NFL Draft 2011: 10 Things We Learned Based on the Philadelphia Eagles Draft
Many things can be taken away from the NFL Draft each year. The 2011 NFL Draft wasn't any different.
Each year we project what the Philadelphia Eagles are going to do. We get some aspects right, but at the same time, the team has plans that we don't know about. However, the draft helps to make things clear.
This draft was particularly interesting, because there was no free agency before hand. Teams couldn't attack players they wanted in free agency, and then base their draft off that. Instead, they had to put together a draft plan that addressed the needs they had, but also one that factored in free agency plans.
We saw a lot of that over the weekend, and I think we learned a lot. Here are 10 things I learned from the Eagles draft this weekend.
10. Even Coaches Get Bored During the Draft
I love the NFL Draft. I really do. Let's be honest though, it can get a bit dry at points and is sometimes hard to watch in the later rounds. If your team has a big gap between picks in the late rounds, and you're seeing a bunch of players you've never heard of coming off the board, it's hard to stay interested.
How about for those in the war room though? Do they get bored, too? It would appear so after what went down this weekend.
The Eagles and Patriots have been making trades on draft day for basically the entire Andy Reid era. This year may have been the exception if it wasn't for boredom. Heading into the sixth round, the teams were scheduled to pick back-to-back at 193 and 194 overall. To keep tradition alive, the teams swapped their picks.
Kind of strange, but I guess the Eagles got the better end of the deal moving up one spot.
9. The Eagles Think Higher of Winston Justice Than We Do
This was something I heard a lot in the days leading up to the draft and it seems true. Either that or the Eagles have some tackles they plan to target in free agency.
After not drafting any offensive linemen in last year's draft, the Eagles took three of them in 2011. However, they all project as interior guys. Danny Watkins could bump out to tackle in an emergency situation, but he's been brought in to fill the hole at right guard.
Justice really struggled down the stretch last season, and many thought the Eagles might look to bring in a new offensive tackle in the first round. However, they decided to pass.
We can't be exactly sure what the Eagles' plans at right tackle are, but at the moment, it seems like they believe Justice could be the starter. If so, hopefully Howard Mudd can get him back on track.
8. Eagles Aren't Confident in Return of Leonard Weaver
Much like the fans, the Eagles would love to see Weaver fully recover and return to the field. However, it seems like they are skeptical after the vicious knee injury he suffered last year. It's really unfortunate because Weaver is such a great guy, but you have to be realistic.
With their final pick in the 2011 draft, the Eagles added a fullback. He may be more of an over-sized running back, but he'll still be listed as a fullback.
The Eagles don't typically use a conventional blocking fullback, so it's not a large surprise. We saw Weaver used as more of a weapon carrying the ball in his All-Pro season, and the new guy, Stanley Havili, also has the ability to make plays as a ball carrier.
People have projected since the day Weaver was injured that he wouldn't be able to return to football. This may have been validation from the Eagles.
7. Eagles Confirm Love for High-Motor Players
We all know Andy Reid loves high-motor guys. We heard it all the time. Last year, the Eagles really attacked the defensive end position in the offseason and went after a bunch of high-motor guys.
They don't prefer the biggest and strongest guys. Instead, they want the speedy players who will play relentlessly for 60 minutes.
In the 2011 draft, we saw the Eagles go for the high-motor prototype again. They went after Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle, two linebackers who aren't the biggest guys, but play with a nonstop mentality.
They drafted some smaller linemen, a smaller safety, but all of them fit the high-motor bill.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking any players. However, I think we've seen over the years what type of guys Andy Reid prefers.
6. Eagles Will Continue to Take Risks on Players
Last year, the Eagles drafted Ricky Sapp, a player with a knee injury in college. He missed the season. The year before, the Eagles drafted Cornelius Ingram, a player with a knee injury in college. He missed two seasons.
This year, the Eagles drafted Greg Lloyd. He tore both his ACL and MCL towards the end of the 2009 season, and it caused him to miss significant time in 2010. However, this didn't stop the Eagles from taking him.
He's got a reputation as a big hitter and a guy who can really wreak havoc in the middle. I like that reputation, but I'm concerned that we'll never get to see it.
