The first part of the NFL Draft will be held in prime time this year with Round 1 on Thursday night, Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, and Rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday. The next few days should be very interesting for Eagles fans with the Birds holding 6 picks in the first 105 overall – 24, 37, 55, 70, 87, and 105. Those, along with additional picks in later rounds, will give them the ability to move up or down or stay put and hopefully get a few impact players. They may even be able to package 24 and 37 together to move up into the first half of the 1st round.
Looking back at past drafts, however, I've noticed that most of these 2nd and 3rd round picks that teams seem to hoard like gold bullion really don't amount to much. With 53-man rosters you need bodies to fill out rosters and most good teams have a dozen or so real impact players and the rest end up being no more than marginal starters or "just a bunch of guys" at the NFL level.
For instance here is a rundown of the Eagles 2nd and 3rd round picks during the Andy Reid era:
1999 – Barry Gardner LB, Doug Brzezinski G
2000 – Todd Pinkston WR, Bobbie Williams G
2001 – Quinton Caver LB, Derrick Burgess DE
2002 – Michael Lewis S, Sheldon Brown CB, Brian Westbrook RB
2003 – LJ Smith TE, Billy McMullen WR
2004 – Matt Ware CB
2005 – Reggie Brown WR, Matt McCoy LB, Ryan Moats RB
2006 – Winston Justice OT, Chris Gocong LB
2007 – Kevin Kolb QB, Victor Abiamiri DE, Stewart Bradley LB, Tony Hunt RB
2008 – Trevor Laws DT, DeSean Jackson WR, Bryan Smith DE
2009 – LeSean McCoy RB
There are a few really good ones in there and a few more where it is still too early to tell (e.g. Kolb, etc), but the majority were either disappointments or "just a guy." For the 17 players drafted in these rounds between 1999 and 2006, only 6 of the 17 were thought of highly enough to be signed to a 2nd contract by the team (Pinkston, Sheldon Brown, Westbrook, LJ Smith, Reggie Brown, and Justice).
And this is with a team who has been in the playoffs 8 of the last 10 seasons and has not exactly gone nuts signing big name free agents. It's not that the Eagles made poor draft day decisions per se. Most of these guys were rated to go around where they were picked. And if you look back, most of the 5 or so guys taken right before or after these picks had the same kind of career. If you hit on 50% of your picks in the top 3 rounds, that's a pretty good percentage. So the Eagles may hit the jackpot with some of their 2010 picks, but recent history shows it's much more likely these players will never be more than just mediocre starters for a few years.
And the part I find most entertaining about watching the NFL Draft is the arguing back and forth between the hosts, former players, "draft experts", and all of us armchair GMs. Heated arguments occasionally take place over players who most of the analysts and fans have rarely, if ever, seen play. Seriously, how much do we really know about that Offensive lineman from Maryland, other than the fact that Mel Kiper has him going in the 2nd round? The debate over whether a pick was good or not is often based on a rating of where the "experts" expect a guy to be drafted, more so than how good of a player he is.
All that being said, I'll still be glued to the TV for the draft as usual.