Could Johnny Manziel End Up With The Philadelphia Eagles?
Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel runs the shuttle dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Well, I guess that’s over with.
In a recent ESPN interview, Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson sat down with Stephen A. Smith to discuss his recent dismissal from the Philadelphia Eagles. You can read about the interview here.
About the most interesting thing to come out of it was Jackson relaying what he recalls from the fateful phone conversation with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Jackson described it with words like “deep” and “personal” but apparently despite all that, Kelly didn’t tell him why aside from that the coach felt it was best for everyone involved.
Well, don’t feel bad, DeSean. We’re still in the dark, too. The Eagles hold DeSean Jackson in the same regard as their own fans when it comes to explaining their reasoning for letting a Pro Bowl wide receiver walk. Think about that for a while.
In any event, it’s time to turn our attention to what will be the most exciting Eagles draft in years. In just about a month we’ll learn how exactly the Bird plan to address their numerous holes on the defensive side of the ball (and the recently self-created hole on the offensive side of the ball).
Why so exciting? Unlike last year when the list of potential picks was very narrow because the Eagles were drafting so high, last season’s success and the lower draft pick means no one has any idea of they’re going to do. Heck, the Eagles don’t even know what they’re going to do.
How could they? Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has often discussed his draft strategy, which is taking the best player available. Not necessarily drafting for need. No, they’re drafting quality.
Gone are the days when the announcement of Philly’s first round pick was met with momentary silence by ESPN and NFL Network hosts, while someone in the video room was scrambling through the “Day 2” pile of highlight tapes (see Watkins, Danny, 2011 NFL Draft). That was a different strategy for a different time. Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid drafted purely for need. If he felt the team most needed a guard, he was going to draft a guard in the first round, even if none of the players rated higher than a third-round pick.
Was that wrong? The Eagles certainly had mixed results, but I understand where they were coming from. If your team needs a certain position, you want the best available player to fill that position.
The new strategy, however, makes for a different kind of unpredictability. Most of us believe the Eagles need help at safety and linebacker, first and foremost, but this is not a regime you believe will force such a pick if the best player available is of a different position. Last year’s draft was a perfect example. If you expected the Eagles to take Matt Barkley with their 98th selection, rather than addressing any of their defensive needs, you were one of the few. But the Eagles had Barkley rated higher on their draft board than any other player, and they grabbed him.
This year will be a better test of the Eagles’ resolve with that strategy. Take a look at the player ratings for the upcoming draft on ESPN. Take a look at the NFL Draft order.
NFL teams will grade players out using their own metrics, but just imagine for a second if most of their boards looked like the ESPN rankings. Right around pick No. 22, the Philadelphia Eagles would be in line to take UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.
But we all know all draft boards are not created equally, and if Andy Reid taught us anything it was that you never know what to expect out of teams on draft day. So, it’s very likely we’ll see some of those higher-rated players falling in the first round. And that brings us to the player rated No. 21, just one spot above where the Eagles are picking.
The Eagles do not appear to have a need at quarterback, but if their strategy is solely to draft the best available players, and Manziel is the best on the board when they go on the clock in Round 1, would Kelly and Roseman make such a move? It seems to be far from a need and would likely make Philadelphia explode, but, well….
Plenty of things to ponder as the days until the draft tick away.