- Joe Sorci
1st Round: Breaking Down Eagles Picks
The Eagles have had some pretty disappointing first round picks of late, to highlight some: Danny Watkins, pick 21 in 2011 and Marcus Smith, pick 26 in 2014. Eagles fans know about these two, and it’s no wonder these players couldn't live up to the first round hype.
Watkins was 26 when picked in the first round, and in his draft profile he is labeled as "not very fleet of foot... might work best in a power scheme" and was projected by many to be a 2nd round pick. The Eagles at the time were working with Michael Vick and Lesean McCoy, hardly the power scheme that would have fit Watkins best.
As for Smith, where do you start? Well, Smith has a career total of 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks and was a consensus 2nd if not 3rd round pick. Smith struggles to get any sort of playing time and has little to no contribution when he does get on the field, it will be a miracle if he makes the 53 man roster.
One pick that may end up being just as disappointing as these two fine examples is none of than Nelson Agholor. Yes, Agholor. With a measly 23 catches for 283 yards and 1 TD, Agholor absolutely under preformed. Agholor had the 8th most receiving yards (less than that of Huff, Cooper, Celek, Murray, Ertz and JMatt). Despite the Eagles not having a 1,000 yard receiver in 2015 (JMatt had 997) the Eagles ranked 12th in receiving yards per game, so lack of production wasn't the problem. Agholor was known to not have the breakaway speed to take the top off a defense coming into the NFL. But, the reason for drafting him was because some thought he would be able to run clean enough routes to create separation at the next level, which he failed to do. Agholor needs to show vast improvement in the upcoming seasons for the Eagles to consider keeping him once his contract is up.
Now some people might like to point out the great picks the Eagles have had recently in Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox, and yes those were home runs, stellar picks. But in the same sense Brandon Graham has some huge question marks. Graham got a 4 year 26 million dollar contract with 13 million guaranteed, and in the first year of that contract yes he has his best statistical season with 39 tackles, 12 assists and 6.5 sacks, that just isn't the production the Eagles thought they would be getting out of their former first round pick. The contract Graham was given is very similar to that of Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs, who got a 3 year 21 million dollar contract with 11.5 million guaranteed. Unlike Graham, Hali has been a day 1 starter, and a force on the field. Hali has gone over 10 sacks 3 times in his career and only under 40 tackles 3 times (2 seasons of 39) and has played in at least 15 games a season his entire career. Graham's cap hit is 5 million with a 7.5 million dead cap hit in 2016, so it's no wonder the Eagles didn't dump their former first rounder, but in 2017 Graham's dead cap hit drops from 7.5 million to just 2 million and in 2018 it drops to 1 million. So, expect to either see much better production out of Graham, or a quick trip out of Philly.
Eagle’s fans will need to hope that Carson Wentz breaks the mold of questionable first round picks or this team might be in trouble.