Eagles Wake-Up Call: On the 2014 Draft Class

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes from reader Jeffrey via email. He had a lot to say, so I will just paraphrase here to give you the gist:

I was reading your roster projection, and it made me think about what a colossal failure the 2014 draft has been. Other than Jordan Matthews and Beau Allen, it was total trash. Champions pick Pro Bowlers on Day 3 and don’t totally blow first-round picks. Chip Kelly’s player selection in the draft could be his undoing. Would love to hear your thoughts.

We projected roles for rookies last week, so might as well go over second-year players today. Here’s a player-by-player look at where things stand with the guys taken in the 2014 draft.

Marcus Smith, OLB – I have joked all offseason that I’m the only person on his bandwagon if anybody wants to give me company. The truth is there are not a lot of positives to point to so far. Only one first-round pick played fewer snaps than Smith last season. He jumped around from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. And this spring he’s battled a groin injury. Best-case scenario for 2015 is that Smith improves and gets on the field as the third outside linebacker behind Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Maybe he flashes pass-rushing potential, displays his versatility and competes for a starting spot in 2016.

But there are obviously no guarantees that those things happen. Smith has the measurables and appears to have the work ethic. It is just a matter of putting it all together. If he gets beaten out by Travis Long for the No. 3 OLB job, the cries of “bust” will be deafening. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Second-Year Leap

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Today’s question comes from reader Steve, via e-mail.

I remember hearing that Chip Kelly doesn’t like to play rookies, and aside from Jordan Matthews, Beau Allen and Cody Parkey, this seemed to be the case for the most part last year. It seems as though the media and the fans pretty much dismiss these second-year players as busts and give them little or no chance of developing. I think Josh Huff, Trey Burton, Ed Reynolds, Taylor Hart, Travis Long and Jaylen Watkins have the chance to develop into good players. Am I being overly optimistic about these players having a chance to develop into starter-types?

Let’s tackle the first part of the question, Steve.

I wouldn’t say that Kelly doesn’t like to play rookies. He’s been pretty consistent with his belief in running a meritocracy. The players who give the Eagles the best chance to win will get on the field. It doesn’t matter if they’re rookies, veterans or whatever. I believe Kelly 100 percent when he says he believes this is the only way to govern a team and manage playing time. Read more »

Eagles Rookie Review: Player-By-Player Breakdown

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ rookie class performed in 2014 and what to expect going forward.

Marcus Smith (1st round, 26th overall)

He got on the field in eight of 16 games. Smith was inactive twice and a DNP-coach’s decision six times. In all, the Eagles’ first-round pick played just 68 snaps all season.

Smith started the season at outside linebacker, but switched to inside linebacker after the Eagles were decimated by injuries. At times, Billy Davis tried to use him in a specialized role in sub packages, but Smith’s head appeared to be spinning, and that experiment didn’t last. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Progress Report

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From time to time, we like to check in on how the Eagles’ draft picks are doing. With the first preseason game a day away, here’s an update.

Marcus Smith, OLB – He’s been running with the second team at the Jack spot behind Connor Barwin. And in all likelihood, that’s where Smith is going to see most of his action this season. He has looked the part from the first day of camp – long, athletic and can move in space. A couple days ago, he showed some feistiness, mixing it up with James Casey after the whistle. Smith, who has never before been to an NFL game, will likely make some normal rookie mental mistakes tomorrow night, but overall, he appears to be on schedule to contribute. Read more »

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