2012 NFL Draft Grades: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are one of the few teams in the league that don't have many holes on their roster in large part due to the fact that they are one of the few teams that draft extremely well. The Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots and Giants have all drafted extremely well over the years as they have stockpiled draft picks frequently taking the best player available. The Eagles came into the draft looking to add toughness and a certainly physicality that the lacked last season. The Eagles did just that by beefing up their front seven which was so weak last season. Granted, their front four lead the league in sacks on the year with the front runners being Jason Babin (18 sacks) and Trent Cole (11 sacks). In the draft they did a good job of adding two new pieces to the already talented defensive line that fit perfectly with Jim Washburn's wide nine scheme. In the off-season, they also traded two low draft picks away to Houston for two time Pro-Bowler DeMeco Ryans to be the man in the middle of the defense and to also be their leader. That is the key to the addition as the Eagles have lacked a leader since the departure of Brian Dawkins. All in all, you will be hard pressed to find a team that did better than the Eagles in the Draft. The Bengals, Patriots and Giants also had tremendous drafts to boot but didn't get quality through all of there picks like Philadelphia did.
Philadelphia Eagles Draft Grade: A
12. Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State
The Eagles had zeroed in on Cox as the draft came close. They loved his ability to rush the passer and viewed him as the best defensive tackle prospect in the draft. Scouts also agreed that he may have the best pass rushing ability in the entire draft as he could line up as a defensive tackle and end due to his incredible mixture of size and speed. He is also a perfect fit for the Eagles wide-nine technique considering his skill set. With his abilities playing alongside proven pass rushers of the likes of Cole, Babin, and Cullen Jenkins, the entire defensive line will have one man to beat on the offensive line in order to get to the quarterback which equals bad news for the opposing quarterback. The Eagles already had quite possibly the best defensive line in the league, with the addition of Cox, they for sure have the best starting defensive line.
46. Mychal Kendricks, LB California
Eagles fans were mixed on who they wanted from the first round pick. Some wanted Fletcher Cox, and others wanted top linebacker prospect Luke Kuechly and instead we got the second or third best in Kendricks. When the pick was in Jon Gruden compared Kendricks to Lance Briggs due to how explosive he is and how he is always around the ball. Boy, that has to be music to Eagles fan's ears. Secondly, name another time in the Andy Reid era that he has drafted a linebacker this high in the draft. Quick answer, it never happened. Kendricks will most likely start at the strong side outside linebacker position where he can be an impact player due to his speed. Kendricks set records at the combine for the fastest 40 time at the combine and also the best vertical jump. Now granted, combine numbers aren't the best barometer for determining success but Kendricks was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year last season. Eagles fans will love him immediately due to his hard hitting and for how hard he plays. He would have fit in perfectly with the old defenses that Buddy Ryan used to have in the 1980s.
59. Vinny Curry, DE Marshall
This pick was not a need by any means, but it's incredibly difficult to pass up on a player of his talents. He isn't a complete defensive end yet, as he struggles in run defense, but so does the rest of the defensive line. With the change to a passing league, the team doesn't focus on stopping the run as you don't win games with a running game anymore. Adding a player of Curry's pass rushing talents will simply add depth to the Eagles already talented defensive line. At Marshall he managed to rack up 26 sacks, 49 tackles for a loss, and 10 forced fumbles over his career. Those numbers are impressive and even more impressive considering he was always facing double teams throughout his career. He also fits the wide nine scheme as he can be best utilized in a situation where he can just pin his ears back and rush the quarterback. The Eagles also have a tendency to frequently rotate their defensive line so that they are fresh for all four quarters, this will allow Curry to make an impact on passing downs while still being able to refine his game.
88. Nick Foles, QB Arizona
Now this won't at all be the most popular pick among Eagles fans but it does help the team now and down the line. Let's face facts, Michael Vick gets hurt. Each season as an Eagle he has not played every game so the Eagles needed to have a decent enough backup quarterback in the fold that they can have faith in. With Foles they can also have another Kevin Kolb situation on their hands as quarterbacks are always wanted. In a few years after he has started a few games they can turn around and trade him to a desperate team for high draft picks. As far as his skills go, he has one of the best deep ball arms in the draft but his struggles are in his footwork. He isn't nimble in the pocket like previous Eagle quarterbacks, but he has great height. His accuracy isn't consistent but all in all he is a great project for the Eagles. Andy Reid and Marty Morhinweg have done a terrific job of developing quarterbacks over the years. He is a high character guy, and with the Eagles he has the potential to be a starter someday.
