1 (26) Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville: 65 percent
Easily the most controversial pick the Eagles made on draft weekend. Many were surprised when the Eagles drafted Marcus Smith and many were also quick to label Smith a "reach" pick. On a personal level, I liked the pick. I didn't love it, but I liked it. Let's face it: the Eagles needed a pass rusher. I know everyone wants to talk about "Best Player Available", and I'm certainly an advocate of that strategy myself. But after the six players the Eagles wanted were off the board, expectations were adjusted and the Eagles felt it was necessary to add a pass rusher.
A post-free-agency BGN poll indicated that pass rusher was the Eagles' biggest need by far (57%). This just wasn't a great class of pass rushers outside the top 3 (Clowney, Mack, Barr). Waiting until the mid rounds to address a pass rusher would not have been a viable option. The Eagles drafted Smith and he fits what they want to do, so I can't complain about "value."
2 (42) Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: 96 percent
The Eagles traded up to get Jordan Matthews and as you can see Eagles fans were pretty happy with the pick. The Matthews pick filled a need and made a lot of sense. Maybe almost too much sense. Matthews is everything you could expect from a "Chip Kelly Wide Receiver." He has size, he's fast, he's strong, he's smart, he has no character concerns, and he's an incredibly hard worker. Matthews requested tape of opposing Senior Bowl cornerbacks in preparation for the Senior Bowl. He reportedly watched four Eagles games from 2013 before coming to Philadelphia for a pre-draft visit. Matthews came prepared with questions and really impressed the Eagles' coaching staff. Matthews is the perfect package of hard work, talent, and character. He just seems like he wants to win more than anyone else ever could.
3 (86) Josh Huff, WR, Oregon: 76 percent
I can hardly recall watching an Oregon game where I can say "Man, Josh Huff was really quiet." It's just the opposite. While Huff doesn't seem necessarily impressive at one thing, he's just generally very solid all around. That doesn't mean he doesn't have big play ability. Jimmy Kempski pointed out that Huff had at least one reception of 20 yards+ in all of his games in 2013. I know some weren't thrilled about the Huff selection because it seemed like another "reach" or because of "Duck Bias!" but I think this is a great pick. Huff has the potential to be a consistent contributor. A new and improved Jason Avant. A reliable target for Nick Foles. Oh, and here's a fun fact: LeSean McCoy (5-11, 208) and Josh Huff (5-11, 206) are nearly the same height and weight. I'm not sure that this really means much but I found it interesting.
4 (101) Jaylen Watkins, DB, Florida: 95 percent
Earlier I mentioned how Jordan Matthews is the prototype Chip Kelly wide receiver. I feel the same way about Jaylen Watkins on the defensive side of the ball. He's versatile and that's exactly what the Eagles want out of their defenders. It sounds like the Eagles will work him out at both cornerback and safety but I think he sticks at corner. Ideally, Watkins is a future option on the outside. He can compete for a starting job now and at worst provide depth. He also provides depth at safety and could line up there in certain packages. It's easy to see why this pick was met with such positive reception.
4 (141) Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon: 80 percent
Check out this scouting report written by former BGN writer Dan Klausner. Here's an excerpt of the report that was actually sent to Howie Roseman in November 2013. This is clearly the reason why the Eagles drafted Hart.
I really, really like Hart and think his size/physical profile, versatility and overall skill set makes him an ideal scheme fit for our 3-4 defense. Has upside as both a specimen (length and has frame) and player, with a motor that doesn't stop. Good burst off the snap and juice to close in short areas. Uses his length, functional strength and hands really well to create space and keep blocker from getting into his body. He's not an explosive pass rusher but can collapse the pocket and gets his hands up to deflect passes. Anchors when he stays low and wins at the point of attack in run defense, fights blocks and consistently disengages. Sets and holds the edge, never lets runner get outside. Reliable tackler one-on-one who can also punch out the ball. Smart, disciplined and literally always in on the play. Better prospect than Joe Kruger and plays a similar role, can be used as a chess piece all along the defensive line and as stand-up pass rusher. Hart should develop into a solid starter with upside to be more, but no matter what will find his niche at the next level and be productive.
Value: 3rd round"
Kelly told reporters that he wanted to take Hart in the third round but Howie Roseman assured him he would be available in the 5th. And so he was. Once again, I like the versatility factor here. Hardly exciting but necessary.
5 (162) Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford: 86 percent
Reynolds gives the Eagles more safety depth and a good special teams player. Reynolds seems to be an upgrade over Kurt Coleman in the long-term. He can be a third safety who will largely contributes on special teams but could also work his way into a starting job one day. Reynolds recorded 6 interceptions in 2012 but only 1 in 2013. It appears teams stopped trying to throw his way after they knew he could be a ball hawk.
7 (224) Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin: 92 percent
A number of Eagles fans wanted a large nose tackle because they felt Bennie Logan is undersized. Those fans got their wish in the former of backup nose tackle Beau Allen. Allen seems like Kelce in the sense he's going to be one of those burly, loveable lineman who can do no wrong. SB Nation's Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th Quarter remain big fans of Allen and think he can be successful in the NFL. Works for me.
Aside from Allen's knowledge of the major defensive schemes seen in today's NFL, he's also highly underrated in his physical tools. He impressed scouts and personnel at Wisconsin's pro day. putting up 30 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press and jumping 31 inches in the vertical jump. This after being snubbed out of an invitation to the NFL Combine in February, though he told B5Q a couple of weeks ago how that may have been a blessing in disguise.