After Andy Reid's last two drafts which were poor (2010) and terrible (2011), it is a very pleasant and unfamiliar feeling to come away from the 2012 Eagle's draft excited. But it's hard to not be excited about this draft.
For me, the most important thing about a draft has always been getting good value - jumping on players that slide and, most important, not reaching and taking players well before they should go. That's been a major problem for Reid, who has a history of inexplicable reaches (see: Jarrett, Jaiquawn; Te'o-Nesheim, Daniel; Smith, Bryan; and McCoy, Matt among others). Thankfully, not only did Reid and Howie Roseman mostly stay away from that this year, they were able to get great value picks through the draft (and among undrafted free agents). And while they did that, the were also able to fill most of their biggest needs.
There were a few things to quibble with. I did think two of their picks, including their 3rd-rounder, were relatively wasted. I also would have liked for them to address depth at OT earlier (and better) and they had the opportunity to do so. And I was really hoping they would snag one of the big and talented WRs that went in the 2nd/3rd rounds (Hill, Jeffery, Randle or Sanu), though they did well to address that need with Marvin McNutt later. But those are all smaller issue considering the overall quality of the draft and the UDFAs.
Overall Grade: A-
Pick 12 (Round 1). Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: A-
Going into the draft, I was worried that Eagles would trade away a 2nd round pick to move into the top 10 to get Cox, which I do not think would have been worth it, especially considering that the biggest value in the draft, IMO, was in the 2nd. But when he slipped to 12 and we were able to give up just a 4th and 6th, that was certainly worth it. I like Cox a lot (insert sophomoric joke here), and he is a perfect fit for the Wide 9 scheme. He should be an impact player right away and hopefully will max out as a Pro Bowler. You could argue that the Birds would have been better off trying to trade down and picking up an extra 2nd round pick (which was my hope going into the draft, assuming Cox would go in the top 10), especially since there was such DT depth in the draft and they could have had either Kendall Reyes or Jerel Worthy in the 2nd. But hard to turn down a talent like Cox and this was probably the right move.
Pick 46 (Round 2). Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California: A-
Going into the draft I was hoping they Birds would snag one of three LBs in the 2nd: Kendricks, Bobby Wagner or Lavonte David, so I was very pleased with this pick and happy that Andy actually put enough value on the position to draft a LB here. There's a lot to like with Kendricks. He's an athletic freak, as his combine workouts show, and he also has the on-field production to back it up, having been the Pac 12 defensive player of the year. I don't worry about the lack of height for a LB generally, though I do worry about it for the SAM position, which is where the Eagles say they will play him. I think Kendricks has a potentally great WIL backer, but is less suited for SAM, where we have a bigger need. That's why I would have marginally preferred Wagner, who is more of a natural SAM. But it's a close thing and either way, with DeMeco Ryans and Kendricks, the Eagles LB corps will be MUCH improved in 2012.
Pick 59 (2nd Round). Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: B+
Curry is great value here, no doubt. He was probably the one of the two BPAs at this pick and I can't complain about the Eagles taking BPA. I think Curry will come in and contribute right away. And we are now loaded across the D-Line. If Brandon Graham can get healthy and come close to living up to where he was drafted two years ago, then this DE rotation could rival the Giants. That being said, I think there was a player out there who was of comparable value and a more pressing position of need in WR Reuben Randle, who the Giants eventually stole at the end of Round 2. Very solid pick, but I knock down the grade a notch for passing on Randle, who I think was a 1st round talent and could be the big WR we really need to complement Jackson and Maclin.
Pick 88 (3rd Round). Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: D
Perhaps my biggest worry going into the draft was that the Eagles would waste one of their 2nd rounders on a QB in a draft that, IMO, didn't really have a QB worth taking after the top 2. At least they waited until the 3rd round to waste that pick. Perhaps Reid can develop Foles and then flip him for better picks like he did with Feeley and Kolb, but I'm not optimistic. Foles has size and an arm, but he's a statue and is accuracy numbers and inflated by a lot of check-downs. I'm not a big fan and think he was more of a 5th round talent. And this pick especially grates on me because OT Bobby Massie, who I really like and who many thought would go in the 2nd, was still out there. If we had taken Massie here, this draft would have been an absolute home run. At least we didn't draft Osweiller in the 2nd like the Broncos did. Eew.
