As Eagles fans, we have absolutely no reason to be excited about this draft. We’ve been here many times before haven’t we? Matt McCoy, Jerome McDougle, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Nate Allen, Jaqwuan Jarrett (and countless others). These guys were all high draft picks, and supposed to be impact players–difference makers. They were far from either. So why does this years draft feel different? Why do I get the sense that the Eagles have hit on four players, who by all accounts, can step in this season and make a real difference?
There’s no guarantee obviously that these draft picks are going to pan out, and given Andy Reid’s track record of evaluating defensive players, they very well might not, but I think that thus far, the Eagles have done an incredible job in this year’s draft.
They are doing something they have historically never done–they are taking the best player available, instead of reaching for someone who doesn’t really fit, in hopes of filling a position of need. Andy Reid is actually not out-thinking himself, so far.
First, the Eagles land a DT in Fletcher Cox, who could have easily been a top 5 or 6 pick. Cox was slated as the best pass rusher in this years draft, but somehow slid to the 12 spot. He’s a guy who just based on his athletic ability, could step in and be better than anyone you’ve had at defensive tackle in recent years, with the exception of Cullen Jenkins.
Next up was linebacker Mychal Kendricks (who looks like Drake on steroids). At 5’11″, 240lbs, Kendricks doesn’t have the prototypical NFL body to play strong side linebacker, but he makes up for it with his speed (4.47 40 time), athleticism and violent style of play. Kendricks was the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year and is known for destroying people. He’s also good in pass coverage, and can cover a tight end maybe better than any linebacker the Eagles already have with the exception of maybe Keenan Clayton. He will compete for the SAM linebacker with Jamar Cheney, but he’s played all three linebacker positions, and could eventually succeed DeMeco Ryans in the middle.
After Kendricks, the Eagles moved back a few picks and literally stole lifelong Eagles fan and NJ native, DE Vinny Curry out of Marshall who was expected to be taken late first round. At 6’4″ 265lbs, Curry was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player. He finished second in the nation in tackles for loss (21.5), third in forced fumbles (six) and sixth in sacks (11). Curry is an athletic edge rusher, who figures to fit in just fine to Jim Washburn’s Wide-9 scheme.
With their first 4th round pick, the Eagles drafted their second SEC defensive player in CB Brandon Boykin from Georgia. Boykin is only 5’9″, but he is incredibly athletic and fast. He stands out even in a highly competitive SEC. He played a ton in the slot at Georgia, and can step in and play the nickel corner immediately for the Eagles purely on his athleticism. Look for him to battle with Jaselio Hanson as the Eagles go-to slot corner. What’s more is that Boykin can also return punts and kickoffs adding even more to the probability of him playing right away. He doesn’t have the ball skills of an outside corner, but again, would fit perfectly in the slot. Think of him as a younger, faster Ellis Hobbs.
We all know you win games on the field in the NFL, not on paper, but so far, on paper, it appears the Eagles have made some good picks on the defensive side of the ball.
Now the ball is in Juan Castillo’s court to make them pan out.
Let’s cross our fingers. What grade would you give the Eagles draft so far?