Eagles Wake-Up Call: Revisiting the 2011 Draft

Most analysts agree that it takes three years to properly judge a draft class.

But in the case of the Eagles’ 2011 picks, we might only need two.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently re-picked the first round, knowing what we know now. Instead of Danny Watkins at No. 23, he has the Eagles taking cornerback Jimmy Smith:

The Eagles could avoid the failed “Dream Team” experiment by a selecting a Nnamdi Asomugha-like corner in this do-over. Smith is the long, rangy press corner needed to take on the likes of Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and Victor Cruz in the NFC East.

Smith was originally taken four spots after Watkins. He has only five starts in two seasons, but played a significant amount of snaps for the Ravens’ Super Bowl squad last year,

Watkins, meanwhile, enters his third NFL season not knowing if he has a future with the team that drafted him.

He was inconsistent in 12 games as a rookie before being sidelined with what Andy Reid deemed a “chronic” ankle injury after six starts in 2012. When Watkins got healthy again, his spot had been taken by 31-year-old Jake Scott. Now he’ll try to get a fresh start with Chip Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but nothing is guaranteed.

The miscues from the 2011 draft extend well beyond the 28-year-old guard. The Eagles continue to look for safety help after missing badly on Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round. And they added a pair of corners in free agency, partly because Curtis Marsh, a third-round pick, has yet to show he’s worthy of getting a shot to start.

The players remaining from that class are Watkins, Marsh, Alex Henery, Dion Lewis, Casey Matthews, Julian Vandervelde and Jason Kelce.

Henery will continue to be the team’s kicker, and Kelce figures to have a bright future if he can recover from last year’s knee injury. But everyone else in the group will be fighting for a roster spot.

Earlier this offseason, Jeffrey Lurie took Howie Roseman off the hook for that draft, indirectly pointing the blame at Joe Banner and Andy Reid. But it’s evident that many of the holes the team went into the offseason with (right guard, safety, cornerback) can be traced in part back to misses during the 2011 draft.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Here are three leftovers: DeSean Jackson on tempo, Brandon Graham on sports science and Jason Peters on getting a playoff win.

T-Mac rounds up the latest draft buzz.

The Eagles have hosted Darius Slay, the fastest cornerback in the draft, for an official visit.

They have also worked out Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson.

EJ Manuel delivers his latest draft diary.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mike Mayock tells Paul Domowitch of the Daily News that Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce is a second-round pick:

“He’s going to end up going in the second round. There were some questions about him off the field and some durability issues. But I think he’s addressed a lot of that. Most people have bought into him. The tape is pretty darn good. This kid can go deep. He catches the football. He’s really athletic. And he’ll also compete in the blocking.”

In an Allentown Morning Call piece, Jimmy Kempski takes a look at Lane Johnson as an option for the Eagles:

Johnson played RT at Oklahoma in 2011, then moved to LT in 2012. If the Eagles were to draft him, Johnson would fit in well with how the Eagles might use him. The idea would be for Johnson to slide right in at RT from Day 1, while Todd Herremans would move to RG.

COMING UP

We’re 17 days away from the draft. Plenty to get to today and this week.

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