2012 Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Grades At The Quarter Point

US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

John Breitenbach takes a look at the Eagles 2012 rookie class at the quarter point of the season

I'm not sure there's been a more highly lauded Eagles' draft than the one this past April. They got talented players in each of the top four rounds and many were surprised those guys lasted that long. The shift in draft philosophy Howie Roseman talked about in was evident to see as need picks were substituted for good value. We're now four weeks into the season and a handful of their rookies have played crucial roles. Let's see how they've done ...

Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox - Round 1, Pick 12

This was the move most fans were ecstatic about. There was a lot of talk about moving into the top 10 to acquire the most highly rated interior defensive lineman but instead the front office had to move up just a few spots. Cox was joining an already very deep and talented rotation but his potential was off the charts. The injury to Mike Patterson only enhanced his importance, pushing him into a significant role early on. Let's check out his numbers against the run compared to other high picks:

Name

Pick

Run Snaps

Solo tackles

Missed tackles

Stops

Dontari Poe

1 -11

52

5

0

5

Fletcher Cox

1- 12

55

9

0

6

Michael Brockers

1 - 14

37

1

1

1

Derek Wolfe

2 - 36

106

6

0

5

Kendall Reyes

2 - 49

36

2

1

2

Jerel Worthy

2 - 51

50

3

1

3

Devon Still

2 - 53

37

1

0

0

* All statistics courtesy of PFF

The table really tells you the story. The Eagles have actually used Cox more as a pass rusher than in run defense but he's been incredibly productive in limited snaps. His seven stops reflect the plays he's making around the line of scrimmage and although he's being asked to penetrate more than a guy like Derek Wolfe it's still an impressive feat. Cox not only compares favourably to other rookies but also to other defensive tackles in general. He makes a defensive stop every 11.8% of run snaps which is good enough for fifth in the NFL amongst all interior defensive lineman. The Mississippi State man has made a very impressive start.

Pass rushing:

Name

Pass rush snaps

Sacks

Hits

Hurries

Snaps/pressure

Poe

66

0

0

0

0

Cox

93

1

2

3

15.5

Brockers

52

0

1

3

13

Wolfe (4-3 DE)

113

1

0

2

37.7

Reyes

75

0

2

5

10.7

Worthy

95

1

0

1

47.5

Still

41

0

1

3

10.25

The numbers don't make such positive reading for Cox in the pass rushing department. He's not been bad by any means but there are a couple guys who've been more productive. That said he does have three QB knockdowns which leads all rookies.

Outside Linebacker Mychal Kendricks - Round 2, Pick 46

Kendricks was a guy not much talked about by Eagles fans prior to the draft. Most experts saw him as an inside linebacker and the birds had already acquired Demeco Ryans. That's not how the front office saw it however and Kendricks is now firmly entrenched as the strongside linebacker. Time to compare his run defense to other rookies:

Name

Pick

Run Snaps

Solo Tackles

Missed Tackles

Stops

Luke Kuechly

1 - 9

82

10

2

6

Don't'a Hightower

1 - 25

63

8

1

6

Mychal Kendricks

2 - 46

91

5

1

4

Bobby Wagner

2 - 47

69

17

0

9

Lavonte David

2 - 58

83

16

1

13

As you can see Kendricks hasn't done a tremendous job against the run. He does have a more difficult job than the others playing behind the Wide 9 but with just five solo tackles in 91 snaps he needs to do a better job of getting off blocks. To be fair he's also good job of clogging up running lanes even if he hasn't been making the tackle. I found it interesting the Eagles picked him over Wagner who has been unbelievable for a rookie at inside linebacker for the Seahawks. David has also been fantastic for the Bucs, flying around to the ball. Interestingly easily the highest pick of the five, Kuechly, has perhaps been the most disappointing. He's made just six stops and missed a pair of tackles.

Coverage:

Name

Snaps

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

INTs

PDs

QB rating

Kuechly

60

13

9

55

0

0

2

77.4

Hightower

66

13

10

75

0

0

0

90.2

Kendricks

128

23

16

96

0

0

2

77.4

Wagner

60

1

1

8

0

0

0

100

David

126

11

10

86

0

0

0

99.2

Although Kendricks has had some breakdowns against the pass, if he makes the right read he's incredibly difficult to beat. His speed and athleticism are superior to most backs and tightends in the NFL and he's already shown good route awareness. I could say this about most Eagles but he needs to improve his work in zone. Although Kuechly has good numbers they're slightly misleading. He's struggled with play action especially and been fortunate that receivers have dropped passes. As you can see Wagner has only been targeted once leaving no one really knowing what he's like while the other two have each given up high completion percentages and failed to get their hands on any balls.

Cornerback Brandon Boykin -

Boykin was probably the birds' best value pick as he somehow slid all the way to the fourth round. I doubt there would have been many objections if the Eagles had drafted him in the third. It's more difficult to analyse corners because some play in the slot (like Boykin) and others play outside (like Vikings' rookie Josh Robinson) but it's worth taking a look anyway.

Coverage:

Name

Pick

Snaps

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

INTs

PDs

QB rating

Casey Hayward

2 - 62

69

12

8

63

0

0

2

79.5

Trumaine Johnson

3 - 65

31

7

3

52

0

1

0

29.2

Josh Robinson

3 - 66

118

17

13

116

0

1

0

69.7

Jamell Fleming

3 - 80

100

16

11

104

0

0

1

86.5

Dwight Bentley

3 - 85

81

14

12

122

0

0

0

103.0

Jayron Hosley

3 - 94

68

9

5

76

0

1

0

44.0

Brandon Boykin

4 - 123

98

22

11

144

1

0

3

86.2

Josh Norman

5 - 143

157

28

18

221

0

0

3

88.5

Although Boykin is the only rookie to give up a TD he was only partially responsible for the play. Demeco Ryans was slow to get across to double Cruz and the, with outside position, Boykin missed the tackle. Still there's a lot to be encouraged by as Boykin has only given up a 50% completion percentage. When you consider slot corners should give up more catches that's even more impressive. He's also tied amongst rookies with three pass deflections and some of those were really impressive plays. Boykin started the season on fire in the first two games but then cooled off somewhat in the next two when he was exploited in zone coverage. The one alarming aspect is the 144 yards he's given up (13.1 yards per reception). He needs to do a better job of limiting big plays.

So there are the numbers for the three Eagles' rookies who have played significant snaps through four weeks. All have at least been good and Cox has been exceptional especially against the run. Both Kendricks and Boykin have flashed serious ability at times too, they just need to become more consistent.

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