The news of Mike Kafka signing a futures contract with the New England Patriots makes this a good time to revisit the Eagles' 2010 draft class -- and specifically the fourth round.
That's when Kafka went. He was one of four fourth-round picks. A fourth-round pick in the NFL has value, but not significant value. There's rougly a 10 percent chance of finding a starter in that round. Of course, based on those odds, the Eagles had a realistic statistical chance of finding a starter in that round. Yet of the four players drafted in that round (cornerback Trevard Lindley, linebacker Keenan Clayton, Kafka, and tight end Clay Harbor), the Eagles did not find a starter. In fact, the only player who has stayed on the roster since 2010 has been Harbor.
EAGLES 2010 DRAFT: 1st - Brandon Graham;l 2nd – Nate Allen; 3rd – Daniel Te’o Nesheim; 4th- Trevard Lindley; 4th – Keenan Clayton; 4th – Mike Kafka; 4th – Clay Harbor; 5th – Ricky Sapp; 5th- Riley Cooper; 6th – Charles Scott; 7th – Jamar Chaney; 7th – Jeff Owens; 7th – Kurt Coleman
The fourth round in 2010 was actually more fruitful than one would typically expect. Tight end Aaron Hernandez (Patriots) and defensive tackle Geno Atkins (Bengals) have developed into Pro Bowlers. Wide receiver Mike Williams (Bucs), linebacker Perry Riley (Redskins) cornerback Alterraun Verner (Titans) have developed into regular starters. Tight end Dennis Pitta (Ravens), defensive end Everson Griffen (Vikings) and linebacker O'Brien Schofield (Cardinals) are consistent contributors, as was defensive end Corey Wootten (Bears) this season, and wide receiver Jacoby Ford (Raiders) in past seasons.
Maybe Harbor turns into a regular contributor for the Eagles. He appeared promising at times this season, but also struggled from inconsistency. He's the closest to joining that list.
But the fourth round that year could have been an opportunity for the Eagles because of the amount of picks they had. What's interesting is the Eagles had an impressive haul in the seventh round by finding Coleman and Chaney, both of whom have been starters at times. (Albeit starters with debatable merits.)
Of course, the draft is ultimately remembered by the top picks. The jury is out on Graham and Allen. Graham came on at the end of this season, and might become the player the Eagles expected when they traded up in the draft to pick him. Allen has been too often inconsistent, but a new coach and new scheme might be exactly what he needs.
The Eagles let go of Te’o Nesheim, who's actually become a contributor in Tampa Bay. And then came the fourth round, when the Eagles seemed to whiff on three picks and need something from Harbor to salvage it. It's unrealistic to expect a team to hit it on fourth-round pick, but having four picks increases those odds. Kafka could not beat out Nick Foles this season, and Lindley and Clayton were not able to stay on the roster. So the last hope remains Harbor.