Grading the Philadelphia Eagles' 2013 Draft

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 01:   Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 1, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania.The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Arizona Cardinals 24-21.
Elsa/Getty Images

The common belief is that it takes several years to properly assess a team's draft class. But we don't have that kind of patience.

We were already issuing grades just hours after the Philadelphia Eagles and their 31 NFL counterparts made their picks last April. Now that one season is in the books, we're ready to reassess things in regard to the eight players the Eagles suited up as drafted rookies in 2013.


Round 1, pick 4: Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)

If the Eagles could go back and do it all again, I'm pretty sure Johnson would still be the pick. Despite being considered somewhat raw, the 23-year-old started all 16 games at right tackle, improving dramatically as the season wore on. 

It was far from a perfect rookie year. Johnson took too many penalties (eight in total) and gave up too many sacks (he was one of eight tackles to surrender 10 or more), but let's consider whom he was protecting.

Nick Foles was basically a rookie who did a poor job getting rid of the ball under pressure, and Michael Vick again spent too much time in the pocket. 

Johnson still earned a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which found that his productivity shot up during the second half of the year. 

Lane Johnson's rookie season
First eight games5.30.9
Last eight games1.90.4
Pro Football Focus

Jason Peters is 32 now, so don't be surprised if Johnson continues to emerge and becomes a franchise left tackle in a year or two. 



Round 2, pick 35: Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)

This was a somewhat questionable pick at the time, just because it didn't really appear to address a major area of need, but Ertz excelled as a rookie, catching 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a clutch touchdown grab in the Wild Card Game against New Orleans.

The 23-year-old might not be the blocker Brent Celek has become, but give him time. Like Johnson, he clearly improved during the second half of his rookie campaign, so don't be surprised if he supplants Celek as the team's top tight end in the near future. 

Most productive rookie tight ends, 2013
1. Tim Wright545715
2. Jordan Reed454993
3. Zach Ertz364694
4. Tyler Eifert394452
5. Mychal Rivera384074
Pro Football Reference

Sure, Philly could have waited and taken Jordan Reed instead. But everyone missed on Reed, including the Redskins in Round 2.

Despite not being a starter, Ertz was one of the team's top five receivers on paper. Not bad for a second-round pick playing in a deep, talented offense. 



Round 3, pick 67: Bennie Logan (DT, LSU)

It's amazing how quickly Logan made veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga expendable. He was solid from start to finish, also getting better in October, November and December. The 24-year-old is big enough to play inside and versatile enough to line up outside as a 5-technique end.

He started eight games but played in all 16, recording a pair of sacks and getting pressure a solid 22 times, per PFF, despite being a stronger run defender than pass-rusher. He might never be the stud on this line, especially with Fletcher Cox lining up to his left, but Logan has been a pleasant surprise from Round 3. 

The only reason they don't get an A+ is because Terrance Williams, Keenan Allen and Jordan Reed were all still on the board here. 



Round 4, pick 98: Matt Barkley (QB, USC)

At the time this seemed like a smart, calculated gamble. Barkley didn't look to be far from pro-ready and came into the league with plenty of big-game experience. You can't win in this league without a strong quarterback, and nobody knew at the time that Nick Foles was on the verge of exploding.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27:  Linval Joseph #97 of the New York Giants sacks  Matt Barkley #2 of the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 27, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

But regardless, this can't be viewed as a good pick now.

The Eagles obviously weren't confident enough in either Vick or Foles, which means that they misjudged their quarterbacks. And Barkley, whose stock had already been plummeting, was a complete mess as a rookie.

The 23-year-old wasn't exactly on the field in favorable situations, but nobody turns the ball over five times on only 57 dropbacks. He had a 44.6 rating in that limited sample size, which is simply terrible.

I can't see Barkley turning into anything more than a decent backup, which makes this a bad pick when you consider the areas where they could have upgraded with this pick, as well as the seventh-round selection they traded away to move up to draft him.  



Round 5, pick 136: Earl Wolff (S, North Carolina State)

The fact that Wolff started six games and recorded 45 tackles while earning a half-decent PFF grade already makes him a worthwhile fifth-round pick, giving this selection a positive grade.

However, the Eagles were desperately missing Wolff when a knee injury forced him to miss six of the team's final seven games, including that wild-card loss to the Saints.

I won't hold that against Wolff because injuries happen. But it's a slight concern moving forward. It slowed his progress, too, because he likely would have started all six of those games that he missed. 

Wolff had only one interception on 538 snaps, but he also missed only four tackles and was a sneaky-good pass rusher. The 24-year-old will compete for a starting job this summer, and the future appears quite bright. 



Round 7, pick 212: Joe Kruger (DE, Utah)

He had a solid training camp and was on track to make the roster before a shoulder injury cost him his season in late August. The strong start alone, though, makes him a worthwhile selection.



Round 7, pick 218: Jordan Poyer (CB, Oregon State)

I had high expectations for Poyer, who is versatile, strong in coverage and has a knack for making plays, but he was on the field for just 17 snaps in Philly before being waived in October.

I still contend that this was a good value pick, but Poyer just didn't work out. There was little risk involved, so it's not a complete fail. 



Round 7, pick 239: David King (DE, Oklahoma)

He wasn't able to earn a spot on the roster or the practice squad and was released before the season. Not a ton of seventh-round compensatory picks pan out, but this still counts as a soft miss for Howie Roseman and Co. 



So those three seventh-round picks didn't deliver at all, which is a shame, but it does look as though this will be a bust-free draft for Philadelphia where it counts.

Four of their top-five picks will either start or play key roles in 2014, which is something very few teams can say one year after the draft. If those four can continue to improve and excel, this will be looked at as a great draft.



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