Pick 123 (4th Round). Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: A+
As many fans and pundits did, I loved this pick. If we had drafted Boykins in the 2nd I would have been fine with that. Certainly would have been thrilled to get him in the 3rd. Getting him in the 4th may be the steal of the draft. He's smaller but IMO he was the best slot CB in the draft who can also play on the outside, plus he's an excellent return man, which we desperately need. I expect to see him supplant Joselio Hanson as our starting nickel CB and to be our return man in Week 1.
Pick 153 (5th Round). Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue: D-
I don't really understand this pick at all. Most people had Kelly rated as an UDFA and NFL.com hadn't even bothered to put a grade on him. He doesn't strike me as anything special. I guess Howard Mudd sees something and I hope he can turn Kelly into a useful piece, but I'd have much preferred Nate Potter or Andrew Datko here. Or better yet, a trade up for Zebrie Sanders, who I was shocked to see on the board at the start of the 5th round.
Pick 194 (6th Round). Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: A-
I was disappointed when we didn't get Rueben Randle (or Sanu, who fell into the 3rd) earlier, but getting McNutt in the 6th helped make up for it. McNutt is unlikely to become a Pro Bowler, but I think he can come in and be an effective contributor right away, hopefully taking Riley Cooper's job. He's got great size, good hands, and OK speed. And, most important, he was a great value here. Could easily have been a 3rd or 4th rounder.
Pick 200 (6th Round). Brandon Washington, G/OT, Miami: A
I have to admit, I had never heard of Washington until we picked him, and my initial reaction was disappointment that we took him over David Molk, who I think would be a perfect center in Mudd's system. But the more I read about Washington the more I like the pick, and now I've come to love it. Probably the 2nd best value pick for the Birds after Boykin. By all accounts, Washington was on his way to being an absolute stud of an OG prospect when Miami was forced to move him outside where he was less effective.
Pick 229 (7th Round). Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State: B
This is the kind of 7th round pick I like to see. There's probably a 65% chance Brown never amounts to anything, but there's maybe a 15% chance he turns into a stud (and then a 20% chance he's somewhere in the middle). Brown was the #1 recruit coming out of high school. Initially he committed to Miami but they pulled his offer after he didn't sign on signing day, choosing instead to be a prima donna and hold his own signing even about a week later. He ended up at TN, where he had a solid Frosh season, after Lane Kiffen left for USC, Brown transferred back home to K State. However, new UT coach Derrick Dooley wouldn't let Brown out of his scholarship so Brown had to pay his own way at K State. After sitting out a year, he never got out of coach Rick Snyder's dog house and only had 3 carries last year. He then entered the draft early because he needed to support his family. There is no doubt that Brown has shown serious immaturity. If he grows up, he still has the talent to be a stud. Worth a flyer in the 7th for sure.
Undrafted Free Agents: A
The Eagles have already done a great job on the UDFA market, following up on the Bryce Brown model by signing players with a lot of talent but either health or character question marks. Washigton RB Chris Polk was rated as the top UDFA by a lot of people and you can see why. He has 2nd-3rd round talent, but has health concerns after shoulder and knee injuries. If he's healthy (a big if), he could very easily make this team and McCoy's backup. Cliff Harris was an All American CB at Oregon in 2010 but missed almost all of 2010 with suspensions. He's smaller and also a strong return man. A lot like Brandon Boykin actually. If he cleans up his act, he could be a find. Syracuse S Phillip Thomas also has some talent but character concerns, as he was suspended for the latter part of the season for violating undisclosed Syracuse Athletic Department rules. If the Eagles don't sign a veteran like Yerimiah Bell he could easily make the team considering are woeful safety talent. Tulsa WR/KR Damarius Johnson is very small but is an electric return man. At the very least, he brings more than Chad Hall ever did. Between he, Harris and Boykin we'll have some interesting options to look at in the return game this pre season.