Friday, May 15, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were wildly inconsistent in 2008. One week they'd beat an elite team and then soon they'd suffer a terrible loss (or tie). The ups and downs were maddening to the Eagles faithful. In November it looked as this team was done and would be stripped in the offseason. The team then blasted eventual NFC Champion Arizona on Thanksgiving night and defeated divisional rival Giants on their home turf. A big win over Cleveland but a terrible loss to Washington meant a lot of things had to fall right for Philadelphia to make the playoffs. First they had to hope for Tampa Bay and Chicago to lose to Oakland and Houston, respectively. Long shots for both to happen. Well, both lost. Then the Eagles had to take care of business and beat hated rival Dallas. They did. Badly. Of course you all know what happened in the playoffs. They trounced Minnesota and were a nightmare for New York. Then a rematch with Arizona didn't end so well resulting in McNabb and Co.'s fourth loss in five NFC Championship games. But they showed desire and fight to the end. And with a talented roster that has another year or two left in them - not including '09 draft picks - the Eagles should be flying high this coming season.

This is probably my most important review given the base of the readers. Probably 75% of the ~15 people that come to this site are Eagles fans. I'll try to do you justice. Please voice your opinions and reactions in the comments section!

If you look at the statistics for this team you actually wonder how they won only nine games. The offense was 6th in points scored and passing yards and 9th in total yards. The defense allowed the 4th fewest points per game (18.1) were consistent in stopping opposing rushing and passing plays. The Eagles 'D' was 3rd against the pass and 4th against the run, and finished 3rd in total yards allowed per game. Only nine wins!?!? Yes, they certainly underachieved in 2008. Fans agree with me on that. Just think, if a couple of the right pieces were added to a very talented team - quite possibly the most talented team, top to bottom, in the league - the franchise's first Super Bowl title could be grabbed in 2009. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Eagles won't find all the right piece in the draft, right? Well they tried their best to prove everyone wrong.

Andy Reid is back, for better or worse. His deficiencies are noted but his record and achievements are grand, despite never hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. He is one of the best talent evaluators in the game and always has a top notch staff. All of that returns in 2009. If the Eagles are going to win the big one, it must happen in 2009 or 2010. Unless, of course, Kevin Kolb turns into a good QB. Then they probably have another decade to win one. The Eagles are that good at finding and developing talent. It was evident again this past draft.

1/19/19 - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
2/21/53 - LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
5/17/153 - Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
5/21/157 - Victor Harris, CB, Virginia Tech
5/23/159 - Fenuki Tupou, OT, Oregon
6/21/194- Brandon Gibson, WR, Washington State
7/4/213 - Paul Fanaika, OG, Arizona State
7/21/230 - Moise Fokou, OLB, Maryland

  • RB - Check!
  • TE - Check!
  • WR - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • CB - Check!
Concerns abound on offense. At least before April 25. Then the draft happened and, well, success. A lot of it. A stud WR, a RB in the mold of their current starter, a steal of a TE and CB, depth along the o-line, and an additional massive WR. Oh and a developmental LB. All in a days work. Eagles fans may be driven nuts by his play calling and his recent obsession with trading down, but Andy Reid and his staff now how to work the draft. Much like a certain team that will be profiled early next week.

GRADE: 100/100

Pick 1 - Instead of trading back this year, Reid's Gang moved up. It's a good thing they did because rumors are that the Giants were in talks with the Lions to move up to 20 to get the Missouri speedster. Anyway, Maclin is a more complete player than last years second round pick DeSean Jackson. Pairing the two with Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Jason Avant, or Hank Baskett will make quite the trio. The Eagles got a great player at an area of need. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - Two straight skill players? You betcha! McCoy is in the mold of Brian Westbrook, an undersized runner that is more than a scat-back. McCoy can learn from the best undersized runner currently in the NFL. While he has some questionable character and should have stayed in school for another year, McCoy is the type of back that can make the Eagles 'O' go just like Westbrook has. It would have been nice to get a bruiser to complement Westbrook but this way that got his younger twin who could develop into the guy in a few years. Grade: 8

Pick 3 - The Eagles then didn't pick until round five, thanks to trading up in round one, acquiring Jason Peters, and just plain trading down. They continued their strong draft by stealing Florida TE Cornelius Ingram. Ingram, who missed all of the 2008 NCAA season with a torn ACL, is almost 100% recovered and will be ready for training camp. He is a better version of L.J. Smith and kind of like a poor man's Antonio Gates. Ingram needs some work blocking but is not a liability in the passing game. Just another need checked off by the Eagles. Grade: 9

Pick 4 - How did Harris last until the fifth round? Sure he may not have great timed speed but he essentially locked half the field down at Virginia Tech, continuing a line of solid Hokie CBs that include DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Flowers. Harris could move to safety if need be. Luckily because of the Eagles depth with Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown (if he doesn't hold out), Ellis Hobbs, and Joselio Hanson means Harris can learn the defense slowly and can be counted on for an impact in a year or two. Another need filled. Grade: 9

Pick 5 - The Eagles made splashed at the OT position in free agency (Stacy Andrews) and through a trade (Jason Peters). It's now been said that Andrews will shift inside to allow Shawn Andrews - Stacy's younger brother - to play RT. Anyway, with the loss of Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan depth was going to be an issue. Enter Tupou. The mammoth Oregon OT is raw and needs some refinements in pass protection but can be brought along slowly with other young guys as starters. Tupou could also shift to guard if needed. Grade: 8

Pick 6 - Filling their need for speed at the WR position the last two drafts, the Eagles went for a possession guy to add more competition at the position. Gibson is a big target who will most likely be developed as a replacement for Hank Baskett. The Eagles have had problems with WRs for years and they definitely are trying to fix that. Perhaps the only better pick here would have been for depth at LB. Grade: 7

Pick 7 - Reid showing his love for the big guys that fight in the trench. He normally does that early but this year flipped his strategy. After grabbing Tupou he now adds Fanaika for depth inside the OL. Fanaika could be a Shawn Andrews clone. He need some work but will fight Mike Gibson and Mike McGlynn for the 4th guard spot behind Max Jean-Gilles. Again a LB would have been nice. Grade: 7

Pick 8 - A LB! All needs filled. Sure not much is expected of Fokou but, like Joe Mays (that's a sweet name, isn't it?) last year, Fokou could easily make noise during training camp and fight for a backup spot behind starters Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, and Chris Gocong. Mays, and Akeem Jordan will make the roster but Fokou could edge out Tank Daniels, Charleston Hughes, or Tracy White for a spot as a rookie. Grade: 8

GRADE: 66/80


This is how you draft people. You fill needs with high value players. There weren't reaches; just good, no, great, picks. This is the best draft I've examined so far. This is the 21st team; there's only 11 left! Maclin and McCoy will be instant impact guys and I wouldn't put it past Ingram to contribute immediately as well. There's now big, young players along the OL and a developmental guy at CB and LB. This is why Philadelphia stays competitive.


WHY: Straight up this works out to a 92% which would be an A-. Well, like I say below, this is weighted. And the Eagles are getting a bump. This was a solid draft - both for the present and future, which is how you draft these days. Immediate and future help was had here. Cue the slow but not sarcastic slow clap.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Ingram
Worst Pick: Fanaika
Sleeper: Harris
Instant Impact: Maclin
Developmental: Tupou

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Philadelphia Eagles
CBS Sports (Prisco): A+
CBS Sports (Rang): A-
ESPN (Kiper): B- (Brooks): A- (Fan's): B
Walter: A+



No comments: