Reid Looking Ahead, Talks About Character Players
By Lance Epstein
On the first day of the draft, head coach Andy Reid talk about first-round draft choice defensive end Brandon Graham's high motor and great character as a factor in selecting him. On day two, the Eagles began the day with only two second-round picks.
However, after the Eagles selection South Florida safety Nate Allen with the 37th overall selection, the Eagles decided to throw a trade party. First, the Eagles traded out of the 55th slot. Then the 59th, then 71st and finally picked defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim at No. 86.
At the end of the day, Reid and the Eagles draft room drove the Eagles fans to the brink of insanity, but they had acquired nine draft picks for day three of the NFL Draft (rounds 4-7 tomorrow), one second round safety and one third-round defensive end.
“You sit that evaluate the strengths of the draft by round,” Reid said as he explained why they made so many deals. “We felt the latter part of the second round into the third and fourth round were the strength of this drafts and obviously time will tell.
“But we put ourselves in pretty good position if that is the case if we are right and accurate there for tomorrow's draft with all those fourth-round, picks, fifth-round picks, with the sixth and a couple of seventh-rounders that we have. But then we will just see, you know time will tell on whether we were accurate or not. We try to be very aggressive. I think Howie Roseman did a phenomenal job again today. This ability to accumulate these picks is just fun to see how he goes about them.”
Even though it took a while for the Eagles to get their guys, Reid says both players fit the mold of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's scheme. Reid sees Allen as a ballhawking playmaker and a good tackler, who they can't wait to see in his midnight green No. 29 jersey.
"We ended up drafting Nate Allen, a secondary player," Reid said. "When I say that, he's a safety, but I believe he also can play corner for you. We drafted him in the second round. His strengths are he has a great eye for the ball; ball hawk. He's a very, very good tackler. I think those are two important things when you are the last guy to the end zone. I feel very comfortable with him, he's very intelligent, he's got everything that we like here and we look forward to getting him in.
One of the main reasons that Reid decided to hold onto the No. 37 pick even though multiple teams inquired about the pick, was that Allen gets the job done in all facets of the game so his value was worth more than anything teams were willing to pony up.
"He is a very, very sure tackler. When you watch highlights of him and he destroys people and blows them up. The one thing, and you are going to appreciate this, the one thing I value in him is that he is a accurate tackler," Reid said. "Some times you see these big hitters that miss and you don't see that with this kid. This kid is going to get you down and on the ground. And that's important to me. I would say he is strong in both areas (tackling and coverage). Both in the run and the pass. But he does have a knack for making plays when the ball is in the air. "
Most fans and even some analysts thought the team might have gone in the direction of heralded safety Taylor Mays out of USC due to the fact he was a bigger more intimidating force. But Reid did not believe his style fit their system. However, he did speak very highly of him.
"Mainly the things I am mentioning here (on selecting Allen not Mays)," Reid said. "Brian Dawkins wasn't the biggest guy. (Ed) Reed isn't the biggest guy, either is (Troy) Polamulu. There are a bunch of safeties in this league that are not he biggest guys. I think the strength of Taylor (Mays) is, and I like him as a football player and don't get me wrong here, is he can play all the safety positions. I think he would be a phenominal strong safety in the box area. I think he can even play linebacker because he is a tenacious player.
"But for what we do, in the secondary, we have safeties that are interchangeable. So it doesn't matter if you are a free safety or a strong safety, we ask both of them to do the same things. And you gotta be able to do a lot of different things with that. Play deep, up close and so on."
Allen (6-1, 207), will compete with free agent signee Marlin Jackson and returning players Quintin Demps and Macho Harris for the starting free safety position. Although Allen seems like the front-runner for the starting position due to his ability to cover slot receivers and make plays. However, Reid says do not sleep on Marlin because his flexibility gives allows the Eagles do a lot of things.
“This is what we end up having here now," Reid said. "Marlin kind of gets put out of the picture here. But what we have with him is another one of types of players that has played corner and has played safety and can do either for you. As he continues to recover, become healthier and work his way in there gives you a little flexibility in the secondary and what you can do.
“I don't know. I just know it is a good thing. I just know it's a good thing to get Marlin all the way back. It gives us flexibility at the corner spot and it gives us flexibility at the safety spot. I just think it's good. “
Still do not expect the Eagles to ignore the secondary on the third day of the draft tomorrow just because of the depth the Eagles have accumulated in the defensive backfield.
“That's a good thing and we're not done yet, we're not done. I'm not saying that we're going to draft nine more safeties or corners, but we're not done putting this whole thing together, but I kind of like what I see."
As for the other pick of the day, Reid referred to him as TO and thinks this TO can be the type of defensive end/tackle that Darren Howard (cut earlier this offseason) was this past season for the Eagles.
"We have another TO in the building; that's the important thing. This TO is a defensive end, he can also play defensive tackle, particularly on pass-rush situations although he did it both ways there,” he said. “He was the career sack leader for the University of Washington. I believe he had 31 sacks. That's quite a statement in itself. He's very good against the run."
Unlike the other TO, Te’o-Nesheim is a very quiet player off the field, but as soon as he runs out of the tunnel and onto the field, he is a different animal according to his college coach.
“He is a very very quiet guy,” Reid said. “His coach explained it to me this way you know that guy who plays safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers? (Troy) Polamalu. He (Sarkisian) said, now he coached both guys here, he says, 'This is what he is except as a defensive lineman. He's very quiet, very soft spoken. When he puts on his uniform, he's a different guy.' When you talk to him and then when you watch some of his highlights, I think you'll get an idea of what I'm saying here and what really his coach said."
Reid also discussed how vital it was for the Eagles to get players with high motors along the d-line. He yearned for players with a relentless effort so he could revamp a defensive line that was porous down the stretch and did not get nearly enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"I think you'll see between Graham, (Darryl) Tapp, and now (Te'o-Nesheim) that you're going to see guys that have high motors, and are very aggressive," Reid said. "They have that type of motor where they're relentless football players, they're intelligent guys and I think our fans will appreciate the way they play the game."
At the end of the day, Reid says he is not just happy, but very happy to come away from the first three rounds of this draft with these three particular players.
“If you could have told me before the draft that I would have ended up with these three players right now, I would have been a happy guy,” Reid said with a grin on his face. “I am a happy guy right now. I look forward to getting them in here and playing.”
Of course, Reid also expects that each player he drafted or will draft will eventually become a starting caliber player for the Eagles: not just a backup. Furthermore, he will give his new young and talent defensive toys every opportunity to compete for playing time this upcoming season. Especially since over the past couple of seasons his young players such as DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin have played pivotal roles in the Eagles success.
"We've done that the last few years with some of the young guys and we're going to give them an opportunity to compete and see what they can do and if they work in there, the more power to them," Reid said. "Everybody we draft, we draft to be starters. It may not be the first year, second year, third year, but that's how we look at it. We try not to draft back-up players, but guys that have the opportunity to start somewhere in the future."
Still Eagles fans should not worry about the cornerback position, Reid said “there are a couple on there (Eagles draft board) that we kind of like.” Moreover, Reid reiterated the Eagles war room staff will have to reconvene to finish the job on Saturday, but the Eagles have the flexibility to cover their basis.
"We've created a little bit of flexibility there now, so we'll see how we can work that and whether we move up with some of the picks or whether we move back in the next year, whatever it may be, we have a little bit of flexibility there.
"Now we're not done so it is kinda halftime," Reid said. "We have got to make sure we finish this thing up right tomorrow."