Eagles Picks: Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley (105), Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton (121), Northwestern QB Mike Kafka (122), Missouri State TE Clayton Harbor (125)
2009 Counterparts: Bears DE Henry Melton (105), Bills TE Shawn Nelson (121), Texans TE Anthony Hill (122), Falcons DE Lawrence Sidbury (125)
“Best” Counterparts: Lions S Ko Simpson (105), Broncos RB Correll Buckhalter (121), Cowboys RB Tashard Choice (122), Steelers CB Ike Taylor (125, pictured)
Other notables: FA FB Justin Griffith (121), Saints OT Jermon Bushrod (125), Packers LB Brady Poppinga (125), FA CB Jason David (125)
Bust-a-roonie: QB Jesse Palmer (125)
I put these four guys together to make a point: The fourth round is pretty much where “name value” becomes less important than system value.
Not that good system players aren’t always important, of course, but at the beginning of what is now Day 3, you can find a lot of good players who aren’t crazily hyped.
It doesn’t often happen right away, as the 2009 class proves; that group is more notable for getting the swine flu (Hill’s fate last fall) than anything they did on the field.
But Simpson was the Bills’ starting strong safety for three seasons, Buckhalter has been a great No. 2 RB when he can stay healthy, Griffith has been a very good fullback for three teams over the last seven seasons, and Choice is easily the best “No. 3” back in the league, who could probably start for a handful of teams.
And just look at No. 125: Taylor is entrenched as a starting corner on a two-time Super Bowl Championship defense, Poppinga is a very serviceable linebacker for the Packers, and the Saints’ offense missed nary a beat when Bushrod stepped in for an injured Jammal Brown last year.
Did anyone know who most of those guys were in college? Maybe...but they definitely knew Palmer, whose high college profile (he was Florida’s QB in between Doug Johnson and Rex Grossman) far exceeded any NFL “talent” he had.
That’s why Buckhalter, Taylor, Griffith, and LB Brandon Short (among others drafted in the fourth round earlier this decade) are still in the league and Palmer is handing out roses and helmet stickers these days as a former Bachelor contestant and current ESPN analyst.
If it wasn’t for that, he’d be just another Samie Parker, Onterrio Smith, or Stefan LeFors—good college players from “name-brand” schools that never really caught on in the NFL despite a supposed “pedigree.”
What will the future have in store for Lindley, Clayton, Kafka, and Harbor? Hopefully for the Eagles, it’s more than a flower and a pedigree.