Draft Lessons

Posted: February 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 47 Comments »

Last year after the draft I wrote a post with some draft lessons that we got from Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman. Since we’re now talking about the draft a lot, I thought it would be good to reflect on them.

The Eagles were interested in players, not positions. Chip Kelly made it clear the Eagles had serious interest in Dion Jordan. Peter King mentioned today in a casual blurb the Eagles weren’t going to pick him, but it is impossible to know if that’s true or exactly what King was told. Since Chip went on the record as saying the Eagles liked Jordan, I’m assuming the interest was legit.  When the Eagles didn’t get the dynamic edge rushing LB, you would think they would feel the need to find another one somewhere else. Never happened. They didn’t even add a UDFA LB.

The Eagles have LBs in Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole. What they were interested in was a player with big time ability and athleticism. When they didn’t get Jordan, they passed on LBs altogether.

Versatility is a crucial trait.  Lane Johnson can play RT or LT.  Zach Ertz can line up all over the place. Bennie Logan too. Earl Wolff can play FS or SS. David King can move around. Joe Kruger lined up all over at Utah.  Kelly isn’t looking for static players that will sit in one spot and do the same thing over and over. He wants to be multiple on offense and defense. That means he needs players who can line up in multiple spots and fill a variety of roles.

Character mattered.  Kelly said that the two most impressive interviews the Eagles had at the Combine were Matt Barkley and Bennie Logan. Those were players that those of us on the outside didn’t expect the team to take, but clearly the Eagles liked what they saw on tape, but also felt were the kind of guys they wanted on the team.

Earl Wolff, Jordan Poyer, and David King were also considered major team leaders.

Plans can change. For a long time, I thought the Eagles wanted a QB in the draft. My hope was for a mid-round pick, but there was lots of chatter about Geno Smith at #4 and EJ Manuel in the 2nd round. The day before and the day of the draft Dave Spadaro and Adam Caplan started laying hints that the Eagles might not take a QB at all.

My guess…and it is strictly a guess…is that the Eagles were going to take a QB late or not at all.  The Eagles passed on Geno at 4 and 35. They passed on Manuel at 4. Think about the other QBs that the Eagles showed the most interest in.  Matt Scott was a UDFA. Zac Dysert went in the 7th round. Ryan Griffin and Jeff Tuel were UDFAs.

So what happened? Matt Barkley happened. He was simply too good to pass up. The Eagles had him rated as a Top 50 player. They probably figured he would go in the 3rd round. When Barkley was sitting there on the board to open the 4th round, the was just too good not to go get. Barkley can be a starting QB in the NFL. Worst case scenario he’s a backup. Think about this…Matt Barkley was a 4th round pick. So was Mike Kafka. Which guy would you rather have?

I don’t want to get into a “what does this mean” discussion in this post. Let’s save that for strictly a Barkley discussion. The point is that good QBs are too important to pass on. Barkley has the potential to be a good QB. There is no guarantee that Barkley will pan out, but he was absolutely worth the risk of a 4th round pick.

In case you want to read the old post, here it is.

I really think the line about focusing on players instead of positions is crucial. Kelly is looking for the right guys. He needs players to buy into his program and do things his way. There are some talented players that would not fit in. Some of those guys can be more trouble than they are worth.

* * * * *

I wrote a post on Safeties over at ScoutsNotebook.

I only covered a handful of guys. I need time before I can comment on everyone.

* * * * *

Questions you guys had…

Can Benn or BJ Cunningham contribute this year? While I hope that happens and think it would be great, you cannot count on either player. Benn is coming off an injury. Cunningham has yet to show he can play in the NFL.

Could the Eagles have interest in QB Brett Smith or Zach Mettenberger? Smith would make a ton of sense. He won’t be an early pick, but he’s a talented player who the coaches could develop. Mettenberger is coming off an ACL injury. He’s a pure pocket passer. Kelly already has Foles and Barkley. I think he’d rather add someone with a bit more athleticism.


  • anon

    Great article on scouts notebook. Dion Bailey REALLY stands out considering we don’t have LBs that are great in space the fact that he could play multiple positions (and is from PAC-10) is awesome, obviously connections to MB and CK, big versatile, probably available in the later rounds. I’d obviously look at the other guys if they dropped but i’d be targeting that guy along with a good deep safety FA.

    • Mitchell

      I was looking for where Bailey was listed at over 6′ and couldn’t find it. I would enjoy the playmaking ability at safety.

