Monday, April 30, 2007

Draft Post-Mortem

The NFL draft, with the seemingly never ending first round on Saturday, is finally over. Strictly from an Eagles perspective, there were more questions created as a result of this draft than there were questions answered. I went over the Kevin Kolb pick pretty well on Saturday and my opinion has not changed. Today, the pick of a quarterback with such a high pick by the Eagles was on the minds of everybody I talked to at work today about the draft and was spoken about on both sports radio stations in town. The thing to stress here is that people's dissatisfaction really has nothing to do with Kevin Kolb personally. He might become a very good player; even a great one. The problem is that the Eagles seemingly threw up the white flag on this season and possibly next season by saying that they will now begin rebuilding around Kolb, rather than retooling their defense for a Super Bowl run as I, and many Eagle fans, wanted them to do.

The rest of the Eagles picks were as follows:

Round 2 Victor Abiamiri DE NOTRE DAME
Round 3 Stewart Bradley OLB NEBRASKA and Tony Hunt RB PENN STATE
Round 5 C.J. Gaddis DC CLEMSON and Brent Celek TE CINCINNATI
Round 6 Rashad Barksdale CB ALBANY
Round 7 Nate Ilaoa RB HAWAII

Some conclusions:

1.) The Eagles have finally recognized that they never adequately replaced Duce Staley's skillset. The Eagles have not had a tough, between the tackles running back since Duce Staley left. Dorsey Levens had some success in that role, but Levens' best days were clearly behind him. With the drafting of Tony Hunt from Penn State and Nate Ila0a from Hawaii, Andy Reid has signalled a willingness to get a power running back as long as they had other skills to offer. Like Duce Staley, Tony Hunt runs with a low center of gravity and will almost always run between the tackles. Also like Staley, Hunt is an effective pass receiver out of the backfield and will be tough for LBs and DBs to tackle in space. Ilaoa has best been described as a bowling ball with legs. Expect some semblance of the return of the "3 headed monster" running game the Eagles had 4 or 5 years ago. All of this signals perhaps the end of Reno Mahe's and/or Ryan Moats' Eagle careers.

2.) The Eagles recognized they have depth issues on defense. Drafting Bradley, Gaddis, and Barksdale highlights was Eagle fans already knew; that the Eagles lack depth defensively in their back seven. CJ Gaddis has been portrayed as a guy who can play safety and corner. Barksdale's athletic skills are supposed to be off the charts, but it's projected he'll play special teams until he comes up to speed on playing DB in the NFL. The Eagles like LB Stewart Bradley so much, the finally cut LB Dhani Jones, who has infuriated numerous Eagle fans with that bizarre and slightly effeminate banjo/guitar thing he does the few times he does make a play.

3.) The only two players in this draft who will help the team next year are Tony Hunt and Victor Abiamiri. Hunt will absolutely make the RB rotation for the Eagles this fall. DE Victor Abiamiri played on a bad Notre Dame defense, but he stood out not only for his pass rushing (10.5 sacks), but he played the run tough as well. This is a skill the Eagles sorely need out of their DEs. If I'm Jerome McDougle, I would look to update my resume.

Final Conclusion: Grading a team's draft is the average of two grades for me. One grade is given for how the team drafted to help the current incarnation of the Eagles. Another grade is speculative in that how do these players project going forward.

"Help Now" grade: D. Hunt and Abiamiri are the only players who will see the field regularly, and in supporting roles at that. They really squandered an opportunity to help on defense in drafting a QB so early.

"Futures" grade: B. This all depends on Kolb and the defensive depth they drafted. If Kolb turns out to be everything his supporters are saying about him, they this could be an A. Let's call it a B for now.

Overall: C. The Eagles were largely passive observers in this draft and seemed disinterested in helping the team this year.

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