Saturday, December 27, 2014

Random Eagles notes: Best draft in 10 years, drafting need vs talent, and no to Delmas

Over the last 6 years, the Eagles have gotten 203 starts out of their rookies, which is 46.7 more than the NFL average of 156.3. We'll talk about what that means in terms of draft strategy, and more, in... Random Eagles notes! Rookie starts in the NFL, and drafting for need vs talent

Random Eagles notes: Best draft in 10 years, drafting need vs talent, and no to Delmas

Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Over the last 6 years, the Eagles have gotten 203 starts out of their rookies, which is 46.7 more than the NFL average of 156.3. We'll talk about what that means in terms of draft strategy, and more, in... Random Eagles notes!

Rookie starts in the NFL, and drafting for need vs talent

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News had an interesting statistic in regard to the number of rookie starts increasing dramatically over the last 6 years.

The league is getting younger. The number of rookie starts has increased by the year from 650 in 2008 to 706 in 2009 to 763 in 2010 to 853 in 2011 to 1,000 in 2012 and now 1,030 in 2013.

For those of you who prefer your information in chart form, here's what that looks like:

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I was less concerned about the increase over the last few years as I was in how the number of Eagles rookie starts compared with the rest of the league. Over the last 6 years, Eagles rookies have started a high number of games. First, let's list all the starts made by Eagles rookies since 2008:

If you break it down by year, the Eagles have had more rookies start games than the league average in each of the last 5 years. If you'll notice, the two years (2011, 2012) where there was a big gap in between the number of Eagles rookie starts and the rest of the league were the two years during that span that the Eagles missed the playoffs.

*I omitted 6 rookie starts by Austin Howard, Trevard Lindley, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Colt Anderson, Keenan Clayton, Riley Cooper, and Clay Harbor, who all started a meaningless Week 17 "rest your starters" game in 2010 that they otherwise wouldn't have started.

Yesterday, I published a mock draft, which is the football writer equivalent of walking into a public place and begging to be ridiculed. Everyone has different tastes and opinions on what attributes they like in a player, the same way we all have different tastes in cars, music, food, etc. If your husband or wife goes grocery shopping, you're not going to like what they bring home as much as you would if you picked the groceries yourself. That's what makes the NFL Draft great. Everyone has different opinions on players, and it's fun to debate them.

However, there was one common criticism of that mock draft that I found funny. I had the Eagles taking a player by the name of Crockett Gillmore out of Colorado State in the 5th round. Gillmore is a TE. A lot of people were adamant that the Eagles wouldn't draft a TE, and voiced their concerns about it:

TE is a position on the Eagles that is already strong, so the question as to why one would be drafted is understood. However, the draft shouldn't be thought of as a means to fill your team's most glaring roster holes. That's what free agency is for. The draft should be about acquiring the best players you can, especially considering the high rate of turnover in the NFL. Ideally, when you a draft a player, if he's successful, he'll be with your franchise for 5+ years. A team's roster needs in 2014 could be wildly different from what they are in 2016. More often than not, it's going to take a player a good 2-3 years before the game really begins to slow down for them and they can become a quality starter. If you're on the clock and you have two similarly rated players, maybe you make a small sacrifice by taking the player who fits a need, but the overall idea should be to acquire the best players available who fit your scheme.

If you're trying to fill current team needs with your 5th round pick, and you're counting on players who are still available in the 5th round to be immediate contributors, your team is not going to be a legitimate contender in the first place. The fact that the Eagles had 46 and 49 starts from their rookies in 2011 and 2012 says a lot about why those seasons were failures. Keep that in mind if Howie and Co draft... say... a running back in the 5th round.

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Cowboys rigged a coin toss... probably

The Cowboys and Ravens both finished the 2013 season 8-8 and had the same opposing strength of schedule, so they had to flip a coin to see which team would draft 16th and 17th. The Cowboys won the coin toss and will draft 16th. Booooo!

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Mayock: Deepest draft in 10 years

Draft analyst Mike Mayock called the 2014 draft "the deepest and best draft class" he has seen "in probably ten years." More specifically, he singled out the WR and OT positions as being particularly strong.

If you're an optimist, you look at the Eagles' last two highly successful drafts, and imagine a third consecutive quality draft being the final push that solidifies the Eagles as being one of the true Super Bowl contenders in the NFC. 

If you're a pessimist, you're bummed out that such a highly regarded draft is occurring when the Eagles are drafting 22nd and only have 7 picks.

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Eagles not interested in Delmas

Reuben Frank reported that the Eagles have little interest in safety Louis Delmas, who was recently released by the Lions, in an effort to create cap space. Per Roob:

The Eagles’ lack of interest in Delmas is likely related to his health. Delmas is just 26 but has a degenerative knee condition that limits his ability to practice and could potentially affect his availability down the line.

Last offseason, the Eagles signed Kenny Phillips, who was also thought to have a degenerative knee condition, but they did so without giving him any guaranteed money. Delmas would almost certainly be looking for a contract with some kind of guaranteed money. 

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SWOOP!

Eagles mascot "Swoop" won the 2014 Mascot Games, after defeating Arizona Cardinals mascot "Big Red" in the joust. Per PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

SWOOP conquered the obstacle course and knocked Arizona Cardinals mascot Big Red off the elevated platform in an American Gladiators-style joust bout. It was a resounding knockout for SWOOP in this battle of the birds, further punctuating the Eagles’ 24-21 win over the Cardinals during the 2013 season.

"Big Red" created controversy earlier in the week when he took a backhanded shot at Swoop by saying that he had a "good college-style jousting technique."

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