Did the Philadelphia Eagles Fill Voids in the 2014 NFL Draft


Nov 8, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith (91) sacks Connecticut Huskies quarterback Tim Boyle (14) in the second half at Rentschler Field. Louisville defeated UConn 31-10. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I have to ask the question, did the Philadelphia Eagles fill their voids in the 2014 NFL Draft?  I realize the “draft experts” have issued their grades, and it’s not fair to grade a draft for maybe three years down the road, but I just need to know.  Before we jump into the analysis, a quick recap of who the Eagles picked this year:

Round 1 (26) OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville

Round 2 (42) WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

Round 3 (86) WR Josh Huff, Oregon

Round 4 (101) CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida

Round 5 (141) DE Taylor Hart, Oregon

Round 5 (162) FS Ed Reynolds, Stanford

Round 7 (224) DT Beau Allen, Wisconsin

I had the pleasure of attending the draft in New York this year, and being in The Big Apple for a nationally televised event alone is enough to give you goose bumps, but the atmosphere a few weekends back was particularly electric.  The hosts New Yorker’s were very welcoming and accommodating.  I know they get a bad rap, and at times they deserve it, but in this case the people of New York were wonderful.

I hung out with, and sat next to three die-hard Eagles fans the day prior to the draft, and during the first day.  TJ, Jim, and Jack were three of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and what’s best is they found a bar a few blocks from Radio City Music Hall which sold $3 beer!  Leave it to three guys from Philly to find cheap beer in New York.

Anyhow, the reaction inside of Radio City Music Hall when Commissioner Roger Goodell read OLB Marcus Smith’s name was sort of surprised silence.  There weren’t any “boo’s”, but there wasn’t a raucous “hooray” either.  I think many folks were surprised to see the Eagles grab Smith with the 26th pick.

I predicted in this article three weeks ago that the elite pass rushers the Philadelphia Eagles really coveted would be long gone by their number 22 selection.  I thought then, and still believe today, that the Eagles needed a guy who can put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  Their biggest area of weakness on defense is sacking the QB.  However, given the elite rushers would not be there at 22, I believed the Eagles would go after their second biggest need, which is wide receiver.

I thought Philadelphia wanted and would pick Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.  I wrote previously,

Cooks is an explosive first round talent, but Philadelphia has NOT brought him in for a pre-draft visit, as far as we know.  He’s a Jackson-like prospect at 5’10”, 189 pounds and thrives in the slot.  He was also the 2013 Biletnikoff winner as the nation’s top receiver.

When I saw Cooks falling, I was excited and thought they had a real chance to grab what would have been a perfect match for head coach Chip Kelly’s offense.  Unfortunately, though, Cooks was selected just two spots ahead of the Eagles original 22nd pick, by the New Orleans Saints.

Beyond pass rusher and wide receiver, the next logical first round selection for the Eagles was safety.  However, once again, the top two safety selections, Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, were both off the board by the Eagles 22nd spot.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL writer Matt Thornton at the 2014 NFL Draft.

So, now with the Eagles top three positions of need’s elite level talents (pass rush/receiver/safety) all taken prior to Philadelphia, the club did the right thing and traded down, eventually selecting what the team and many experts believe to be a solid outside linebacker who can pressure the QB.

Only time will tell whether Marcus Smith can collect sacks in the way the Eagles need him to, or if wide receivers Josh Matthews and Jordan Huff can fill the void left by former wide receiver DeSean Jackson.  What is certain is that Chip Kelly drafted players he is very familiar with having selected Oregon Ducks with two of his seven picks.  So, I ask the question of Eagles Nation, did Philadelphia do enough in the draft to satisfy you?

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