The Eagles found themselves in a place they’ve not been in a long while; selecting in the top five of the draft. They also had a new coach in the war room whose input would be vital in selecting players. Unfortunately the team also had a lot of holes to fill entering the draft.
Lane Johnson/T/Oklahoma (Round 1, pick #4): We documented Johnson’s march up draft boards in the weeks preceding the draft. The question was not whether the Eagles would select him with the fourth pick rather would Johnson last that long. When the Dolphins shocked everyone by trading ahead of the Eagles only to bypass Johnson, the team’s job was made easier. As I stated in numerous interviews prior to the first round, there’s a real belief that Johnson could turn out to be the top tackle from this draft two years down the road. He’s a perfect fit for the new offense Philadelphia will implement under Chip Kelly and Johnson offers franchise type ability at the tackle position.
Zach Ertz/TE/Stanford (Round 2, pick #35): Ertz was one of our favorite tight ends leading to the draft but I foolishly bought into many of the criticisms being passed on him rather than trusting the game film. Eagles fans will be glad Kelly and company relied on the film and grabbed Erzt in round two. He offers natural receiving skills and is much more a complete tight end compared to his former Stanford teammate Colby Fleener, the 33rd pick in the 2012 draft. Expect Ertz to have an immediate impact for the Eagles offense as a pass catcher and blocker.
Bennie Logan/DL/LSU (Round 3, pick #67): Logan was rated lower on our board than the 67th player in the draft and we were slightly surprised by this pick. I feel Logan is suited as a 3-technique lineman in a four man front. How he fits the Eagles 3-4 alignment remains to be seen.
Matt Barkley/QB/USC (Round 4, pick #98): From a passer point of view the pick of Barkley in round four represents both quality and value. Despite his downward spiral the past eight months, Barkley is a very good timing passer best throwing underneath routes. He’s not a playmaker with his legs but has enough mobility to get outside the pocket and throw on the move. Of course Chip Kelly would’ve preferred a Donovan McNabb type of quarterback at the top of the draft, but getting Barkley in round four was a solid pick.
Earl Wolff/S/North Carolina State (Round 5, pick #136): I remember how impressed I was when the Eagles came away with Kurt Coleman in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Selecting Wolff in the fifth round last month was twice as impressive. He’s a more athletic version of Coleman and plays smart, instinctive football. Wolff was overshadowed by David Amerson at North Carolina State but made a fraction of the mental errors his headline grabbing teammate always seemed to commit. This was a terrific pick which will pleasantly surprise many.
Joe Kruger/DE/Utah (Round 7, pick #212): Kruger was a bit of a head scratcher in the seventh round. Though a natural pass rusher, he’s not fast enough to play linebacker nor strong enough to hold up at defensive end. He’ll have to show skill as a situational rusher in camp this summer to make the active roster.
Jordan Poyer/CB/Oregon State (Round 7, pick #218): Scouts raved about Poyer throughout the 2012 season, pegging him as one of the most natural cover corners from the senior class. He played well at the Senior Bowl then ran better than expected at the combine. So why did he fall into the last frame? I was told immediately after the draft “off the field” issues dropped Poyer’s stock two full rounds. Considering the Eagles have need at cornerback plus the ball skills Poyer brings, he should be a shoe-in to make the final roster if he gets his act together.
David King/DL/Oklahoma (Round 7, pick #239): Like Kruger, the choice of King in round seven was strange. I just don’t see King as a good fit for the Eagles new defense and feel, like Kruger, he’s better off in a four man line.
Grade: B+. The Eagles had a ton of holes on both sides of the ball but were able to fill several of them in the draft. Lane Johnson should be an immediate starter while Zach Ertz should see significant playing time in 2013. They also leave the draft with a good number of situational players and specialists. Factor in Matt Barkley and, on paper anyway, it was a good initial effort by Chip Kelly.
Lacking a first-round pick thanks to last year’s blockbuster trade for Robert Griffin III, the Redskins didn’t have any picks in the top 50 this year. While that move was well worth it and brought Washington back to the playoffs, it left them with little opportunity to improve their team through the draft this season. Chris Tripodi breaks down the picks the team kept in 2013.
