Eagles Pick-By-Pick Draft Review

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Oregon vs Kansas State

It was a chaotic three days at the NovaCare Complex. In the end, the Eagles made four trades and ended up with seven new players (not counting undrafted free agents).

Below is a pick-by-pick review, along with links you might have missed and projections for how each guy fits.

Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville (6-3, 251)
Round 1, Pick 26

How he fits: Smith had 14.5 sacks last year, but his most attractive trait is his versatility. In Charlie Strong’s scheme, he was asked to rush the passer, set the edge against the run and drop back into coverage. Expect Smith to compete for playing time right away as part of a rotation with Connor Barwin and Trent Cole.

Overall thoughts: I’ve criticized the Eagles for plenty this offseason, but I have no issue with the Smith pick. The six players they targeted at No. 22 went off the board. They thought about trading up, but ultimately decided giving up later picks wasn’t worth it. So instead, they moved back, added an extra pick and drafted a player they targeted. If there was an obvious pick at No. 26 that the Eagles missed out on, I’m not seeing it. Was the pick a bit of a reach? Maybe. But a team like the Redskins might have very well taken Smith soon after he went off the board.

What you missed:

“I think he has a huge upside,” said Chip Kelly.
Why the Eagles passed on Johnny Manziel and Marqise Lee.
T-Mac’s thoughts on the Smith pick.
Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper Jr. and others on Smith.
Howie Roseman defends the Smith pick, clarifies the process.
Smith explains how he had to become a more violent player when switching from offense to defense.
No-22 breakdown of what Smith brings to the table.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (6-3, 212)
Round 2, Pick 42

How he fits: Kelly revealed that the Eagles want Matthews to come in and immediately play the slot. He ran a 4.46 at the combine and finished his career as the SEC’s leader in catches and receiving yards. Matthews watched four Eagles games on film before his official visit to Philadelphia. When he arrived, he had notes and questions for the coaches. The Eagles believe he’ll have a size advantage against slot corners and like the way he makes contested catches against man coverage.

Overall thoughts: I was surprised the Eagles traded up in the second round to get Matthews, considering how deep the draft was at wide receiver. But Kelly explained that the team had targeted Marqise Lee and Matthews in the second round. If you’re wondering how they had the top-tier of WRs ranked, here’s an educated guess: Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee and Matthews. Teams likely differed in the way they had those guys ranked. In the end, the Eagles decided Matthews was in another class from the wide receivers taken after him.

What you missed:

“He can catch the ball in traffic,” said Kelly.
No-22 breakdown of why Matthews is a fit.
What Mayock, Kiper and others said about Matthews.

Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (5-11, 206)
Round 3
, Pick 86

How he fits: Huff can be penciled in to the No. 4 WR spot for now, although the Eagles may want to rotate their pass-catchers more in 2013, which could mean some immediate playing time. He said he played 90 percent of his snaps last year in the slot, but the Eagles believe he can be effective on the outside as well. Huff is considered a physical player who can also contribute right away on special teams.

Overall thoughts: I like Huff as a player, but it’s fair to question whether the Eagles pulled the trigger too early on this one. Of all the picks, this seemed like the one where the decision-makers said: “We want that player and are not willing to risk losing out on him even if it means taking him early.” Huff very well might have slipped to the fourth round, but given Kelly’s history with him, the Eagles weren’t willing to chance it. I’m not sure about the process, but I like Huff as a player.

What you missed:

Huff said the Eagles told him they were going to draft him.
What they’re saying about Huff.

Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida (5-11, 194)
Round 4, Pick 101

How he fits: Watkins projects as either a corner or a safety. He played both last year for the Gators. But Roseman said the Eagles will start him out at cornerback. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are still expected to start, but Watkins could push them. He ran 4.41 at the combine, and that was with an ankle injury. Watkins believes he would have clocked the fastest time had he been healthy. He could be a sub-package player as a rookie. Watkins has the ability to play inside, outside or at safety.

Overall thoughts: This was probably my favorite pick. In some ways, it reminds me of the Brandon Boykin selection back in 2012. Watkins is a fantastic athlete. I’m not sure exactly what his role will be right away, but Watkins’ upside and versatility is appealing.

What you missed:

Kelly said the Eagles loved Watkins’ football IQ.

Taylor Hart, DL, Oregon (6-6, 281)
Round 5, Pick 141

How he fits: This pick seemed destined to happen. Not a lot of teams run a two-gap 3-4, so identifying linemen who fit what the Eagles want to do is not difficult. The Eagles like to rotate their defensive linemen. Hart will back up Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox. Kelly said his strength is playing the run.

Overall thoughts: The Eagles thought about taking Hart in the fourth, but Roseman promised Kelly that he’d still be there in the fifth, and he was right. This isn’t a splashy pick, but Hart should contribute right away, and given his familiarity with defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, there’s no question about scheme fit.

What you missed:

“We’re putting the family back together.”

Ed Reynolds, Safety, Stanford (6-1, 207)
Round 5, Pick 162

How he fits: Malcolm Jenkins has one starting safety spot locked down, but the other one is up for grabs. Reynolds will compete with Earl Wolff and Nate Allen. Kelly raved about Wolff, but Reynolds has a chance to make some noise as a rookie. He has experience playing deep, in the box and covering man to man.

Overall thoughts: I’ll be honest here. Reynolds is a player I have to do more homework on. Going into the draft, though, I thought they needed to focus on the defense. And Reynolds was one of five picks on that side of the ball. He ran a 4.57 at the combine, but won’t be able to participate in all of the Eagles’ spring practices because of NCAA rules.

What you missed:

Reynolds has been to the NovaCare Complex before to watch Eagles practice.

Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin (6-2, 333)
Round 7, Pick 244

How he fits: The Eagles used their final pick on a big-bodied, run-stuffing nose tackle. Azzinaro recruited Allen coming out of high school. He’ll compete immediately with Damion Square for the backup job behind Bennie Logan.

Overall thoughts: It would be tough for me to have too much of an issue with a seventh-round pick. I thought the Eagles might want to add an inside linebacker or an offensive lineman, but they didn’t see any that they liked. Square did not establish himself as a rookie, so Allen has a legitimate chance of making the team. That competition will play out this summer.

What you missed:

Allen is said to “squat a small house.”