    • Insomniac

      I watched some of his tape before. I wasn’t overly impressed then again i might have watched his linebacker games so i guess i’ll rewatch some newer breakdowns later. i dont think he’s 6’2 though.

  • Jason

    From Barry Jackson’s Sunday Sports Buzz Column in the Miami Herald on Dion Jordan (in sum, not a guaranteed starter for 2014):

    “The coaching staff loves his tools but believes he needs to add more muscle mass to play the run more effectively (he intends to) and shore up his pass rush moves. He would not project as a 2014 starter.”

    “Some inside the Dolphins believe he might be better at linebacker, but defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has said he prefers him at end because he loves having Koa Misi on the field on first down … a Dolphins source said. “My concern is [Jordan] will have struggles playing against bigger tackles. If you
    play him at linebacker, he has far more range and speed and
    explosiveness than Misi. … Jordan gives you great flexibility because he can cover and rush the passer. This is a huge offseason for him.”

    ***
    Already laying the groundwork for Jordan not starting in 2014. Not only might new regime be willing to get out of pick unsuited for 4-3 scheme, but Dennis Hickey could conceivably want to underscore how dumb Jeff Ireland was by jettisoning his blundering choice.

    • Anders

      The Dolphins has Wake and 11.5 sack guy Oliver Veron, so Jordan isnt a starting DE for them.
      Jordan would be best suited to a SAM in a 4-3 system.
      My guess is he is traded next year for a 2nd at most.

      • A_T_G

        Then why wait? I’ll give them next year’s second right now.

        • Anders

          They lose 12 mill in cap space.

          • A_T_G

            Fine, we will throw in Chung, pre-paid.

          • Baloophi

            Cha-Chung!

  • bdbd20

    Off topic, but a great tweet today:

    “Zoo With Roy ‏@zoowithroy 22m

    Please tell me Mike Sam’s middle name is Will”

    • Mac

      Brilliant, thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

      It is his destiny to play WILL, I’d imagine

  • Daniel Norman Richwine

    I think the BPA is something every GM and coach talks about, but HR and CK take it to an extreme level. some might examine who the Eagles “need” in the next draft and assume the Birds will take a safety or whatever. if the Eagles have a QB or MLB as a top 5 talent still on the board, I don’t think they will hesitate to move no matter what their currect roster says. Injuries and turnover is just too high in the NFL not to play this way.

    • anon

      Then you really have to change your FA tactics. Almost irresponsible not to considering we’ll have stockpiles at some positions and be seriously lacking at other positions.

      I do think BPA is a good way to get depth talent and likely trade opportunities, but then you gotta pay for studs where you don’t get people in the draft.

      • bentheimmigrant

        It remains to be seen if last year’s FA tactics are a set rule or just a guideline (especially the refusal to pay more than vets were earning). The important thing was that they shored up every position so the didn’t have holes before the draft (except RT, which makes me think Jordan was never in the plans). With fewer holes every year, there should be more opportunity and security to swing for the fences.

        • anon

          Safety? probably the biggest glaring position both before and after the draft. I agree with you about RT/Dion Jordan.

          • bentheimmigrant

            I’m not saying we had no needs, but RT was the only position where we literally had to draft someone to fill a starting role. Without FA that would have included CB, S, OLB, and NT.

        • mtn_green

          The interest in Dion Jordan was just to make sure that a one of the three good OT were available in draft. But the. Again OLB was not really addressed either.

  • Arby1

    I have to think we’ll come away with either Pryor or Clinton-Dix in the 1st, or Dion Bailey in the 2nd. All fit the size requirements in addition to skills.

    • Insomniac

      Lamarcus Joyner.

      • Arby1

        Yeah, he could be a 2nd rd target too. It would be a great test of picking a real football player vs. a player with Kelly’s ideal measureables.

  • GENETiC-FREAK

    Dion Jordan everyone wanted him last year n still some fans want to trade for him this year.. They say he has similar skill set to Barwin.. But when a player like Van Noy, Marcus Smith or a all round DE/LB gets mentioned they say nah we already have a Barwin we need a pure pass rusher?? lol
    I would rather have 4 players who can do everything than 1 player who can do 1 thing.. Versatility is what its all about i see

    • laeagle

      If that one thing is “be a difference maker at pass rush, consistently drawing double teams”, then I’m fine with 1 thing.

