The Eagles have made three picks in the draft so far: OLB Marcus Smith, WR Jordan Matthews and WR Josh Huff. Matthews was the only player selected where he was supposed to be, per the majority of draft analysts and “experts.”
Smith was mostly viewed as, at best, a second-rounder and Huff was seen as a fourth or fifth rounder.
I’ll admit that I’ve been somewhat caught up in the notion that the Eagles “reached” when making those selections. All we’ve heard for the past four months is how they will take the best available player when their turn comes.
Were Smith and Huff truly the best available when they were picked?
Therein lies the funny thing about this: perception.
It’s no secret that teams grade players differently. They grade them based on what they see in general as an overall player as well as how they match up with what their team is looking for.
It’s been said that Chip Kelly prefers specific kinds of players. He describes what he wants in players at certain positions: height/weight/length, athleticism and personality characteristics.
Then Howie Roseman and the scouting staff go find those players and grade them according to how they would fit in their scheme and overall culture of the team.
Were Smith and Huff the best player available? Probably not if you go by the general concensus of draft prognosticators. But, it’s easy to believe they were the best available player in the Eagles’ eyes.
Of course, Smith was a little bit of a need pick because they were dead-set on getting a pass rusher early. He was the highest rated remaining OLB on their board and felt that they couldn’t trade back any further for fear he’d be gone.
And they were likely right.
The thing is, though, that the general public…myself included…in some ways get “conditioned” or “brain-washed” by numerous draft analysts about what player “should” be picked in what round (presumably because that is what round their talent dictates).
While there is some truth to that, it’s not an exact science.
Draft busts are usually associated with first round picks, and there are always players selected in the top 32 that don’t pan out but yet a player in that same draft picked in the fourth round becomes a pro bowler.
Draft analysts, scouts, General Managers and coaches are not always right. Mistakes are made all the time. In essence, we can’t forget the old adage that the draft really is a crap shoot.
Kelly said it best when discussing their first round pick (John Gonzalez CSN Philly):
“You don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Kelly said. “Just going through the analytics of it, 50 percent of first-round picks don’t make it. That’s through the history of time.”
“When you draft someone in the sixth round and you say ‘hey, we got a steal,’ my first question is, why didn’t you take him in the fifth, then?” Kelly asked rhetorically. “If you’re so smart and you knew what you knew and you knew everything about the draft and you knew the guy was going to be an All-Pro — the people who brag about ‘we got a sixth-round pick and he became an All-Pro player — then the first question is, well why didn’t you draft him earlier if you were so smart? A lot of times you don’t know.”
Therefore, why should teams abide by what draft experts think? They should just select the players they feel the most comfortable with at the time. Maybe it fills a need, maybe they just really like the player.
And there are numerous picks in every draft that don’t match where draft analysts predict they’ll be taken. Some get selected much sooner and others much later.
In any case, just because we think the Eagles may have “reached” a little bit doesn’t mean the players they selected aren’t good. Plus, who knows how a different player they could have selected would pan out.
Who knows how any player will ultimately pan out.
Just get the guys you feel the best about when it’s your turn to pick. If you really like him and think he might not be there at your next pick, just take him.
If Smith turns into a quality starter (or better) and Huff turns into a solid contributor, are you really going to care if they were picked earlier than most people thought?
Just take your guys, and that appears to be what Chip and crew are doing. And for the record, I like all three players they’ve selected so far and so do they.
That’s really all that matters.