The Best And Worst From The Eagles’ Draft


Now that draft weekend is over and the grades are in, let’s take an alternate view at transpired at Radio City Music Hall in New York City this past weekend.

By Steve Fini

Best Player taken: Fletcher Cox DT – Most first-round picks should be the best player that a team takes, but sometimes that’s not the case. For Philadelphia, however, Cox figures to play the biggest role of all their picks. There are three different criteria that combine to make a successful pick. The first is value. The Eagles had to forfeit their fourth and sixth-round picks to move up to the twelfth spot, but since Cox was a possibile top-ten player the Eagles received value here. It was imperative the Eagles traded in front of the Rams because they would have taken Cox two picks later.

The second component is schematic fit. With Cox possibly being the best interior pass rusher in this class, he is a perfect fit for Jim Washburn’s wide-nine scheme.

The third is need. A lot of fans leading up to the draft read about Cox maybe going to the Eagles and complained that defensive tackle wasn’t a need. But it was. The Eagles were ranked 31st in league in rush yards allowed up the middle last season. While the defensive tackles didn’t play poorly, that’s an area in need of improvement. In the wide-nine system the two defensive tackles play different roles. One is the nose tackle which anchors the line (and will sometimes penetrate). The Eagles are extremely strong at this position with Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri all playing here. The other is what is called the under tackle which is responsible for creating interior pressure. Cullen Jenkins was the only player that really fit this mold. Fletcher Cox fits the under tackle position perfectly with his ability to beat offensive linemen one-on-one and his ability to get penetration.

Biggest head scratcher: Dennis Kelly OT – Most people would think that the selection of quarterback Nick Foles was the biggest surprise but I don’t see it that way. The pick of Kelly is the one that really stood out from this perspective. First, given the Eagles’ draft history, it’s surprising that they waited until pick 153 to draft an offensive lineman. More surprisingly, Kelly doesn’t seem like the best fit for Howard Mudd’s system. He’s really tall at 6’8 and doesn’t show the kind of athleticism Mudd usually looks for in his players. King Dunlap is tall but he’s also very athletic for his size. What’s more, many scouts projected Kelly as a sixth or seventh-round selection, so he may have gone off the board a bit prematurely. Apparently the Eagles saw something with this guy, so I’ll give Howard Mudd the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Best Value: Brandon Boykin CB – You could go a number of ways with this, like defensive end Vinny Curry or guard Brandon Washington. But Boykin is by far the best value. Some big boards had Boykin as a top 60 overall player but the Eagles were able to select him with the 123rd pick. He’s likely going to be called upon as the main kick and punt returner for this team and should have a great chance to beat out Joselio Hanson as the team’s third cornerback. Injury is a concern, but if Boykin can stay on the field than he has a chance to be a very effective player.

Player Most Likely to Surprise: Chris Polk RB – I’m going to go outside of the draft for this choice and say UDFA Chris Polk will turn some heads. Polk was a tremendous running back for the University of Washington. Many viewed Polk as a possible second round pick and future starting running back in the NFL. He has good size and strength for a smaller frame and the ability to run both inside and outside. Like Boykin, he dropped in the draft because of injury concerns. Polk says he is completely healthy and the injury rumors going around were overblown. If he’s right, the Eagles just signed a great backup and perfect complement to LeSean McCoy. Polk and seventh-round draft pick Bryce Brown will be one of the more interesting camp battles to keep an eye on, with Polk eventually emerging.

Late rounder with instant Impact: Marvin McNutt WR – it would be easy to say that Cox or linebacker Mychal Kendricks will have the most instant impact seeing as though they’re each projected starters. But if you go outside of the first three rounds, Marvin McNutt could play a significant role, too. I put him on my “late round flyers” list a few months before the draft because he possesses some skills the Eagles previously didn’t have at receiver. For one, he has size. At 6-3, 212-pounds he can be a good red zone weapon for the Eagles because he can go up and get the ball at its highest point. Second, he’s got great hands. I’ve watched him make unbelievable catches in big time situations during his time at Iowa. He can make tough catches in traffic and although he doesn’t have elite speed he still managed to run a 4.54 at the combine. He plays fast, and he plays tough. The Eagles have just put Riley Cooper on notice.

The Pick Worth Defending: Nick Foles QB – So almost everyone hated this pick. I’ll admit that I did a double take when the name Nick Foles scrolled across the screen. But after a few minutes I really didn’t mind the choice. I’m not sure why so many people were against the Eagles selecting a quarterback. Did I want them to take one in the third round? No. But they had gotten great value with their first three picks, so taking a shot on Foles is fine if they think something is there. Let’s face it, Mike Kafka isn’t anything special. Between Foles and incumbent backup Mike Kafka, I’ll take Foles’ abilities every time. Kafka will probably be the backup to Mike Vick this year, but Foles’ pure ability gives him more upside. He stands tall in the pocket, takes hits, and has an above average arm. He’s also a long time starter and student of the game. It really made me wonder why scouts liked Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler over Foles. Say what you will about Reid, but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to quarterback development.