I argue this Thursday is when the 2013 season truly begins. I hope Chip knows what he is in for because this, as a draft always can be a make or break year. The draft is the most important element in providing long term success for any franchise in any sport especially football. Brining in free agents to create a “dream team” rarely works in any sport save for the NBA and the Miami Lebron’s, yes the Yankees have done it but only once since 2000, in 2009 sorry Phillies fans. Look at the L.A. Angels from last year and even the beginning of this year not off to a great start. And of course we have the 2011 NFL Dream team or simply the Philadelphia Eagles. I shouldn’t have to say more. Free agents can help stabilize a franchise but the backbone to successful franchises is a successful drafting resume. We can see what happens when futility in draft war rooms in shown. Picking the wrong guys can set your franchise back years. Just look at the Jaguars, Bills, Browns and unfortunately the Eagles. The Eagles have not drafted well in many years. Since 2000 the Eagles GM (Andy Reid) has only drafted 9 pro-bowlers: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole, Shaun Andrews, Lito Shepperd, Michael Lewis, Brian Westbrook, Derrick Burgess and Corey Simon and not one of these players have made the pro-bowl more than twice.
Looking at elite teams in the NFL and I define “elite” teams by having won at least 2 Superbowls since 2000 and we start with the Patriots. The Pats have drafted 14 pro-bowlers and six of those have made it to three or more pro-bowls. The Steelers drafted 12 pro-bowlers and 5 players have made it to 2 or more. The Ravens have selected 12 not including Flacco and the Giants have picked 10 pro-bowlers. (Info from Pro-football-reference.com) One thing all these teams have in common is that they have the holy grail of football…a Franchise Quarterback. All drafted by their respective teams except the Giants who drafted Philip Rivers but got Eli Manning in a trade with the Chargers for Rivers. The Pro-Bowl stat is not everything in drafting but it can work as a gauge to define a successful drafting resume.
The future of a team is constructed through the Draft. The Eagles future looks bleak. The 2010 and 2011 draft might be the worst two drafts ever by any NFL team. The total number of draft picks from those two years were 24. 11 of the 24 drafted are still on the team. You’ll remember in 2010 we traded up to grab Brandon Graham instead of taking S Earl Thomas or DE Jason Pierre Paul. Two elite players at their positions. Graham not technically a bust yet and actually I think he will improve this year but I would still rather have Earl Thomas. Other “notable” players on the team drafted include Danny Watkins, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jamar Chaney, Riley Cooper, Alex Henery, and Jason Kelce. Kelce is the only one worth a starting position. 1 true starter out of 24 now I’m not good at math but that seems like a very low ratio. How can this team do well in the future when we are drafting that bad? Thanks Andy!
The 2012 draft, thank goodness, was pretty decent. Fletcher Cox looks to be worth the trade up and although Mychal Kendricks hit a rookie wall I see him as a solid starter in the NFL. Brandon Boykin looks to be a decent nickel or dime cornerback and Nick Foles future is still in question. Not a bad 3rd round pick, but may have to be moved because of Chip’s offensive system. Things seem to be looking up. It needs to continue Thursday night.
Chip Kelly’s first draft is one of the most important in years time. This is the first time in 14 years there is a different culture and hopefully with a culture change comes a drafting change. Maybe the smoothies and 12 hours of sleep can help Chip and Howie pick right. We don’t how much power Chip has in the war room but I would argue that this is his team and he will be making all the final calls. Chip can make or break his NFL career with this draft. He can put us on the right path or down the road to even further away from a Super Bowl. I hope he chooses correctly.
The 2013 draft has no superior players but tons of depth. 2nd and 3rd round picks are extremely valuable. Most of the talent from this draft will come from there. At this point I will tell you my Eagles dream draft as I think these players can make immediate impacts for our team.
First I would trade down from 4 to around 8-11. I would take Star Lotulelei (who should be there) and if not I would choose one of the guards available either Chance Warmack or Jonathon Cooper. Star is a can’t-miss prospect who has a quick first step and can take on double teams consistently. His heart condition is overrated and will not affect him at all. By trading down we should be able to get a second round pick but I believe with no great players worth trading up to get we may have to settle for a getting another third, which in this draft is gold. With pick 36 we choose Jonathon Banks a cornerback out of Mississippi State who is 6’2” and reminds me of Richard Sherman the standout Seattle Seahawk. Banks has long arms and loves to play physical and playing in the SEC he is always going against the best talent in college football. With our first 3rd round pick we choose TE Vance McDonald out of Rice. He’s a rare athlete who can run routes well and can be dynamic is the passing game. With our remaining 3rd round pick we choose S Baccari Rambo out of Georgia. Scouts say he can read quarterbacks eyes and is considered a ball hawk, but can be a gambler which I believe can be coached out of him. Our 4th pick should be OLB Trevardo Williams out of UCONN who is a great athlete who can get to the quarterback, not great against the run but could be the pass rusher we need. With the 5th round pick we should go offensive line and take guard Alvin Bailey out of Arkansas. Another SEC lineman going up against top talent week in and week out. I will not try and guess the remaining 4 7th round picks we have as they can easily be traded. (The scouting reports can be read at walterfootball.com)
I would love to see these guys picked as I think they can come in and start right away. Some other players I wouldn’t mind them drafting are Dion Jordan, Eric Fisher, Gavin Escobar in the third round (San Diego State TE, or Kiko Alonso in the 3rd round (Oregon ILB)
Notice I have not mentioned a quarterback. This year’s QB crop is not very good and are only being hyped because quarterback is the most important position on the field. I believe that the three guys we have now, Foles, Vick and Dixon can run the offense adequately because of the weapons we still have. Maclin, McCoy and Jackson are still very fast and very dangerous players that will be used by Chip Kelly to create havoc for defenses. Adding an offensive TE can be a game changer for us and make us even more of a team to for defensive coordinators to think about. Star will be a great nose tackle for years and Banks can be a great shutdown corner. Rambo is a good tackler and will not shy away from containing the run game and can force turnovers.
I really hope we do not go after a quarterback until late in the draft in the 6th or 7th round. E.J. Manuel hasn’t had to make full reads in his career at Florida State listening to him on the radio this past week on the Colin Cowherd show he said that making half reads which he made his whole career is harder than making full reads which I believe is an absolute joke, and Geno Smith is not a franchise QB. There are more important positions to fill than filling it with an average at best QB.
This year’s draft is very important, and missing is not an option. For this organization to succeed in the following years, the war room needs to make a statement this draft and help bolster a roster that still has potential and talent. Chip has already begun to make the necessary changes for a culture change lets hope that he can continue into the draft and correctly pick the next pieces for our team and deliver us an eventual Super Bowl. Remember it all starts Thursday night in New York.