2014 NFL Draft Roundup:
So you mocked the Eagles 2014 draft, and you feel disappointed that they didn’t select the players you felt were perfect for the Eagles? You are not alone. In many ways, this Eagles draft was very anti-climatic. All the pieces were in place for awesomesauce: head coach Chip Kelly was visiting colleges at all their pro days, the Eagles had a small number of very public needs, the general manager was preaching BPA (best player available), and the Birds had six picks but plenty of scenarios where they traded up or traded players or traded back.
So some of you felt the team “reached”? So some of you felt unimpressed with the draft grades? So some of you felt the Eagles didn’t scale the draft board to select the one player you were convinced would takes us to the next level? Well relax. Let’s see what the goals were in this draft?
GOAL ONE: Draft an edge rusher. – If you ignored the fact that the Eagles were on record as pursuing an outside linebacker in free agency, and were even rumored to offer a draft pick and a player for the rights to the Miami Dolphins unimpressive Dion Jordan, shame on you. Despite the “insider” track that assured the Eagles would be on the offensive side of the ball selecting a wide receiver, they did exactly what was expected. With the first round selection of the 2014 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected the University of Louisville’s outside linebacker Marcus Smith. While some scoffed at the pick, it was the right pick at the right spot.
The NFL 2014 draft did not have much depth at some key positions of need for the Eagles, and the elite prospects came off far too early for the Eagles to have serious consideration to trade up. So the Eagles traded back from their 22 pick to Cleveland’s 26 pick, and also a third round pick as well. Then, at 26, the Eagles selected Smith in time to prevent any number of teams from selecting him. Whether Smith plays to the potential the Birds hope is a chapter yet to be written. But the opportunity to select an outside linebacker who can compete for playing time was there. Fortunately, the Eagles made the right move.
GOAL TWO: The Eagles were down two wide receivers from 2013. In the absence of wide receivers Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson, the team was counting on the repeat of Riley Cooper’s career year, as well as the return to form of Jeremy Maclin. However, behind those two projected starters, question marks popped up. So it again was no surprise when the Philadelphia Eagles selected wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. In Matthews, the Eagles get a highly productive big body receiver who was one of the best receivers in one of the toughest NCAA football conferences. In Huff, the Eagles get an offensive weapon who can line up in the slot or in the backfield and a player who has a great set of hands.
GOAL THREE: Depth. With the remaining four picks, the Eagles landed two defensive backs – Jaylen Watkins and Ed Reynolds – and a pair of defensive linemen – Taylor Hart and Beau Allen. All will add competition to their respective positions and are likely to make the Eagles starting roster.
In addition to drafting seven prospects (keep in mind the Eagles started with six picks), the Eagles signed an overwhelming number of undrafted free agents (UDFA), fifteen to be exact. And to top it off, the Eagles did obtain a conditional pick for the 2015 NFL Draft.
So you aren’t happy with the Eagles selections in the 2014 NFL Draft? Let’s see the kids play first. The picks were strategic, and appear to be setting up the Eagles for success over the long term as well. Sometimes it just isn’t about WHO you get but about what skills you get and when. The Eagles this year walk away from the draft with questions answered. As defending NFC East Conference Champions, that can only mean good things this year.