What Experts Think About Eagles Draft Class
Maybe I haven't been fair enough to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. On the second day of the draft, I was really impressed by the way he moved all over the board and kept acquiring extra picks. I'd heard from both Eagles and Cowboys sources that the fourth round was going to contain a ton of "value," and Roseman apparently took that to heart. By trading down twice in the 50s, he basically took over the fourth round. The Eagles had four picks in the fourth and then they found another pass-rusher in the fifth with Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp . He's an undersized player who has exceptional quickness. I think he probably reminded Andy Reid of Trent Cole, a player who the Eagles landed in the fifth round a few years back. I guess the "surprising" aspect of all this is how comfortable Roseman looked while running his first draft. Even the stoic Andy Reid admitted that he was entertained by watching Roseman at work.
It was also bold to move from No. 24 to 13 in order to land Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham . ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has reported that Reid and Roseman may have wanted to preempt the Giants from taking Graham. Of course, general manager Jerry Reese will never acknowledge that he coveted Graham, but it's an interesting theory.
Jamar Cheney/Rd 7 No. 220/Philadelphia:The Mississippi State senior was rated as a third-rounder by a number of franchises, yet a severe ankle injury from 2008 sent up red flags. If he stays healthy, Cheney will be a terrific nickel linebacker that will help out on special teams.
What I liked:Getting quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end Clay Harbor in the fourth round. Both of those players had been rising up the draft charts and could pay dividends down the line for the Birds.
What I didn't:Trading up yet not taking Earl Thomas , arguably the best player in the draft at the Eagles biggest position of need. Brandon Graham is a stud but he is a want whereas Thomas was more of a need.
Moving forward:The Birds need second-round pick Nate Allen to step up and fill the safety spot next to Quentin Mikell. That spot remains a question mark at a very important position in the pass-happy NFL.
5. (tie) Philadelphia Eagles and News England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles: B
An indication of just how active the Philadelphia Eagles were on draft day is that of the 13 picks they made, only the 121st overall, outside linebacker Keenan Clayton, was an original Eagles selection. A year after spending great resources on improving the playmaking ability of their offense, the Eagles spent their first two days of the draft re-stocking their defense. First, they aggressively traded up to land defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th overall pick and added another try-hard pass rusher in Daniel Te'o-Nesheim in the third. The team landed one of the draft's better cover safeties in Nate Allen in between. While the 6-2, 270-pound Graham is a proven pass rusher who led the country in tackles for loss and won the Senior Bowl Defensive MVP honors, his selection was a surprise for the Eagles, considering the team had previously traded for another undersized pass rusher in former Seattle Seahawk Daryl Tapp. The Eagles had 10 picks on Saturday, most prominently addressing the need for depth at quarterback (Mike Kafka), linebacker (Ricky Sapp, Jamar Chaney). For a team that some believe is as deep as any in the league, however, wouldn't packaging some of those lower round picks for top-tier talent have been a better use of them?
Best pick: Trading up in the first round to get Brandon Graham. He will be a 13-sack player in two years. I love the kid.
Questionable move: Trading Donovan McNabb for a second-round pick. But that's nitpicking.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Ricky Sapp was a potential first-round selection until he tore up a knee two years ago. He moved to outside linebacker, but he is more of a down end.
Analysis: You look up and down their draft board and it's full of really good players. They had a lot of picks and the Eagles really did a nice job with them. That shouldn't be surprising.
First pick: Brandon Graham
The Eagles wanted to improve their pass rush and they did that with Graham. They have had success with an undersized defensive end in Trent Cole, and in their style of play they can continue that. Graham has very quick hands when transitioning on the pass rush. He also has deceptive strength on his bull rush. His height (6-feet-1) can be viewed as a problem, but Elvis Dumervil and James Harrison are not that tall.
The pick I will follow most: Mike Kafka
You might think this is a strange pick to follow. But I had Kafka rated as my fifth-best QB. I thought he had good mobility and was very quick and smooth in his throwing motion and movements. His accuracy was good in the tape I saw. Everyone seemed to agree on the first four QB prospects but no one could agree on the next prospect. Kafka had my vote, so let's see how he does.
Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator, Philadelphia. Before the draft, the Eagles land outside linebacker Ernie Sims. Then they trade up to grab defensive end Brandon Graham in the first round and find safety Nate Allen in the second. There are no more excuses for getting blown apart in successive weekends by Dallas.