10 Thoughts on the Eagles Draft

Andy_reid_shirt-jpeg

(Source: philadelphiaeagles.com) 

 This is hopefully the
last post I will make on the NFL draft. Here are some random thoughts.

 1. Andy Reid (pictured
above) must have consulted former Phillies GM Pat Gillick on
his wardrobe selection for the draft. I'm certainly not a member of the Fashion
Police, but I'd like to see my team's representatives dress a little more
business-like when they are, well, conducting business, instead of looking
like they are on their way to a luau. In a sport so rooted
in military terminology and rituals, there is just
no place for a "casual Friday" look.

 

2. I hear a lot of
people complaining that they didn't draft an offensive lineman. I don't
have a big problem with this because unless they took one in the first 2 or 3
rounds, it is unlikely that the guy would have played this year anyway. You
don't see too many middle to low round offensive line picks who make immediate
contributions (see more on that in #8-10 below). If they feel the need to shore
up the interior line before the season starts, signing a veteran is the
best way to go. I do think the organization seems to have a little too much
confidence that Andy Reid and O-line coach Juan Castillo can continue making
chicken salad out of chicken-you-know-what and therefore don't see a need to
invest a high pick on the O-line. Since 2005, Winston Justice is the only
O-lineman drafted before Round 4.

 

3. I didn't see enough
of DE Brandon Graham or safety Nate Allen to have an educated opinion, but
being drafted that high, you have to assume they will contribute this year
either as starters or important situational role players. All of the players at
other positions like CB, LB, TE, and DE are most likely going to begin the
season way down on the depth chart and will likely only make significant
contributions if they are forced into action due to injuries. When you have a
pretty good team like the Eagles have had for the last decade, the late
picks they stockpile very rarely make an impact.

 

4. With 3 Defensive Ends
drafted in the top 134 picks, the Eagles seem to be hoping to increase
their chances of filling the need for another pass-rushing DE to complement
Trent Cole. Although it seems like the guy whose name nobody can pronounce who
they took in the 3rd round was a reach and probably the biggest head-scratcher in
the draft. That is the spot where perhaps the best O-lineman on the board would
have made more sense.

 

5. And they are a little
thin at WR also. Currently, they only have 4 on the roster with any
experience (Jackson, Maclin, Avant, and Baskett) and given
how Jackson and Maclin are smaller types who will likely miss some
games with nagging injuries, I wouldn't have faulted them
for spending an earlier pick on a WRthan the 5th rounder they
used on Riley Cooper.

 

6. I thought their
second-most puzzling pick was TE Clay Harbor out of Missouri State in the
4th round. It's tough to criticize a dart throw like that late in the 4th round
on a TE with a big upside. But they just signedCelek to a long-term deal,
so he'll be a backup at best for the next few years. He's also played
fullback and halfback in his career, so who knows what they have planned for
him. But my biggest problem with the pick is he apparently is not a very good
blocker. So they now have 3 TE's on the roster and none of them are
better than average blockers. If you are serious about running the football,
especially in short yardage, you need to have at least one TE on the
roster who is an above average blocker. It's been a long time since the Eagles
have had a guy like that. I can't think of any in the Reid era. You probably
have to go back to Ed West during the Ray Rhodes era.

 

7. Lately, the Eagles
have very rarely used all of their picks in the top 3 rounds. They always seem
to move up or down and just use their additional picks as trade bait. The
Eagles entered this draft with 6 picks in the top 105 and only used 4 of them. This
is a recurring pattern with this team. And the cynical side of me can't
help but wonder if money is a factor since 4th and 5th round picks
are slotted differently and get much less money than 2nd and 3rd round
picks. And we already know how much payroll they've already cut this offseason in
an uncapped year no less (between $30-40M after being $25M under the
cap
 last season) but that's another topic for another day.


8. And finally I've often questioned the strategy of trading down in the NFL
draft. I can understand it if you are a team like the Lions or Rams and you
have so many needs it makes sense to, say, trade down from your
spot in the 2nd round in exchange for extra picks in the 3rd or 4th round.
But if you are a pretty good team like the Eagles have been, I'm not sure it
makes a lot of sense for two main reasons:

 

9. First, most guys
taken after the 4th round are long shots to ever be more than backups.
Even GM Howie Roseman admitted that they felt there is only about
a 40% chance of hitting on the 55th pick in the draft, so that tells
you how much more of a crap shoot it is below that pick.

 

I don't mean to be
a wet blanket when it comes to 2nd half of the Eagles draft. But just
looking back at their drafts from 2000-2008 (omitting 2009 for now since it is
too early to tell), the only players taken in Round 4 or later who have
made significant contributions are: CorrellBuckhalter RB, AJ Feeley QB,
Thomas Tapeh FB, Sean Considine S, Todd Herremans G,
Trent Cole DE, Max Jean-Gilles G, Jason Avant WR, Omar Gaither LB,
and Brent Celek TE. I realize not all of these players have been that
good, but they have at least started 10 or more games for the team or played
significant snaps as a situational role player. By my count that's
just 10 hits out of about 46 picks in those rounds during those 9 drafts.
I don't know if that is above or below the league average over the course of a
decade, but I think the point is probably only about 25% of their picks
from rounds 4 to 7 in this draft will ever make a significant contribution
to the team, which would be 2 or 3 of the 10 guys they drafted.

 

10. And the second
reason I am not a big fan of trading down is I've always believed
that if you really like a player, you should take him. Otherwise, if you are
drafting at say 90th overall, but you think there is a good
chance that player will be there at 105 overall, that's great if you can
trade down and get him at 105 and net an additional pick, but isn't that also
taking a big risk that the guy you really wanted won't be
there? For a process that is already closer to being a roll of the
dice than a science, I think the coaches and GMs are implying
just how unsure they are about whether these draftees will be any
good. Teams seem so willing to trade down and acquire extra picks just to
increase the number of lottery tickets they are holding in their hands, hoping
to increase their chances of having picks pan out, as Howie Roseman suggested.
That is the only rationale I can see for continually trading down.

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