David Amerson/CB/N.C. State (Round 2/Pick #51): After an All-American sophomore season that saw him intercept 13 passes, Amerson was in the first-round discussion until a disappointing senior season dropped him to a third-round grade on most boards, including ours. His lack of deep speed was exposed last season by opposing offenses and while he still had 5 interceptions, Amerson takes unnecessary risks with the ball in the air which leads to big plays against him. A reach in our opinion in the middle of round two, there were better cornerbacks available and while Washington is in desperate need of secondary help, we’re not sure Amerson is the answer.
Jordan Reed/TE/Florida (Round 3/Pick #85): Reed has drawn comparisons to former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez and while he’s similar in style as a pass-catching tight end who likes to line up in the slot, Reed lacks the elite vision and open-field ability Hernandez shows after the catch. Fred Davis is back on a one-year deal and if he can’t prove fully healthy after a season-ending Achilles injury, Reed may have the inside track to a starting job in 2014. His lack of size (6-2, 236) and blocking ability limits him to an H-back type of role but if the Redskins put him in motion before the snap and get creative with his route tree, Reed is a solid athlete who plays fast and can be a nice weapon for Robert Griffin III.
Phillip Thomas/S/Fresno State (Round 4/Pick #119): Despite being taken in the fourth round, we had a second-round grade on Thomas and feel he is the best player the Redskins drafted. A complete free safety prospect who won the Mountain West Player of the Year award last season, Thomas is a ballhawk with good hands and solid closing burst. He has great speed and the ability to easily get to the sideline, showing good timing and anticipation in pass defense and a willingness to come up the field to stop the run. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Thomas overtake Reed Doughty for the starting free safety job at some point this season, if not by Week 1.
Chris Thompson/RB/Florida State (Round 5/Pick #154): Mike Shanahan has great pedigree with late-round running backs starting with Terrell Davis in Denver and continuing with Alfred Morris last season, but we pegged Thompson with a free-agent grade thanks to an extensive injury history and lack of size at 5-7, 192 pounds. On the plus side, he has great versatility as a runner and receiver and is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. If he can stay healthy at the NFL level, Thompson has a chance to be a nice third-down complement to Morris, who caught just 11 passes last season. He’ll need to beat out Evan Royster, Roy Helu and seventh-rounder Jawan Jamison to see the field though.
Brandon Jenkins/LB/Florida State (Round 5/Pick #162): With an extra fifth-round pick this year from the Albert Haynesworth trade in 2011, the Redskins gambled on Jenkins after he missed all but one game last year due to a foot injury. Jenkins was rated as an early-round pick before the season after recording 21.5 sacks as a sophomore and junior and if he can regain his explosiveness, this could be a great pick for Washington. Jenkins will back up Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan at outside linebacker and could be a good situational pass rusher, as he displayed great speed off the edge before his injury.
Bacarri Rambo/S/Georgia (Round 6/Pick #191): Washington’s two best value picks of the 2013 draft may be safeties, which is a good thing considering Reed Doughty will be a free agent next offseason and Brandon Meriweather is coming off a season-ending ACL injury. Rambo has a good size (6-0, 211) and speed (4.58) profile as a hard-hitting strong safety prospect with good range and solid ball skills. Rambo has the ability to be a complete player but is inconsistent, lacks great instincts and needs to focus on wrapping up to finish tackles rather than laying the big hit. If he can improve his decision making and cut down on mental mistakes, he and Thomas are perfect complements and could find themselves as a big part of Washington’s secondary by 2014.
Jawan Jamison/RB/Rutgers (Round 7/Pick #228): Jamison has similar size limitations to Chris Thompson at just 5-7, 203 pounds but less durability concerns despite some injury struggles at the end of last season. Ray Rice comparisons were inevitable for Jamison as a short back out of Rutgers but they aren’t that off base. Like Rice, Jamison is a tough runner with great vision and instincts, more quickness than straight-line speed and the ability to be a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. Jamison isn’t a tackle breaker or an effective short-yardage runner, but those roles belong to Alfred Morris in Washington anyway. It will be interesting to see if both rookie running backs drafted by the Redskins can stick on the roster but if the choice comes down to only one, our money is on Jamison.
