This is an assessment of what the Eagles have done under Andy Reid and through this process predict what direction they will go in the future. This is by no means an absolute science, but Reid as Vice President of Football Personnel certainly has a significant impact on drafting. Despite new GM Howie Roseman, I doubt the Eagles will deviate from the path they have already established.
First we'll look at the positions of need:
In ten drafts under Reid, the Eagles have selected eight DEs. Which is the joint second highest number after WRs. They have also drafted four in the top four rounds including Jerome McDougal in 2003. Don't be surprised if the Eagles go hard after another in the first round having given up almost their whole draft to take J-Mc in 2003. That failure will not necessarily put them off.
I have seen a lot of people simulate in their mock drafts that Sean Wetherspoon, Daryl Washington, and Navarro Bowman to the Eagles. I am about ninety percent certain this will not happen. The Eagles have never taken a LB in the first round in ten years. The highest round the Eagles have drafted one is the second and that was back in 2005 with Matt McCoy.
They have taken ten total LBs in ten years but their average draft position is the fifth round (second last along with TEs and just behind FBs). The Eagles proved how highly they value the position by releasing a solid veteran in Will Witherspoon because they owed him $5 million in a year with no cap. Instead they got Chris Gocong, Akeem Jordan, and Omar Gaither on the cheap with RFA tenders. This personifies the Eagles MO on LBs; three bodies are better than one.
I believe this area may well be the one the Eagles decide to target. They valued the position high enough to make a big splash in FA on Asante Samuel and they have drafted three players in the top three rounds since 1999. Despite this, only five CBs have been drafted by Ried and that, obviously, is not a particularly high number.
However, we must consider the Eagles had Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, and Al Harris for the first five years of that period. In 2002, with their contract and age situations, meant the Eagles drafted both Lito Shepherd and Sheldon Brown in rounds one and two and trading away Harris in the same draft, failing to resign Taylor and Vincent in 2003.
I believe this year's situation is fairly similar with Samuel's weaknesses being exposed and Brown wanting a new contract. Both are also about to enter their thirties. I also would not be too surprised to see the Eagles try to make a move for former Patriot Leigh Bodden who had a very good 2009 season.
Another position the Eagles do not value highly enough to add in the first round. Taylor Mays? I doubt it.
In ten years, Reid may have drafted eight of them, but just one in the top three rounds. The highest S was Michael Lewis, taken all the way back in 2002 in the second round. Of course, the Eagles had Brian Dawkins at FS for the decade, but they consistently had poor play from the other safety position and yet refused to make a high draft pick on one. Quintin Mikell is a very good safety, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, and I can't see the Eagles taking a guy like Mays or trading up for Eric Berry.
The Eagles have taken sixteen interior linemen in the NFL draft in ten years. Compare that to other NFL teams and I'm certain you'll find it's extremely high. The number includes C but few of them have been drafted. Shawn Andrews was the highest OG pick by the Eagles in the middle of the first round and with both his and his brother's situation uncertain, don't be surprised if the Eagles go that direction when draft day comes around.
Nine of the sixteen were taken in the top four rounds (although 6/9 were taken in the fourth) which is a ridiculous amount. Don't forget that the Eagles like to shift O-linemen around and Andrews was an OT coming out of college. The Eagles may take an OT if one falls to them and then kick them inside if they think they have the ability.
Again, I would be hugely surprised if the Eagles took a first round RB. They have never done so and it would have been intriguing if Moreno had fallen last year. Would the Eagles have taken him? I for one doubt it and in hindsight would the Eagles have even taken Brandon Pettigrew if Maclin had not been available?
Seven have been drafted by Reid with five in the first four rounds, which is a pretty solid number. However, only one in the top two rounds, which was of course Lesean McCoy.
That concludes the positional breakdowns. As I mentioned, this is not a perfect science and the Eagles love to make value picks so I will now assess some players who may be around at 24.
- Derrick Morgan - trade up
- JPP - stay
- Carlos Dunlap - stay
- Everson Griffen - trade down
- Brandon Graham - trade down
- Rolando McClain - stay
- Sean Wetherspoon - trade down
- Brandon Spikes - trade down
- Navarro Bowman - trade down
- Joe Haden - trade up
- Kyle Wilson - trade up
- Donovan Warren - stay
- Eric Berry - stay
- Earl Thomas - stay
- Taylor Mays - trade down
- Mike Iupati - trade up
- Maurkice Pouncey - trade down
- CJ Spiller - stay
- Ryan Matthews - trade down
I have tried to mention only those players with first round grades. Despite the DEs being targeted frequently by the Eagles, players like Dunlap and Griffen don't have high enough motors to be top targets for the FO. I also think Pouncey will be attractive, but the Eagles don't value the position of C high enough to take him without receiving something in return. Some guys like Thomas, Spiller, and McClain are too good a value at 24 to be passed up on regardless of position. In the end I believe the Eagles will make a move for either Joe Haden if he falls to around the 15 mark or move up slightly less far to take Kyle Wilson of Boise state.
It will be interesting to see if what I predict comes true when draft time comes.