There are several good scenarios that could befall the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2012 NFL draft. However, today I wanted to express what I consider to be the best scenario that would benefit the Eagles the most in 2012 and beyond.
Recently, I wrote about some Eagles draft tendencies followed by an exercise in reasonable deduction to narrow down who they actually might select in the first round. However, that was all based on observations, patterns and going by past history.
Now it’s time to talk about what I want Andy Reid, Howie Roseman and the Eagles to do in this draft. In other words, the following is going to be about what I think they should do rather than what they will do.
Hopefully, what they should do and what they will do will coincide with each other…at least to some extent.
So, let’s get down to business. I’ve talked a lot recently about the Eagles’ needs as they head into the draft — and there aren’t many this time around.
As the team stands now, they have a starter set at every position with the exception of one, maybe two spots. The most blatant hole is at strong side linebacker. The other spot that isn’t quite settled yet is at strong safety (though the likely starter will end up being Kurt Coleman or Jaiquawn Jarrett).
The rest of the team needs are depth, rotational players and role players. However, the Eagles probably see themselves as having no glaring holes (even at LB) and may therefore plan their draft strategy solely by either taking the best player available or by planning for the future.
Andy Reid has always been one to plan ahead when it comes to draft picks filling future starting spots. If they do, in fact, have this mindset, there could be a huge number of ways the Eagles could go in round one.
But I’m here to tell you what this team should do, despite what the big guy might think! No matter what Reid says about certain positions, we’re not always “fine there” and he tends to be stubborn about some things.
For the purpose of this article, I’m only going to go from rounds one through four as they are the key rounds to find good players. It’s all a crap shoot, but if you find a good player in rounds five through seven, consider yourself lucky (Trent Cole, Jason Kelce…Brian Rolle?).
Without further ado, here is my best case scenario for the Eagles in the 2012 draft:
Without parallel, the biggest weakness on this team last season was at linebacker. You know it, I know it, opposing offenses know it, Steve Wonder saw it — heck, even Mr. Anti-Linebacker himself (Andy Reid) finally admitted he “goofed” by thinking he could get by with the players he had even though the new defensive line scheme put more onus on that position.
Linebacker has been the ultimate revolving door position during Andy Reid’s tenure. In 13 years, he has never fielded the same three starting linebackers for two consecutive seasons.
He’s drafted a total of 16 of them over the past 13 years and has a brutal…I repeat…BRUTAL track record in this regard. Three of those 16 were second-round picks and came away with the awesomeness that was Barry Gardner, Quintin Caver and Matt McCoy.
Reid has also tried his hand at bringing in linebackers via free agency and trades. Who can forget these guys: Ernie Sims, Takeo Spikes, Dhani Jones, Keith Adams, Nate Wayne, Mark Simoneau, Shawn Barber and Levon Kirkland.
In other words, the majority of players at the linebacker position during the Reid era have been late-round draft picks, veteran re-treads and “value players” that came cheap after coming off a major injury.
All of that makes me just want to:
Even though I like the band Disturbed, I’m not down with this sickness!
Therefore, it’s time to put an end to this constant ineptness. Andy Reid’s first blind spot was at the wide receiver position but he finally came around to realizing he needed quality players at that position.
After suffering through Charles Johnson, Torrance Small, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, he acquired players like Terrell Owens, Donte Stallworth and Kevin Curtis. He also then drafted DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
It was almost as if Reid had finally learned that, if he wants to pass the ball as much as he does, maybe he needs quality receivers. Duh!
Reid just made the best move he’s ever made in regards to the linebacker position by trading for Demeco Ryans. He is the most promising prospect at MLB since the prime years of Jeremiah Trotter.
But, why stop there? One player does not cure an ailment that has been plaguing this team for years. Let’s nail this position down once and for all!
It just so happens that there is a perfect combination of value and need staring at the Eagles in round one of this draft. As stated earlier, they don’t have many needs but the biggest hole to fill is at strong side linebacker.
That’s why the Eagles should do what they need to do in order to ensure they get Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Kuechly can play the strong side along Ryans and give the Eagles their best set of linebackers in the Andy Reid era. He can learn and grow under Ryans’ leadership and one day take over in the middle.
Every draft scout sees Kuechly as a sure thing or a “slam dunk” pick as far as translating his skill set to the NFL and being, at the least, a solid starter for the next 10+ years.
In other words, you can’t go wrong by picking him. He fills our biggest need and is excellent value in round one. The problem is, he probably will not be there at pick No. 15.
This means that they will have to trade up to make sure they get him and I have no problem with that. Word on the street is that many teams in the top 10 are looking to trade down, but I don’t think the Eagles would have to trade up inside the top 10.
If I had to make an educated guess, I think a potential trade partner would be with Buffalo at pick No. 10. The Eagles have a history of dealing with them as they’ve made previous trades involving Jason Peters, Darwin Walker and Takeo Spikes.
According to the draft pick value chart, pick No. 10 is worth 1,300 points. The Eagles’ pick, No. 15, is worth 1,050 points. Therefore, the Eagles would have to come up with roughly 250 points worth of compensation.
Their second-round picks are each valued at more than 250 points per the chart. Their third round pick is valued at approximately 150 points. I could sit here and make up all kinds of ways to package our third-rounder with a couple of late-round picks, but that’s not realistic.
The Bills would want value and a late third with a couple of sixths just won’t cut it. To be realistic, we can look no further than a draft day trade last year when the Jaguars traded up from No. 16 to No. 10.
