to have slot corner on the brain.
Addressed? Yes. Drafted Brandon Boykin.
That’s just amazing. I had identified 10 different spots where the Eagles could use some help, and they addressed 9 in some fashion. I guess they could have addressed the safety spot… but that would have required and extra pick. Now, filling positions of need isn’t necessarily a great thing if you’re reaching, but on almost every one of the Eagles’ picks, they matched need with value. Just an incredible 3 days for the Eagles… unless of course, all these guys stink. But optimism can be, and should be extremely high for this group of players.
Update: Hey now… Looks like the Eagles were quick to strike in the undrafted free agency period, snagging RB Chris Polk from Washington and CB Cliff Harris from Oregon. Keeps getting better.