The 2011 NFL Draft is over. We had three days of football action, and now it’s uncertain as to the next time we’ll be able to see anymore football action. So for the time being, we have to cling to the draft as much as we can.
For the second year in a row, the Eagles walked away with a large draft class. They made 13 selections in 2010 and followed it up with 11 more this year. Many players out of last year’s large draft class contributed as rookies. We’d like to see the same thing out of this year’s draft class, but we’ll have to wait a while to see how things pan out.
In the meantime, we can only imagine how they will fit into the system when the season begins. After three days of drafting, here is how I rate the Eagles draft by each round.
Selection: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
As usual, the first round of the NFL Draft was pretty interesting. Many players were picked higher than expected, and in turn, other players fell down the board. The Eagles could have made a play for some of the players that were falling, but they held tight at 23. I found this a bit odd because the Eagles always seem to move around in the first round.
However, I believe they knew who they wanted coming into the first round and felt confident that he would be available without having to make a move for him. This man was offensive guard Danny Watkins. The pick was a bit surprising, but not overly surprising considering the need at the position and the fact that they didn’t draft a single offensive lineman last year.
As I just mentioned, there was definitely a need at this position, and Watkins should be able to step in and start at right guard from day one. He might not start Training Camp running with the starters, but I expect him to be there by the end of camp and in the starting lineup opening day.
At 26 years old, Watkins is a mature player with a hard work ethic that should develop well under offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
Selection: Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple
This pick was a bit of a surprise to me. It could also serve as an indicator that the Eagles don’t plan on resigning Quintin Mikell when free agency opens. However, Jarrett has been given some high grades from scouts, and is no stranger to playing football at Lincoln Financial Field.
Although he’s considered to be undersized, Jarrett is known as being a big hitter and a guy that’s not afraid to make contact. Andy Reid noted that Jarrett is a bit like Brian Dawkins in the way that he delivers hits on ball carriers. This doesn’t mean that Jarrett will be just like Dawkins, but it’s nice praise for a guy coming out of college.
Jarrett is known as a very instinctive player who is able to position himself well to make plays despite not having incredible speed. He spent a lot of time starting while he was at Temple and was a leader on their defense.
I’m surprised the Eagles went for a safety this early, but Jarrett is very athletic and should be able to develop into a solid player.
Selection: Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
Everyone expected the Eagles to take a corner in this year’s draft, but it was a bit of a surprise that they waited until the third round to do so. It was also a bit surprising that they took Marsh, a guy who played two seasons at running back before making the switch to corner.
However, Marsh displayed a lot of upside in his two seasons at the position. What I like most about him is his ability to play physical. To me, any guy who the Eagles want to line up opposite of Asante Samuel has to have the ability to be physical.
Marsh showed that he can do this in college, but also has the ability to play off the receivers and close quickly with his 4.4 speed. He’s versatile, but still has a lot to learn about the position.
He earned All-WAC honors as a senior and was sixth in the nation in passes defended. It’s likely that the Eagles will look for a starting corner in free agency, but Marsh could challenge for the nickel corner position as a rookie and work his way into a starting position down the line.
Selections: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon; Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
The third day of the draft started in the fourth round and was the first round that the Eagles had multiple selections in a round. I think they did very well in the fourth round.
They started by taking Casey Matthews, brother of the very dominant Clay Matthews. However, Casey let it be known that he doesn’t want to be referred to as Clay’s little brother. He’s ready to make a name for himself in the NFL, and I think he has the ability to do so.
As an Eagle, I don’t think he’ll be able to crack the starting lineup as a rookie. However, he’s a relentless guy that should be a solid contributor right away on special teams and could be used in passing situations on defense. He has the ability to rush the quarterback and run with tight ends, so it’ll be interesting to see if Juan Castillo plugs him in on third downs.
The other fourth round selection came as a surprise, but looks like a very solid pick. Henery was the best kicker in college, and with David Akers deciding not to sign the transition tag the Eagles placed on him, it looks like he’ll be leaving Philly.