123. Brandon Boykin, CB/KR Georgia
The Eagles needed to address both their kick returning game and the slot corner position upon the depature of Asante Samuel. Samuel did not fit the new scheme that the Eagles have implemented on defense, which forced the defense to be slightly disjointed last season. Boykin is a perfect fit for the Eagles man coverage "bump and run" style as he is one of the more physical corners in the draft. This pick also had tremendous value as Boykin had talent on a first or second round level, but due to his size and previous injuries he dropped to a fourth rounder. He will most likely line up as the team's slot cornerback due to his physical style of play and his willingness to tackle. His ability to tackle will help on cornerback blitzes and in stopping the run. Even if he bombs at the cornerback position, he will be a tremendous asset to the Eagles as a kick returner as he had the second highest amount of kick return yards in SEC history and three 100 yard returns in his career.
153. Dennis Kelly, OT Purdue
With their core needs filled, the Eagles simply looked to add depth along their offensive line. With the injury to Jason Peters over the off-season, it makes this pick seem even smarter. Granted, Kelly is not a top offensive line prospect by any means but he is a great project for Howard Mudd to develop. Kelly is a monster at 6'8 and 321 pounds. For his size he also has great feet and moves well laterally. Obviously with his size he also has tremendous upper body strength, which Mudd will see and love. Mudd being the Hall of Fame offensive line coach that he is, will be able to turn Kelly into a starting left tackle in the future.
194. Marvin McNutt, WR Iowa
You ever hear that saying how the rich get richer? Yeah that applies here. Marvin McNutt is one of the most polished receivers in the draft, and comes in with good size. He has exceptional route running abilities with great hands but lacks elite speed and the ability to separate from elite level corners. McNutt is exactly what the Eagles needed at receiver as they already have two tremendous speedsters on the outside but they needed a guy with a little bit of toughness that could make those crucial third down or redzone catches. The Eagles will most likely use him in third and short situations and when they are inside the twenty. Vick's favorite target in the redzone was Brent Celek for obvious reasons as he was the tallest receiver and most physical one. Now with McNutt, they have a guy that can go across the middle and fight for the ball in the air with a corner which is something they haven't had since Terrell Owens. Don't make the mistake of comparing him to a receiver of his level, but McNutt feels a need.
200. Brandon Washington, OG Miami
These kind of later round picks don't usually turn out but can really show how good a team is at scouting. In large part they are mostly low-risk, high-reward type of picks which is exactly what Washington is here. If Howard Mudd stays with the team for another couple of seasons, he could have two projects on his hands in Kelly and Washington as both could turn into terrific lineman under his watch. If he stays on, he could develop guys like Washington, Kelly, Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins into one of the most physical offensive lines. Washington is a terrific run blocker as he likes to get under his man and use his weight to easily push him back, which is exactly what Mudd looks for in his linemen. He is certainly physical enough for the game right now, but he needs to fix up his technique, and with the Eagles, he will get that fixed up.
229. Bryce Brown, RB Tennessee/Kansas State
The Eagles needed a big back and while Brown has tremendous upside he is also a risk. He has great size but also good speed as he ran a 4.47 at his forty time. He has the ability to be a star at the next level, but it takes more than just ability to make it in the NFL. While he is a risk, it is a calculated risk as he was only a seventh round pick. Coming out of high school he was a one the highest rated prospects, rating even higher than Trent Richardson. Of course, that doesn't exactly mean much considering the college level and professional level are completely different than high school. It does show that he has skill but Brown's biggest issues are his inability to be a team player. Instead of caring about the name of the team, he cares more about the name on his back. Throughout college he cared more about getting to the NFL rather than playing on Saturdays. Playing in Philadelphia he will find himself surrounded by great mentors, none other than the man in front of him, Lesean McCoy. McCoy is the ideal team player who is about to cash in on his big payday. Brown could learn a thing or two from McCoy in that regard, if Brown plays hard then Philly will embrace him. If he doesn't he will have a hard time finding a place in the league.
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