Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Look At the 2011 Draft Class

General consensus seems to be that you should wait at least three years before evaluating a draft class.

But considering the Eagles released their 2011 second-round pick, Jaiquawn Jarrett, yesterday, now seems like a good time to at least assess how each of the team’s 11 picks is doing.

Danny Watkins (1st round, 23rd overall): It took him awhile to get on the field as a rookie. The Eagles started journeyman Kyle DeVan over Watkins for four games last season. When he did get on the field, Watkins produced mixed results and probably had more struggles in pass protection than any of the four other linemen. The offseason was supposed to really help him, but Watkins had issues in the opener. It was only one game, but the expectation is for him to at least develop into a reliable, above-average starter in 2012.

Jaiquawn Jarrett (2nd round, 54th overall): As I mentioned yesterday, most draft analysts thought Jarrett was a good prospect coming out of Temple. Last year, at one point, the Eagles thought Jarrad Page was a better option at safety. Jarrett didn’t get onto the field until the starters ahead of him went down with injuries. This offseason, the coaches never publicly voiced that Jarrett was showing great improvement. At no point was he in contention for a starting job, and Jarrett had a terrible first preseason game, filling in for Nate Allen. Think about this: The team has decided that David Sims – someone whom the Browns were ready to release, and someone who has never played an NFL snap – is a better option right now than Jarrett, who has been working with Eagles coaches for the past 14 months. In other words, if they saw any signs that Jarrett was getting it, they would have kept him. Instead, he is gone.

Curtis Marsh (3rd round, 90th overall): He’s largely an unknown, but the potential appears to be there with Marsh. When healthy, he’ll be the team’s primary backup at left and right cornerback. Marsh had a strong preseason, and if either Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t back with the team in 2013, he’ll get a chance to start. If both guys are back, Marsh will continue to get a chance to be the first backup.

Casey Matthews (4th round, 116th overall): Given that the Eagles didn’t feel like Watkins or Jarrett were ready to start last season, I’m not sure why they decided Matthews would be just fine as the team’s middle linebacker. We all know how that experiment turned out. On the flip side, Matthews kept working, and by the end of the season, he was flashing his potential in sub packages. He’s battled injuries this summer and was only used on special teams in Week 1, but Matthews could see a more prominent role at some point in 2012.

Alex Henery (4th round, 120th overall): Not sure exactly what to make of Henery at this point. Let’s just see how this season shakes out.

Dion Lewis (5th round, 149th overall): Didn’t get much of a chance to play as a rookie. And now when he gets healthy, he’ll have to hold off Bryce Brown as LeSean McCoy’s backup. Chris Polk is on the roster too. Lewis had a good summer and looked like he could be a playmaker in the screen game. If the coaches are serious about getting McCoy some rest this season, Lewis will get a shot to prove himself.

Julian Vandervelde (5th round, 161st overall): He had a poor preseason, was let go and landed on the Bucs’ practice squad. The Eagles are thin at guard/center, and it says something that they went with perennial practice-squad guy Dallas Reynolds over Vandervelde. Reynolds’ comfort level at center clearly gave him the edge to be Jason Kelce’s backup.

Jason Kelce (6th round, 191st overall): Right now, you’d have to say he’s the best of this class. Kelce started from Week 1 last year and showed steady improvement as a rookie. He’s been given more responsibility in terms of pre-snap calls this season and was excellent as a run blocker against the Browns. He still needs to improve, but has flashed potential. The expectation is for Kelce to be the team’s center for years to come.

Brian Rolle (6th round, 193rd overall): He played WILL as a rookie, and while Rolle made mistakes and missed tackles, he also looked like a playmaker. But a couple weeks ago, he lost the starting job to Akeem Jordan and was a special-teams player in Week 1. Chances are the Eagles will shuffle up the linebacker situation at some point in the coming weeks and months, so look for Rolle to get another chance for playing time.

Greg Lloyd (7th round, 237th overall): He was dealt to the Colts during training camp.

Stanley Havili (7th round, 240th overall): He’s probably the sleeper of the group. Havili spent 2011 on the practice squad, but had a strong summer and won the fullback job. The question with Havili has been whether he can hold up as a lead blocker, but he looked pretty good in that aspect Sunday. His ceiling is definitely higher now than it was a month ago.

WHAT YOU MISSED

As I mentioned above, the Eagles let Jarrett go and signed wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. T-Mac’s got details.

Back when Jarrett was drafted, most analysts thought he was a good prospect.

I knocked out a series of game reviews. The first focused on how the Eagles used Nnamdi Asomugha and the defensive backs. The second detailed strong outings from DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. And the third was about the defensive line, which was led by Jason Babin. For all the Eagles game reviews from Week 1, click here.

And finally, in case you missed the debut of Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, it’s available for download on iTunes.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The Ravens took care of the Bengals Monday night. Some interesting notes on their performance from Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun:

The Ravens went no-huddle on 21 of 58 snaps, an indicator it’s no passing fancy. They were in the shotgun 15 times. Tight end Dennis Pitta, who had a career-high 73 receiving yards, was on the field for 44 plays while Ed Dickson played 39 snaps. Often in double-tight-end formations and three-wide-receiver looks. Left guard Ramon Harewood and rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele never left the field and held up solidly in starting debuts.

The no-huddle note is of particular interest, considering how the Eagles like to rotate defensive linemen in and out of the game.

Good job by DeSean Jackson spending 9/11 at Fort Dix and donating $50,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project. CSNPhilly.com has video detailing Jackson’s off day.

Tommy Lawlor’s detailed game review over on IgglesBlitz.com is always worth a read. On Michael Vick:

My biggest issue with him is that he made poor decisions and/or played slow. Guys would come open, Vick would see them, and then he’d throw the ball. By that time, defenders would either have the player covered or would be on the way. If this was 2009, I’d understand. Vick started 25 games over the last 2 years. He is a veteran QB. You must anticipate plays and throw the ball when the player is about to be open or is just coming open. You cannot wait until he is wide open and then throw. That’s too late.

And finally, Tim wrote yesterday about Vick being mic’d up Sunday. The footage he mentioned is now on YouTube so I embedded it below.

COMING UP

The Eagles are back at Novacare to get ready for Sunday’s home opener against the Ravens. Andy Reid meets with the media, and we’ll also hear from players. By the way, the Eagles are 3-point favorites in this matchup. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 1 p.m. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.