Reading Reid

As we inch closer to the upcoming athletic auction known as the NFL Draft, everyone is donning their Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock hats, feverishly attempting to predict who the Eagles will select. They have 12 picks (for now), so the possibilities are limitless. Trade up, trade down, stay pat, or unload everything for a glorified tight end like Anquan Boldin, or a guy with hands of stone like Braylon Edwards.

Of course, what we the fans want and what Reid and Co. will actually do are two completely different things. I’ve always been amused by mock drafts. There’s a reason why draft experts and fans are not General Managers. As much as it hurts to admit, collectively we don’t know squat about evaluating prospects. I watch a bunch of college football games and player highlight packages, but I am not privy to the same info as scouting departments and talent evaluators.

For example, a lot of people are tossing around the name Eben Britton. I never saw Arizona play once in the last two seasons. I wonder if all these people typing his name on message boards have ever seen him actually play. Let’s be honest here – do any of us pay much attention to the left tackle when we watch a game? It’s not like game broadcasts focus on the tackle position. Unless the commentators choose to isolate a particular lineman, it’s next to impossible to tell how good a tackle really is.

According to NFL.com and draftcountdown.com, Britton does not pass protect well and will be better suited to play right tackle in the NFL. If that’s the case, why would the Eagles pick him? They just signed a starting right tackle to a 6-year deal. But can we really trust what the draftniks think? Maybe Reid loves Britton and thinks he can be a starting left tackle. Only Reid knows.

To help us get a feel for what the Eagles might do in April, we can use history as a barometer. Let’s take a look at Andy Reid’s ten drafts to see if any distinct patterns emerge.

  • 1999 Draft – Positions drafted (in order): QB, LB, OG, OT, S, WR, FB, WR, TE, DT
  • 2000 Draft – Positions drafted: DT, WR, OT, WR, RB, DE, C
  • 2001 Draft – Positions drafted: WR, LB, DE, RB, TE, QB
  • 2002 Draft – Positions drafted: CB, S, CB, RB, C, WR, LB, DE
  • 2003 Draft – Positions drafted: DE, TE, WR, DE, OT, S
  • 2004 Draft – Positions drafted: OG, CB, S, OG, FB, QB, CB, OG, RB, C
  • 2005 Draft – Positions drafted: DT, WR, LB, RB, S, OT, DE, OG, OT, DT, LB
  • 2006 Draft – Positions drafted: DT, OT, LB, OG, WR, WR, LB, DT
  • 2007 Draft - Positions drafted: QB, DE, LB, RB, S, TE, CB, FB
  • 2008 Draft – Positions drafted: DT, WR, DE, OG, S, CB, OG, LB, LB, OT

Here’s a few things that pop out:

- Reid loves his O-lineman, but 2004 (Andrews) was the only year he used a 1st round pick on one.

- He’s never used a 1st round selection on a running back, tight end, offensive tackle, center, linebacker or safety.

- Four times he’s drafted a defensive lineman in the 1st round.

- He’s traded up twice (’03 and ’04) and traded out twice (’07 and ’08).

- He’s never drafted a kicker or punter.

Here’s a position by position breakdown:

Position Total # drafted
QB 4
RB 6
FB 3
WR 11
TE 4
OL 18
DL 15
LB 10
CB 6
S 7

The Reid philosophy has always been to focus on the trenches. He wisely realizes teams are built from the inside out. Only six running backs and six corners is a little surprising. However, when you consider Duce Staley was in his third season when Andy arrived in ’99 and Westbrook came along  in 2002, it’s no wonder why RB hasn’t been a priority. Only two corners have been drafted since 2004. Asante Samuel and Joselio Hanson have much to do with this, but it might be time to grab another one, especially with Jack Ikegwuonu still a question mark.

Ironically, the positions most in need this year are ones Reid has never used a 1st rounder on: OT, RB, TE and S. It seems likely this trend will be snapped, provided both the 21st and 28th picks are kept.

Based on Reid’s history, I think the probability of a tight end like Brandon Pettigrew in the 1st round is not good. It would make more sense to land a potential downfield threat like Jared Cook, Cornelius Ingram or Shawn Nelson in the 2nd or 3rd round.

As for running back, I could see them either moving up to get Knowshon Moreno or trading the 21st pick if they can’t move up to get him. Denver at #12, San Diego at #16 and Tampa Bay at #19 are all possible destinations for Moreno. The Broncos have collected a bunch of castoffs, the Chargers are aware LT is nearing the end, and the Bucs are looking to replace the oft-injured Cadillac Williams. The Browns at #5 and Bengals at #6 also need a franchise back, so either might consider trading back with one of the above teams to get Moreno later.

Chris Wells doesn’t fit the West Coast offense. Donald Brown and LeSean McCoy would be fits. Both have been labeled as late 1st rounder or early 2nd rounders. If that’s the case, the Eagles could use the 28th pick or trade back into the top of the 2nd and still get their man.

Here’s what Tom Heckert had to say about the RB position:

“Over time it has been proven that you can find backs later on,” Heckert said. “We obviously haven’t been great at it. We got Brian [Westbrook, a third-round pick in 2002], but if you look around the league, there are good players taken in the fourth and fifth round.”

Remember names like Andre Brown, Mike Goodson and Marlon Lucky in rounds 2-4. These are the guys they may be targeting.

Heckert added that Wells would be a “good fit.” I guess he expects us to believe that. Hey, I’m a huge Wells supporter, but the guy doesn’t match Reid’s vision of a running back (see Buck, B-West, Moats, Booker).

Offensive line is a need, but maybe not in the 1st round. If Herremans or Andrews is the answer at left tackle, I doubt Reid would use an early pick on a tackle. What about a center or guard? He’s never used a high pick on a center and the guard class is weak. I’ve already posted about the possibility of trading up to acquire an elite tackle. If they want someone, they have the ammo to make a move.

So, what can we conclude from studying the trends? Probably not a damn thing, but here it goes:

-A tight end in the 1st round seems remote.

-The only time Reid has picked an offensive lineman in round 1, he traded up to land him.

-He isn’t afraid to move out of the opening round if he feels he can still get the player he wants (see Kolb and DeSean).

-Running backs can be found in later rounds. Heckert said it, and history backs up his assertion.

-The Eagles are due to draft a cornerback.

-Linebacker? Maybe, but not early.

-Don’t count on a kicker or punter coming off the board.

-More than 1/3 of Reid’s selections have been D/O linemen. Count on a couple more in April.

I’ll stop now. I think I’ve successfully exhausted the topic. The important thing to remember is Reid will move around if necessary; just don’t expect him to suddenly alter when and where he drafts certain positions. Maybe he’ll pick a running back and tight end in the first round, but history says don’t bet on it. Old habits die hard when it comes to Big Red.

Tags: And Reid NFL Draft Philadelphia Eagles Who Will The Eagles Draft In 2009

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