The Philadelphia Eagles had an interesting class in the 2014 NFL Draft. One thing was abundantly clear, they had their board and they weren’t going to stray from it. In the process they found a couple starters for down the road and depth for the here and now.
Marcus Smith (OLB, Louisville) was the teams first round pick at no. 26. The need was certainly there, as Trent Cole and Connor Barwin aren’t getting any younger and Brandon Graham likely on his way out of town. However, the value of this pick was tremendously poor, as he could’ve likely been found in the mid to late third round, and certainly no higher than no. 42, the teams second round slot. It’s not that he’s a poor fit, in fact it’s the opposite in Billy Davis’ versatile scheme, but smart teams don’t just ignore value in the draft. Why not stay at 22, add a dynamic and polished cover corner with good upside (like Darqueze Dennard), and take Smith in the third?
Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt) was one of my favorite prospects in the draft, so I was a fan of this pick and thought he was a good value here. At first I was curious as to why they weren’t targeting someone with more deep speed to try and replicate DeSean Jackson’s role in the offense, but the teams next pick answered that question.
Third rounder Josh Huff (WR, Oregon) wasn’t a great value at 86 overall, but he has deceptive deep speed and is a monster after the catch, plus has experience working with HC Chip Kelly before. Between Huff and Matthews and with Riley Cooper locked up for five years, Jeremy Maclin (riding a one-year deal) could be entering his last season in the City of Brotherly Love.
Jaylen Watkins (CB, Florida) in the fourth was a solid value. No doubt the Eagles fell in love with his versatility as he has experience playing all over the secondary. He’ll be a movable piece for Davis rotating where the Birds need him, but don’t be surprised if he sticks at SS due to his physical playing style.
The teams two fifth round picks were Taylor Hart (DE, Oregon) and Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford). These were decent value picks with some good long term upside. Hart is another Kelly disciple and is a good fit at the 5 for Philly, where he should provide depth this fall. Reynolds is another depth guy for ’14, more than likely at SS due to his subpar coverage skills. He’s a decent playmaker but is limited athletically.
Last but not least was Beau Allen (NT, Wisconsin) in the seventh, which was a great pick in my humble opinion. He offers little in terms of pass rush or athleticism, but is an absolute monster against the run and holding up at the point of attack. He’s got the natural strength and base to play a two gap NT in Philly’s odd fronts, and once he develops, could allow Bennie Logan to return to his more natural position at 5-tech.
As much as I liked the Watkins pick, I would’ve liked to see the Eagles still add a dynamic playmaker for their defensive backfield, which they could’ve found in the first round (and still been able to take Smith later). Still, the overall depth of the team was improved drastically with this draft, and the receiving corps received a nice boost. For the second year in a row the Birds pulled in a solid if unspectacular class.