In that trade, the Jags had to give up their second-round pick (No. 49). Since that is virtually identical to what the Eagles would do, they’d have to give up one of their seconds as well. For the sake of argument, we’ll just say it’s their 2nd second-rounder, pick No. 51.
Knowing Andy Reid’s history with linebackers, do you really see him taking one in the first round, much less trade up for one and give up a second-round pick in the process?
Highly, highly doubtful.
But remember, this isn’t about what Reid will do…this is about what I would do if Jeff Lurie fired Reid and Roseman and put me in charge on day 1 of the draft!
In the end, we expend an extra draft pick to secure a player who will help finally solidify a perpetual weakness on this team.
Now that we’ve filled the biggest hole on the roster, we can start looking at other areas where depth, role, and/or rotational players are needed. In this round, teams should still be able to find good players and potential starters.
This is where the Eagles should continue their aggressiveness and make simultaneous trades. I say simultaneously because one will depend on the other. In my perfect world, the Eagles trade Asante Samuel to Carolina for their fourth round pick.
After making that deal, they then package their second-round pick with their original fourth-round pick in order to move up to slot No. 38 (trade with the Jaguars) and select UCF cornerback Josh Robinson.
Robinson is a player that is rising on many draft boards after having an impressive combine that correlates to what the scouts see on game tape. At 5′ 11″, 199 lbs, he is fast, physical, can play press coverage, isn’t afraid to hit, and also returns punts and kicks.
Robinson would immediately compete for the starting slot corner position as well as be heavily involved on the special teams units (both in coverage and return game). He would be another combination of value and need that could have a tremendous impact on the 2012 season.
The Eagles hold pick No. 88 in this round and since we’ve been rather aggressive so far, I’ve decided to stay put here. Mainly, it’s because my target in this round should be there when we pick.
Many Eagles fans and mock drafters have the Eagles using their first round pick on a defensive tackle. While that’s certainly a very good possibility, my thinking was to hold off on that for a bit because this position is very deep in this draft.
And with Derek Landri and Antonio Dixon back in the fold, I didn’t see quite the urgent need for another DT. However, taking a promising prospect in round three is the way to go.
My pick would be add another Derek…as in Cincinnati DT Derek Wolfe.
Wolfe is 6′ 5″, 295 lbs and appears to be a great fit for Jim Washburn’s wide-nine, 1-gap scheme. He busted onto the scene in 2011 and put up excellent stats: 21.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks.
Those are awesome stats for a defensive tackle!
Wolfe is basically a younger, faster and more athletic version of Derek Landri. He will be a great rotational player in the Eagles’ scheme in 2012 and has all the tools to be a future starter.
The Eagles initially had pick No. 153 in this round, but after my Asante Samuel deal and trade up in round two, we would now have Carolina’s pick at No. 145.
After debating between going after a running back, wide receiver or safety here, I’ve decided to go after an offensive tackle. Jason Peters has been lost for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon and has been replaced with Demetress Bell and/or King Dunlap.
However, since Bell has an injury history as well, I don’t feel completely safe with him. That’s why I wouldn’t wait any longer to take a prospect who could play in an emergency situation if needed.
That’s why Boise State OT Nate Potter is the pick here.
Potter is 6′ 6″, 303 lbs and played left tackle in college (a huge plus). He’s an athletic prospect and has a ton of experience in pass protection, which is significant given the amount of passing the Eagles do.
Potter is a good piece of clay for Howard Mudd to sculpt into a quality starting lineman in the future. His starting experience at the left tackle position could help significantly should he be pressed into action.
Well, there you have it. That is how I would handle the first four rounds of the draft if I was king for a day (or three days)!
“Aggressive” is the word I would use to describe that draft because that’s what we need to do, be aggressive and go for quality over quantity. The Eagles have drafted 24 players over the past two years and seem to have taken a quantity over quality approach.
I would prefer to change that method. I’d rather walk away with fewer players and better quality than more players who ultimately amount to nothing more than a backup, if that.
Here’s a quick summary of my picks and the logic behind them:
1. Luke Kuechly – You fill the biggest need with the best player available in the draft. This is really a no-brainer to me.
2. Josh Robinson – After trading Samuel and with DRC entering the final year of his contract, we need another good prospect at such an important position. Robinson has the potential to be an excellent starting CB in the NFL and we’d have to trade up to snare him.
3. Derek Wolfe – The combination of Landri being re-signed and this being a very deep draft in terms of defensive tackle talent, it makes sense to wait until this round to address this position. Wolfe will flourish under Jim Washburn.
4. Nate Potter – With the relative uncertainty at left tackle, the Eagles need another fall-back option. Potter has the skills that Mudd can develop into a quality starter.
After seeing this, some of you might still see needs at safety, running back and that all-so-elusive “big receiver” to help in the red zone. Well, you can’t fill every need in the draft, there just aren’t enough picks in the rounds with the most talent.
However, there are still some good free agents left that could help in those areas. The Eagles have interest in SS Yeremiah Bell, whom I’ve written about previously right here. He is a more likely solution to add into the safety mix than yet another high draft pick.
I still think the Eagles will sign a veteran running back to compliment LeSean McCoy. I just can’t see them going with second-year guy Dion Lewis and a rookie as his main backups. Players like LaDainian Tomlinson and Ryan Grant are still out there and could be targets.
And then, of course, there is Plaxico Burress who is still out there. Reid said at the owners meetings last month that the Eagles were “not there yet” in regards to signing Burress. There is interest, but it’ll eventually come down to price.
All in all, the Eagles have some needs and this is the best way to go about addressing them. Well, it’s what I would do anyway.