Michael Jones. 28th April, 2008 - 9:07 pm
This is the second straight year that the Philadelphia Eagles traded out of the first round and the fourth straight that they have failed to select a wide receiver higher than the second round. Is there a trend here?
Ever since the Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 2005, I have, like many other fans, been patiently waiting for a receiver to be drafted that would at least have the potential to be something special.
In the 2005 draft the Eagles selected Reggie Brown in the second round. Heading into last season he was primed to break out during his third NFL season, the time period at which a majority of receivers seem to begin enjoying substantial success. But what did he produce? Just 780 yards and four touchdowns, meaning that he clearly cannot be considered a number-one receiver.
The 2006 draft produced Jason Avant and Jeremy Bloom, a third-option receiver at best and a 5'9? pass-catcher with some serious speed who could've been a threat at the punt and kick return position (sound familiar?). Instead, Bloom got injured and never played a game. In the second round they traded for tackle Winston Justice, who only started one game last season, over receiver Greg Jennings (920 yards and 12 touchdowns for Green Bay in 2007) and of all people Devin Hester - the kick/punt return specialist that Philadelphia has sorely lacked.
The draft of 2007 didn't produce a receiver at all, and was arguably one of the worst group of rookies that the Eagles have selected in the last ten years. With that being said, they left some receivers on the board that could've grown into something special as they picked quarterback Kevin Kolb with the 36th pick in the second round. Sidney Rice was still on the board, as was Dwayne Jarrett, both big receivers who would've made nice targets for Donovan McNabb.
All of this makes me wonder, do the Eagles like to leave me and other fans confused on purpose? We all know that the Eagles can evaluate defensive talent in the draft, but when it comes to the offensive side of things, I'm not so sure. Especially when it comes to wide receivers.
The 2008 NFL Draft was no different. Once again they traded out of the first round, this time for former second round (from 2007) running back Lorenzo Booker, and ended up selecting defensive tackle Trevor Laws, who Andy Reid said is a physical player similar to current-Eagle Mike Patterson. DeSean Jackson, who they also took in the second round, is comparable to Carolina star receiver Steve Smith due to the speed he possesses and his playmaking ability, but the rest of the players Philly drafted are questionable.
Instead of picking an offensive lineman early on to be groomed as a replacement for the aging Jon Runyan and William Thomas, or another big receiver to add to the speed Jackson brings, they brought in two tackles in the fourth and seventh rounds that may not be up to that task and more defensive players.
Once again, I'm left confused about the future of this team. Sure they have a great defense with numerous offseason additions; however, if they do not get a deal done for Chad Johnson, and Jackson can?t handle the constant pounding that many scouts point out could happen, they will be right back were they started in 2005. A great, strong and promising defense backed up by a questionable offense.
My feelings about the Eagles and their draft are comparable to the feelings I got while watching the fight between Bernard Hopkins (a Philadelphia native) and Joe Calzaghe. Even though I wanted Bernard to win, I knew that Joe was getting the best of him. At the end of the fight it was clear to me who won, but Bernard stated on camera that he was the clear winner because he out-boxed Joe even though he was hit with more punches. After the fight I got the feeling that Bernard may not have tried his best to win decisively but only to keep it close enough so that the outcome of the fight can be questionable.
The same can be said for the Eagles? draft philosophy.
In the past three drafts, the Eagles have used the same philosophy as Hopkins. In the end both events left me with more questions than I had when it all started. However, there is one thing I know for sure ? if Jackson and Laws don't pan out, and they don't get a legit number-one receiver soon, either the management or the draft philosophy must be changed in Philadelphia.
That?s the only way the Eagles will ever reach the Super Bowl again.