Last week, when I wrote about what I thought the Eagles would do in the 2011 draft, I predicted that they wouldn't follow the same draft in bulk strategy that they used the previous year.
In 2010, the Eagles selected 13 players, more than any other team in the NFL. And not one of those players was cut before, during or after the season.
Brandon Graham, Nate Allen, Jamar Chaney and Kurt Coleman all got significant playing time.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Trevard Lindley, Kennan Clayton, Clay Harbor and Riley Cooper all saw the field in some capacity (not just counting special teams).
Charles Scott was traded. Ricky Sapp was placed on injured reserve. Mike Kafka was a reserve. And Jeff Owens was active for one game before getting injured.
Thirteen players were drafted, and all but one have a chance to make the roster next season.
That's why I thought the Eagles might take a different approach this season. If they really felt those second-year players were capable of contributing, did it make sense to bring on a large number of rookies once again?
Apparently, the answer was yes. And I was wrong.
The Birds drafted 11 players last weekend, second only to the Redskins, who through a series of trades, ended up with 12 new players.
Typically, teams add slightly fewer than eight players in a given draft. But in the last two years, the Eagles have picked up a total of 24. Here's a table, with a team-by-team breakdown:
|Team||Total picks in 2010 and 2011|
The Patriots are second to the Eagles with 21 picks, the Rams made 19, and no other team had more than 18. In other words, in the last two drafts, the Birds have added at least five more players than 30 of the 31 other teams.
The philosophy seems pretty clear-cut. General manger Howie Roseman explained it to reporters when he met with them before the draft.
"The more players you get, the better chance you have of hitting on guys," he said.
And this mindset isn't really exclusive to Roseman. The Eagles have picked at least eight players in each of the last eight drafts. In 2008, they took 10. In 2004 and 2005, they took 10 and 11, respectively.
The draft strategy speaks to a larger philosophy also: Forget where players were picked or how they got here. Let their play determine who gets on the field.
We've seen that play out over the years, specifically on defense, where a large number of late-round picks and undrafted free agents (Moise Fokou, Antonio Dixon, to name a couple) earned starting jobs. Another example was veteran Juqua Parker taking the starting job back from first-round pick Brandon Graham.
The number of players selected the last two years puts pretty much everyone on notice. On offense, Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn and Winston Justice will face competition for their jobs.
Defensively, the same can be said of anyone not named Trent Cole or Asante Samuel. Stewart Bradley and Jamar Chaney may have the inside track on starting spots, but really, every linebacker position is probably up for grabs.
Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon probably make sense at defensive tackle, but again, nothing's set in stone. Right cornerback and strong safety too.
The final evaluation of the Eagles' 2010 and 2011 drafts will have more to do with the performance of the players than the total number of picks, but after two years as the Birds' general manager, Roseman's draft philosophy is clear.