Are The Eagles Draft Day Bores?
Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Columnist Bob Ford writes about the Eagles, the Phillies, the Sixers and the Flyers.
Are The Eagles Draft Day Bores?
Bob Ford, Inquirer Sports Columnist
The Eagles in the last few years, to put it in military terms, have drafted a lot of soldiers and not that many officers.
They have two first-round picks for the draft that begins April 25 and the possibility of using one of them, in combination with something else, to move up to a marquee position in the drafting order.
For the past two drafts, the Eagles have traded away their No. 1 picks, and they haven't taken anything aside from a lineman with a first-round pick since taking Lito Sheppard with the 26th pick of the 2002 draft.
Perhaps the recent drafts have not been mind-blowing, but they have been very useful. From the last three selections, the Eagles have gotten DeSean Jackson, Brodrick Bunkley, Stewart Bradley, Chris Gocong, Quintin Demps, Max Jean-Gilles, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Victor Abiamiri, Trevor Laws, Omar Gaither and some untested wild cards in Jack Ikegwuonu, King Dunlap and Kevin Kolb.
Not a lot of stars there, but contributing players, and potentially a bunch of starters on next season's team.
If the Eagles' roster, as some would theorize, becomes a reflection of Andy Reid's personality -- solid, hard-working, not particularly exciting -- that starts in the draft room and in the ranking of players.
Listening closely to general manager Tom Heckert this week, as he talked about drafting philosophy, it was interesting to hear his view on why certain drafted players have underperformed. The Eagles don't come away from a bust thinking, "What did we do wrong?" or "What were we thinking?" They wonder why the guy, in general, wasn't as solid or hard-working as they would have liked.
"I don't think we've said, 'What were we thinking?' I don't remember that," Heckert said. "It would be more of a look back and say, 'We knew this about the guy, but kind of overlooked it.' If it happened again, would we do the same thing, obviously the answer is no. The guys we've missed on...it hasn't been a talent thing, but some extenuating circumstances where we couldn't get the talent out of them."
And: "You get guys that love to play. The toughest thing for anybody in the draft room is with guys who have great numbers and are good players, but might not (work as hard). That's where you have to be careful. That's when you look back and say that maybe you should have taken a guy who might not have been as great a football player, but the other stuff is going to make him a better football player overall. Looking at whatever position, there are guys with numbers so much better, but there's something that if you have another guy who is a great classroom guy and a great worker and is tough, it's better off to stay with that and pass on the other guys."
Here's another analogy. If the Eagles are deciding between a sports car that might have an undependable engine and a pickup truck that won't win any races but will keep running, they'll take the truck.
It's a fine way to build a good classroom team and get a bunch of guys who work hard in the weight room and right up until the last whistle of practice, but is it the way to win a championship? We won't know that answer for a long time, so your speculation on that will have to suffice.
The same goes for your speculation on players who fit the description of what Heckert is talking about. It's fair to guess that Winston Justice (No. 39 overall) and Jerome McDougle (No. 15 overall) have been recent picks for whom the talent factor was not a problem. If it was, and the team spent those high picks on them, then the Eagles can't judge talent. The organization doesn't feel that is the case.
Judging the inside of the player is the difficult part, and the Eagles, feeling themselves burned in the past, are pledged to be more careful now. Is that a good thing? Perhaps. It is a reflection of the boss, though. That much is for sure.