Philadelphia Eagles Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
No matter when and where the Birds pick, we’ll have all the details right here.
Entering the draft, the Eagles were in possession of six selections, beginning with the No. 22 pick in Round 1. This organization is no stranger to wheeling and dealing, though. General manager Howie Roseman has since traded up and down the draft board numerous times.
A handful of rostered players are undoubtedly on the trade block as well.
We’ll learn more in the coming days. Round 3 is set to wrap up on May 10 beginning at noon ET from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Keep it here for all of the latest developments concerning Philadelphia.
[TRADE] Round 1, Pick No. 26: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
This began innocently enough. Not content to hold only six selections in a stacked draft, with many of their perceived top targets off the board and the Cleveland Browns chomping at the bit to move up, the Eagles traded out of the No. 22 pick. Philadelphia dropped four whole slots in exchange for a third-rounder.
That’s tremendous value, which general manager Howie Roseman should be applauded for, even if it was sort of a no-brainer. With Nick Foles firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, the Eagles had no interest in Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, so getting anything for a minimal drop down the board was great.
Then the Eagles arguably committed one of the cardinal sins of drafting, possibly reaching to fill their need for a pass-rusher with Marcus Smith. Most rankings had Smith rated as a second- or even third-round prospect. CBSSports.com listed him as the 61st-best player in the draft. Scouts Inc. (subscription required) buried him at 80th.
Why the huge discrepancy between projections and where he actually went? Perhaps in part because Smith only had one productive season of college ball. The AAC Defensive Player of the Year racked up 18.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in 2013, which was more than the rest of his career combined.
Smith does have experience at outside linebacker, or lining up most anyplace for that matter, so at least he should fit Philly's scheme. And it is entirely possible due to the lack of pass-rushers for 3-4 defenses in this year’s draft he was always going a lot higher than his ranking—certainly before the Birds’ next pick at No. 54.
He also could fill the team’s biggest need. The Eagles finished 20th in the NFL in sacks last season, plus Trent Cole is about to turn 32 and his salary cap figure balloons to in excess of $11 million next season according to Spotrac. There is no time to waste. they must begin grooming a potential replacement right away.
Still, for an organization that preached “best player available” all offseason, this was a surprise.
[TRADE] Round 2, Pick No. 42: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Eagles are no stranger to wheeling and dealing on draft day, and they're already at it again on Day 2. This time, Howie Roseman sent Philadelphia's fourth-round pick—No. 122 overall—to the Tennessee Titans to jump 12 spots, from No. 54 to No. 42.
Their selection: the anti-DeSean Jackson, Jordan Matthews.
The highly productive wide receiver out of Vanderbilt is a bigger, stronger target for quarterback Nick Foles than Jackson who will not sacrifice too much in the way of speed. At 6'3", Matthews has ideal height to play outside the numbers, and runs well for a receiver his size, clocking a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash according to NFL.com.
Matthews was also a highly productive against SEC competition, leading the conference in receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,477) as a senior. Over his last two seasons alone, Matthews hauled in 206 passes for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Most of all, he doesn't come with the diva mentality and questionable off-field behavior that likely led to Jackson's release. Scouting reports describe Matthews as a professional.
The Eagles desperately needed to bolster their receiving corps, and the move up wasn't too pricey. Great selection for the Birds.
Round 3, Pick No. 86: Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
Philadelphia began the day with two selections in Round 3, but opted to swap the pick they got from the Cleveland Browns (No. 83) for moving down in Round 1 in exchange for choices later. The Eagles now own the Houston Texans' fourth and fifth (Nos. 101 and 141), the former of which will open Day 3.
Then the Birds picked from their original slot for the first time this weekend, and it was something of surprise. Everybody knew wide receiver was a need coming into the draft, but Josh Huff makes back-to-back pass-catchers for Chip Kelly
Nothing against Huff, who could be a decent pro. Then again, there's nothing particularly special that stands out about him, either. Not on the stat sheet, not in workouts.
Huff posted 62 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, which accounts for roughly half of his career production. At 5'11", 206 pounds, he has only adequate size. With a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash according to NFL.com, he has only adequate speed.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly did recruit Huff at Oregon though, so I guess he knows exactly what the offense is getting. And it's not like the team didn't need another wide receiver, but two this early? Hm...
[TRADE] Round 4, Pick No. 101: Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
The Eagles sent a third-round pick to the Houston Texans for a fourth and a fifth on Friday, earning the privilege to make the first selection on Day 3 for the second year in a row. They wound up getting great value out of it.
Jaylen Watkins didn't have an especially productive career at Florida—at least as far as impact plays are concerned—recording just three interceptions, zero sacks and zero forced fumbles in four seasons. That being said, this kid has all the tools to succeed at the next level.
