Philadelphia Eagles: Grading all seven draft picks

One of the biggest sporting events of the year has once again come and gone. The 2014 NFL draft was considered to be the deepest one of recent memory. The drafts in the years to come do not expect to compare to a draft which featured talents such as Jadaveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and Sammy Watkins.

The Philadelphia Eagles ended up closing out a historic draft with seven draft picks and a number of trades. Backup running back Bryce Brown was traded to Buffalo for a conditional fourth-round pick in next year’s draft which could possibly turn into a third-round pick. Cleveland took advantage of their trade with the Eagles as they acquired Johnny Manziel at 22.

With an emphasis on defense and receiver depth, the Eagles did well in Chip Kelly’s second draft after his first full season. I give the Eagles an A- overall for their performance in the draft. Below are the draft picks and my subsequent grades.

 

Round 1, Pick 26 – Marcus Smith – OLB, Louisville

Smith was not the glamour pick, nor the value pick at number 26, however Smith does have the tools and physical makeup to be a perfect fit in the Eagles’ 3-4 defensive system. His long arms and speed off the edge will remind fans of Aldon Smith. Marcus Smith is a guy the Eagles can use to flat out get after the quarterback or drop back into coverage without being a liability.

Grade: B – Good fit, not great value.

 

Round 2, Pick 42 – Jordan Matthews – WR, Vanderbilt

Jordan Matthews was the best pick by the Eagles in the 2014 draft. At 6-3, 212 pounds, Matthews not only provides depth at the wide receiver position, but he becomes a bigger target for a team that has not had a “big” receiver since the departure of TO.

One thing that many overlook when evaluating Matthews is his intangibles. Graduating from Vanderbilt, Matthews has the smarts to not only improve his on-the-field success, but to make a leader out of himself. Matthews would have been a viable pick at 26, yet the Eagles stole him at 42. The future is very bright for Matthews and I believe he will be a standout receiver in the NFL for years to come.

Grade: A+ – Incredible value and picture-perfect fit for Chip Kelly and co. Expect multiple Pro-Bowl appearances when it is all said and done.

 

Round 3, Pick 86 – Josh Huff – WR, Oregon

After watching tape on Josh Huff, I saw a receiver with the ability to beat man coverage for big gains and a guy who plays off of teammates’ routes to get the ball. Josh Huff at pick 86 was probably one of the best picks the Eagles could’ve made. Huff shined at Oregon under Chip Kelly and we should expect the same in the NFL. He will take more time to develop in the NFL, but he will be a nice receiver for years to come.

Grade: B+ – Quality player at a late third round pick. Will contribute in time.

 

Round 4, Pick 101 – Jaylen Watkins – DB, Florida

Watkins was an ideal pick at the beginning of day three of the draft. Watkins brings great speed and versatility to a defense that truly needs it. He can play in the slot or safety with 4.4 speed and tackling ability. Watkins has the potential to be a starter for the Eagles for years to come; worst case scenario, he will be a great backup option.

Grade: B – Good value that addressed an area of need.

 

Round 5, Pick 141 – Taylor Hart – DE, Oregon

At 6-6 281 pounds, Hart will bring a force to the Eagles’ D-line. Hart shined at Oregon by using his hands to shed blocks and be disruptive in the backfield. He has size and strength to either be a starter or a third option at DE for the Eagles in the years to come. Hart at this spot was somewhat of a steal for the Eagles.

Grade: A – Another good defensive pick in the later rounds. Has the chance to be a guy that makes people say “How did he go that late?”

 

Round 5, Pick 162 – Ed Reynolds – S, Stanford

Just as the Eagles picked WR Jordan Matthews for other reasons than just skills, they did the same with Reynolds. Reynolds, coming out of Stanford, has the smarts and mentality Chip Kelly is looking for in any new player that joins the team. He could’ve been a second round pick next year according to Mike Mayock, however he chose to come out this year.

The majority of Eagles fans have never heard his name before, but Reynolds will have the chance to start at safety this season and for many more. This pick was yet another solid late round selection. If you don’t know, teams win the draft years down the road making picks like this.

Grade: B – Has the chance to be a starter right away like Earl Wolff last season, and that’s always a good thing.

 

Round 7, Pick 224 – Beau Allen – DT, Wisconsin 

Big Beau stands at 6-2 333. Good luck moving him. Beau Allen is a seventh round talent, yet he will do some very important things on the defensive front. He can clog up holes and make life easier inside for Fletcher Cox as he may draw double teams just based off of his size. Allen will not be a superstar, but he will be the tough guy in the trenches that allows for players to grow into superstars. He will be a nice replacement for when Bennie Logan needs a breather.

Grade: B – Not sure that the Eagles could’ve done much better in round seven. In saying that, it’s good to get yet another guy to throw into the D-line rotation.

  • ronnieblowhard

    Noah. While I agree with you on the grading system I believe he was grading them based on the round they were chosen. Most of their picks starting in round 4 where graded to go a round or two earlier. It can be argued that Smith and Huff could have been picked up a round later. I’m not sure about Smith since there was a run at OLB in the early part of round 2. Hence, because the Eagles got the first shot at the round 2 OLBs it’s probably OK that they picked him in the first and the B grade is acceptable. I don’t really think Bucannon or Roby will be great defensive players in this league. I’m just not sure Roby has the high football IQ to play great at corner and someone like Maclin would make him look silly due to his route running ability. My only question was letting a true nose tackle like Nix go in the 3rd. I know we got Watkins and Hart out of the deal, but it will be interesting to me to see how his production matches up against those two players down the road.

    • Greg Guidone

      Ronnie, you are correct. I probably should’ve noted that at the beginning. Given the circumstances, I feel that the Eagles nailed it this draft. They nearly maximized every pick in this very deep draft.

  • Noah Wasielewski

    Greg, I just about jumped out of my seat when I saw your picture at the bottom of this article! I did not expect to see you again so quickly. Anyway, my complaint here is grade inflation. If ‘C’ is average, then every pick is above average. I do not agree that all the picks were above average. While I think Chip is excellent at identifying under-the-radar talent, between the team needs and what was available at the time of their picks, they were left with some “average” players (perhaps even slightly below). I agree with you about Matthews though.

    • Greg Guidone

      Haha glad to see you saw my article! Keep checking back for more. I can understand where you are coming from as far as grade inflation, so let me explain. My grades were based on how much better the Eagles could’ve done at the given spot. I honestly believe that years down the road, the majority of these players will not only be on the roster, but be either starters or solid backups contributing on special teams. The Eagles drafted some players (Reynolds, Huff, Hart) that in a year or two had they stayed in school, would’ve been second round picks. That is why I thought they deserved such high grades. I think Marcus Smith being taken where he was and getting Matthews at 42 was incredible. Another reason for my grading was because every pick filled a need. Granted, a first round safety would have maybe been better than Smith, but with Bucannon and Ward being the best safeties available, why reach for one of them? Overall, I love the fact that the Eagles are bringing in not only guys who fit the system, but guys with high characters as well. I believe Smith and a few others will exceed expectations under Chip and the rest of the staff.