Making sense of the Eagles' picks
Here's my take on the Eagles' three Day 2 selections in the NFL draft:
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
The Eagles drafted six linebackers from 2009-2011, but none before the fourth round. And the position was a disaster last season, playing behind Jim Washburn's defensive line. Earlier this season, the Birds acquired DeMeco Ryans to man the middle, and Friday night, they took Kendricks with the 46th overall pick. He'll compete at the SAM position immediately and should be expected to win that job.
Kendricks (5-11, 239) had a great combine, running a 4.47 40. But more importantly, he was a productive college player, earning Pac 12 Player of the Year honors last year. I watched a couple of Kendricks' games from last season, and he was always around the football, totaling 25 tackles (15 solo) in two games against Stanford and USC. He combined for 28.5 tackles for loss in 2010 and 2011. And Kendricks was an effective blitzer in 2010 with seven sacks.
As for covering opposing tight ends, remember, the Eagles were pretty good at that last year. According to Football Outsiders, they were third-best in the NFL. So yes, Kendricks will be asked to be good in coverage, but Nnamdi Asomugha and others might still be asked to shadow the more prolific tight ends like Jason Witten.
Here's what NFL Network's Mike Mayock thought of the pick:
"I thought he was one of the most productive and active linebackers in college football. He's instinctive, he can run, and I think he fits what the Eagles do. They have DeMeco Ryans inside. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kendricks outside."
Love Eagles pick of Kendricks. Clearly philosophy change re: LB with signing of Ryans + drafting of Kendricks. Fast + physical, + can blitz.
Still can't get over Kendicks pick. Best 4-3 LB in draft after Kuechly. As I said, an excellent blitzer. Great sidline-to-sideline range.
Given their recent track record with linebackers, it's fair to be skeptical of the Kendricks pick. But he appears to have all the tools to be a three-down linebacker. And while he might start out at SAM, Kendricks gives the Eagles a backup plan for Ryans - both this season, and for the future.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
This was a value pick. Mayock had Curry ranked as his 30th-best overall prospect. The Eagles got him at No. 59. At 6-3, 266, he had 23 sacks in the last two seasons. And in 2011, Curry ranked tied for third in the nation with 22 tackles for loss.
My immediate reaction after the Curry pick was that Darryl Tapp is going to have trouble finding a roster spot here if everybody is healthy. The Eagles have Trent Cole and Jason Babin as starters. Assuming Brandon Graham is ready to go, he'll be in the rotation too. That could leave Tapp as the odd man out.
As for Curry, here's what Mayock said about him:
"I really believe this is a pick by the Eagles where they say, he's too good, forget what our needs are. He's got a motor. He's going to get hustle sacks and play tough against the run."
I guess Eagles want to improve their defense. Curry showed excellent hand usage + good closing speed. An effort more than athletic player.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports wrote that Curry has some qualities which resemble Jason Pierre-Paul, adding that he has two speeds: Off and Kill.
With Babin turning 32 next month, the Eagles were smart to invest in Curry once he started slipping. Since they hired Jim Washburn to coach the defensive line, the Eagles have added Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox and now Curry. It's a talented group that should be one of the best pass-rushing units in the NFL next season.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
I was off on many of my pre-draft predictions, including the one where I said the Eagles would not draft a quarterback.
Many thought the Birds might take a shot on Ryan Tannehill if he slipped or Kirk Cousins in the second round. But they ended up going with the 6-5, 243-pound Foles. With the pick, the Eagles now have the following quarterbacks on their roster: Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Foles.
My guess is the plan is for Kafka and Edwards to compete for the backup spot, with Foles as the No. 3. And if I'm Andy Reid or Howie Roseman, I'm not too comfortable with that plan. Maybe Kafka or Edwards will prove me wrong and be good enough to back up Vick, but that spot just seems like a huge question mark at this point.
As for Foles, here's what Cosell Tweeted about him a few weeks ago:
Tightly schemed shotgun pass game w/almost no intermediate throws.1 read concepts. Easy reads.
Slow arm speed limits driving the ball. Heavy feet. Needs space to throw. Showed better traits when had time + space.
Did not drive the ball on few intermediate throws or sideline throws.
And from draft analyst Matt Waldman's Rookie Scouting Portfolio:
Foles has the size, the short-range accuracy, and some fundamental skills that could help him develop into a pro quarterback with work. I think his footwork with his drops, releases, and his decision-making in the pocket will need refinement for him to develop into an NFL quarterback with starter potential and I think that's asking a lot from him. I think he's a lot more of a project than some think.
Reid and Marty Mornhinweg may feel differently, and they've had plenty of success working with quarterbacks. But take a quick look at the QBs Reid has drafted: Donovan McNabb (1999), A.J. Feeley (2001), Andy Hall (2004), Kevin Kolb (2007) and Mike Kafka (2010).
McNabb was clearly an outstanding pick. Feeley was a fifth-rounder, who's stayed in the league, and Hall was a sixth-round selection.
While the Eagles turned Kolb into a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Cardinals, we have no idea what kind of quarterback he's going to be. Kolb's started 16 games in five NFL seasons, having completed just under 60 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
As for Kafka, he enters his third season, and it's very much up in the air whether he's even good enough to be this team's backup. And Vince Young, while not drafted by the Eagles, spent last year working with Reid and Mornhinweg. He remains unsigned.
The point is this: While I believe Reid and Mornhinweg have earned their reputations as great quarterback coaches, the Birds' track record in selecting quarterbacks has been a mixed bag.
I'm not trying to bury Foles before he even gets a chance. If the Eagles had more of a sure thing behind Vick, I'd have less of an issue with them using a third-round pick to develop Foles. But with the way things currently stand, they don't seem very well-equipped to handle an injury to the starter.
If you missed it from earlier, check out part of Foles' QB Camp episode with Gruden.