As it does every year, the NFL Draft brought plenty of unexpected twists and turns throughout the night. Many expected quarterbacks to fly off the board early, and they did. Cam Newton was the first overall selection, Jake Locker went 8th to the Tennessee, Blaine Gabbert went 10th to the Jackson, and Christian Ponder went 12th to the Vikings.
As these quarterbacks went off the board, it benefited the Eagles more and more. The Eagles weren’t looking for a quarterback in the first round, so when other teams took signal callers, players at other positions fell down the board.
To no one’s surprise, Patrick Peterson was drafted in the top 5, being selected by the Cardinals. When this happened, eyes turned to Prince Amukamara to see where he would end up being selected.
Amukamara fell out of the top 10, as expected, and then began to free fall into the late-teens, something that wasn’t exactly expected. As he edged closer and closer to the Eagles selection, they could have easily made a move to trade up to get him. However, they didn’t pull the trigger. In the end, Amukamara would come off the board at 19th overall to the division rival Giants.
With Amukamara falling down the board, Jimmy Smith fell as well. We’ve seen mock drafts for weeks that predicted Smith going to the Eagles. It’s clearly a need for the team, and Smith was a guy many people thought would be around at 23.
When the time came, Smith was available at 23, but they decided to pass. Although he’s a strong player, he’s surrounded with character concerns. The Eagles brought Smith in for a private workout before the draft to assesses both his play on the field and his mentality. Team personnel noted that they liked Smith, so it’s unknown whether the Eagles passed on him because of his character or because they believed they could get another talented corner in free agency or later in the draft.
Another player that many mock drafts had the Eagles taking was Gabe Carimi, the offensive tackle out of Wisconsin. Like Smith, Carimi was on the board when the Eagles picked at 23. However, the Eagles decided to pass on him as well.
When the Eagles pick came up, and both Smith and Carimi were on the board, I still believed they would trade back and attack rounds 2 and 3. If they did make a pick, I thought they would go after Jimmy Smith, then take an offensive lineman in the second round.
However, to the surprise of some, but not all, the Eagles went with 26-year old Danny Watkins, a versatile offensive lineman out of Baylor. He’s a hard working guy, and fits the mold for the type of player the Eagles look for.
The selection addresses a big need for the Eagles, and after a good night’s sleep, they can begin putting together their strategy on they want to attack the next two rounds.