Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Eagles Decide to Go Back to the Future in the 2016 NFL Draft

The Eagles made front page news with their deal to move up to the No. 2 overall spot in next Thursday’s opening round of the NFL Draft. They appear to be trying to recreate the magic of 1999 when first year head coach Andy Reid selected quarterback Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse with the second overall pick in that year’s draft. That duo never brought home a NFL title in their 11 years together in Philly, but it was still a very successful run that included five trips to the NFC Championship Game and one Super Bowl appearance.

Doug Pederson was Reid’s starting quarterback in 1999, while McNabb waited patiently in the wings to take over the helm later that season. Now that he is the new head coach of his old team, Pederson must think that San Bradford will be more than willing to play the same role for either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff while they wait their turn to become the next great franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.

There is also a very good chance that whichever of these two top-rated quarterbacks does have his name called when the Eagles are on the clock at No. 2 will get booed by the Philly fans in the crowd just like McNabb did back in '99. Going back to that pick, the Philly faithful wanted the Eagles to select running back Ricky Williams, out of Texas. This time around, the Boobirds hopes were pinned on getting former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with the eighth overall pick (I know because I was one of them). Instead, we get a quarterback (at a much higher price) that would have to really raise their game to match what McNabb accomplished in his 11-year career in Philadelphia.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it sounds like Deja vu all over again. However, I am not convinced that things are going to work out like they did for Reid and McNabb. It is a different world today for NFL quarterbacks and whichever player the Eagles end up drafting will immediately be under the microscope in one of the toughest sports towns in the country. This will be true even if they are on the bench at the beginning of the new regular season. My big question is how motivated will Bradford be as the current starter knowing that he is just a stop-gap measure until Pederson decides his rookie quarterback is ready to go. This situation could easily result in our new franchise signal-caller getting pressed into service much earlier than expected once the Eagles tank in their first few games.

All I know is that Philly has just taken itself out of any talk about winning the 2016 NFC East Division title and into a rebuilding mode that will probably result in five or six wins this season. Before this move, the Eagles had a good chance to add a few key players on both sides of the ball with all the picks they did have. I still think that it would not have taken all that much to get back to the playoffs this season in a watered-down division. Unfortunately for Eagles' fans, team vice-president and de facto director of player personnel Howie Roseman decided the best move was to mortgage the present while possibly mortgaging the future at the same time. All this could still go back to the fact that Chip Kelly was largely responsible for bringing Bradford to Philly in the first place. What ever Kelly had done, Roseman seems hell-bent on undoing as quickly as possible.

I thought that drafting McNabb over Williams was the right move, but the Eagles already had the No. 2 pick in that draft so they did not have to give-up anything to get him. Neither of the two quarterbacks (Wentz or Goff) that the Eagles are gunning for strike me as a can't-miss pick like Andrew Luck or even Marcus Mariota. The hype surrounding both of these over-hyped quarterbacks obviously got the best of Roseman and Pederson's imagination. Unfortunately, they have put on their rose-colored glasses and put this beleaguered franchise in a prime position to take a major step backwards if or in my opinion when this over-zealous speculation does not live-up to reality.

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