The SportsTalk Shop: NFL Draft Recap

I don’t believe there has been more excitement, angst, anticipation—and anxiety—for an NFL Draft than this year’s selection process for both the Redskins and Eagles communities.  Birds fans wanted new Eagles Czar Chip Kelly to move up and pick Marcus Mariota, and many Skins supporters wanted a move backwards to secure more picks.  While many dyed-in-the-wool football experts really thought the odds were against both of those things happening, it seemed that many, including the entire Delaware Valley, had convinced themselves—emotionally—that a major move would be made…one that would never occur.  After several days of mental withdraw, it’s time to take a step back and take a more pragmatic view of what transpired.

Day One…the first pick

REDSKINS PICK:                B+
EAGLES PICK:                    A-  (However…)

All things considered, I believe both Washington and Philadelphia made the “safe” move.  The Redskins were not able to get the number of quality picks to trade out of the number-five spot overall, and Brandon Scherff is a good choice for a team that needed a major boost on the offensive line.  While it’s normally startling to hear a top-five pick is slated for right tackle (the #5 pick is an awfully high pick for that position), it is an area that had to be addressed, and if he can also play guard, that versatility certainly is a plus.  I had Scherff several spots lower on my draft board, but I don’t think it was a major leap for the Redskins to make to enhance their O-line.

For the Eagles, I’ll first go back to the final game of the regular season.  They had NOTHING to play for, so why didn’t they give Matt Barkley the start at quarterback?  Kelly clearly doesn’t like him (is there another team in the country with more quarterbacks—all of them ahead of Barkley?)  Playing him in the season finale would have benefitted the team no matter what happened.  If Barkley played well, it would have served as a showcase for other teams so that you could have used him as a trade chip.  If he fell flat on his face and lost, the Eagles would have moved up several spots in the draft—perhaps enough to get Marcus Mariota, their prized quarterback.  Clearly Sam Bradford was not enough to enable the Eagles to get Mariota without also surrendering other major talent, but if Bradford is your guy, why haven’t they signed him to a long-term deal—like, yesterday?  If Bradford plays well, he’s going to ask for the farm—and get it.  If he fails (or gets hurt for the third year in a row), you’re starting year-four under Kelly with no definitive quarterback.

So after dropping the ball at several steps, Kelly saved face in the first round by filling one of the three major holes they needed to address.  Of course, if they signed Jeremy Maclin last summer as I had suggested they do, they wouldn’t have had that vacancy in the first place.

Day Two…Rounds 2 & 3

REDSKINS PICK:        C+       
EAGLES PICK:            A-

While I really like the selection of Preston Smith in the second round and think he has great potential, I was not a fan of the third round trade and their subsequent picks.  The Redskins picked up a running back (Matt Jones) that I had questions about and really don’t think will make a major impact with this team.  With the other acquired selections, Washington’s first-year General Manager Scot McCloughan clearly favored selecting players in spots of need over the best available talents, and there were enough players at their initial third-round selection position with more upside that could have made a bigger impact that the collective efforts of the players gained through the trade.  However, whether he’s right or wrong, I’ll give McCloughan credit for adding bodies in the draft (see below).

The Eagles made their best decision of the draft in the second round–trading up to obtain Defensive Back Eric Rowe out of Utah.  He can be an instant starter (that’s something new for a Kelly draftee) and could be a star at either cornerback or safety going forward.  While I question selecting an inside linebacker with their third pick (unless Kelly is planning on trading Mychal Kendricks or is looking ahead to the future), Jordan Hicks is a nice pickup with the 84th overall pick and can help right away on special teams.

Day Three…Rounds 4-7

REDSKINS PICK:   B-        
EAGLES PICK:  C        

With very few big names escaping past the first three rounds (which is why I did not like the decision to trade down), I think Washington did make some good talent additions to their squad overall.  Probably the one most likely to exceed their respective numbered-round expectations is Kyshoen Jarrett, a defensive back out of Virginia Tech.  Despite being undersized (5’10”), I think he can help Washington right away on special teams, and could carve out a nice career as a nickel back or an occasional number-two corner.

In the later stage of the draft, the Eagles added much-needed secondary depth in their back-half of the draft.  However,  I’m still shocked that they didn’t select ANY offensive linemen in the draft–which was one of the three major needs to the team going in. They also didn’t get a “pure” strong safety, so that could be a more minor issue to watch as training camp unfolds.

Final Evaluations/Overall Grades

Despite failing to solidify the quarterback position–which could be a major setback to the future success of the organization–the Eagles’ picks themselves make a lot of sense.  Keep an eye on non-drafted lineman Mike Coccia.  I announced several of his games and visited his workouts at Freedom High School.  He’s an outstanding young blocker who works hard and has always had good technique.  I think Kelly would be foolish not to hold onto him as he can add some much-needed depth along the Birds’ offensive line.  Still, Philadelphia needs a lot to go right to protect an already fragile Bradford under center.

Overall, the Eagles moved forward with this draft, with a couple question marks remaining.  They may have done just enough this past weekend (and, taking advantage of one of the weaker NFL schedules this fall) to propel themselves to a playoff appearance.  How far they’ll go remains a mystery, led by the quarterback combination of Bradford (when/if healthy), Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow et al, and the team certainly didn’t do anything to help protect their signal callers with their draft choices.

EAGLES OVERALL DRAFT GRADE:  B+

I also think the Redskins made some nice decisions in this year’s draft…but “nice” won’t result in a major improvement in the win total for this season.  Their draft selections should move the team in the right direction, and, with some luck, they could win at least six to seven games this season.  The team made a few weaker selections at some spots in trying to fill needs.  Skins fans hoping for some major moves are left disappointed, as they still look to be AT LEAST one year away from any possible playoff contention, and a subpar year from Robert Griffin III (whose option for 2016 was picked up last week) might just set that plan back even further.  I’ll take into account that it was McCloughan’s first draft with the Skins, and I do believe in him going forward.  But again, we’re analyzing with our head and not with our heart, which results in a…

REDSKINS OVERALL DRAFT GRADE:  B

What are your thoughts on this year’s NFL Draft?  Which picks did you like/hate and what grades would you give the Eagles and the Redskins?  We’ll have plenty of football talk on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” so email your opinions to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and tune in as we respond to your comments live on air.  Don’t forget our show is now on at a new time, live on Thursdays from 7-8pm.  We’ll also have a phone interview with Washington Nationals broadcaster Charlie Slows to talk about the first month of the baseball season on this week’s program.

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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