It turns out Watkins was one of the fastest and strongest cornerbacks invited to the combine this year, according to NFL.com's tracker. 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash was tied for fifth, while 22 reps in the bench press was the most of anybody in his position group.
But what likely appeals most to Chip Kelly is Watkins' versatility. He played all over the defense, lining up outside the numbers, in the slot and at safety during his time at Florida. He contributes on special teams as well.
At 5'11", Watkins is just a shade undersized for the outside compared to the corners the Birds have targeted in recent years. However, that's a little less important given his other qualities. A great value for this point in the draft.
RB Bryce Brown Traded to Buffalo Bills for Future Draft Pick
Adam Schefter for ESPN reports the Eagles have agreed to send third-year running back Bryce Brown to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015. The pick can become a third-rounder in '16, the criteria for which was not immediately known.
A seventh-round pick in 2012, Brown exploded on to the scene during his rookie season with back-to-back 150-plus-yard/two-touchdown rushing performances while filling in for LeSean McCoy. Fumbles marred an otherwise promising campaign.
Brown had far less success under Chip Kelly in '13. He struggled to to go forward in Kelly's rushing attack, averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry in nine of the 14 games he touched the ball. He didn't offer much in the passing game, either.
The writing was on the wall for Brown once Philadelphia traded for Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints. Brown could be a starting running back in the NFL, but the Eagles are going in a different direction. Oh yeah, and they have the reigning NFL rushing champion in LeSean McCoy.
Still, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Eagles would get more than a sixth-round pick for Brown, if that. The body of work simply isn't there. This was a fleece-job by general manager Howie Roseman.
[TRADE] Round 5, Pick No. 141: Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
No. 141 was the second of two picks the Eagles received in exchange for No. 83 overall. As for the selection itself, it was very easy to see coming.
Philadelphia sorely needed to add depth along the defensive line, and Taylor Hart certainly fits that bill. At 6'6", 281 pounds, Hart has the natural size and strength to make it as a 5-technique at the next level.
And if any team knows what they are getting in Hart, it's the Eagles. Obviously, Chip Kelly was the head coach at Oregon, but when he made the jump to the NFL, he brought defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro with him. The defensive scheme won't be exactly the same under defensive coordinator, but Hart should play a similar role to the one he did in college.
Hart's production dropped off a bit as a senior, as he went from 11.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks in 2012 to 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in '13. However, his job won't be as much about numbers as it will be doing the dirty work.
Hart should be able to step into the defensive line rotation immediately, and may eventually be able to earn a starting job. You may understandably roll your eyes over another Oregon pick, but this simply made too much sense.
Round 5, Pick No. 162: Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
For just the second time in this year's draft, the Eagles chose in their original slot. By staying put, they were able to address arguably the biggest remaining need on the roster, taking safety Ed Reynolds out of Stanford.
At 6'1", 207 pounds, Reynolds was one of the bigger safeties in this year's class. Based on combine results via NFL.com, he's not a bad athlete, either, clocking in at 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He could probably stand to get stronger though.
A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, Reynolds finished second in the conference with six interceptions in 2012, returning three for touchdown—tops in the nation. He had just one pick as a senior however.
Whether or not Reynolds has the tools to succeed at the next level remains to be seen, but he has the measurables. Plus, you count on intelligence coming out of Stanford, which is not unimportant for the safety position. Not an overly sexy pick, but fills a need and could develop into a reliable backup at the very least.
[TRADE] Round 7, Pick No. 224: Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin
As if a future fourth-round pick (that can become a third) wasn't enough for Bryce Brown, the Buffalo Bills kindly allowed Philly to move up 13 spots in the seventh round, too. It might not sound like much, but it's something.
As for the pick, Wisconsin's Beau Allen rounds out the draft, and I like the pick. Bennie Logan was very effective at nose tackle last season, and he's bulking up. But who would play there if Logan went down?
Last season, it would've been Damion Square, an undrafted free agent out of Alabama. That would be a disaster. Square barely made a dent in the little bit of playing time he got last season, and probably isn't big enough to anchor the middle of a defense anyway.
If there's one thing Beau has, it's size—plenty of it in fact. He's 6'2", 333 pounds, which is both ideal height and weight for a nose. He'll occupy blockers with sheer size, but isn't so big they'll be able to get underneath his pads.
He's not a guy who's going to fill out the stat sheet, but he can come spell Logan, or Logan can even move outside for a proper a "heavy" or goal-line package. My guess is the Eagles were eying him all along, which is why the move up actually ended up being important.
My only concern with the pick, which prevents this from being an "A" grade, is that the team did not come up with an offensive guard in this draft. Oh well.