An insider's view of Eagles' draft

Posted: May 15, 2014

THE EAGLES' draft grades are in, and if you haven't given them one yet, well, you're probably either in a coma or on a Tibetan retreat without access to the Internet.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco and the Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer all gave them a B-plus.

I gave them a B. SB Nation gave them a C-plus. Chris Burke and Doug Farrar of SI.com gave them a C. My wife gave them an F, because they didn't draft any players from Oklahoma.

What did their peers in the NFL think of their draft? As I do every year, I asked a personnel man with an NFC club to break down the Eagles' selections. His thoughts:

Marcus Smith

OLB, Louisville

6-3, 251

Round 1 (26)

"I watched him and couldn't fall in love with him, especially not in the first round. He's out of the Trent Cole, Jason Babin mold, which isn't a bad thing. But he's a wide rusher. You don't want him lining up over the tackle and have to have him hold the point [of attack]. You don't want him doing that.

"The best way to use him is to keep him on the move. Put him over a tight end or move him in a gap. Move him upfield. That's his game. His game is movement. It's not power. The Eagles obviously see him as a better fit for their scheme than we did for ours. We just couldn't figure out a position for him.

"He's got a good motor. He's a little stiff in the hips, but can bend the edge. He was overmatched in one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. He has a huge upside as a rusher, though. He's an above-average athlete. He gives you speed off the corner and is explosive at the point of attack when he's moving."

Jordan Matthews

WR, Vanderbilt

6-3, 212

Round 2 (42)

"I liked him a lot. Great pick. He has above-average size. He's got outstanding straight-line speed. Big hands. He's an above-average route runner. He uses his strengths to his advantage. He displays enough quickness to elude press coverage. He's a speed-builder, a ground-eater. His strides eat up a lot of ground.

"He's effective on reverses and has the speed to get on top of a corner. He catches the ball well over the top. He's productive and crafty.

"Those are the good things. The not-so-good things are, he will have trouble separating. In other words, if a guy doesn't press him, if he just runs the route with him, he has difficulty separating from the defender.

"He's a No. 2 [receiver]. I don't think he's a No. 1. The other knock on him is his productivity after the catch. He can run away from somebody, but let's say he catches a 12-yard in. He's not going to avoid the oncoming defender. He's not going to make a guy whiff. He's probably only going to end up with 14 to 15 yards on that 12-yard in.

"Against one-on-one coverage, he'll have trouble with the bigger corners because the bigger corners will be just as physical as he is. And when the ball comes up for a jump ball, the bigger corner will be right there with him.

"Where he'll have the advantage is against the smaller corner who won't be as strong as him. When he gets in his route and it's a high-point ball, he'll win most of those battles."

Josh Huff

WR, Oregon

5-11, 206

Round 3 (86)

"He's another guy I really like. They took him exactly where we had him - in the third round. The kid has outstanding hands. Not good, not excellent. Outstanding. He's a quick-twitch receiver. He explodes off the line of scrimmage.

"He's versatile. He can play inside or outside. You can line him up in the backfield. Oregon did that a lot with him and got him matched up on linebackers. That was, like, forget it.

"You can motion him and throw it to him in the flat. He shows great ability to adjust to off-target throws. He has good body control. He's effective on bubble screens. He's a difficult guy to cover because of his suddenness. He's elusive in space. Has good balance. He can elude tacklers and run by defenders. He can play in the slot or on the outside.

"He does have some diva in him. He can be a high-maintenance guy, but Chip [Kelly] obviously knows him, and that should help. We loved his tape, but didn't like his interview process. He was kind of clownish in his interview with us. He's one of those guys who will make a 20-yard catch, then lay on the turf. He's not a mouthy diva. He's not going to do a lot of trash-talking. He's more of a see-what-I-just-did guy, which, sadly, is not unlike 90 percent of the receivers in the league. But I loved him."

Jaylen Watkins

CB, Florida

5-11, 194

Round 4 (101)

"I wasn't as fond of him as I was of Huff, but pretty close. The big thing with him is his versatility. He can play anywhere in the secondary. He can play corner or he can play safety. He can drop down in the box. He's a terrific Tampa-2 corner or safety. He can be a two-deep corner. He's an above-average game diagnoser. He's not a great tackler, but he's not afraid to tackle. It's more of a technique thing. But he'll mix it up.

"He's versatile, athletic. He'll be able to fill the alley if he's playing safety. He's kind of a drag-down tackler, but he gets them down. Nobody tackles anymore anyway. He's a below-the-knee [tackler].

"I suspect he'll come in initially as a role player, maybe a nickel safety or nickel or dime corner. He's not a Day 1 starter. But in time, he can be, at either spot."

Taylor Hart

DE, Oregon

6-6, 281

Round 5 (141)

"Another good selection. They got him in the fifth. We had an early fourth-round grade on him. First of all, he's got measurables. He's a blue-collar lunch-bucket type of guy. More of a first- and second-down type. He's not really a pass-rusher.

"The great thing about him is he doesn't stay blocked. He'll get off his man. But he's limited in a pass scheme because of his size. When he stands up, they get to his chest.

"He's a very disciplined player. He won't get pushed around. He has good intelligence and understands the game. He's not a 'splash' player. You're not going to get many 'oh, wow' plays from him. He's kind of in the Brett Keisel mold, which isn't a bad mold to be out of.

"Hart's not going to be a liability as a pass-rusher. He's just not going to get a lot of sacks. He may push the pocket over a guard. He may get his hands up and knock some balls down because of his size. He just won't have a lot of sacks."

Ed Reynolds

S, Stanford

6-1, 207

Round 5 (162)

"The kid obviously has good bloodlines, with his father having played in the league for a long time. He's extremely competitive. He's not a blazer. You don't want to put him in man-to-man situations. He's a zone safety.

"He's an aggressive downhill tackler. He wants to be in the mix. He's not an elite playmaker. He relies on his smarts. He's limited from an athletic standpoint. He's very vanilla, a little stiff, not particularly explosive. But like I said, he plays smart.

"He makes a lot of plays, not because he can run and get there fast, but he gets there, because he's a good diagnoser and can anticipate what's happening.

"We had a sixth-round grade on him mainly because, like Smith, he didn't fit our scheme. We play press coverage with our corners and drop a safety down in the box and have another safety with range. That's not who this guy is. Like I said, he's a zone guy. I wouldn't want him covering tight ends. And you're definitely never going to put him on a slot receiver. He's going to be a core special-teams guy for them."

Beau Allen

NT, Wisconsin

6-2, 333

Round 7 (224)

"Allen's mainly a two-down run-stuffer. He's tough to move. He has big hands that allow him to control a blocker. He's physical and has a high motor, but doesn't move very well.

"He's got good upper-body strength. Did 30 reps in the 225 bench press. He can hold the point of attack against double-teams, but doesn't dominate single blocks. He's not going to throw a guy off of him and make the play very often. He's not going to put up great stats, but he'll occupy blockers and allow his linebackers to make plays.

"They don't really have a guy like him. So he's got a chance to make their team."


On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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