The Philadelphia Eagles are two years removed from the 2010 NFL draft, and it’s a good time to look back and see the progress the team made with the selections they had in the April draft. Andy Reid began the draft in his typical fashion—trading up to select a defensive lineman—and using enough picks to select 13 different players in all.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded up in the draft and selected Brandon Graham, a stud defensive end out of the University of Michigan. Graham was a phenomenal high school football player, running a 4.43 40-yard dash in his senior year of high school while earning distinction as the best high school football player in the state of Michigan. He was an All-American in college, and the hope was that he would combine with Trent Cole to give the Eagles a dynamic pass-rushing combination off the edge.
Graham progressed slowly in his rookie campaign, picking up just three sacks in 13 games before tearing his ACL. Graham began 2011 on the PUP list and made little to no impact when he finally returned, dressing for just three games and failing to record a sack. The general consensus among fans and experts is that Graham is a bust; while two years and a serious injury are far too little time to determine whether a player is a bust, Graham has not produced, and he needs to have a big season in 2012.
I think Graham might be best utilized as a 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker given his frame, but that’s not going to happen in the Eagles defense. Graham is helped by a slew of talented pass-rushing teammates in Cole, Jason Babin, Fletcher Cox, Cullen Jenkins and second-round pick Vinny Curry. Graham just needs to put it together and emerge as a playmaker on defense.
*Note: Graham’s grade of an F in no way means I think he will never make it. He might turn into a Pro Bowler, and he might not. But at this point in his career, two seasons in from being an upper first-round pick, his grade is a straight-up F.
Nate Allen headed into his rookie season as the team’s starter when Marlin Jackson tore his ACL in mini-camps, and he had a fantastic start to his NFL career. Allen intercepted a pass in his first two games and three in his first four games, winning NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month honors for September.
Allen played well in pass coverage before tearing his patella tendon in December. The injury carried over to 2011, as Allen struggled early before playing well down the stretch. He held opposing quarterbacks to just a 48.8 passer rating, picking off two passes, and he didn’t commit a single penalty in 770 defensive snaps.
I don’t think enough people realize just how good Allen has been for the Eagles in his two seasons. With all due respect to Kurt Coleman—a good football player who gives it his all every snap—Allen is not the problem for the Eagles. Coleman is. He’s just better suited as a backup.
This goes down as one of the worst draft picks of the Andy Reid Era. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was a stretch as a third-round pick out of the University of Washington, and he made absolutely no impact for the Philadelphia Eagles. Te’o-Nesheim was your typical Reid draft pick—an undersized defensive end with a high motor.
He registered just two tackles and one sack in 2010 before he was mercifully released from the team in training camp in 2011. Te’o-Nesheim signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers afterwards—remarkable that he found a new team—but his damage to the Eagles was enough to give him an F.
Trevard Lindley spent his rookie campaign buried on the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart, seeing action in 11 games while registering just 18 tackles and one interception. He was released prior to 2011, but then was re-signed after the season. He will enter next season with the opportunity to compete with Brandon Hughes and several other players for the final cornerback spot.
Keenan Clayton has spent the last two seasons as a member of the linebacker corps, seeing action at all three positions as a strong side, weak side and middle linebacker.
Clayton appeared in 112 snaps on defense in 2010 and 156 in 2011, and he probably won’t see much more action in 2012 with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks having joined the team.
The Philadelphia Eagles spent a fourth-round draft pick on Mike Kafka, taking a chance on a player who had a strong senior season at Northwestern University. Kafka is limited by his physical tools, although he is a near-genius with his ability to learn the playbook and master the West Coast offense. He will see extensive competition next season for the back-up quarterback position in 2012, going up against new draft pick Nick Foles and free-agent acquisition Trent Edwards.
Kafka has struggled when he has seen the field, throwing two interceptions among 16 passes in 2011 and posting a 47.7 passer rating when he filled in for an injured Michael Vick.
The NFL has now gone to a new two-tight end revolution, and the hope is that Clay Harbor can serve as a good complement to Brent Celek. Harbor has taken limited snaps in two seasons on the Philadelphia Eagles, totaling just 22 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns since the team spent a fourth-round draft pick on him in 2010.
Harbor hasn’t taken the next step to becoming a productive tight end yet, but he could still take that leap.
The Philadelphia Eagles spent a fifth-round pick on Ricky Sapp, so it’s not as if he was supposed to be the next Reggie White. Sapp spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve and then was waived the following training camp. He signed briefly with the New York Jets, but never saw action in an official game.
Riley Cooper has been a disappointment in the two seasons in which he has been a part of the Philadelphia Eagles, but I do give him credit for lasting this long as just a fifth-round pick. Cooper did catch 16 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown in 2011; not bad numbers from a fourth receiver.
He will have a much tougher job making the Eagles in 2012 with the addition of sixth-round draft pick Marvin McNutt, but Cooper could come back as the fifth receiver.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded Charles Scott in training camp of his rookie season, sending him to the Arizona Cardinals for sixth-round draft pick Jorrick Calvin. Scott hasn’t taken an official snap in the NFL, and he probably won’t ever at this point.
Jamar Chaney has been one of the best seventh-round picks of the Philadelphia Eagles during Andy Reid’s career. He didn’t play much as a rookie before breaking into the starting lineup when Stewart Bradley dislocated his elbow against the Dallas Cowboys.
Chaney played so well in his first start—a Week 16 game against the New York Giants—that NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger called him one of the top 10 middle linebackers in the league. Chaney racked up 16 tackles, including one for a loss, and helped hold Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to just 100 ground yards.
Chaney struggled a lot in 2011, failing to solidify the middle linebacker position. He was torched in pass coverage and didn’t help much in the running game, proving to be one of the biggest problems for a defense that was otherwise excellent last year.
He will likely step into 2012 as a backup, considering the Eagles have added DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, and Brian Rolle will be a likely starter at the outside linebacker position, but Chaney should provide depth off the bench as a nickel linebacker in passing situations.
Jeff Owens saw very little playing time in his rookie campaign, seeing three snaps before rupturing his left patellar tendon so badly that he failed his physical seven months later. Considering Owens is now coaching defensive line for a high school football team, he is likely done with his NFL career.
Andy Reid got two pretty solid defensive players with his seventh round picks in 2010—first Jamar Chaney and then Kurt Coleman. Coleman is slated to go into 2012 as the starting strong safety. He’s probably best suited as a backup, but Coleman has done admirable considering most seventh-round picks don’t make the team coming out of their rookie training camp.