Lloyd has football in his blood, and I'd like to see what he can do on the field. However, they say history repeats itself, and Lloyd may struggle to stay healthy.
5. Eagles Want Offense to Be Even More Dynamic
The Eagles already have a very dynamic offense. However, it seems the Eagles believe they can be even more dynamic.
In the fifth round, the Eagles decided to take another running back out of Pittsburgh. This time around, it was Dion Lewis, a smaller running back with a lot of playmaking ability. He's a quick runner who can make defenders miss and get upfield in no time.
The biggest knock on Lewis is his size and questions about whether he can carry a big workload in the NFL. However, the Eagles aren't the type of team who run their running backs into the ground. Lewis should be able to contribute as a pass catcher out of the backfield and also take some carries from LeSean McCoy when needed.
Not only did the Eagles take a running back, but they added a fullback who did very well with the ball in his hands in college. Stanley Havili may not have a ton of talent as a blocker, but he has the size needed for short-yardage situations, and has gifted hands.
We don't know if Havili will necessarily make the roster, but it was interesting to see the Eagles add two guys to their backfield.
4. The Defensive Line Wasn't as Important as We Thought
Remember when Howie Roseman made comments before the drat that made you think the Eagles might look to take a defensive lineman early in the draft? Well, that didn't happen. Not only did they not take a defensive lineman early in the draft, they didn't take one at all.
I definitely believed they would take at least one defensive lineman, but they chose not to. It looks like Jim Washburn will be dealing with what they already have.
I'm sure Washburn had some input with his thoughts on the state of the line, and I guess he's pretty happy with their current talent.
With doubts about when Brandon Graham will get back into the lineup, and a lot of talent at the defensive end position in the draft, it seemed like this would be an option. You can never have enough solid pass rushers, but I guess the Eagles are pretty content with what they have right now.
They may pick up a player or two in free agency, but I'm definitely surprised they didn't take anyone in the draft.
3. Eagles Looking to Build Long-Term Core of Linebackers
Between last year's draft and this year's draft, the Eagles have added five linebackers. With a few of their current linebackers scheduled to hit free agency, it looks like they're recruiting a new young core of linebackers.
Jamar Chaney looks like he'll definitely be in the starting lineup in 2011 after an impressive rookie year. It likely means that Stewart Bradley will move outside. However, he's a free agent and has suffered injuries the past two seasons, so could the Eagles think about letting him walk? I think it's doubtful, but you never know.
They have a bunch of young guys who will likely serve as backups this season, but the Eagles are definitely hoping they develop into starting players.
If a couple of young guys step up, we could see the Eagles put together a core of linebackers who can start for them for many years to come.
2. David Akers Is Done in Philly
Were you surprised when the Eagles drafted Alex Henery in the fourth round? I was. Reflecting, I think it was a solid pick. However, it definitely caught me off guard.
When I think of the draft, I don't think of teams taking kickers. It never crossed my mind that the Eagles would draft a kicker, especially in the fourth round. They did, and it likely means the end of another longtime Eagle.
This time around, it looks like David Akers is on his way out of Philadelphia. The Eagles tried to place the transition tag on him, but Akers failed to sign the tender.
He wants a new contract, and the Eagles won't be giving him one. It's sad to see a player like that leave, but I think the Eagles found a guy who can be great for many, many years.
1. The Eagles Think They Can Land Nnamdi Asomugha
Right? That's what I'm buying after looking at the Eagles draft this weekend, and I know I'm not the only one.
Entering the draft, I viewed corner as the biggest need for the Eagles. In the first round, they could have easily traded up to get Prince Amukamara, who fell to 19th overall. They did not.
When their pick came up at 23, Jimmy Smith was on the board. Some are worried about his character, but he's a very solid player. They could have taken him. They did not.
In the second round, corners flew off the board early, but they still could have taken a guy like Brandon Harris. They did not.
Finally, in the third round, they took a corner, Utah State's Curtis Marsh. He only played the position for two years in college, but has shown potential. However, I don't see him filling in as a starter.
So what do the Eagles do? They go out and get the best available corner in free agency. His name is Nnamdi Asomugha.
The defense struggled last year, especially at corner, so adding a guy like Asomugha would do wonders for the Eagles. We all want it. Now, the Eagles need to go make it happen.