    • Anders

      Smith is not like Van Noy. Smith is a better pass rusher

      • GENETiC-FREAK

        Well Smith is better pass rusher but he can also cover.. So thats makes him an all rounder.. Now where is the logic that we need a pure pass rusher over an all rounder?

        • Insomniac

          because thats what the leo linebacker does? by your logic we should be ok with trent cole and barwin.

          • D3FB

            A leo is a position in the 43 under. We run a two gap 34.

          • Anders

            We ran a lot of fronts tbh and Davis word for the OLB spots are JACK and Predator and that what Cole and Barwin said their nicknames was this year.

          • GENETiC-FREAK

            lol Eh read my reason n logic properly.. Is Cole n all rounder? Like D3FB mentioned below me you talking 43 under

        • Anders

          Davis wants an all rounder, but unless you get Von Miller, you have to sacrifice somewhere and ask what do you need your LOLB to do the most.
          In most schemes the LOLB is the better pass rusher, but then might lack something in the coverage part.
          Van Noy is not natural pass rusher, so he is a better fit at SAM or ILB than LEO spot.

    • Neil

      Dion Jordan had amazing talent and potential as a pass rusher on top of a well rounded set of other skills. That’s the difference.

    • anon

      Versatility is REALLY hard to find. Look at the versatile LB options in the draft / FA, there’s very few options to the point where we’d have to overpay (or overdraft) those guys — which is a thing Howie hates but i really think that it’s a fact of life. On the flip side there’s a number of situational players that are great at 1 one thing. Sometimes they are worth having if you’re really exceptional at those things (my guy beats your guy).

  • fran35

    Tommy,
    Great article. However, I think you are really jumping the gun touting Barkley as a starter or backup-worst case. Also, with the power of hindsight, you scoff at the proposition of Kafka as a backup compared to Barkley. I submit that Kafka looked MUCH better as a pro in his limited action his first two years. We actually saw sparks from Kafka in the preseason. He then essentially shit the bed in year 3 or so, but comparing Kafka’s first year and what Barkley has done so far…..it’s not as lopsided as your stating.

    • Neil

      I think Tommy is making that comparison based on college performance. With Kafka, you’re talking about a guy whose signature performance involved 5 picks or something. It’s hard to judge Barkley on two quarters of action, which were his first two quarters period, down by multiple scores all that time. Hey, maybe that’s representative, but let’s wait until he gets a start and still throws three picks.

      • anon

        You think it’d have been any different if he started the Giants game? He basically played a full game between dallas and NYG and was responsible for 0 points. I know you’re playing devil’s advocate but…

        • Neil

          Yes, I do. What I think all the people who think like this are missing is that playcalling changes when you’re down late. You start caling riskier plays trying to make something happen. You mix trying to make something happen with your first quarters of playing in the NFL ever and a ton of picks isn’t too crazy. Peyton Manning threw how many in his first 16 games, etc.

        • Mitchell

          You’re only looking at the numbers in regard to his performance. Yes, he did throw picks but he also showed promise and his mistakes were that of a rookie. Tommy has also mentioned several times that Matt was not put in the best position to succeed as a rookie by being down by several td’s.

        • http://batman-news.com guestpeace

          We got into FG range…. he fumbled the ball down there (maybe threw a pick too, I don’t recall)… but he got there!

  • John Down

    “They didn’t even add a UDFA LB. ” Uh, Tommy, the Eagles did select ILB Jake Knott, Iowa ST, as a UFA. They did not pick up any OLB’s at that time. Knott may have some good potential. Has size and playmaking skills.

    • GENETiC-FREAK

      Travis Long?

      • D3FB

        Long was added later in the summer.

  • Joe Minx

    The Bucs released Derek Landri.

  • GENETiC-FREAK

    Camiri realesed too.. Thoughts of signing? Or total bust?

    • SunShine

      Don’t see any hope for Camiri. I don’t even think he could be a good bench player

    • ICDogg

      Well, he’s the guy I thought we were going to take when we took Danny Watkins, so at least we didn’t miss out on anything

  • Vick or Nick

    The player over position angle will make Free Agency very interesting as well.

    Kelly has insight into both Ward and Byrd. Both have an understanding of Chip Kelly’s way of doing things. Maybe he decides he doesn’t want either. Maybe he likes one more than the other.

    Picking players over positions is the right way to go about drafting players. Positions can be taken care of via FA, if needed.

    In my opinion, 2013 offseason was successful due to this strategy. 2014 should be the same. This team still needs quality talent across the board (esp Defense).

    Don’t leave any stone unturned Howie.

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