Mel Kiper has put out his full 2011 NFL Draft grades and he's got the Eagles in the middle of the pack, maybe a bit below the average. He graded their picks for need as a B, picks for value as a C and gave them a C+ overall. I do have a bit of a problem with his methodology, but here's his reasoning.
This feels like last year. I look at the Philly board and think, "Well, they got a lot of guys." The Eagles targeted what I considered their three biggest needs with their first three picks. The selection of Watkins surprised some people, as he may have been available even into the early second round, but they may believe he has the capability to stay at tackle. I think he's a guard. Elsewhere, Jarrett provides depth at safety, and Marsh will be asked to step in early at corner. David Akers can't feel too confident about his future in Philly, as Henery was the first kicker off the board. The looming question now is what picks or players will come back if and when the Eagles decide to deal Kevin Kolb.
So he doesn't actually give a whole lot of basis for his grades. He seems to imply Danny Watkins was a slight reach. Most everyone I spoke to at the draft seemed convinced the Bears would have taken him at #29, but really trying to decide whether a guy would have been available where is all guesswork. Also, I can say with relative certainty that Curtis Marsh isn't going to be asked to "step in early" (at least as a starter) and I think Danny Watkins will be at guard from day one. Maybe eventually he could move to tackle, but for now he'll be a guard.
One of the other problems I have, and this isn't something he talked a lot about in his Eagles review, is his emphasis on picking for need. I think we need to look at the circumstances of this year and change our view of what a team needed to do in this draft.
Free agency has not happened yet. Trades have not been made. Unlike in previous years, this was not a teams' last chance to fill needs. For instance, Kiper didn't like the Cowboys draft largely because they ignored needs with their early picks. But does anyone think that Jerry Jones isn't going to go out spending in the free agent market when it happens?
We're used to looking at a team after the draft and having a fairly good idea of what it's going to look like come September. They made add a player after June cuts or something, but for the most part we can judge a teams' offseason now. This year we absolutely can not do that.
I thin if anything, the "needs" a team should have focused on in this draft are the positions of guys you plan to let walk in free agency, not the positions you didn't fill as is usually the case. I think if we look at the case of David Akers, the Eagles employed this exact strategy. They may very well have done so with Quintin Mikell also, although I'd say that's more unfortunate than Akers.