Draft Roundtable: What grade do the Eagles get for their draft class?


Normally after a draft, team experts are able to come up with a pretty consensus grade for how a team performed in a draft. This year’s draft turned out to be much different than that, beginning with the Eagles questionable selection of Marcus Smith. While I wasn’t originally on-board with the selection, I truly believe what I wrote Friday, that we should give Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman (especially Howie) the benefit of the doubt given their recent draft successes.

Whether the Smith pick works out or not, I think the Eagles killed it on day two of the draft. They finally added a big possession receiver in Jordan Matthews, and followed that up by adding a speedy slot receiver (whom Chip Kelly has already worked with) in Josh Huff. With those two selections, I’m over the DeSean Jackson release. I think adding those two receivers, both of whom I think will make an impact sooner rather than later, to Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper,LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk, Zach Ertz, and Brent Celek, might give the Eagles the best offensive weaponry in the entire NFL.

In the fourth-round that added Sammy Watkins brother, Jaylen, who can play both corner and safety. Given the Eagles current need at the safety spot, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which of the two positions the Eagles envision him playing.

With the fifth-round selection of Talyor Hart, I think they found a player who fits Billy Davis’ 3-4 scheme better than Brandon Graham does, and will likely replace him once Graham is released.

Adding another safety in Ed Reynolds with their second pick of the fifth-round, just gives the Eagles more safety options behind Earl Wolff and Nate Allen.

In the seventh, the Eagles took defensive-tackle Beau Allen, who unlike most seventh-round picks, has a chance to see some rotational playing time in 2014. Is he the next Warren Sapp? No, but I think he was a decent pickup that late.

While it won’t top their stacked draft classes of 2012 and 2013, I’d give this draft class a B grade, with the performance of Marcus Smith likely to be a determining factor in whether that grade moves up or down. Some of our staff, would scoff at that grade, as the Smith selection seems destined to be a bust, while others like Smith’s NFL potential, and where even more high on the draft than I was.

Somers Price: Section 215 Co-Editor

Grade: C-

Analysis: Though I truly think that the Eagles are drafting in a different manner than other teams and are evaluating talent with a different mindset, I would still give this draft a C+.

They addressed most all of their pressing needs from a position standpoint and were able to have a high-value draft despite entering with just 6 picks. Jaylen Watkins could end up being a late-round gem.

However, the Eagles put themselves in a position, most notably in the first round, where there was a good chance they’d be disappointed with the pick. It almost seemed like, after HaHa Clinton-Dix was scooped up the pick before them, that they didn’t have an immediate solution. Even after trading back and getting pretty good value, their selection seemed somewhat desperate. They also didn’t draft any offensive line depth, though there are some intriguing options in-house.

Akiem Bailum: Section 215 National Columnist

Grade: A

Analysis: The Eagles came into this draft having to address their defense which was among the worst in the NFL last year, and allowed teams back into games on more than one occasion the previous season.

Chip Kelly’s strategy coming into this draft was obvious—draft heavy on the defensive side of the ball. Philadelphia did that early on. Even though they needed a wide receiver to replace DeSean Jackson, they did not draft wideouts until the second and third rounds with the selections of Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff.

Other than that, all defense and all at different positions. Marcus Smith (linebacker) was picked on day one, and on day three, Kelly and Howie Roseman selected Jaylen Watkins (cornerback), Taylor Hart (defensive end), Ed Reynolds (safety), and Beau Allen (defensive tackle).

It wasn’t the ideal way I saw the Eagles picking, given how I figured they’d use their first pick on a wide receiver, then fill defensive needs later on, but the fact that they traded down from 22 to 26, then used their 26th on a linebacker was an indication of where they’d go this draft. Overall, one of the main issues from last year’s team (getting to the quarterback) was addressed, and the Eagles made an effort to continue to impove the defense as a whole.

Had the Eagles move up to take Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, it would be hard to give the team anything but a high grade. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Steve LaFreniere-Section 215 Staff Writer

Grade: C-

Analysis: Honestly, I can’t figure out what happened in Round One. The Eagles needed defensive help for sure, but they need it now. Marcus Smith doesn’t supply that “now” factor and is tagged as a project. I think this is a huge reach for the Eagles and they should have moved up a couple spots to take Clinton-Dix which would impact the team immediately.

The additions of Jordan Mathews, Jaylen Watkins and Ed Reynolds were good pick ups that will help the team in the short and long-term.

I really wished the Eagles would have used the 86th pick on a safety, but instead they moved Josh Huff way up the board to take him there–another reach. I give the draft a C minus, with no stars beaming right now. We’ll have to wait a few years to see if these guys pan out and make this a better draft then it is on paper right now.

Aaron Mazer-Section 215 Staff Writer

Grade: A-

Analysis: After careful consideration and research, I’d give the Eagles an A- for this year.

Going into the draft, everyone knew the Eagles would need to heavily address the defensive side of the ball, and boy they did–using five of their seven picks on defensive players– with the other two being receivers. After Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went off the board at 21 to the Packers, the Eagles made the smart decision to move back and gain an additional 3rd round pick, which proved to be very valuable.

With their first round pick the Eagles took defensive-end Marcus Smith. Smith is a bully on the defensive side of the ball who has the size and speed to be a great outside linebacker in the NFL. He is very raw, but I see great potential in this kid, especially learning from Trent Cole.

The other players that really stood out to me in this draft were wide receiver Jordan Matthews, defensive-back Jaylen Watkins, Safety Ed Reynolds and WR Josh Huff. Matthews is a very big, strong receiver, who finally gives the Eagles someone who can go over the middle. Chip said he loves the big receivers and got just that in Matthews.

On the other hand, Huff is a smaller, Desean-style receiver out of Oregon. He played for Chip at Oregon so he knows exactly what he is getting into, and Chip knows exactly how to utilize Huff in this offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Reynolds and Watkins are going to step in right away and make an impact on a questionable secondary.

Reynolds has intense speed and is a sure-fire ball hawk. The kid can also tackle extremely well for his size. I am excited to see how high his ceiling will be in the NFL.

Watkins is a dual-threat defensive player with the ability to play Corner or Safety. In most cases, if you can utilize a player with the ability to play more than one position on the defensive side of the ball, there will always be a roster spot for him.

Overall, I am very excited with what Chip Kelly did in this years draft and cannot wait for what this young team is going to do in the near future.