Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Eagles Draft

The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books and it was probably one of the deepest in recent years. Of course, we can only truly judge a draft class once they get on the field, at the earliest. However, everyone loves to throw in their two cents on how teams did. For today, let's discuss the Eagles' six picks, their statistical predictions and their pro comparisons.

Before that, let's get into some overall things that were noticed. In the rating of each pick, the player felt like a bit of a reach, in some way or another. We're just going to get that out of the way now. However, if you dig a little deeper, you'll realize there was another pattern with each pick, actually a few. Most of them were seniors, most were picked over a significantly similar prospect, all have leadership capabilities, very versatile, are team players, scheme fits and very high football IQ's.

1. Louisville
DE/OLB Marcus Smith
250 lbs 6'3'' 

Here's where that pattern began. After trading back four spots the Eagle's drafted him at 26 overall. You almost get the feeling like the Eagles were hoping someone would fall to them here. Its almost a shame, at 22 they were just out of reach from all of their top prospects. Yet, in a deep draft, where they only held six picks, it is easy to understand why they didn't trade up. Many wanted a WR here, however, there wasn't a lot of great pass rushers available. So, they went for the guy they felt was the best fit and filled a need. It still left some fans looking like this though. 


Grade: C+ 
Why: While the pick makes sense there were better prospects available, like Bradley Roby, who was picked next. 
Pro Comparisons: Shaun Phillips for body type, Dion Jordan for speed, versatility and how similar Chip could use him on his defense and special teams.
2014 Stats: 37 tackles, 13 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 2-pt conversion catch.

2. Vanderbilt
WR Jordan Matthews
215 lbs 6'3''

Anyone who knows me as an Eagles' fan, knows I love this pick. The Eagle's traded up from 54 all the way to 42 to pick up the lengthy wide receiver. Jordan, a cousin of Jerry Rice, was very happy being picked and you could see it as he marched to the stage. Obviously a respectable player, as he had nothing but great things to say when asked to compare himself to Desean Jackson. The intelligence of this man is very obvious. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 3.5 years. The skill is there too. He was the Vanderbilt offense, everyone knew it. Even though everyone knew, the defenses still couldn't stop him.

Grade: A-
Why: There were some arguably better WRs available on the board, ala Cody Latimer and Allen Robinson. However, the Eagles are obviously looking for mature, smart players.
Pro Comparisons: Terrance Williams, both tall players with great hands, catch radius and underrated speed. Both show great concentration near the sideline to get keep feet in bounds while making the catch.
2014 Stats: 37 receptions, 524 yards, 5 TDs  

3. Oregon
WR Josh Huff
206 lbs 5'11''

Another receiver so early? That was probably the first reaction from many Eagles fans. Especially with all the CBs available and the need. Plus, there is the idea that perhaps Chip only picked him up because of his Oregon ties. That isn't the case. In the end, the same CBs that they missed out on slid to their next pick and in fact, the Eagles were replacing both of the WRs they lost/released. Also, the guy has a great story behind how he came to be the man he is today and I cant blame Chip for wanting to reunite with one of his best receivers.

Grade: B-
Why: It was the biggest reach out of all the picks, IMO. So I still cant really just give it a perfect mark.
Pro Comparisons: Antonio Brown, not the tallest receivers in the world but are very strong for their size. Fast enough to blow by cornerbacks easily. KR/PR experience. Also, Santonio Holmes concentration is a big comparison as well. If you look at his highlights, there's a certain play that reminds me of the game winning catch Holmes made in the Super Bowl.
2014 Stats: 29 receptions, 344 yards, 2 TDs, 10 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD, 23.9 KR average yards, 1 TD

4. Florida
CB/S Jaylen Watkins
194 lbs 5'11'' 

Then the run on cornerbacks began. The Eagles started it. Out of the three CBs on the Gators, he was the one the Eagles chose. Once again, he had no off the field issues, no question of character and highly versatile. They had him visit before the draft and studied him extensively. So, the pick made a great deal of sense. He doesn't match the size that the Eagles want in CBs, so he must've made a big impression on them other wise if they took him over guys like Pierre Desir, Antone Exum, etc. Out of all the picks this was the last pick you can call a reach. On the contrary, you can say it is a steal. Jaylen Watkins should've gone in the second round, easily.

Grade: B+
Why: Need filled, great cornerback, they did their homework extensively on him. To get him in the fourth, is very fortunate. Eagles allowed the most pass yards on defense last year and Bradley Fletcher, along with Cary Williams, won't be on this team much longer. 
Pro Comparison: Not really sure actually. Kind of reminds me of two Eagles already, on the team, in Brandon Boykin and Malcolm Jenkins. Smart, speedy, great transition, can play anywhere, great in man coverage, good hips.
2014 Stats: 22 tackles, 1 INT

5. Oregon
DE Taylor Hart
281 lbs 6'6''

Thank God for Howie Roseman, Chip wanted to take this guy in the fourth. I think the last two picks show how great a team Chip and Howie make, though. They might have missed out on Jaylen Watkins, if it weren't for Howie's reasoning, but at the same time, Chip Kelly has a great idea of how he wants his players and he's following it. Taylor Hart is a perfect fit for the defense and probably makes a couple guys expendable.

Grade: C+
Why: So much talent at this point in the draft that could've helped at other positions and were way better players. Can't deny that teams who make it to the Super Bowl either have A great quarterbacks or B great defenses/defensive lines. 
Pro Comparison: Brett Kiesel, strong, great hands and can run. 
2014 Stats: 18 tackles, 2 sacks

6. Stanford
S Ed Reynolds
207 lbs 6'1''

Some say this is a steal. Some people say this guy is a ball-hawk hard-hitting safety and I'm sure you'll see the same. I see it too. However, I didnt see a guy great in overall coverage. He does fit the team's overall scheme and what they have been looking for through out the draft. Smart, high character, etc. 

Grade: C
Why: Could've gotten a lot better players just as good. It's late in the fifth round. No one is perfect, so I'm okay with it overall.
Pro Comparisons: A poor man's Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu...or maybe a rich man's Kurt Coleman. Ball hawk and capable of punishing anyone with the ball. Great in run support.
2014 Stats: 3 tackles, 1 FF

7. Wisconson
NT Beau Allen
333 lbs 6'3''

I dont know enough about the guy to be honest.

Grade: C 
Why: It is the 7th round, they needed a legit NT and they got him. From the film I did watch, it does seem he needs to be double teams and I hear he is great at stuffing the run.
Pro Comparison: Umm....
2014 Stats: 9 tackles, 2 for loss

It seems to be a good draft class overall. I really cant wait until the season starts to see them in action. 

Overall Grade: B
Favorite Pick: Jordan Matthews