Friday, August 22, 2014
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Eagles: Where's The Talent?

The guys who identify talent for professional football teams and put their suggestions in front of the head coach and general manager are not the guys who get their names on the covers of magazines.

Eagles: Where's The Talent?

Eagles rookie Kurt Coleman saw a lot of playing time this season despite being a seventh-round draft pick. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Eagles rookie Kurt Coleman saw a lot of playing time this season despite being a seventh-round draft pick. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

The guys who identify talent for professional football teams and put their suggestions in front of the head coach and general manager are not the guys who get their names on the covers of magazines.

They are the guys, however, who get their teams on the covers of magazines.

Whether the players are found at the NFL Scouting Combine or on film of their college careers, or on flashes they show with other team, the assessment of those players is what makes the real difference in organizations.

The Eagles director of player personnel is a man named Ryan Grigson and, more than likely, you have never heard of him. He was promoted to this job by new general manager Howie Roseman not long after the 2009 season, and was in place for the 2010 draft, along with a new director of pro personnel and a new college scouting chief. All of those guys are qualified and all, including Roseman, work hard to get the right players on the roster.

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There are other considerations, of course. Finding a gem in the lower rounds of the draft or by signing undrafted players as free agents can be a very cost-effective way to put together a team. That's always welcome.

Although the Eagles had a lot of injuries and many bench players were forced into larger roles than expected, the team that finished the season against the Packers simply wasn't that talented. If you consider Andy Reid the CEO of the football operation, that is his fault, which was the subject of a column earlier this week.

Against the Packers, 10 of the 22 starters came into the league either as 7th-round draft picks or as undrafted free agents. That seems high and you can make the observation that perhaps the Eagles spent too much time picking the low-hanging fruit. I tried to make that point in one of those Noah Coslov hostage videos.

Look specifically at the defense (and I included Joselio Hanson as a starter because the Eagles play a nickel as their base defense more often than not). Among the group that played against the Packers, Juqua Parker, Quintin Mikell, Hanson, Dmitri Patterson and Antonio Dixon were undrafted free agents and Jamar Chaney, Kurt Coleman and Moise Fokou were 7th-round picks. That's 8 of 11 starters. Too many.

It's no wonder the Eagles' defense allowed the most points of any defense in the Andy Reid era. You can scream about Sean McDermott all you like. He didn't have any talent to work with by the end. It's almost a miracle the team got as far as it did. Was it a successful season? In this video, Marcus Hayes seems to think so. I'm not as sure.

I do think it's obvious the Eagles have to do a better job of making sure the depth on the roster is not just comprised of low-budget fill-ins. That might mean some hard decisions at the top of the roster if the salary-cap money is going to be spread around, but it will also mean the team doesn't end up relying on a bunch of guys who sneaked into the league by the back door.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Bob Ford has been writing about Philadelphia sports since 1981, and is still trying to figure it all out. A former beat writer covering the Phillies and the 76ers, Ford became a general sports columnist for the Inquirer in 2003, following in and occasionally falling in the deep footsteps of Bill Lyon, Frank Dolson and many distinguished others. He comes to the Philly.com blogosphere after award-winning success as designer/editor of the fabulous Pen & Pencil Club softball blog. Likes: Palestra, inside-the-park home runs, sunny days. Dislikes: phony people, cloudy days, rewrites. Reach Bob at bford@phillynews.com.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
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