4 Players the Philadelphia Eagles Will Regret Passing on in the 2013 NFL Draft
With his first draft in the books as an NFL head coach, Chip Kelly should initially be happy with the results.
Kelly and company have scouted players spattered across the country at pro days, individual workouts and showcase games.
The vast amount of time invested in properly evaluating a multitude of players inside and out was probably a rigorous and tedious one.
The payoff? The former Oregon Ducks head coach was looking at a batch of playmakers, with loads of potential at the end of the weekend.
But (and there's almost always a "but"), there are a few things the Eagles could have done differently.
As a whole, the draft was a success, but there were some guys passed over that probably shouldn't have been given the benefit of hindsight about two weeks after the fact.
From the possibility of trading out of their No. 4 pick to maybe selecting the wrong defensive end in the seventh round, let's take a gander at five decision the Eagles may end up regretting.
Round 7: Zeke Motta Instead of David King
The seventh round is at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of importance in the minds of many.
All the focus is generally centered on the first two days of the draft while the later rounds, especially the final round, are seen as of little worth.
A pick like Zach Ertz in the second round or Matt Barkley will get far more attention than the Eagles’ selection of defensive lineman David King with their final pick of the weekend.
That being said it looks like the Eagles might have missed a golden opportunity when selecting Oklahoma’s King over hard-hitting safety Zeke Motta.
With King (6’4’’, 285 pounds) expected to back up the defensive line, a franchise can never have too many big bodies to work with but this one didn’t make particular sense with a guy like Motta still on the board.
Motta, who was selected by the Atlanta Falcons a few picks after King, is a former standout in Notre Dame’s secondary and could have made an impact immediately.
It’s well known that the Eagles’ secondary has been a major weakness for past few years, but Motta brings more than just coverage ability at the safety position.
In fact, coverage isn’t even his strong point—it’s his sure tackling and communication skills.
The reason Motta makes an indelible dent from the start would be his chance to contribute on special teams.
The 6’2’’ safety was also considered to play a hybrid-linebacker role at the next level and his physical stature allows him to get down the field and lay out returners.
Even though it was the seventh round, the Eagles opted for a guy who’ll likely ride the pine this year as opposed to taking Motta—a player who can instantly help on special teams and maybe get some work in a shaky secondary.
Round 7: Michael Buchanan Instead of Joe Kruger
As previously mentioned, the seventh round probably won’t be debated on ESPN’s First Take or even NFL Network for that matter.
And while it may seem picky, the Eagles may have chosen the wrong versatile defensive end with the No. 213 overall pick.
The younger Kruger towers at 6’7’’ so his size is an obvious plus coming off the edge. But in Kelly’s new defensive scheme "versatility" is the key word, leading to the belief that Illinois product Michael Buchanan would have better suited the Eagles.
Buchanan, who stands at 6’6’’, lacks dominating upper body strength but possesses forceful hands and an impressive first step off the ball.
A guy with a high motor, the Illini standout racked up 7.5 sacks in 2011 and 4.5 this past fall. And while he weighs significantly less than Kruger (Buchanan at 255 pounds, Kruger at 269 pounds), the former Big Ten terror has the ability to play outside linebacker.
Buchanan showed at Illinois the capability to lock up tight ends at the line of scrimmage and effectively cover in the short-yardage passing game while standing up.
Plus, it says something that the New England Patriots—known for getting the most value out of their draft picks—took him with one of their last selections.
Kruger definitely has the makeup to succeed at some level in the NFL, but Buchanan has a higher motor, more flexibility and, thus, more upside.
Round 2: Johnthan Banks Instead of Zach Ertz
Zach Ertz was probably the best player on the board when the Eagles selected him at No. 35 overall.
Ertz, an All-American at Stanford, was dubbed “the next Rob Gronkowski” by ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio and Chip Kelly called him a “mismatch nightmare.”
That all sounds fantastic for an offense that clearly will be leaning heavy on the tight end in Kelly’s scheme, which is evident after the selection of Ertz and the signing of former Texan James Casey.
But, was it the biggest need at the time? No. What was? Cornerback. Was there a premier cornerback available at the time? Yes, Mississippi State’s Johnathan Banks.
Again, the Ertz pick is still a good one considering his reign of terror he went on against Pac-12 secondaries in his time as a Cardinal.
However, the failed experiment and departure of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the cornerback position in shambles.
The acquisition of former Ravens corner Cary Williams was an underrated signing, but Philadelphia knew coming into draft weekend they needed to draft at least one more at the position.
The seventh round selection of Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer—a first-team All-American last year with seven interceptions—was considered by many as the steal of the draft.
That’s a phenomenal pick and all, but when a franchise has an opportunity to fill a dire need with a battle-tested corner like Banks they should probably take advantage of doing so.
Banks, standing at 6’2’’, is a physical press corner whose man coverage skills were under-utilized at Mississippi State.
Banks shut down the SEC’s top receivers while playing for the Bulldogs and registered the stats to backup his legitimacy.
The four-year letterman started his career at safety but made the switch to cornerback as a sophomore, which proved to be a success. Banks totaled 71 tackles (11.5 for loss), three sacks, three forced fumbles, nine pass breakups and five interceptions last year.
He was also Mississippi State’s primary punt returner, averaging 10.6 yards per return.
Using the phrase “sure thing” is deadly when speaking about the NFL Draft, but Banks’ transition to the next level seems like the closest thing to it.
Was Ertz the sexy pick? Of course it was. Was it the most sensible? Eh, probably not.
Round 1: Trade Back and Get Ertz and Banks
This isn’t so much passing on a particular player as much as it’s passing on a sensible move if it was possible.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane, it was no secret that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was shopping the No. 4 overall pick.
Based on the understanding that offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher would be off the board by time Philadelphia selected, it seemed as though they’d go the trade back route if the right deal was in place.
That’s the key: if the right deal was in place. Clearly, the Eagles decided to go ahead with the fourth-overall pick and take offensive lineman Lane Johnson, an upgrade to what the team has now.
But if a favorable deal was ripe between the Eagles and, say, the San Diego Chargers or Arizona Cardinals (both looking for offensive line help), that’s something Roseman and Kelly should have pounced on.
In the past, trading back a few spots garnered a slightly later first round pick, normally at least a second selection and a few other late picks.
Say, for example, the Eagles moved back by trading their No. 4 pick to the Chargers for their No. 11 overall pick and snagged at least their second round selection.
While they would lose out on Lane Johnson, they’d likely have the opportunity to select the big boy San Diego took at No. 11—former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle D.J. Fluker.
Standing at 6’6’’ and 340 pounds, Fluker is a hefty man and would fit in on Philadelphia’s offensive line nicely.
But more importantly, the Eagles would have the Chargers’ No. 38 pick with the chance to draft Johnthan Banks and Zach Ertz in the second round. Music to Eagles fans' ears right?
That’s a dream scenario, but it was something speculated.
If they didn’t have the right trade on the table, then the Johnson selection at No. 4 was a smart decision.
But if they had a deal like the one mapped out above and turned it down, it could cost them down the road.