I can’t remember the last time the Eagles picked somebody in the first round that both draftniks and fans loved. Look at Bleeding Green Nation’s fan poll on the pick: Cox’s approval rating sits at 94 percent. A year ago, Danny Watkins eked out majority approval by a margin of just 21 votes out of about 1,600.
The fact that Cox is popular doesn’t, on it’s own, make the selection a good one. But it fits in so many ways. Let’s break down what we learned last night:
The Eagles have become remarkably clumsy at deploying smokescreens for their first round pick. Was anyone other than a few reactionary mock drafters buying a Dontari Poe selection? The way the Eagles led him on a pointless parade past reporters a few weeks back on raised major red flags. What Reid said last night about Kansas City and Poe confirmed that they never had any real interest.
Scheme matters. On a related note, it is important to keep in mind the scheme prospects look most suited for. There were plenty of DT options in the middle of the first round, but the Eagles made sure to grab the one who fit best with Jm Washburn’s penetrating style.
Despite the trades, the first eight picks played out almost exactly as planned. The elite eight ended up being a game of musical chairs (propelled by more reasonable contracts), but that didn’t matter much to the Eagles. Other than Mark Barron, who reportedly was never a NovaCare target, all the players you expected to go early did. That allowed the Eagles to sit back and wait for either Luke Kuechly or Fletcher Cox to drop. Note: I would wager that had the Panthers taken Cox instead, we would probably be having the same conversations we’re having now, except it would be Kuechly coming to Philly today.
Don’t draft an immediate starter. The Cox selection continues a general trend in which the Eagles rarely draft anyone with the expectation that they will start right away. The defensive line is aging and Cox can step right in a contribute, without having to be a starter until year two, when the writing is on the wall for Cullen Jenkins.
Valuing the second round picks more? Andy Reid talked about having a limit on what they were willing to pay for a trade up. He said they didn’t want to give up a second round pick, as Dallas did, to jump up into the top 10. I wonder if this is actually a change in policy dating back to the disastrous trade up for Jerome McDougle in 2003. Since then, the most the team has paid in a trade was a third round pick to move up for Brandon Graham. That hasn’t been a resounding success either. The fourth and sixth round picks the Eagles gave up this time amounted to an exceedingly reasonable price. (The draft value chart says the difference between pick 12 and pick 15 is properly a late third round selection.)
What to watch for tonight: If the Eagles make all three of their next selections, I would guess they’re looking to come away with a linebacker, defensive end, and some sort of offensive weapon at either wide receiver or tight end. But given their recent history, a trade back to accrue more picks (and starting linebackers) is likely in the cards.
Photo from Getty.