Eagles Draft Review

Round 1 – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Lane Johnson was not only the most athletic offensive tackle in this draft class, but one of the most athletic tackles in the past decade.  Jason Peters is an All-Pro LT but is coming off of a big time injury, and Todd Herremans had a down year at RT.  From all accounts, Chip Kelly plans to run an incredibly up-tempo offense that will require great conditioning from the entire team.  Lane has huge upside and is an incredibly gifted athlete for an offensive linemen, as he played QB in junior college and TE when first arriving at Oklahoma (Peters is also a former TE).  Lane also as starting experience at both LT and RT.  Huge upgrade to an offensive line that has the chance to be really good.

Round 2 – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

Zach Ertz is a big, athletic TE from a team all too familiar to Chip Kelly.  Chip drafted several players from the PAC-12 and I can only imagine it was a result of his seeing them up-close in game experience.  Chip has game planned against many of these players as recently as a few months ago and should have a good feel for their talent and value.  Back to Ertz, he is a big tight end, a capable run blocker, and runs routes and catches the ball well enough to play wide receiver.  Brent Celek has been a good, solid player for the Eagles, and initially Ertz will be a great complimentary player.  Ultimately Ertz should take over for Celek and should prove to be an upgrade.  In combination with recently signed James Casey, who will fill a H-back type role in place of a traditional FB, the Eagles have the ability to line up in certain formations with all 3 players on the field at once.  Ertz can easily split out wide and Casey can line up anywhere from the backfield to out wide.  In an offense predicated on creating mismatches, this is another great pick.

Round 3 – Bennie Logan, DL, LSU

In an SEC heavy draft, this was the only player the from the conference the Eagles drafted (although they did sign some UDFAs).  Logan is a great pick for the Eagles as they look to shift from a 4-3 defense for what could be a hybrid 4-3 under or a pure 3-4, as he offers a lot of versatility along the defensive line.  Logan is also, by all accounts, a great person, teammate and team leader, something that goes along with a common theme of high character players drafted by the Eagles this year.  Logan was used in many different ways at LSU and will surely be used the same way in Philadelphia.  He should be able to play any position on the DL in the 3-4 and will have immediate value as rotational NT behind Isaac Sopoaga.  Logan could also challenge for a starting spot elsewhere on the line, depending on the coaches plans for him and for the defense.  Another really smart pick.

Round 4 – Matt Barkley, QB, USC

In the forth round the Eagles trade up and take….Matt Barkley?  Not exactly what Eagles fans were expecting, but a great pick for several reasons.  Barkley has obvious talent as a former national Gatorade High School player of the year who became a starter as a true freshman at USC, not something easy to do.  After 3 years, Barkley looked like the best player in college football, and prior to the start of the season it looked like he would lead USC to a national title and pick up a Heisman Trophy in the process.  His senior year didn’t go as planned, however, and there he sat in the 4th round for Chip Kelly and the Eagles.  In his 4 years at USC, Barkley went 1-3 vs the Oregon Ducks, with his only win coming during his outstanding junior season.  In last season’s matchup against Kelly’s team, despite a poor season overall, Barkley completed 35 of 54 pass attempts for 484 yards, 5 TDs and 2 INTs in a 62-51 loss.  Chip Kelly knows all of Barkley’s strengths and weakness and surely values his talent and work ethic.  The scouts rave about his quick decision making ability, something that is key in playing in a fast-paced offense.  Barkley is also an outstanding individual, doing Tim Tebow-esque type volunteer work outside of school.  A lot of people assume this pick means Kelly is leaning more towards guys like Foles and Barkley now, more-so than guys like Vick or Dixon, but it is all about getting talent at every position.  If Vick shows he should be the starter, the offense will be tailored to fit his strengths, and the same goes for Foles or Barkley or Dixon or anyone else.  In the 4th round you don’t take a quarterback expecting a Hall-of-Famer or even a starter, so if he never develops in to more than a backup, this is still a great value pick. If he becomes even just a solid starter in the league, this pick was a steal.

