Boom or bust for the Eagles in the NFL Draft

Mark Barron

Andy Reid’s track record in the first round of drafts hasn’t exactly been stellar.

When Reid hits, he usually hits big-time, like with Jeremy Maclin (2009) and Donovan McNabb (1999). But when he doesn’t (see: Freddie Mitchell, Jerome McDougle, Brandon Graham), many are left scratching their heads.

This year, GM Howie Roseman insisted the Eagles would draft the best player available, not necessarily for need. He also said this draft is deep in defensive tackles and hinted that the team might take a defensive lineman at No. 15.

“We always look at the draft as a long-term decision for our franchise,” Roseman said. “If that best player happens to be at a position where someone’s already starting but we think this guy has a chance to be a really great player for the Philadelphia Eagles, we’re still going to take him because we’re trying to take the best player. We’re not trying to take the best player at specific position.”

First of all …
Looking at the Birds first round picks over the years:
   
1999, Donovan McNabb
No Super Bowl, but maybe the franchise’s top QB.
   
2001, Freddie Mitchell
From 4th-and-26 to jail sentence, it’s been interesting.
   
2003, Jerome McDougle
Who? Poor guy got shot and never panned out.
   
2004, Shawn Andrews
Great pick, on potential. Too bad he was a head case.
   
2006, Brodrick Bunkley
Showed flashes, then flamed out. Now in New Orleans.
   
2010, Brandon Graham
Jury is still out … but just 16 games in two seasons.

Mark Barron S, Alabama

The scoop: It seems highly unlikely that Barron would slip past the Cowboys at 14 … but if he did, this makes the most sense for a team still struggling to fill the void left by Brian Dawkins. Barron is what some scouts are calling the “best of a poor safety class.” But some in the know think Barron could be a game-changer. After all, he ran the secondary and called the signals for Alabama, the national champions, who finished as the No. 1 defense in college football. Of course, taking Barron would be the Birds admitting that they made mistakes with Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett.

Prediction: Birds get lucky, the planets align and they take Barron at No. 15.

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

The scoop: The Eagles have never shied away from combine studs, and Poe is the 2012 poster boy. The 346-pounder shot up draft boards after posting a 4.98 in the 40 at the combine. He also benched 44 reps at 225 pounds. Poe is another guy that screams raw talent, but is it enough to outweigh his on-field production? He had just 33 tackles and one sack.

Prediction: Team reaches for Poe before No. 15.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Miss. St.
The scoop: Depending on which mock draft you read, Cox can go as high as No. 5 or as low as No. 12. Mel Kiper Jr. think the Eagles will move up, swapping with Jacksonville at No. 7, to get Cox. Makes sense because we know they are enamored. He’s incredibly fast, can play inside and outside, and possesses a high football IQ. He’s also been working on a Dwight Freeney spin move. Yes, Jim Washburn is drooling.

Prediction: Birds attempt to trade up, but the asking price is way too high.

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The scoop: Brockers is considered a work in progress. He’s not the strongest D-tackle in this draft, but he’s far from the weakest. He is a great run-stuffer, but can get washed away in the screen game. His biggest asset may be as an inside pass-rusher, built in the same mold as Cullen Jenkins. Bottom line, Brockers has enough raw talent to merit a high-reward gamble at 15.

Prediction: He’s there at 15, but so is Barron.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The scoop: Two months ago, this was the easiest pick to predict for the linebacker-starved Birds. But that all changed when they traded for DeMeco Ryans. And while middle backer is no longer the priority, Andy Reid loves competition at training camp — and the other two starting spots aren’t exactly penciled in. Kuechly could step right in and start on the weakside. Of course, it’s a stretch that he’ll be there at 15.

Prediction: Off the board after Arizona snakes him.



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