Monday, May 2, 2011

Eagles 2011 Draft Review

The Eagles ended the three day NFL draft spectacle with a number of strong additions.  They targeted their major areas of need along the offensive line, in the defensive backfield and at line backer.  In the end 11 new players will be joining the Eagles if and when the season ever starts.  It was one of the few drafts in which the Eagles were very inactive, surprisingly staying put at 23 in the first round and only making one move throughout the entire draft.
By keeping their spot at number 23 in the first round it seems as though the Eagles targeted Danny Watkins all along.  Watkins, a former fireman, is 26 and only started playing football at the age of 22.  26 may seem old but not putting the typical beating on his body by starting at a young age, Watkins may be only 22 in football years.  At 6’3 and 310 pounds he has ideal size and should come in and start right away.  This is how I see the offensive line for 2011, LT Jason Peters, LG Mike McGlynn, C Jamaal Jackson, RG Danny Watkins and RT Todd Herremans.  Protecting Michael Vick is priority number 1 if the Eagles are going to have a shot at the super bowl in 2011.  By drafting Watkins and shifting some players around the Eagles could be solid upfront. 
With their second and third picks the Eagles focused on the defensive backfield.  In the second round they chose Jaiquawn Jarrett from Temple.  At 6’0 and only 198 pounds Jarrett is a bit undersized for the position, but he should be able to pack on a few additional pounds before the season.  He does have a nose for the ball and he can lay guys out.  He is an aggressive safety that will not shy away from contact.  The drafting of Jarrett signals the end for Quintin Mikell and a new era of two young safeties to a young and talented defense.
In the third round the Eagles selected Curtis Marsh from Utah State.  He is a converted running back with only two years of experience at the position.  The Eagles must have seen enough to use an impact pick on him and I am assuming they know more than I do.  Marsh may not be a polished corner, but he can’t be any worse then what the they tried to lineup alongside Asante Samuel last season.
In the fourth round the Eagles concentrated on the linebacker position.  They had some injuries here last season so they were looking for depth.  They also had some poor play from the position and they may be looking for better answers.  They drafted Casey Mathews, brother of Green Bay’s Clay Mathews.  If Casey is half the talent his brother is he should fit in well with the defense.  Matthews should compete for a starting spot at one of the outside linebacker positions and given what is on the roster right now, I would not be surprised if he earned a starting spot.
With their second pick in the fourth round the Eagles surprised everyone by selecting Alex Henery, a kicker out of Nebraska.  As a buddy told me shortly after the pick, this isn’t fantasy football.  He’s right, normally kickers don’t get drafted in the fourth round, but I guess the Eagles thought he was the best player at a position of need.  Henery will be instantly handed the starting kicker position and David Ackers will be wearing a new uniform in 2011.  This is a risky move for the Eagles, getting rid of a proven veteran for an unproven rookie is always a coin flip but it's even more risky when it comes to the kicker.  The good news is Henery was the best kicker in college football last year, he hit 16-16 from 49 yards and in and went 2-3 at 50 + yards making his season total 18-19 or 94.7%.
The Eagles used their first fifth round pick to re-focus on the offense selecting running back Dion Lewis from Pittsburgh.  Back in February following the combine I raved about Lewis and thought he was the best looking back on the field in Indianapolis.  He was a little slower than others, only running a 4.57 forty but he had quickness.  My exact words from February were:  “In the position drills, Lewis looked great.  His ability to cut and not lose speed was more than evident.  He made great moves in all cone drills and caught the ball nicely after running very good routes.  He is a complete back…”  I love the pick and I think he will fit in perfect with what the Eagles do.
The Eagles concentrated on the offensive line with their next two picks, adding much needed depth.  They selected Justin Vandervelde from Iowa with their second pick in the fifth round and Jason Kelce from Cincinnati.  Both are undersized, Vandervelde is only listed at 301 pounds and Kelce is 280, but that doesn’t mean they will not push for roster spots.  Taking a total of 3 offensive linemen says a lot about the guys that are currently on the roster.  Andy Reid loves competition and these guys will battle it out come training camp.
In the sixth and seventh rounds the Eagles again drafted linebackers.  In the sixth round they selected Brian Rolle from Ohio State, a 5’10 229 pound outside line backer candidate.  In the seventh they drafted Greg Lloyd from Connecticut.  Llyod is an inside linebacker with great size for the position at 6’1 and 256 pounds.  Both players should compete for roster spots at what was one of the weakest positions on the team in 2010. 
With their final pick in the 2011 draft the Eagles selected Stanley Havili from USC.  He is listed as a running back, but at 6’0 227 pounds he could be a full back.  There is a chance here for Havili to make the team; the Eagles could use a big short yardage back.  Hopefully Havili gets a chance to prove himself and compete for a roster spot. 
Overall I was impressed with the Eagles draft.  They concentrated on every area of need for the team. The Eagles must be confident in what they have on the roster along the defensive front because they didn’t draft a defensive lineman.  This was my only disappointment in this year’s draft, I would have liked to see them draft a d-end or tackle, even if it was just for competition to push the guys they currently have.   Other than that one Item, I would give them two thumbs up and a grade of an "A" for the 2011 draft.  Now let’s just hope they can sign these players and get them working out along with the rest of the team ASAP.  It was great to concentrate on football again for a weekend, hopefully there is more football on the way soon.    

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