2012 NFL Draft: How Each of the Philadelphia Eagles' Picks Fit in Their Plans
The Philadelphia Eagles had arguably the best draft of the weekend. They got immediate impact players, and they got players with high ceilings whom they can develop into future starters. T
hey addressed every need by Round 4 and were able to take some risks on a couple players who could develop into Pro Bowl players down the road.
This might have been the best draft weekend for Andy Reid, now entering his 14th season as both Eagles head coach and as head of football operations. The Eagles got their inside pass-rusher, they got their slot corner, they got their return specialist and they added depth on the offensive line.
Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Boykin are all outstanding fits in the Eagles' scheme. Mychal Kendricks will also have a good shot at seeing significant playing time from Day 1. Not every Eagles draft pick will fit in quite as well, but Reid will have a plan for exactly how each draft pick will fit into the team this season.
Fletcher Cox is an easy fit into the Eagles defense. His rare combination of strength and athleticism allows him to penetrate the line and get into the backfield in a hurry. I believe Cox was the highest player on the Eagles' board who had a realistic chance of getting out of the Top 5.
Cox will fit right into the wide-9 scheme from day 1. Even if he doesn't earn a starting job, he should still see 40-50 percent of the snaps in the defensive line rotation since he can line up at tackle and end.
The Eagles will have plenty of competition at defensive tackle heading into training camp. Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, Cullen Jenkins and Cox are all locks to make the team, while both Cedric Thornton and Derek Landri will be fighting for a roster spot.
Cox is coming into a great situation in Philly, as he will be joining one of the top lines in the league. Double-teams will be a thing of the past for Cox—at least in the beginning of the season.
The Eagles struck gold again in the second round when they found another perfect fit for their defense.
Andy Reid and company were looking for a SAM linebacker with the athletic ability to cover tight ends in man coverage while also being physical enough to handle the run.
Mychal Kendricks was the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12. His rare combination of athleticism and physicality at the linebacker position will be a welcomed addition in Philadelphia. He won't be penciled in at the SAM linebacker spot right away, but it would be a major upset to see Akeem Jordan starting over Kendricks in Week 1.
Kendricks has drawn criticism for being under 6'0" tall; rarely do you see a SAM linebacker in a 4-3 defense under that height.
But in his defense, rarely do you see a linebacker outrun most of the wide receivers at the combine (4.47 40) and also out-jump just about everybody (39.5" vertical).
Jamar Chaney was supposed to be the Eagles' starting SAM linebacker for the next several years, but he struggled in both open-field tackling and in pass coverage. Barring a slow adjustment to the NFL, Kendricks will be the starting strong-side linebacker for the next 5-10 seasons in Philadelphia.
By the end of the second round, the Eagles front office was on fire, as they got yet another perfect fit for the defense.
Vinny Curry is a pass-rushing specialist at defensive end. He has a great explosion off the line, good quickness and has a motor that never stops. Jim Washburn is going to love him.
Curry can expect to see time in the Eagles defensive line rotation right away. He played both defensive end spots in college, but he should see most of his action lining up as a left defensive end during obvious passing downs.
Curry is the type of player who will best excel early in his career when he can just pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. He won't be a starting defensive end this season, but he should be able to produce around six or eight sacks as a situational pass-rusher his rookie year.
The Eagles' third-round pick didn't receive quite the positive review as the previous three draft picks did.
Andy Reid spent a third-round pick on Nick Foles, the quarterback out of Arizona.
This pick doesn't make sense to everyone. Michael Vick is the franchise quarterback with plenty of gas left in the tank at age 32. The Eagles also have two quality backups with Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards.
After having some time to review the game tape of Foles and a night to sleep on the pick, I have to say I like it. The Eagles have two marginal backups right now—players who can step in for a game or two, but can't be depended on for anything more than that.
Foles throws the best deep ball in the 2012 draft class outside of maybe Andrew Luck. What Foles doesn't do well, though, is throwing the ball accurately on intermediate routes. He also has limited mobility in the pocket.
