Before we take a look ahead to Rounds 2 and 3 tonight, some quick thoughts on Thursday night’s first round:
Most Surprising Round 1 Cold Shoulder: Alabama defensive end/linebacker Courtney Upshaw. I had the 6-1 ½, 272-pounder from Alabama rated as the third best edge rusher in the draft, behind only South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and North Carolina’s talented but inconsistent Quinton Coples, and ahead of Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, Boise’s Shea McClellin and USC’s Nick Perry. The other six were selected Thursday night, as was West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, who kicked off the run on edge-rushers when the Seahawks took him at 15.
I’m not really sure why Upshaw got snubbed. He obviously was a highly productive college player with the Tide. He’s only 6-2 and has short arms (32 inches). But Ingram, who went 18th to the Chargers, is smaller (6-1 1/2) and has even shorter arms (31 ½ inches). Both run about the same (in the low 4.7s). But Ingram has slightly better movement skills and you can move him around a little bit more. I think most of the 3-4 teams saw Upshaw more as a 4-3 end, even though he was 3-4 linebacker at ‘Bama, and the 4-3 teams saw him as a too-short end.
Three other notable first-round snubs: offensive tackles Jonathan Martin (Stanford), Mike Adams (Ohio State) and Cordy Glenn (Georgia). Just two tackles were taken in the first round . USC’s Matt Kalil was gobbled up by the Vikings with the fourth pick and Iowa’s Riley Reiff went to the Lions at 23.Martin and Adams were projected to go late in the first round. The 345-pound Glenn was on the first-round bubble.
There likely will be an early run on offensive tackles tonight because there aren’t that many good ones left after Martin, Adams and Glenn. The only other two rated close to those three are Mississippi’s Bobby Massie and Cal’s Mitchell Schwartz. After that, there’s a fairly significant dropoff.
I’d tell you to look for the Eagles to trade up in the second round to get one of those five. But there’s a BYU offensive lineman – Matt Reynolds – in the next group of tackles who figures to go in the third or fourth round. The only thing Andy Reid likes better than a BYU offensive lineman is a BYU offensive lineman who already has a brother (Dallas) in the Eagles’ locker room.
Best First Round: While the Redskins certainly are to be commended for trading up to get RGIII, and the Eagles deserve kudos for trading up and jumping on Fletcher Cox when he slid to 12, the Patriots Bill Belichick showed once again why he is the finest Draft Day maestro since Jimmy Johnson. Belichick, who usually prefers to trade down for value, traded up not once but twice Thursday night and got two difference-makers for his broken defense.
Belichick traded up from 27 to 21 and took Chandler Jones, who should immediately make the Patriots’ pass rush better. Then he traded up from 31 to 25 with the Pats’ other first-round pick to grab inside linebacker Don’t’a Hightower. The trade up for Hightower accomplished two things: 1) it improved the middle of the Patriots’ defense, which needed improving. And 2) it kept Hightower away from the team the Patriots beat in the AFC Championship Game last January, the Ravens. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome was poised to take Hightower, who would’ve made a dandy inside successor to Ray Lewis, with the 29th pick. After the Patriots took Hightower, the Ravens traded out of the first round. Bah, humbug.
Biggest First-Round Reach: I definitely would have to say it was the Seahawks taking Irvin at 15. Most of the personnel people I spoke with had a second-round grade on Irvin. The 6-3, 245-pound defensive end/linebacker was impressive at the combine, running a 4.50 forty and recording the fastest times of any lineman or linebacker in the 3-cone drill (6.7 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.03). But he’s strictly a pass-rush specialist and probably will never be anything more than that. He would’ve made more sense this high if a 3-4 team had taken him as an edge-rushing linebacker. Seattle plays a 4-3.
OK, now on to tonight.
First, five guys the Eagles should target. Then five guys the Eagles shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
The five they should target:
WR Ryan Broyles, 5-10, 188, Oklahoma: No, I’m not mentioning him because my wife’s an OU grad. Before tearing his left ACL in November, Broyles was projected as a solid second-rounder. Now, he’ll probably still be on the board late in the third round tonight. While he has recovered well enough to run for scouts earlier this month, you’d be taking him with the idea that he’s probably going to start the season on PUP and not help you much as a rookie. But he’s a tough kid with Super-Glue hands and great run-after-the-catch ability who is going to be a top-notch NFL slot receiver. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Belichick go after him as a potential successor to Wes Welker.
OT Bobby Massie, 6-6, 316, Mississippi: The Eagles need to add some offensive line depth in this draft and Massie would be good value in the second round. He’s got long arms (35 inches) and is light on his feet. He’s an athletic Howard Mudd kind of o-lineman. Massie held up well against SEC competition and had a memorable pancake block of LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who went 14th to the Rams.
CB Brandon Boykin, 5-9, 182, Georgia: Nickel corner Joselio Hanson turns 31 in August and did not play all that well last year. Maybe Curtis Marsh or Brandon Hughes can hack it inside when Hanson is gone and maybe not. Boykin isn’t big, which could cause matchup problems on the outside. But he’s super fast and has the kind of good short-area quickness you need to play inside against slot receivers. He also has return experience and could be used as a Wildcat weapon on offense.
RB Isaiah Pead, 5-10 ¼, 197, Cincinnati: Eagles need to find a running back compliment to LeSean McCoy, and this kid might be the answer. He was the Senior Bowl MVP. Runs a 4.47 forty. Can catch the football which is a must for an Eagles back. And he can return kicks and punts. He should still be on the board in the third round.
QB Russell Wilson, 5-10 ½, 204, Wisconsin: If Wilson were 6-2, he would’ve been taken in the first round Thursday. But he’s not. What he is is a smart, instinctive player with a first-one-in-the-building-and-last-one-to-leave work ethic and a ton of athletic ability. At worst, he’s your backup for the next 10 years and a terrific change-of-pace weapon. But I think he can be an effective starter in the league even at 5-10 and change. Might still be on the board in the fourth round, but right now, the Eagles don’t have a fourth-round pick. Shouldn’t be too hard to get one though.
And the five they should leave alone:
CB Janoris Jenkins, 5-10, 193, N. Alabama: Strictly on talent, he should’ve been a top 15 pick. But this kid is trouble with a capital T. I know Andy Reid fancies himself as the second coming of Father Flanagan, but even in the second or third round, this kid isn’t worth the aggravation.
CB Alfonzo Dennard, 5-10, 204, Nebraska: Dennard figured to go in the second round until he was arrested in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday for punching a police officer, who was trying to break up a fight between he and another man. Anybody stupid enough to get into trouble a week before the draft is somebody you want to stay away from.
QB Brock Osweiler, 6-7, 238, Arizona State: And the last time there’s been a successful 6-7 quarterback in the NFL has been. . . .
LB Zach Brown, 6-1 ¼, 244, North Carolina: Brown is one of the fastest linebackers in the draft. Ran a 4.50 forty at the combine. But he’s a soft player. He makes a lot of plays, but most of them are in space. He’s not a physical player and can’t get off blocks. The Eagles already have enough of those kind of linebackers.
OT Mitchell Schwartz, 6-5 ½, 318, Cal: Schwartz was a four-year starter at Cal and figures to be taken at some point tonight. He’s an excellent pass-protector who has played both left and right tackle. He’s also had a history of back injuries. Think Ryan Harris.