Now that we've had some time to reflect on last months NFL Draft, let's take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles fared, comparing their first three selections to whom I would have picked.
13th overall - Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Sean's pick - Earl Thomas, SS, Texas
The Birds boldly moved up 11 spots in a draft day trade, a brilliant move to put them in position to draft a game-changing talent. When you examine the Eagles defense, safety is clearly an area of need. Since the departure of Philly legend and future hall of famer Brian Dawkins, the team has been suspect at the position. Quintin Mikell has been solid at strong safety, although he did regress from two years ago, when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Macho Harris, who was starting as a rookie at free safety despite playing the majority of his college career at cornerback for Virginia Tech, was predictably inconsistent. The team brought in former Colts 1st round pick Marlin Jackson, who has battled injuries but played well when healthy, to compete for the starting job. Quintin Demps could be the odd man out, though his value on special teams will likely keep him on the roster.
Quite frankly, Earl Thomas would have fit perfectly. He's exceptionally instinctive and has superb awareness on the field. I believe he will go on to have an excellent career in Seattle, which selected him with the very next pick (14th overall).
I'm not saying that Brandon Graham won't be a good player; I simply feel that Thomas would have ultimately helped the team more. Eagles Hall of Fame writer Ray Didinger put it best:
"Graham looks like he should be a pass rush specialist, a guy who plays in the nickel package. In that role, playing opposite Cole, he could provide serious heat off the edge which the Eagles need. But the decision to trade up 11 spots in the first round to draft a role player? I question that when you had a chance to get a player like Thomas who would have been a no-doubt-about-it, every-down-player from Day One."
Round 2, Pick 5 (37th overall) - Nate Allen, FS, South Florida
Sean's Pick - Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
First of all, I'd like to emphatically state my admiration for the player who was selected directly before the Eagles choice at 37. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted RB Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss at pick 36, a phenomenal player who will be the next Darren Sproles. I was shouting expletives at the television when McCluster was taken off the board because I strongly feel the Eagles would have (and certainly should have) drafted him.
Keep your eyes open for this dynamic young weapon.
Considering the Birds would have already addressed their need at safety by selecting Earl Thomas, the temptation to draft USC free safety Taylor Mays would be irrelevant. However, I would like to note that based on the selection of Graham, I indeed would have drafted Mays over Nate Allen. That being said, Dunlap slipped all the way to Cincinnati at pick 54 because of character issues. He is a freakish athlete who, if able to overcome the alleged risks, will make a lot of teams look silly for passing on him.
Round 3, Pick 22 (86th overall) - Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington
Sean's Pick - Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest
Andy Reid really loves his linemen. Despite trading up in the 1st round to take Graham, he spent another early pick on another defensive end. Considering the Eagles like to rotate their line often, keeping players fresh and inspiring competition, the need for depth is justified. Still, with Pro Bowler Trent Cole, newcomer Darryl Tapp (an under the radar wise move), Victor Abriamiri, Juqua Parker, and now Graham, I'm not sure this pick was well spent at DE.
With the departure of veteran leader Sheldon Brown, corner is clearly a concern. Ghee, who ran the 40-yard dash at a blazing 4.4, has good size and would have complimented Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs and company quite nicely, perhaps starting at nickel right away.
I would like to mention that the Eagles next pick, CB Trevard Lindley from Kentucky, was a good choice. Hopefully he will be comparable, if not superior to what Ghee would have added to the Birds defense.