With the 2012 NFL Draft in the books, we can now start to evaluate who had the best draft and why. In this part of a collaborative Rant Sports series, the winner and loser from draft weekend in the NFC East will be given.
This evaluation is obviously premature—you never get a sense of whether a draft is successful or not until years down the road. Evaluating players is a rough game, and you’re almost always going to be wrong about some player. It’s impossible to accurately measure heart, determination and attitude.
For the NFC East the winner was tough to choose, but I’m going with the Philadelphia Eagles. It felt like every time they made a pick, the guy should have been taken earlier.
Rumors swirled pre-draft that the Eagles were interested in moving into the top 10 to take Fletcher Cox, but they ended up only having to move up three spots to get him.
Mychal Kendricks will immediately improve their linebacking corps. He is a freakish athlete for his size and one of the more underrated linebackers coming out. He and DeMeco Ryans will give the Eagles a formidable front seven, rivaling that of any other team in the league.
Fellow second round pick Vinny Curry does not fill a need, but as one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft the Eagles had to take him. The NFL is evolving and simply having two pass rushers does not cut it any longer. You have to have multiple guys who can create mismatches up front and get to the quarterback.
Nick Foles was a questionable pick, but the Eagles could afford to take a chance on a quarterback they like with the first three selections they made.
After trading Asante Samuel to the Falcons, the Eagles needed to add cornerback depth. Understanding the class was deep, they smartly waited for a top talent to fall. Brandon Boykin did just that and fell one maybe two full rounds below his projection. He also adds a much needed element in the return game.
Dennis Kelly is a monster with a very high ceiling. He is nearly 6’9 and is still filling out that body; if he bulks up he has the chance to be a dominant left tackle. Marvin McNutt was a value pick who could end up as the third wide receiver. He was very productive last season and could be a great possession receiver for Michael Vick.
Brandon Washington fell farther than expected since he played left tackle last season and was unsuccessful, but as a guard he was dominant for the Hurricanes.
The final selection had me scratching my head with Chris Polk still surprisingly available, but the Eagles ended up signing Polk after the draft anyhow so it made little difference. Bryce Brown was the same high school class as Trent Richardson and was the No. 1 running back that year. He struggled in college but if he can learn from his mistakes and put that behind him, the Eagles may have gotten the steal of the draft.
I asked fellow Rant Sports writer and Eagles fan Bryn Swartz to give me his take on the draft.
I can’t help but feel total admiration for what the Philadelphia Eagles did in the 2012 NFL draft. For the first time in a very long time, they made their franchise completely happy with just about every one of the picks. I think Fletcher Cox was one of the steals of the draft, even though he came in the middle of the first round. The Eagles didn’t really go into the draft thinking they had much of a chance to draft him, but he kept falling until the Eagles traded up just three picks to grab him.
I love the Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry signings. Kendricks is an extremely fast linebacker who should be able to help chase down Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III for the next decade, and Curry was a projected first round pick who can hopefully give the Eagles a defensive end tandem like the 2011 Giants, who won the Super Bowl behind the success of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora.
Brandon Boykin is a player that the Eagles were ecstatic to draft in the fourth round, and I expect him to be a starter in a few years. Washington and McNutt could also compete for playing time in the future, and Bryce Brown is a low risk, high reward player.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Eagles’ willingness to stick to their philosophy of drafting the best player available, regardless of position, as they especially proved when they took Curry late in the second round. Remember though, having a so-called great draft means absolutely nothing until the players step on the field and perform. I wasn’t crazy about the first four picks of the 2002 draft–Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Michael Lewis, and Brian Westbrook–and I think it’s safe to say that they turned out okay.
I also tapped Rant Sports Content director and avid Eagles fan Dan Parzych to give me his thoughts on the draft.
The Eagles have always been a team known for their defense and they addressed one of their biggest needs at linebacker with a great second-round pick in Mychal Kendricks. The California star is one of the fastest linebackers from this year’s class and should have an immediate impact on a defense that ended up being one of the biggest disappointments of the 2011 season–especially when it came to stopping the run. Not to mention moving up in the first round to select Fletcher Cox was an excellent move as they landed one of the top pass rushers in the draft.
The Eagles definitely had the best draft of all four NFC East teams, making them the early favorites to win the division.
It is hard to pick a loser from this division, but I’m going to go with the Washington Redskins, and it’s really based on one pick.
I cannot figure out why they decided to pick Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. First of all, you have a very capable backup to Robert Griffin III in Rex Grossman, who’s proven he can win games in a pinch.
Second of all, are you really in a position to take backups in the third round? They were 5-11 last year; there is a reason they had the No. 6 overall pick (before trading up).
Finally, although the Redskins will probably tell you there is no way in hell there will be a quarterback controversy, that doesn’t mean it won’t exist. Some fans will think Cousins is the better quarterback, and at the first sign of trouble from Griffin you’ll hear the boo birds from the stadium.
They should have waited until at least the sixth round, then there would be no question who the starter is. Cousins is a competitive guy, and he’ll be trying to take Griffin’s job at the first opportunity.
Well there you have it. All four NFC East teams did well for themselves, but the Eagles definitely stood out the most. While the Redskins did not have a terrible draft, they made one big mistake that could hurt them down the road.
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