Round 5 – Earl Wolff, S, NC State

The Eagles signed 4 potential starters in the secondary in free agency in order to allow them to draft who they wanted and not have to focus on need.  Still, the secondary was not to be ignored, and Earl Wolff appears to be a great find in the 5th round.  I am proud to say he is a fellow sport management major and another apparently very high character player.  He also has family from Philadelphia and they were wearing their Eagles gear during the draft and Wolff even commented that he was coming ‘home’.  Wolff could be considered a tad small for safety in the NFL, but his combine measurables (IE 4.4 speed) are outstanding.  So are his tackle numbers provided by the team.  Wolff is not a big hit, penalty drawing safety, but rather a solid wrap-up tackler.  Wolff could potentially play either safety position, won’t need to start immediately and will be able to develop, and should provide value on special teams right away.  Another pick I really like.

Round 7 – Joe Kruger, DE, Utah

Back to the PAC-12, Kruger comes from a football heavy family.  Most notably, his brother, Paul, now plays for the Browns after winning the Super Bowl in Baltimore last year.  Kruger is very young, very big, and very raw (6’6″, 270 and only 20 years old).  He was available in the 7th round because he hasn’t really done anything yet and left school a year early, so right now he is all potential.  Kruger has the ability to play in a variety of schemes and has a lot of versatility (sound familiar yet?) and played multiple positions in college.  In Philadelphia he projects to be a 3-4 DE but could play 4-3 DE  as well.  It is possible he could even lineup at LB in some schemes but probably unlikely.  As far as 7th rounders go, Kruger has as much or more potential to develop into a future starter as anyone, and fills a need for depth along the DL, so I love this pick as well.

Round 7 – Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

PAC-12 again, and an AP All-American first-team player, in the 7th round.  Most experts has Poyer ranked inside the top 110 players and expected him to be drafted in the range of the 2nd-4th rounds.  In February, pre combine, Mike Mayock had Poyer listed as his 5th best CB in the entire draft class.  Poyer had a poor combine, however, running slow and lacking any measurables for speed, explosion or strength, and his draft stock dropped.  He can play press coverage but is also at home playing off and is intelligent enough to play within the defense and know when to jump the pass and when not to.  Poyer is a former MLB draft pick and played at a high level in a major college conference, so despite the combine numbers, there has to be athleticism there. The fact that he fell to the Eagles in the 7th round could turn out to be the steal of the draft.  Sure, its possible that he doesn’t have the physical ability or speed to play in the NFL, but, like Kruger, his upside is also very high for a 7th round pick, and for that reason I again love the pick.

Round 7 – David King, DE, Oklahoma

The draft ended the way it started, with a linemen from Oklahoma.  King is, surprise, a versatile player who is considered a tweener at the NFL level.  King can play DE and DT in the 4-3, and DE in the 3-4, and should be useful as a depth guy for the new Eagles defense.  King may not have the ability to make it in the NFL as he had trouble finding his place on the defense and getting on the field in college.  He will compete to be a backup along the DL and doesn’t thrill me in the way that the other two 7th rounders do, but at the same time, he does have ability, fits the theme of the draft for versatile players who can play several sports, and fills a need for depth on the DL, so I have no problem with this pick.

Undrafted Free Agents

Russell Shepard, Athlete, LSU – Shepard is a player with athletic ability (4.4 speed, 10′ broad jump, 38″ vertical jump) and with size at 6’1″ and almost 200 lbs.  What Shepard is lacking is a position.  He came into college as a duel threat QB and when that didn’t work, rather than giving up, switched to a hybrid RB/WR, finishing his 4 year LSU career with 58 catches for 570 yards and 5 TDs and 104 rushes for 716 yards and 5 more TDs.  Some scouts are actually saying his best chance in the NFL could even be as a defensive back.  He has experience in special teams coverage and could potentially be a return man as well.  He could be an interesting player to watch if the coaching staff can find a spot to use him.  He seems like a perfect weapon in the offense game for Chip Kelly as a player who can do a little of everything.

