Friday, May 16, 2014

Eagles 2014 Draft Wrap-Up

We are about a week removed from the Eagles' recent draft and my overall reaction is that GM Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly did a pretty good job at filling obvious positions of need with the team's seven picks. What I really loved was the way they traded up and down the board throughout the three days of the draft to position themselves to select the players they wanted. This wheeling and dealing mentality is starting to become a trademark of this duo in an effort to build a championship-caliber roster.

Starting with selection of outside linebacker Marcus Smith from Louisville with the 26th overall pick, my only issue with this move was trading out of the 22nd position with Cleveland when Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard was still on the board. There is little doubt that the Eagles needed to improve their pass rush with an outside threat in their 3-4 scheme, but Dennard graded out as the best cornerback in this draft. The main thing that this defense lacks is a meanness and nastiness that was a mainstay of the Jim Johnson days as the team's defensive coordinator and Dennard would have been a solid move towards changing that.

The next two picks of wide receivers' Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt and Oregon's Josh Huff should be enough to fill the void left by the sudden departure of DeSean Jackson. While neither of these two players have the big-play explosiveness that Jackson brought to the table, they are solid possession type receivers that will give quarterback Nick Foles a few more targets on passing downs. Matthews was considered a first round pick on several expert's mock draft boards and Huff adds value with a proven ability to gain yards after the catch.

The Eagles addressed their need at cornerback with the fourth round selection of Jaylen Watkins from Florida. I like the fact that this guy played some big-time football in the SEC which should allow him to contribute right from Day 1. The Birds also added safety Ed Reynolds from Stanford in the sixth round. He decided to come out early, but draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. had him projected as a potential second round pick if he stayed in school another year.

Kelly added another one of his former Ducks to the roster with the selection of defensive end Taylor Hart in the fifth round. You have to go with the theory that the people close enough to the situation know best, so I will defer to Kelly's belief that Hart can also help bolster his defense's less than stellar pass rush.

The final pick of the draft was Wisconsin defensive lineman Beau Allen, who is projected to add some depth at the nose tackle position.

All-in-all, my official grade for the Eagles' draft would be a solid B. Draft grades and a couple of bucks will get you a coffee at your local Wawa store so do not read too much into my grade one way of the other. What I really like about the direction of this team is the way that Kelly has quickly changed this roster to reflect a team-first mentality that has brought so much success to his buddy in New England, Bill Belichick. All seven of these picks are Kelly-like players that can provide an immediate upgrade to a team that should continue to be on the rise in the NFL after winning the NFC East title in his first season at the helm.

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