Grade: C. The Redskins made a few good value picks on Day 3 but in the end, their lack of a first-round pick and a questionable selection in the second round doomed their draft grade. They needed to focus on improving one of the league’s worst pass defenses and certainly did that with three of their seven picks, but drafting two running backs was interesting considering their solid depth behind Alfred Morris. Following up a draft like 2012’s that netted the team a franchise passer and rusher is next to impossible, but the Redskins could have done a better job with a few of their picks.
As the draft drew near one thing was clear; the New York Giants were in no man’s land with the 19th pick. Speculation was rampant as to which direction they would go once called to the clock. Much of this was the result of not knowing who would be available to them.
Justin Pugh/OL/Syracuse, (Round 1, pick #19): Days before the draft we reported the biggest beneficiary of four offensive tackles and two guards being selected during the draft’s initial 12 picks would be Justin Pugh. The Giants proved this report correct when they made Pugh the 19th pick of round one. We were never very high on Pugh and think the middle of round one was early for his talents. I struggle to believe he’ll hold up at right tackle in the NFL and feel his best position will be inside at guard. While Pugh is a solid line prospect in the end we feel tight end Tyler Eifert was a better choice for Big Blue.
Johnathan Hankins/DT/Ohio State (Round 2, pick #49): There was speculation the Giants could take a defensive tackle in round one, specifically Sylvester Williams of North Carolina. In the end they filled the position with Hankins a frame later, a choice that could bring great value. Hankins offers terrific size and movement skills. At the top of his game he’s much more than a space eater rather a nimble lineman with the ability to chase the action and make plays in pursuit. Its a matter of Hankins properly conditioning himself then playing hard on every down. Hankins was worth the risk in round two and could return big dividends to the Giants.
Damontre Moore/DE/Texas A&M (Round 3, pick #81): The Giants selection of Damontre Moore in round three could turn into the biggest steal of the draft. Moore menaced opponents in every way possible for two seasons while he was at A&M. He was a terrific pass rusher and easily made plays in pursuit. Immaturity and poor workouts devalued his draft stock almost two rounds. Moore was unable to break 4.85-seconds prior to the draft and looked unathletic during combine and pro-day workouts. Sources told me he never took pre-draft training seriously and as one person close to the situation said, Moore “botched the entire process.” Still, watching the game film then seeing what Moore went through the three months prior to draft day I can’t help but remember the tribulations of Terrell Suggs in 2003.
Ryan Nassib/QB/Syracuse (Round 4, pick #110): The selection of Nassib in round four was an interesting one. I never bought into the hype the Buffalo Bills seriously considered Nassib is round one and reported during the Senior Bowl it was false speculation. The day prior to round one I then reported the team preferred EJ Manuel over Nassib. Of course I never expected Nassib to slide out of the second round. He’s a terrific game manager who plays smart football yet does not possess the physical traits of a franchise quarterback. For the Giants this was a smart choice. In a best case scenario they have a future replacement for Eli Manning. At worst they could have future trade bait.
Cooper Taylor/S/Richmond (Round 5, pick #152): We reported the Giants interest in Taylor several times in the weeks prior to the draft. The small school safety plays big and comes with first round measurables. He’s a smart defender who does not make mental errors and comes with a good degree of upside. With 30-year old Antrel Rolle in the twilight of his career, Taylor is well positioned to compete for a starting position down the road.
Eric Herman/G/Ohio (Round 7, pick #225): Herman was a player we noticed during his sophomore season of 2010 and someone we always considered draftable. He’s a good fit for the Giants offensive line which historically prefers nasty, maulers up front. Herman lacks great upside yet gets everything from his talent and plays hard every down. With two aged veterans starting at guard, Herman is the perfect player to have waiting in the wings.
Michael Cox/RB/UMass (Round 7, pick #253): Cox was a surprise draft choice and a running back we did not rate. He’s a nice sized interior back yet shows little in the way of speed and just average power running the game.
Grade: C+. The Giants did a terrific job in the middle rounds but Pugh in the first frame is a head scratcher. Granted, there was little choice at pick 19, but in our opinion Eifert was a better fit and filled a need. In many ways this is a boom or bust draft; if Hankins plays to his potential, if Moore gets serious about football year round, if Nassib displays starting potential and if Taylor can make the step up in competition it will be a strong result. Otherwise there may be limited productivity from this class.