The 2011 NFL Draft has been a hard weekend to reflect upon for Eagles fans. For the organization, it proved to be its biggest failure at acquiring young talent in at least two decades. Outside of center Jason Kelce, from Danny Watkins to Stanley Havili, the class failed to stick and provide depth or starting material. As a matter of fact, Kelce, Alex Henery and Casey Matthews are the only picks to not have been cut by the organization over the last three seasons. There were 11 picks made by the Eagles in 2011.
While third-round pick Curtis Marsh and fifth-round pick Julian Vandervelde are currently on the team, both have been cut by the Eagles and neither has started a game in their career, let alone provide any substantial production for the team. The pair remain at the bottom of the depth chart at their respective positions and could easily be jettisoned before next season.
The lack of success and the burden of the class will clearly be shouldered by top two picks Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Both were cut before playing a third season with the Eagles and have failed to redeem themselves, despite signing with new teams. Jarrett has at least somewhat contributed since joining the Jets, but will likely be hampered for the rest of his career for being overdrafted. Watkins played in just one game for the Dolphins, despite being on Miami's roster for the entire season, in which there was tremendous turmoil surrounding the offensive line.
The Eagles traded sixth-round running back Dion Lewis to the Browns this offseason for Emmanuel Acho, who has bounced back-and-forth from the roster to the practice squad. Havili, a seventh-round pick, was also swapped for depth lineman Clifton Geathers, who will be a free agent in March and was more of a project than a player. Sixth-round linebacker Brian Rolle and seventh-round pick Greg Lloyd both lasted just one year with the Eagles and have bounced around the league without finding a long-term home.
For those that remain, there is little to show for the 2011 class. Matthews, a fourth-round pick, went from over-matched starter to fanbase punchline to depth special teams player over three seasons and is likely to be dropped from the roster if Jason Phillips fully recovers from his offseason ACL injury next year. Henery, a lauded fifth-round pick, has gone from an accurate short-distance kicker to hard-to-trust foot when it comes to field goals and kickoffs. Marsh and Vandervelde have both taken stops elsewhere, remain extremely upgradable and are somewhat forgotten on the roster.
The sole bright spot for the class is obviously Kelce, who has provided first-round talent and production, despite being selected in the sixth-round. While he missed the majority of his sophomore season with a knee injury, Kelce has started in all 34 games that he has appeared in and has been one of the more consistent players on the roster throughout his career. He is a candidate for a long-term extension and has actually served as a young, outspoken leader in the locker room. At just 26, Kelce could be the Eagles center for the next decade and there probably would not be a complaint. He has proven to be a key part of Chip Kelly's offense and his speed and natural ability has been essential to the run game.
While successful drafts in 2012 and 2013 have helped right the ship, the 2011 class serves as a major black eye on the roster. It is hard to not look back and wonder what could have been if the Watkins pick was Cameron Jordan or Muhammad Wilkerson. What if the Jarrett pick was Justin Houston or if the Marsh pick was K.J. Wright? The truth is that we will never know, but ultimately the what could have been will forever be known as the draft that never was...
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