When Roger Goodell announced the name Marcus Smith as the Eagles 26th selection last night, it’s safe to say that every Eagles fan in the Delaware Valley–and across the country–went into a state of shock. If you happened to catch any local sports radio last night, it was the type of night that every radio host dreams about. You can walk into the studio, rant for the first seven to ten minutes of your show, and then let the callers loose the rest of the show.
But since I’m not trying to host a radio show here, and since I never elected to choose this job career to try to get high ratings and make millions of dollars, I didn’t have to completely overreact. I voiced my opinion last night, saying that I didn’t view Smith as an every-down player immediately, but I didn’t kill the pick. There are picks (like Danny Watkins) that have bust written all over them. But given the track-record of Howie Roseman led drafts, I’ve come to think very highly of him as a talent evaluator.
Brandon Graham was drafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, when most people still believe that Andy Reid had the final say on who the team selected. Howie Roseman was in the front-office, but was not yet the general manager, and even if he had been, Joe Banner still had more power than him. Even in 2011, when the Eagles struck out on picks for Watkins and Jaiqwuan Jarrett, Roseman wasn’t being held ‘accountable’ according to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. (Lurie said this at the presser where he announced the firing of Andy Reid.)
Lurie said that after the disastrous 2011 season, he realized that Roseman was providing the ‘best talent evaluation in the building’, which is when we all believe that Roseman began to be in charge of most player personnel choices–the draft specifically. Since that time, let’s take a look at who the Eagles have selected.
Round one: Fletcher Cox-Through the first two seasons of his career, Cox looks like a player that will be on the Eagles defensive line for the next ten seasons to come. He even overcame early fears that he wouldn’t be able to be successful in Billy Davis’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
Round two: Mychal Kendricks-The Eagles have a lot of holes still on their defense, but if you looked at the performance of the first two players in this draft, you wouldn’t get that sense. In two seasons in midnight green, the Cal product has racked up five sacks and 139 total tackles, as he looks like an emerging defensive star.
Round three: Vinny Curry-While he hasn’t received a ton of playing time thus far, Curry did get to the quarterback four times last year, which was high on a team that struggled to do just that. Curry could still turn out to be a steal considering that he was only a third-round pick.
Round three: Nick Foles-Russell Wilson gets all the credit as being the biggest steal in this draft, and while he is well deserving of that, Foles has turned out to be one of the best picks in the entire draft.
Round four: Brandon Boykin-Within two seasons, Boykin has established himself as arguably the best nickel corner in the entire NFL. His timely picks against the Redskins and the Cowboys were also a large reason why the Eagles made the playoffs in 2013.
Round five: Dennis Kelly-The former Boilermaker has struggled to make much of a positive impact in his NFL career, starting 10 games in his rookie year, on what was a decimated offensive line. While he didn’t appear in any games in his second season, the Eagles offense was able to return as one of the healthiest units in the NFL in 2013.
You could make the case this wasn’t a great pick, in which case it’s whatever because you got five serious impact players in front of him. You could also make the case that the Eagles got a depth offensive lineman in Kelly, and in the fifth-round, that isn’t an awful pick.
In the sixth round, the Eagles drafted two players-Marvin McNutt and Brandon Washington-who are no longer in the organization. However, they rebounded nicely and found a gem in the seventh round in Bryce Brown. Brown may or may not be traded this weekend, but running for 878 yards and two seasons, and a possible return of a mid-round pick in a trade, means that Brown has already overachieved for where he was drafted.
In short, the Eagles 2011 draft class may go down as the best in team history. With Chip Kelly and Tom Gamble now in the picture, the Eagles followed up the 2012 class with a pretty solid one in 2013.
Round one: Lane Johnson-Much like Marcus Smith, Johnson is relatively new at his position. While it became evident early on that his pass protection needs work, Johnson already appears to be an elite run-blocker. He should be a stalwart for the line for the next decade.
Round two: Zach Ertz-While he wasn’t featured in Kelly’s offense as much as we all originally anticipated, Ertz showed the potential of being an elite tight-end, catching 36 balls for nearly 470 yards in his rookie campaign.
Round three: Bennie Logan-Logan went from being a third-round pick, to a starter in less than half the season. Much like Ertz, Logan appears to have been undervalued heading into the draft.
Round four: Matt Barkley-I think this pick came directly from Chip, and frankly I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish with it. So far, this looks like a complete waste of a pick.
Round five: Earl Wolff-Wolff looks like he will develop into a solid starter, and given the fact that the Eagles passed on trading up for any safeties in the first-round last night, that’s a good thing. Great value in the fifth round.
From there on, the Eagles took three players in the seventh round, two of which (David King and Jordan Poyer), never made it to the regular season. Joe Kruger missed is entire rookie season, but we could still see some impact from him moving forward.
So those two draft classes, the only two that Lurie says that we can truly hold Howie Roseman accountable, have turned in 10 really good players.
I don’t know if Marcus Smith will turn into a bust, a great player, or somewhere in between. What I do know, is so far the Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly led drafts have turned out to be amongst the best in the NFL. This isn’t the same regime that picked Jerome McDougle, Danny Watkins and Brandon Graham. This isn’t ‘the same old Eagles’ reaching for someone, as some have alluded to. Did they reach? It sure looks like it, but given how well they have done in their recent draft evaluations, I’m willing to give it a shot.