Philadelphia Eagles 2012 NFL Draft Report Card: Grading Every Draft Pick
Andy Reid and company grabbed the 2012 NFL draft by the throat and didn't loosen their grip until their final pick in the seventh round. The Eagles got high marks from several of the NFL draft experts including Mel Kiper Jr. and Adam Schefter.
Not every pick for the Eagles was a need pick, but they were all quality players who will have a very good shot at making the team. They were all good fits for the schemes and most of these nine players will have a shot at making an immediate impact this season.
Andy Reid has taken some criticism recently for some poor drafts. This wasn't one of them. 2011 wasn't either. Ten of the 11 players that were taken in the 2011 draft are projected to make the team this season with only Greg Lloyd Jr. expected not to. He probably spends another year on the practice squad. Technically all 11 could make the Eagles roster in some way this season.
The 2012 draft should yield similar results with at least eight of these players making the team. The only player who might not make the team, running back Bryce Brown, was the highest-rated high school recruit of all the Eagles draft picks.
No doubt this was a stellar draft class that all Eagles fans can agree deserved an "A" overall. Here is a report card on every single Eagles pick from the 2012 NFL draft.
First Round, Pick 12: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: "A+"
Fletcher Cox has seen his draft stock rise since this whole draft process was kicked into high gear following the 2011 college football season. He started out as a second-round projection and jumped as high as the favorite for the St. Louis Rams sixth overall selection. Due to some other teams trading up for other picks along with both Luke Kuechly, Ryan Tannehill and Dontari Poe being selected earlier than expected, Cox lasted all the way to the 12th overall pick.
The Eagles traded up with the Seattle Seahawks and it only cost them a fourth-round and sixth-round draft pick. They were able to get the player that was probably the highest player on their board outside of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson.
Cox is the perfect fit for the Eagles wide-nine scheme that defensive line coach Jim Washburn utilizes. He has the best size, athleticism combo of all the defensive linemen in the 2012 draft class. He runs like a defensive end but he looks like a big defensive tackle. He is listed at 295 pounds, but he looks and plays like he is about 315 pounds.
Cox is coming into the perfect situation. The wide-nine will best demonstrate his speed off the line and his ability to get into the backfield in a hurry. He also will get the least attention on the defensive line at times. Think about an obvious passing down where Washburn sends out Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. The other three players racked up 34.5 sacks last season. Fourteen teams didn't get that many sacks in 2011. Cox will get a lot of one-on-one matchups against the right guard who he will be lining up against in the wide-nine.
Jim Washburn summed up the Fletcher Cox draft pick best when he said "When God made him, he made him to be in this system right here."
Second Round, Pick 46: Mychal Kendricks, LB, California: "A-"
Luke Kuechly and Mychal Kendricks were the two best prospects coming into the draft at both the MIKE and SAM linebacker spots in the 4-3. The only reason Kuechly was ranked higher was his height. Kendricks is listed at 5'11".
Kendricks ran a faster 40 (4.47) and had a higher vertical jump (39.5) than Kuechly at the combine. There have been very few starting SAM linebacker that were under six feet tall. That is a concern for some people. The key factor to keep in mind regarding Kendricks are his incredible leaping ability make will help him cover tight ends alone in man coverage.
His job will be to make an impact against the run from his strong side spot and cover tight ends all over the field. The Eagles are expected to play primarily man coverage this season. They needed an outside linebacker who can cover tight ends all over the field and they got one.
Kendricks was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year in 2011. He covers the entire field and plays with a real mean streak at linebacker. He is the type of player that Buddy Ryan would have loved in the late 80s and early 90s.
The 2012 NFL draft has completely changed the Eagles linebacking corps. They spent a fourth-round draft pick to acquire Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. They spent their original second-round draft pick on another solid 4-3 linebacker. Both players are three down linebackers who should play about 99 percent of the defensive snaps in 2012.
Second Round, Pick 59: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: "A"
Vinny Curry had the greatest weekend a diehard Eagles fan has ever had in the history of this franchise. Not only did he get drafted by the team he grew up cheering for in Neptune, New Jersey, he got to attend the Brian Dawkins ceremony in Philadelphia last Saturday. I don't think Curry will be able to stop smiling for a long time.
Curry was a standout pass-rusher from Marshall who racked up 49 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles while at Marshall. He was the key to the defense and received consistent double-teams but still managed to put up incredible numbers on a mediocre team.
He isn't a complete defensive end quite yet. He will struggle in run support early in his NFL career. He needs to put in a situation in his first season where he can just pin his ears back and go after the quarterback. The wide-nine will allow him to do that the majority of the time he is on the field.
The Eagles like to rotate all their defensive linemen for four quarters. Curry will be rotated in primarily on passing downs. He won't get fatigued as much as he did in college. He should play about 40 percent of the snaps with the Eagles which will allow him to go at full speed on ever down without worrying about wearing down.
At the 59th overall pick, this was an incredible value for a players that some experts believed could go as early as late in the first round.
Third Round, Pick 88: Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: "B-"
Maybe the least popular Eagles draft pick. My knee jerk reaction wasn't favorable. When I watched tape on Foles prior to the draft I saw a player I didn't think was a good fit for the Eagles offense.
Foles had a slower release than you would want in a starting quarterback. He isn't a very mobile quarterback either despite being heavily recruited to play basketball coming out of high school.
I watched more tape on Foles after the selection and I did a complete 180 on the pick. He throws the most accurate deep ball and fade pass in the entire draft outside of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. His accuracy needs to get more consistent and his composure while under duress isn't good at this point.
