2011 Eagles Draft Recap

 

            At first glance, the Eagles 2011 draft class may look unimpressive. The Eagles didn’t draft the position of greatest need until the 3rd round when they took Curtis Marsh, the cornerback from Utah State. Let’s delve into each draftee and see how they fit into this team.           

Eagles' first pick, Danny Watkins

            With their first round pick, the Eagles took the 26 year old guard from Baylor. Danny Watkins was projected to be a mid to late day 2 pick. Watkins didn’t play football in high school so he is fairly new to the sport, only playing for four years. Watkins is in between tackle and guard, he is too fast to play guard and too small to play tackle. He is likely to fit in the Eagles offensive line at tackle.

Jaiquawn Jarrett should start at Strong Safety if the Eagles decide to move on without Mikell

            Let’s now take a look at one of the most interesting picks of this year’s draft. With the 2nd round pick, 54th overall, the Eagles took a local kid by the name of Jaiquawn Jarrett from Temple. At 6’0” and 198 pounds, Jarrett looks like a typical cornerback. But if you watch any film on this safety, he is anything but typical. He makes textbook tackles play after play, occasionally throwing in a huge hit resembling those from his role model, Jack Tatum, the former Oakland Raider known as “The Assassin”.  Jarrett was expected to go in the 3rd or 4th round but the Eagles may have gotten a steal to pair with last year’s 2nd round pick, Nate Allen. When drafted, NFL Network Draft Expert Mike Mayock said Jaiquawn Jarrett was “one of the better and tougher safeties of this draft.” Jaiquawn is NFL ready and is expected to make an immediate impact on the field.

            The Eagles moved down in the 3rd round and took cornerback Curtis Marsh from Utah State. Marsh showed maturity at the college level when he transferred from Utah’s overpopulated backfield to the injury marked secondary. Marsh believed his best chance to succeed was at the cornerback position. Marsh is a solid tackler in open field and can leave a receiver on an island. In possibly his best game at the college level, against Boise State, Marsh shut down Austin Pettis, a fellow third round pick. It is unlikely that Marsh will be playing opposite Asante Samuel on opening day but he is a solid addition to a sub-par Eagles secondary.

Casey Matthews is an energetic linebacker who is likely make an impact immediately.

            Many fan’s favorite pick of the Eagles 2011 draft was Casey Matthews, the linebacker from Oregon and next in line of the “NFL’s royal family,” as stated by Merrill Reese. Casey is determined to make a name for himself and not be known as Super Bowl Champion Clay Matthews’ little brother. Matthews was a Second Team All American and a Butkus Award Finalist. Casey is a very strong, form tackler. He also recovers very well and is never out of a play. Casey Matthews was projected right around where the Eagles drafted him but he may prove to be one of the biggest steals in this year’s draft, taken in the 4th round. Casey should be able to step in and be a starter at one of the  linebacker positions since he was so versatile in Oregon.

            Four picks later, the Eagles made what looks like the most questionable pick in the draft. Though he may be the most accurate kicker in college football history, Alex Henery was not expected to be a 4th, 5th, or even 6th round pick. When you first look at it, the Henery pick doesn’t make sense, but the Eagles may have been trying to send a message. To who? David Akers, the long-tenured Eagles kicker who missed two chip shot field goals in the Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers. Akers is set to become a free agent and this pick may prove that the Eagles aren’t going to pursue a new contract with the 12 year veteran.

            As expected, the Eagles added some depth behind starting running back LeSean McCoy. This came in the form of McCoy’s Alma Mater, Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis in the 5th round. The 2009 Freshmen of the Year decided to make an early trip to the NFL and declared for the draft after his sophomore year. Lewis stepped up immediately after LeSean McCoy left and broke many records held by McCoy. In only two years, Lewis carried the ball 544 yards for a total of 2860 yards (5.3 ypc avg.) and an impressive 30 trips to the endzone. When asked who he styles his play after, the 5’7” 193 pound back said Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The running style of the two is nearly indistinguishable, both are fast, agile runners who can also pound it up the middle if need be. If you watch any game that Dion Lewis played in, you are sure to have seen his ankle-breaking juke move that leaves opposing defenders tackling a whole lot of air. Lewis is expected to be a third down, change of pace back in this Eagles offense. If he plays that role well, expect the Eagles to split carries between him and Shady, giving the Eagles a potent three headed attack in the running game with McCoy, Lewis, and quarterback Michael Vick.

            The next pick made by the Eagles came out of Iowa on the offensive line. Guard Julian Vandervelde, a 37 game starter at Iowa helped protect quarterback Ricky Stanzi. The 4 time Academic All-Big Ten Honoree has quick hands and moves smoother than a lot of linemen in this draft. Vandervelde is likely to come into training camp competing for a starting spot.

            The Eagles first of two 6th round picks was another offensive lineman by the name of Jason Kelce from Cincinnati. Kelce played all over the line at Cincy and was named in the draft as a guard. Kelce could also add depth at center for the Eagles. Expect Kelce to make this team as a utility man.

Brian Rolle is an undersized linebacker who comes to Philly with the passion to play.

            Ohio State’s strong linebacking corps was anchored on the edge by Brian Rolle, the 193rd overall pick by the Eagles. When asked what team showed the most interest in him, Rolle told Mel Kiper Jr. “the Eagles because I fit what they need to do at WILL linebacker.” Rolle is an undersized linebacker at only 5’9” and 230 pounds. Rolle makes up for his lack of size with great strength (28 reps at the combine) and speed. He sheds blocks as well as anyone in this draft and has the speed and explosion to bust through the line and attack the quarterback or catch a running back from behind the play. Rolle will most likely fit this team on special teams at the very least.

            The first seventh round pick by the Eagles was Greg Lloyd Jr., the linebacker from UConn and offspring of former Steeler linebacker, Greg Lloyd Sr. Lloyd had trouble recovering from a knee injury in his junior season and played in only 7 games in his senior season. Lloyd’s status as one of the top linebackers in the 2011 draft dropped after he posted only 25 tackles. If Lloyd fully recovers, he will likely be a special teams stud or be a secondary option at linebacker.

            The Eagles concluded their draft with a fullback out of Southern Cal. Stanley Havili, the 6’ 227 pounder is impressive in the passing game. He is primarily a catch first fullback, having more catches than carries in both his senior and junior seasons. At only 227 pounds, Havili is an undersized fullback. His athleticism and catching ability will make him a weapon in the West Coast Offense.

            After carefully looking at each draft pick, the Eagles may have made out better than one would think. You give them a draft grade yourself. I will leave you with a few questions:

-Did the Arizona Cardinals really want Patrick Peterson or are they getting trade bait in the game for Kevin Kolb?

-Is David Akers out as kicker on this team?

-Will the Eagles make a big splash in free agency and go after the biggest name in this year’s class?

-What sort of impact can each draft pick have on this team?

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