NFC scout's opinion of Eagles' draft
He loves two of the picks but isnt so high on the other four, and explains why.
THERE IS NO right or wrong with respect to the 2015 NFL draft right now. There are only opinions.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots, who have been one of the best drafting teams in the NFL for the last decade-and-a-half, take Stanford safety Jordan Richards with the last pick of the second round and NFL scouts whose own teams had Richards rated as a fourth-, fifth- or even sixth-rounder scratch their heads.
Maybe Belichick is right and they're wrong. Maybe Belichick is wrong and they're right. Way too soon to determine that. Check again in 3 years. Right now, it's all opinion.
Which brings us to the Eagles' draft. Every year, for the last 20-plus years, I've asked various NFL personnel people to break down the Eagles' selections and give me their opinion on each of them.
What follows are the opinions - the opinions - of an NFC personnel executive about the Eagles' six draft selections.
First, an overview: He loved the selections of first-round wide receiver Nelson Agholor and second-round defensive back Eric Rowe, really, really loved them. But he hated the third-round selection of linebacker Jordan Hicks (way too high).
He said his team didn't have sixth-round cornerbacks JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans, or seventh-round defensive end Brian Mihalik, on their draft board. But he admitted that the late-round quality of this draft was so poor that the sixth- and seventh-round selections would have been no better than priority free agents in deeper drafts.
On Agholor, whom the Eagles selected with the 20th overall pick:
"For what was on the board for them [at 20], that was a good pick," he said. "He was the safest receiver in the draft. That includes the top three [Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker]. There was concern about Cooper's knee. There was concern about White playing only one position [at West Virginia]. And we had Agholor rated ahead of Parker [who went 14th to the Dolphins]."
The scout said that while Agholor might not have the upside of White or Breshad Perriman (taken 26th by the Ravens), he is more NFL-ready than every receiver in the draft except possibly Cooper (taken fourth by the Raiders).
"If you looked at this whole wide-receiver group and had to play a game tomorrow and needed two of them, you'd pick Cooper and Agholor," he said. "He can play all over the place. Inside, outside, anywhere you want him to. He'll learn all of the positions and all of the routes.
"Perriman has more upside. But Agholor is more polished, more ready to play," he said. "And he can return punts. He's a better route runner than White, though he doesn't have the speed White has."
On Rowe, who was taken in the second round with the 47th overall pick:
"I really like this pick," the scout said. "Rowe has versatility. He's got the corner-safety flex. We had him as the fifth corner on our board, behind [Trae] Waynes, [Marcus] Peters, [Kevin] Johnson and [Byron] Jones, but ahead of [Jalen] Collins [taken by the Falcons at 42].
"He's got length and strength. For a big guy [6-1, 205], he's not stiff. If you play him at safety, he has good range and can cover anybody. When we discussed him [before the draft], we said if we had to play against a [Jimmy] Graham or [Rob] Gronkowski or the bigger wideouts like [Kelvin] Benjamin or Mike Evans, he could match up with those guys. He's got a lot of flexibility."
Eagles coach Chip Kelly said the Eagles probably will put Rowe at corner initially. The NFC personnel man agreed with that.
"If we had drafted him, we would've put him [at corner] first until he proved to us he couldn't play there. We wouldn't have played him corner one game and safety the next or anything like that. We were looking at him as a press corner."
The scout warned that the Eagles shouldn't rush Rowe.
"In this league, the two positions you really hate to start a rookie at are quarterback and corner," he said. "You've got to be careful. Quarterbacks are going to go right after a kid like that, and you've got to be careful about them losing their confidence early on.
"Ideally, you'd like to let him sit, maybe play him in nickel every so often and use him in matchup situations against bigger guys until he gets his feet wet. If he's clearly the best guy at the position, if he legitimately beats everybody out for the job, well, then you've got to start him. But if it's a tie or if it's close, I would play the veteran guy early on. But that's just me. Maybe they feel differently."
As for Hicks, the scout called the Eagles' selection of the University of Texas linebacker in the third round "a major reach."
After the Eagles took him with the 84th overall pick, Kelly told reporters that Hicks was "by far" the highest-rated player on their board. I'm sure he was telling the truth. He had no reason to lie.
The scout said Hicks "wasn't even on our board." He said his team had Hicks rated as a preferred free agent.
"Obviously, they have convictions about him. I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm just saying we don't have the same opinion or him. I was shocked [when the Eagles took him that high]."
The scout said his biggest problem with the 6-1, 236-pound Hicks is his lack of instincts.
"He's a good athlete, I will give him that," he said. "Our problem was with his instincts. I don't know how they're going to use him. If he's a runner - see ball, get ball - he can do that. But our linebackers' responsibilities are more complex than our secondary positions. Our linebackers have to do a lot.
"If they make it easy for him, then maybe he'll be OK. But if they start playing in-and-out and combo and [say], 'OK, if this guy goes in motion, then he becomes 3 and you've got 2,' watch out."
Hicks is a very, very smart guy. Got his degree at the Texas in 3 1/2 years and has been working on a master's in advertising. The scout isn't questioning his intelligence.
"Sometimes, really smart guys analyze things too much," he said. "Smart guys often are overthinkers. And you can't do that on a football field. Because if you stop and think, you're going to get beaten."
The scout said he was "not a fan" of Shepherd, the sixth-round corner. Said he actually liked Kansas' other corner, Dexter McDonald, who was taken in the seventh round by the Raiders, better.
"He's kind of a vanilla corner," he said of Shepherd. "Kansas didn't have a very good team and people picked on both of their corners. When you take a guy where they took him, it's a crapshoot. Especially in this draft.
"Taking the two corners so close together in the sixth round like they did, it looks to me like they were saying, 'We'll draft two and maybe one will pan out.' Like I said, we didn't have either of them on our board. Same with Mihalik."
On Twitter: @Pdomo