Lane Johnson: Johnson infuses some badly needed youth, talent, and athleticism on the offensive line. I like the pick because I believe that he’s a great fit for what the Eagles will try to do under Chip Kelly, and he has a chance to be a staple on this line for years to come. The question is whether or not Johnson was truly worthy of the fourth overall pick. I’ll say this: if the Eagles didn’t take Johnson at number four, he would not have lasted much longer. Plenty of teams are desperate for offensive line help, Arizona took guard Jonathan Cooper just three picks later, and several picks after that the Chargers took D.J. Fluker. His stock had risen considerably because of his success in workouts leading up to the draft. If the Eagles wanted to add a potential difference maker on the offensive line, this was the time to do it.
Zach Ertz: Could bring a new dimension to the Eagles offense. Tight end with excellent size, and can make tough catches. First-round talent that fell to the Eagles at the top of the second-round, he may be one of the biggest steals of this draft. Ertz is the pick I’m most excited about. This is a guy with the tools to be for the Eagles what Jason Witten is to the Dallas Cowboys.
Bennie Logan: Potential future nose tackle who has a reputation for giving maximum effort on every play. The Eagles certainly needed more for the nose tackle position than just veteran Isaac Sopoaga, and Logan should at least be a part of the defensive line rotation in his first season.
Matt Barkley: Possibly the most polarizing pick of the draft. This is a pick that you’re either going to love or hate. People that love the pick believe that the Eagles got themselves a first-round talent in the fourth round. People that either don’t like or are confused by the pick will wonder why the Eagles would spend a fourth-round pick on a quarterback one year after spending a third-round pick on another quarterback.
Earl Wolff: Physical safety who has a reputation for constantly being around the football. Nate Allen’s roster spot is in trouble.
Joe Krueger: Brother of current NFL defensive lineman Paul Krueger, has decent size at 6-6 270. He can play either defensive end or linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He’ll add some depth and compete for a job in training camp.
Jordan Poyer: Cornerback who could have been a third or fourth round pick if not for off-field troubles. He’s got average size and speed but has good ball skills. He’s an interesting prospect at the bottom of the draft, and will have a good chance to make the roster which has a lack of depth at the cornerback position.
David King: Very raw prospect, and will face an uphill battle to make the roster. Possible practice squad candidate.
What I Like
- In the early rounds, the Eagles targeted players that have been apart of some of the most successful programs in college football. Too often during the Andy Reid era, the Eagles would try to outsmart the league by making bizzare picks and reaches in the higher rounds of the draft that really hurt this franchise. Think of how many second and third-round picks were lost on guys like Matt McCoy, Chris Gocong, Bryan Smith, guys from small schools that more often than not were just destined to be overmatched by NFL competition. In this draft, the Eagles stuck to guys from top programs like Oklahoma, Stanford, LSU, and USC. These are guys from winning programs that have faced the best competition that college football has to offer.
- Johnson and Ertz should be able to make significant contributions right away.
- Earl Wolff is advertised as a physical safety with decent cover skills. He may not be a starter, or even have much of an impact, but if any of the information on him is true, at the very least his presence should spell the end of Nate Allen’s time in Philadelphia.
- Not only did the Eagles stick to players from winning programs, but they also drafted players with good size.
- I’m glad the Eagles passed on Geno Smith. I already wasn’t on board with the idea of drafting a guy like Smith, who wasn’t a true top-of-the-line prospect, early in the draft, but then watching him pout, storm out of the draft room before the first round was even over, and declare that he wasn’t going to return for the second day (before his agent or someone close to him advised him otherwise) really rubbed me the wrong way. Watching Smith’s reactions brought back memories of Donovan McNabb’s poor-pitiful-me personality.
What I Don’t Like
- I don’t think the Eagles were able to improve their defense enough. Bennie Logan is the only defensive player drafted that is a lock to make the roster, and he might be too raw to make a great impact this season.
- Cornerback depth is still an issue, I don’t think it’s wise for this team to go into the season counting on Bradley Fletcher to be one of their starters without some kind of quality competition or viable Plan B. Poyer may or may not be a late round steal, but you can’t count on a lot from a seventh-round pick.
- No additional depth on the offensive line. After adding Lane Johnson, the Eagles didn’t draft any other lineman, which I believe is a mistake. Right now, the Eagles’ top backups are three fringe players in Dennis Kelly, Dallas Reynolds, and Danny Watkins. The Eagles’ offensive line has three starters coming off of season-ending injuries, two of which are older players that are more susceptible to injury (Jason Peters, Todd Herremans). The team is going to have to look to undrafted free agents and veteran retreads to improve their offensive line depth now, and the decision to not add an additional prospect or two could come back to hurt this team during the season.
In a perfect world, the Eagles would not have had to use the fourth overall pick on Johnson, but there was a serious drop off in the talent level of the available offensive tackle prospects after Johnson, and the Eagles needed to do something to upgrade this offensive line. Even though the line was going to be better with the healthy returns of Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, and Jason Kelce, Peters and Herremans are getting older and have quite a bit of miles on them. The team needed to prepare to replace these guys, and even though Johnson wasn’t regarded as highly as Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel, I think he has a chance to be very good player in this league.
The Matt Barkley pick is the one I question the most. Sure, at one point this guy was considered first-round material, but there’s a reason he slipped to the third day of the draft. There’s a reason that every other team in the league passed on him multiple times. There’s a reason that even though this was a particularly weak quarterback class, he was taken after the likes of E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, and Matt Glennon. The Eagles are in a position in which it doesn’t make sense to draft a quarterback, unless it’s a guy who is a true premier talent. They’re in a rebuilding mode right now, and aren’t expected to win this season. They’ve already got a young, developmental quarterback on the roster in Nick Foles, who they just spent a third-round pick on a year ago. Unless Matt Barkley sets the world on fire (which isn’t impossible, but realistically is unlikely), the Eagles are still going to be in a position a year from now in which they’re still looking for a franchise quarterback, meaning that they’ve likely spent a fourth-round pick on a guy who may turn out to be not better than a second-string quarterback. I would have rather seen them spend that fourth-rounder on an extra offensive lineman or a cornerback. However, even though I would have gone in a different direction with the pick, its not as though the team spent a second or third-round pick on Barkley, they took a chance with a fourth-rounder. It’s not a move that’s going to break the success of this draft class.
Overall, I thought the Eagles did a decent job with this draft. Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz may not be the pieces that really put the team on another level, but they’re a couple of solid building blocks that can help the team build towards something greater. I would have liked to see the team add some more depth in certain areas, but they can only do so much in one off-season. There are more things that I like about this draft than not, and even though I’m not overwhelmed by this group, I think this group has a chance to be a decent draft class.