The Eagles are 7-3 and are seeing success again this season with head coach Chip Kelly at the helm. Last year, they went 10-6 when hardly anyone thought they’d win even seven games – aside from yours truly who correctly picked the 10-6 record. That being said, the organization is seemingly back to breeding annual success after the final two terrible and stale years of Andy Reid that ended up shepherding in the Kelly Movement.
We’re seeing success on defense. There is scattered achievement on offense, and there’s a ton of success on special teams. That’s what we’re seeing on the field. But off the field, there’s debate as to whether the young and new members of the Eagles team will breed the success needed to keep the momentum moving forward as older players slow down or move on. I’m talking about the players selected during the past two drafts. Have these drafts been a success?
Let’s take a look at the draft picks:
Round 1 – Lane Johnson OL; Round 2 – Zach Ertz TE; Round 3 – Bennie Logan, DT; Round 4 – Matt Barkley QB; Round 5 – Earl Wolff S; Round 6 – No pick; Round 7 – Joe Kruger DE, Jordan Poyer CB, David King DE.
Round 1 – Marcus Smith II LB; Round 2 – Jordan Matthews WR; Round 3 – Josh Huff WR; Round 4 – Jaylen Watkins CB; Round 5 – Taylor Hart DE, Ed Reynolds S; Round 6 – No pick; Round 7 – Beau Allen DT.
When we look at the 2013 draft, we’re currently seeing productivity from the players selected in rounds 1 through 3. However, rounds 4 through 7 totaling five players could be considered “bust picks.” Sure, Earl Wolff has shown us signs that he’s a competent safety, but can he stay healthy. Matt Barkley got onto the field during his rookie year and he most certainly looked like a rookie. The other three guys aren’t even on the team anymore. Wasted picks. Of the eight players taken in 2013, only three have made any kind of positive impact – Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan.
Now, onto the 2014 draft. Seven total players were selected by the Eagles. Of those, only two can be considered as having shown us something as rookies – something immediate. I’m talking about second-round pick, Jordan Matthews, and the last pick in the seventh-round, Beau Allen. The rest of this crew has been about as impactful as a wet mop.
We’ve all been pretty shocked and surprised that a first-round pick – we’re looking at you, Marcus Smith – cannot seem to get on the field. Meanwhile, the coaches readily admit he’s not consistent in practice. Everyone is scratching their heads, especially the scouts and coaching staff. How can’t a first-round pick not only get on the field for a few snaps during a game, but can’t seem to figure out practice? He was at OTAs this year. He was at training camp. We’re 12 weeks into this NFL season. How long before it clicks, Marcus?
The Eagles mantra is that Smith is developing and he’s a project. Our question should be, in what context is he developing? When it comes to every rookie and even second-year players in the NFL, these guys are still developing their game and fine tuning their skills. It’s expected and even acceptable. But when you look at the players selected after Smith in the first-round – WR Kelvin Benjamin, S Deone Bucannon, and even S Jimmie Ward – players who have contributed greatly on the field for their teams, it makes the “developing” angle seem misleading.
Jordan Matthews and Beau Allen will still need to develop into better players, that’s for sure. All evidence thus far says they will. But, will the rest of the draft class above really be able to develop and significantly improve into the kind of impact players the team and fans want at those positions? The answer is, no. Aside from injuries there’s a reason why we haven’t seen anything from Jaylen Watkins, Taylor Hart and Ed Reynolds to date.
I’m already looking to the 2015 draft. It’ll need to be a killer draft class for Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman based on the lack of even adequate depth provided by the 2013 and 2014 picks. And let’s not forget how important free agency will be to build and provide depth in the years to come based on the Birds suspect draft classes over the past two years.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy where the Eagles are at considering the plethora of injuries the team has gone through this season. However, I’m concerned that the lack of solid draft classes will come back to bite them in future years. Instead of the message of needing to develop the young, drafted players, I hope Kelly, Roseman and the front office develops a better plan of action for future drafts.