Brad Wing, Punter, LSU – The third Tiger the team added this weekend, Wing is an interesting player.  Wing has dozens of character concerns, including multiple failed drug tests and could be a big risk off the field.  He was eventually kicked out of school even, the reason a punter is available after only 2 years in college.  As a player, however, Wing is incredibly talented and on skill alone would have easily been draft pick.  His punt average each of his 2 seasons at LSU was over 44 yards and looking at last season’s game log you see long punts of over 55 yards in 7 of the 11 games in which he played, including 5 over 60 yards and one punt that went 69 yards.  Watching an LSU game, his booming punts stood out.  Wing could absolutely become the starting punter for the Eagles for years to come, and a good one at that.  On the other hand he could be suspended and kicked out of the league by the end of the year as well.

Kyle Quinn, C, Arizona – Quinn started at Center the last two years for the Wildcats and is a good, solid center who is can do a little bit of everything.  He was the center for Nick Foles in his last year at Arizona and for Matt Scott in an entirely different style of offense this past year.  He can absolutely compete to be the backup center for the Eagles this season.

Damion Square, DL, Alabama – Another versatile SEC defensive linemen.  Square started 31 games for Alabama but is simply average in terms of production and athleticism.  He is talented enough to make the roster as a backup, and versatile enough to be used in many positions, like pretty much every single player the Eagles have targeted.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State – Outstanding college linebacker and playmaker who just doesn’t appear to have the athleticism or physicality to play in the NFL.  He will compete with the likes of Casey Matthews for a back inside linebacker position.

Matt Tobin, OL, Iowa – Started at LG and LT the last 2 years but isn’t compelling in any way.  Still, he has experience and can compete to be a backup guard, but ultimately, Tobin probably isn’t more than a camp body.

Isaac Remington, DL, Oregon – Finally, an Oregon Duck is picked up for Chip Kelly.  Remington is 6’6″ and nearly 300 pounds and has experience playing for Kelly and for DL coach Jerry Azzinaro.  Sadly that is where the positives end and he is merely a camp body who might be able to help the other new guys learn the system.

Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook and Matthew Tucker, RB, TCU – I am putting the two running backs together here at the end, even though they are complete opposites.  Maysonet is 5’9″, 209 pounds and a super productive (4725 yards and 48 TDs) D-I AA running back without any outstanding physical traits.  He plays much bigger than his size, doesn’t go down on first contact and knows how to hit the hole hard.  If you want to fall in love with the kid, watch the highlights from the Syracuse game.  If you are short on time, just skip to the 2:27 mark and enjoy the big play.  One thing that jumps out to me is his intelligence in some key plays in this video, such has a first down run from their own goal line or a 4th and 1 situation.

Tucker, on the other hand, is 6’0″ 220 pounds and is bigger, faster and stronger than Maysonet.  He is also a north-south runner but only has about half the production as Maysonet and spent most of his time sharing the backfield at TCU.  Both of these backs have the ability to compete with Chris Polk for the 3rd running back spot, and depending on the offensive plans, 2 of these 3 guys may even make the team.  It will come down to which guys are best at the little things like pass protection, and who can be used as a receiver out of the backfield when needed.  I’m cheering for Maysonet though.

Last year’s draft landed Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin on defense, and had me really excited as they all looked like they could be big time contributors.  Nick Foles grew on me in camp and pre-season and the draft class looks to be one of the best in years.  This year’s draft class has a lot of the same potential and has me just as excited for the future of the team.  The Eagles landed 7 or 8 guys who can potentially become starters or at least key reserves and brought in a lot of versatility for the new coaching regime.   I cannot wait to see this team in action.

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