Foles is a great project. If Andy Reid can quicken his release and work on his technique a little bit he will become a much more accurate quarterback with a really pretty deep ball. As far as his character goes, he is right up there with Andrew Luck.
I don't know if this was more of a future trade value draft pick, like Kevin Kolb turned out to be, or if Reid expects Foles to be the starting quarterback of the future. I would expect both to be the case. If Vick learns to take care of himself and the football he will be the starting quarterback in Philly for the next four or five seasons.
Foles is a really good project for Reid. He doesn't need a complete makeover on his throwing motion. He isn't a fixer upper that needs about two years of home improvement before the house becomes livable. He just needs some new windows and installation. By 2014, he should be ready to be a very good starting quarterback in the NFL, maybe sooner. Great value in the third round, even if it clearly isn't a need position.
Fourth Round, Pick 123: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: "A+"
The Eagles needed to get a slot corner and a kick return specialist. They got both late in the fourth round. Boykin's lack of size and some injury concerns dropped his value quite a bit. He was projected as high as a late first-round draft pick, but most commonly was seen in the second round in mock drafts, including my final one.
Boykin is fast, quick, physical and demonstrates great ball skills. He is more than a willing tackler as well. He has the complete skill set you want in a slot corner. His lack of height won't matter as much in the slot. As long as he can be physical with the slot receiver at the line and have the quickness to stay with the receiver in man coverage, he will thrive at the position at the next level.
Even if he bombs out as a slot corner, this is still a good pick because of his kick return ability. He had the second most kick return yards in SEC history and also had three 100-yard returns in his college career.
In the fourth round, the Eagles took care of two different needs with one player. That is what you call a value pick.
Fifth Round, Pick 153: Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue: "B"
Heading into the fifth round the Eagles didn't have any need that needed to be addressed. They got their slot corner, they got their return specialist. They also got two elite pass-rushers that will fit right into the wide-nine scheme and they also got a starting-caliber outside linebacker.
After the fourth round, every pick from then on was a luxury pick. It was about finding players who could develop into starters down the road. Dennis Kelly is that type of player.
Kelly is a great project for Howard Mudd. He is a staggering 6'8", 321 pounds. The Eagles could have a really physical basketball team along with 6'9" King Dunlap. Kelly is more than just a big body. He has good feet for a mammoth tackle and he moves well laterally.
He has a great deal of upper body strength as he showed at his pro day when he bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times. Mudd will have to turn that big, strong body into a quality pass-protecting left tackle, where he is being projected at.
Worst-case scenario, the Eagles might have the best field-goal blocking team in the league now. They already had King Dunlap lining up as a defensive tackle on the field-goal blocking unit along with one of the fastest players in the NFL, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie coming off the edge. Now they can add Kelly to the middle of that line. There will be no low kicks coming through against the Eagles in 2012.
Sixth Round, Pick 194: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: "A-"
The Eagles got a steal in the sixth round with one of the most polished wide receivers in the draft. Marvin McNutt is an exceptional route-runner with great hands and body positioning. He does lack elite speed and has struggled to gain separation with the elite corners in college.
McNutt is exactly what the Eagles need at wide receiver. They have two deep threats on the outside. They need a quality possession receiver for those critical third-down and red-zone situations. They got a good one in McNutt.
I like comparing McNutt's 2011 season with Alshon Jeffery's. Neither player had much help around them this past season. Jeffery had a down season with 49 receptions for 762 yards and eight touchdowns. McNutt had a monster year on a dull offense. He had 78 catches, 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The difference between the two players is Jeffery is a great athlete but not a clean route-runner and not quick in his routes either. McNutt is a little bit quicker but a lot more polished in his routes.
I expect the Eagles to use McNutt a lot inside the 20. They need a reliable receiver over the middle and I believe they got one. Great value very late in the draft.
Sixth Round, Pick 200: Brandon Washington, OG, Miami: "B+"
Another great project for Howard Mudd. If he decides to stay on for at least two or three more seasons, he might have the most physical line in his prestigious career. Brandon Washington is a bit of a project. He played both tackle and guard at Miami, but I expect him to be permanently moved to guard in the NFL.
He isn't athletic enough to play tackle on either side at the next level, but boy is he physical enough to play guard. He is the type of player you want to run behind because he will push his man back in a hurry, especially in Mudd's aggressive blocking scheme.
He will have to really clean up his technique to become a starter, but physically he is ready for pro football.
Seventh Round, Pick 229: Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State: "B"
The seventh round is all about taking chances. The New England Patriots selected Alfonzo Dennard in the final round. He was rated as high as the second round by some people until he allegedly punched a cop in Lincoln.
The Eagles took a similar risk in running back Bryce Brown. Brown was rated higher than Trent Richardson coming out of high school by some scouts. He is certainly one of the most physically talented running backs in the draft, but he is far from reliable.
He never honored either of his college commitments to Tennessee or Kansas State. He seemed more interested in becoming an NFL player than he was at being a team player in college. Maybe a pay check will change his motivation at the next level.
He is a big, strong back at 6'0", 223 pounds but is also an athletic back as he proved at the combine with a 4.47 40. He has all the athletic ability to be a star at the next level, but we all know it takes more than physical ability to make it at the next level.
It's a very good situation for Brown as he will have the perfect mentor in LeSean McCoy. McCoy has always been the ideal team player who is also about to get a serious payday. Brown can learn from McCoy and maybe get a serious payday of his own one day.