The Eagles added 22 players to their roster during the 2014 NFL Draft and the hours following the annual three-day event. From Marcus Smith to Beau Allen to Henry Josey, the Eagles addressed areas of need, while sprinkling talent into possible depth roles. The Eagles (on paper) came out of draft weekend with an improved offense, defense and special teams. Here are ten thoughts that I have on the Eagles newest draft class:
1. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I appreciate when a team preaches a philosophy and sticks to it. While the 2013 NFL Draft was all over the place (in my opinion) regarding the players that the Eagles were looking for, this class seemed to be real fluid with the same mentality. Smith, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Taylor Hart, Ed Reynolds and Allen all fit the Eagles philosophy in one way or another. The Eagles wanted tall, long, athletic, fast and smart football players with character. The only pick that was under the height guidelines was Huff, who at 5-foot-11 with a well-built frame, is anything but weak or small.
The receivers can block and have RAC ability, the defensive backs are athletic and tall and the members of the front seven are long and move well for their size. Chip Kelly likes creating mismatches and that's what all of these players do well. They are all somewhat unique to their positions and those are obvious selling points for Kelly. While people may be annoyed about when Smith or Huff were taken, the players fit the team perfectly. Isn't that all fans want? By having a chess pieces that can move and be put in a positive position, the Eagles will be successful.
2. The Bryce Brown trade was proof that Howie Roseman is one of the best negotiators in the league. He drafted Brown, who played sparingly in college with a late-seventh round pick in 2012. Brown had a quality rookie year but then struggled in Kelly's offense. Roseman and the team knew he wasn't a fit, so they shopped him and got really good value. While the return isn't immediate, the Eagles got a future third or fourth round pick for a former seventh round selection that would have struggled to get touches this season.
3. I wrote about why the Eagles selected Marcus Smith at No. 26 on Thursday night. After having a few days to process the move, I like it even more than I did when it was made. Smith was my 38th-ranked prospect and would have not made it to No. 54. He could have easily gone at No. 34 where the Cowboys traded up for Demarcus Lawrence. Fans typically say that if a coach wants a guy then should go get them. Smith wasn't in their Top 6 targets but make no mistake, the Eagles want him and liked him a ton.
4. There were some complaints about the undrafted free agent haul. While they may not be household names, David Fluellen, Trey Burton, Henry Josey and Blake Annen are pretty good players. The team isn't going to be as easy to make as it was last year for the undrafted guys and their star signings (or lack thereof) show that agents and players were worried about being beaten out for roster spots. The team has improved with continuity, signings and by just having a year in the program. There were several undrafted free agents on this team last year, but this year there may only be two or three when it is all said and done. That is an encouraging sign.
5. The Eagles spent five of their seven picks on defense. That surprised me a bit given that it seemed like a great opportunity to build depth on offense. The team did add two wide receivers on Day 2, but I was expecting another running back or tight end and an offensive lineman or two. The Eagles ended up taking care of those positions with undrafted free agents.
6. You'll notice a lot of experience when it comes to the rookie group. The team wanted prospects who had a lot of experience in college football. This has likely to do with the team's search for character and intelligence.
7. One of the biggest things to take from this weekend is that the Eagles blatantly passed on mobile quarterback and everyone's favorite Drake entourage member Johnny Manziel. While most fans understand that Kelly really doesn't need mobility in his passer, the national scene really drove home the Manziel to Philadelphia chatter. It didn't happen and to make even better, the Eagles got value out of passing on him.
At least for now, this shows a pretty strong commitment to Nick Foles. He has to perform on that sign of good faith.
8. There weren't any future picks dealt this weekend, which is a major positive. You don't want to immediately regret or think about a draft decision just one year later. Future picks are like bookmarks for those deals that bring a bad move back into the spotlight. Even if you get a good player out of it, you hate give away blind value for a player. You never know what could happen next offseason.
9. Just because the draft is over, doesn't mean the player profiles are done. In fact, starting next week, we will continue the series with the new picks that haven't been covered. Smith, Huff and Watkins are already done and I suggest taking a look at them in our NFL Draft Profile section. Matthews will start us off on Monday and the profiles will continue throughout the week. Some players we will be able to share cut-ups on and others we won't be able to include. However, you will still learn about the newest members of the squad.
10. Brandon and I want to thank you for making this draft a special one for the BGN staff. We had record-shattering numbers and started some pretty great discussion. We appreciate you guys reading our content and staying glued to the site. It is truly awesome to have an audience that is so loyal.