What They’re Saying: Eagles Draft Grades

Jordan Matthews

Here’s a roundup of national media coverage on the Eagles.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Eagles a B+ for their draft:

The Eagles did a solid job of adding talent and hitting needs, making up for one questionable decision early with a number of solid ones down the board. Philadelphia moved down and then selected Marcus Smith, the No. 85-ranked player on my board. But while I didn’t love the value, again, it came after the Eagles had moved down and accrued a little value. And he hits a need, because they’re too reliant on Trent Cole as a pass-rusher and Smith can turn the corner and provide some pressure. The only receivers Philly has under contract past next season are Riley Cooper, Jeff Maehl. They have Jeremy Maclin, but he’s coming back from an ACL injury. The Eagles don’t just need receivers, they need projectable players that can help soon. I thought Jordan Matthews would have made sense at No. 22, much less 42. (If you take Matthews early, Smith late, it works, so no harm no foul on value.) I love that pick. Josh Huff offers underrated after-the-catch explosiveness — he had 24 catches of 20-plus yards in 2013 — has obvious familiarity with Kelly’s methods and he’s a guy who really competes and makes contested catches.

Evan Silva of Rotoworld gives the Eagles a C+:

It should be noted Philly acquired Darren Sproles from the Saints for a fifth-round pick, supplementing this haul. GM Howie Roseman’s first move of the draft was to trade down after New Orleans leapfrogged him for Brandin Cooks. Roseman secured the Nos. 26 and 83 picks from Cleveland, which turned into Smith and Huff. Although Smith did not commonly appear in first-round mock drafts, he was a highly productive pass rusher at Louisville and possesses plus measurables. Matthews could prove to be one of the draft’s biggest steals, and an eventual upgrade on Riley Cooper. Also keep in mind Jeremy Maclin only has a one-year deal. Hart, Allen, Reynolds, and Watkins all have a chance to be useful role players, with Hart offering the most potential to become a legit starter. Huff was the one pick I didn’t like. I don’t think he’s skilled enough to be a consistent contributor at wide receiver, and I’m guessing Chip Kelly made that pick primarily because he is fond of Huff from Oregon. I expected Huff to be a late-rounder.

Peter King of The MMQB writes that four teams were interested in trading up for the Birds’ No. 22 pick:

Six teams inquired about pick number 22. Philadelphia got four solid offers.

Though it was reported by Jay Glazer that the Vikings and Browns jousted for the 22nd pick (absolutely true), they were not alone. The source said that another team, not Minnesota, was the leader in the clubhouse when Eagles GM Howie Roseman told Cleveland GM Ray Farmer with three minutes left in the 10-minute draft period that he had to make a better offer than the one Cleveland had on the table.

Doug Farrar of SI.com gives the Eagles a C:

Chip Kelly’s second NFL draft provided its share of surprises, with Louisville end Marcus Smith going in the first round. You’d be hard-pressed to find any analyst who had that kind of grade on Smith — or anywhere close — so that’s one of those “wait and see” picks. The selection of Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Mathews in the second round was right in line, and will help right away. Kelly went back to his Oregon days twice, picking up receiver Josh Huff in the third round and defensive lineman Taylor Hart in the fifth. This draft will hinge on Smith’s ability to provide elite edge rush. That’s an undetermined idea based on his college tape, so the grade has to go accordingly.

Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com thinks the Eagles’ selection of Jordan Matthews is one of the five best fits from the draft:

The Eagles snagged one of the steals of the draft by landing Matthews in the second round. The former Vanderbilt product has first-round talent and he’s got the smarts and talent to help Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense immediately. The Eagles dumped Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson earlier this offseason. They’ll also miss underrated possession receiver Jason Avant (now in Carolina), while Jeremy Maclin, the man who becomes the top target in this system, is returning from a torn ACL.

Those factors alone should equate to plenty of opportunities for Matthews. Kelly found a way to turn wide receiver Riley Cooper into a productive player after only one year in this system. Imagine what Matthews — who has more talent and upside — can do in his first season with the Eagles. He’s not going to make people forget the speedy Jackson, but he’s definitely going to help Philadelphia’s cause.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has Josh Huff as his favorite pick for the Eagles:

Huff came off the board a little earlier than I would have expected based on the grade we gave him, but I think it made sense for the Eagles to take him where they did. Obviously, Chip Kelly has a high level of familiarity with Huff from their time together at Oregon, and Huff knows the language of Kelly’s program and what’s expected of him coming in as a rookie. He is a very versatile athlete who should be able to produce big plays both running the ball and as a receiver.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com gives the Eagles a B+:

The Eagles passed on a receiver in the first round to take pass rusher Marcus Smith because the pass rushers were a thin group. That made sense. They did take two receivers in round two and three to make it work.

Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com gives the Eagles an A-:

My favorite Eagles pick was Jordan Matthews, the SEC record-holding WR out of Vanderbilt. Like Keenan Allen a season ago, Matthews slipped to the second round because he isn’t a workout warrior. But he is reliable, did it at the highest level in college, and will be a pleasant addition to a locker room. He wants to work. He’ll get that chance.

Bryan Fischer of NFL.com weighs in on the Eagles’ draft:

The team gets some much-needed help on defense and a pair of DeSean Jackson replacements on offense. Of the two Oregon players Chip Kelly picked, Hart might be the bigger steal. Reynolds might not be the best safety in the draft, but he’s a turnover machine.

Josh Norris of Rotoworld has a 2015 mock up. He has the Eagles picking 25th and taking Florida State WR Rashad Greene:

There is a lot of Desean Jackson to Greene’s game. I know they just added Matthews and Huff, but Maclin is on a one year deal, and neither truly offer the same yards after catch ability (outside of screens) that Greene does.

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