Round 1: B
After trading down from number 22 to the Browns spot at 26th, the Eagles selected Outside Linebacker Marcus Smith out of Louisville. Smith was the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year with 12.5 sacks last season but was widely projected as a 2nd round selection.
This is a good fit for the Eagles as they needed a pass rush upgrade with an aging Trent Cole. Smith is an outside linebacker but at 250 pounds has the size to play down as a defensive end. A versatile pass rusher was certainly an area of need for the Eagles and Smith will fill that void. Once Ha Ha Clinton Dix was off the board, it was the right move for the Eagles to trade down. Although Smith might have been a slight reach in the first round, he is a pro-ready player who can help the Eagles’ defense right away.
Round 2: A
Many wondered if the Eagles would look for a wide receiver in the first round following the departure of Desean Jackson. They held off in the first round and after trading up in the 2nd round, the Eagles came away with a steal in the form of Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Matthews is the SEC’s all-time leading receiver with 3,759 career receiving yards. He produced for his entire career against the very best competition in the college game. Matthews stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 212 pounds which gives him more than adequate size for an NFL receiver.
He has very reliable route running skills which could make him a matchup nightmare if Chip Kelly looks to line him up in the slot. Matthews ran a 4.44 40-yard dash but there have been concerns about his ability to shift into a 2nd gear to gain separation downfield. However, Chip Kelly’s conditioning programs should be able to help Matthews find that 2nd gear and help him develop into the Pro Bowl wide receiver he has the potential to be. Matthews has a ton of talent and could be one of the steals of this draft.
Round 3: C+
Following the 2nd round selection of Jordan Matthews, the Eagles picked up another wide receiver in Oregon’s Josh Huff. He possesses great hands with good playmaking ability. He has a lot of experience playing special teams and the obvious connection to Chip Kelly at Oregon makes him a good fit for the offense. The issue with this pick is that the Eagles had other needs to address this high in the draft and drafting a wide receiver in the 2nd and 3rd rounds is not a smart move when your team sported the league’s 29th ranked defense last season. Huff is a good fit and will be a productive player but just does not fill a need.
Round 4: B+
With the first pick of the 4th round, the Eagles selected defensive back Jaylen Watkins from Florida. Watkins is a strong and fast defensive back and is the older half-brother of the Bills’ first round pick, wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson. With the ability to play corner, safety, special teams and in the slot as a nickel corner, Watkins has the versatility that Chip Kelly looks for. Watkins would be a bit undersized as a safety but should be able to help the Eagles’ secondary and special teams in a number of ways.
Round 5: B
With their fifth round pick, the Eagles took their second Oregon Duck of the draft in the form of the 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end Taylor Hart. Hart lacks the explosiveness to be an elite defensive end in the NFL. However he is a strong tackler with good awareness and production. He should add depth to the Eagles front right away and has proven himself to be a good team player during his time at Oregon. Hart is a fifth round pick who should be able to help the team.
Round 6: C
The Eagles picked up reinforcement at arguably their weakest position with the selection of DB Ed Reynolds. However, Reynolds lacks the speed and explosiveness to make up for getting behind receivers and has had trouble with tackling in the open field. Reynolds is a smart and tough player but is unlikely to be the long term answer for the Eagles at safety.
Round 7: B
With their final selection, The Eagles took the 333-pound nose tackle from Wisconsin, Beau Allen. Allen has a high motor, above average strength and great size in the middle. He should be a stout force and will add depth to the Eagles front if he makes the squad. Allen is not a big time playmaker, but is a solid value in round 7.
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