Over the course of the last five years the Philadelphia Eagles have had some interesting selections in the first round. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin’s selection as the nineteenth overall pick in the 2009 draft was the most exciting pick the Birds have made in that time frame. A big and fast receiver with great hands was a wonderful compliment to speedster receiver DeSean Jackson. Maclin has had some wonderful production for the Eagles over the past few years, hauling in 257 catches for a 13.4 average yards per catch and 26 touchdowns. He has thrived in his four years and remained a consistent target no matter the quarterback. He’s been a real joy to watch.
In 2010 and 2011, the Eagles unfortunately had two extreme wastes with their first round picks. Defensive end Brandon Graham had a lackluster 2010 season and tore his ACL the following season. Upon return, he continued to struggle in the Eagles’ defense system and his statistics reflected that. In 48 games he has 74 tackles and a only 11.5 sacks. This year, he made the transition to outside linebacker to better fit defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ system, but he still remains on the bench the majority of the time with linebackers Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks playing nearly every down. It’s time the Eagles part ways with this mediocre pick.
The following year, Philadelphia selected offensive tackle Danny Watkins. Although this seemed to be another boring pick, the Eagles desperately needed assistance on their front line so I went along with the show. However, Watkins was unable to make a proper transition from college to the NFL. He did not succeed at being the brick wall the Birds were in dire need of and only started a total 18 games in two years. It was a shame to see the Eagles let him walk away after just two years but not because of his talent. Watkins’ draft class was one that boasted the likes of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Kansas City defensive end Justin Houston to name a few.
The past two years though have been solid ones for the Philadelphia Eagles. Although not flashy selections, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and offensive tackle Lane Johnson have been key cogs to the defensive and offensive side of the ball respectively. Cox and company have done a fantastic job getting after opposing quarterbacks and clogging the run. Johnson has made opposing pass rushers look like children the way he bullies them upfront. He’s been an extraordinary compliment to offensive lineman Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans. Like I said, although not exciting picks, they’ve been the right selections and have benefited this team in a tremendous way.
I’m hoping the trend doesn’t circle back around to a pair of terrible picks again and the Eagles can keep up their past success. Although they’ve had successful selections in the first round with some pretty under the radar positions, I think this is the year to get someone who will make some noise; more specifically a defensive stud. Ideally the Eagles should be looking for a game-changing and hard-hitting safety to pump up this young and rising defense. At any rate, we’ll see what they do in a few months!