Henery has a tremendous leg, and you don’t use a fourth round pick on a kicker if you don’t expect him to come in and take the job.
Selections: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh; Julian Vandervelde, OG, Iowa
The Eagles had multiple picks again in the fifth round of the draft and added two offensive players.
Before the draft, the Eagles worked out a number of running backs who projected as mid-round selections. Lewis was not a guy they brought in for a workout, but they chose to take another running back out of Pittsburgh.
Like LeSean McCoy, Lewis draws concerns about his size coming out of college, but has shown the ability to make big plays. He’s a very solid runner despite his small stature, and also has shown that he can catch balls out of the backfield.
McCoy bulked up after his rookie season and it worked out very well for him. I expect Lewis to do the same thing, hopefully before he comes in as a rookie. Lewis will need to work on his pass blocking, much like Shady did, but I think McCoy will be a good mentor for him as they both hail from the same school.
With their second selection in the fifth round, the Eagles took Vandervelde to add some depth to the guard position. The Eagles have some free agents at the position and it looks like some backup roles will be available.
Vandervelde will try to fit into one of these roles. However, he has already voiced the fact that he wants to come in and be a starter and will fight until he is. You have to like that type of attitude, and I’m sure the Eagles definitely do.
Selections: Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati; Brian Rolle, LB, Ohio State
The Eagles kicked off their sixth round by adding more depth to the offensive line. They did this by adding Kelce, a guy who originally walked on to Cincinnati as a linebacker. However, after his freshmen season, he moved to guard. After two years there, he finished his career by playing center as a senior.
We know that the Eagles love offensive lineman who have the ability to play multiple positions and Kelce will likely have to learn the center and guard spot for the Birds. At 280 pounds, he’ll likely be asked to bulk up a bit, but he has great footwork and did very well as a pulling guard.
With their second pick in the sixth round, the Eagles added another high-motor linebacker. Out of Ohio State, Rolle was a guy that used his speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field.
Where he lacks in size, Rolle makes up for it by being absolutely relentless. He can get pushed a round by bigger blockers but will fight like a caged animal to get off blocks. Like Matthews, he’ll struggle to crack the starting lineup but should be able to shine on special teams as a rookie with his non-stop mentality.
Selections: Greg Lloyd, LB, Connecticut; Stanley Havili, FB, USC
The Eagles ended their draft by adding two more players in the seventh round.
With their first pick int he seventh round, the Eagles selected Greg Lloyd, who’s father was a dominant player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lloyd has good size and is known to be a guy who will blow up running backs who come through the middle. The Eagles really lack a scary big hitter, so you have to like the presence that Lloyd brings in.
However, Lloyd was definitely a risky pick for the Birds. He tore both his ACL and MCL towards the end of his 2009 season and it caused him to miss significant time in 2010. In recent years, the Eagles have shown a willingness to take risks on players with knee injuries out of college. They haven’t exactly panned out, so they will hope that Lloyd’s injury days are behind him.
With their Mr. Irrelevant pick of the 2011 draft, the Eagles took fullback Stanley Havili. Although he’s listed as a fullback, Havili may be better labeled as an over-sized running back.
Havili isn’t your traditional blocking fullback. Instead, he’s more of a situational runner and a guy with a nice set of hands who can catch passes out of the backfield. I’m sure the Eagles love his pass catching ability, but in a crowded backfield, it’s hard to see where Havili fits in.
Overall, the Eagles 2011 draft class definitely has some potential. Guys like Watkins and Henery look to be players who will come in and start right away.
Outside of those two, they have some players with talent, but we likely won’t fully see that talent for a few years. There are some players who should be able to immediately contribute on special teams, but they will likely see limited time outside of that role.
There may have been some guys who could be considered reaches, but there is definitely a lot of talent in this class that can be developed. Rookies from last year’s class were asked to jump into the starting lineup due to injury, so the players from this class need to be ready at all times.
I’m fairly happy with this class as it stands now, but I think they can definitely impress me even more down the line.