However, these aren't impossible areas to fix, especially for a quarterback guru like Reid. Better footwork and a smoother release will help Foles throw the ball consistently and accurately all over the field.
Foles is a good project for Reid. He can develop into a solid backup quarterback the Eagles can rely on in any situation, and he can turn into trade value down the road that could turn into a second-round pick or more.
Who knows, maybe Foles is even the quarterback of the future in Philadelphia.
Another great addition to the Eagles roster, Boykin is a projected slot corner who will be utilized by both defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and special teams coach Bobby April.
Boykin fell further down in the draft than expected. He was a second-round projection, but fell right into the Philadelphia's lap at the 28th pick of the fourth round. Concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his lack of size caused several teams to pass on the nickel back from Georgia.
Boykin is the favorite to handle kickoffs for the Eagles and also will compete for the nickel back spot with Joselio Hanson. Hanson is in the final year of his contract and is also on the wrong side of 30.
Look for Boykin to knock Hanson off the team in training camp. If he shows the ability to handle the slot corner position early in camp, the Eagles will have no reason to keep Hanson. They will be looking to get second-year corner Curtis Marsh on the field as well.
The Eagles needed a slot corner of the future and an elite return man in this draft. They got both in the fourth round, as Boykin will contribute in both areas right away this season.
The Eagles went for offensive line depth in the fifth round of the draft. Kelly isn't a career backup, though.
At 6'8" and 320 pounds, Kelly is a mammoth offensive tackle. He has the strength to dominate at right tackle but also the lateral quickness to play left tackle as well.
Kelly reached 30 reps in the bench press at his pro day prior to the draft. He is a potentially physically dominating tackle who has the reach and strength to bully defensive ends. His footwork needs to get better to do it on a consistent basis, though.
Kelly will be a developmental project for 2012, but that doesn't mean he won't be on the active roster right away. At 6'8", the Eagles could use that size to help block field goals.
Bobby April already uses King Dunlap, who is listed at 6'9", as a defensive tackle on the field goal defense. He might want to line up two NBA centers next to each other on special teams. It's hard to imagine a low kick getting by these two giants.
Marvin McNutt might have been the best value in the draft for the Eagles, and that's saying something.
McNutt is a very well-polished possession receiver. He doesn't have the straight line speed like some of the other elite receivers in this draft, but very few can run a more crisp route than McNutt.
The Eagles have a couple of speedy deep threats already. They need a longer, possession receiver to help Jason Avant in the slot, though.
McNutt has great size at 6'3" and 215 pounds. He should be able to make an immediate impact on crucial third downs and inside the 20.
McNutt was stuck in a very conservative offense with a new quarterback and no weapons around him. He still caught more than 75 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. He just produces regardless of who is around him or what his 40 time is. You can expect more of the same at the next level.
The Eagles get another great value in the sixth round just six picks later, this time at the 200th overall pick.
Washington has a really mean streak, upper body strength and the athleticism that allowed him to start at tackle in college and will make him an ideal project for Howard Mudd at guard. If he takes well to Mudd's coaching, Washington could push for a starting guard spot by 2014.
Talent-wise, Bryce Brown should be a lock to make the Eagles roster. But based on his commitment record at both Tennessee and Kansas State, plus his lack of playing time since 2009, he is anything but a lock.
Brown ran a 4.37 40 at his pro day, which is incredible for a 6'0", 220-plus-pound back. Coming out of high school, Brown was rated higher on some high school ranking boards than Trent Richardson. Now Richardson is a Top Three pick and is starting to have the career that Brown was expected to have.
A hungry Bryce Brown could be a dangerous Bryce Brown for the rest of the NFL. He will have to beat out undrafted free agent Chris Polk for the third running back spot on the Eagles roster.
Nobody knows what to expect out of either running back. Brown has been one of the most selfish college football players in recent memory, while Chris Polk has had two different shoulder surgeries in his career. If motivated, Brown could be a very good back, but at the same time, a healthy Polk should make just about any NFL roster.