2011 NFL Draft Grades: How Did The Eagles Fare?

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2011 NFL Draft Grades: How Did The Eagles Fare?

Even though it’s a nearly pointless exercise to “grade” a draft, we all love seeing the pundits handing out their 2011 NFL Draft grades anyway. Fact is, we probably won’t know for two to three years how good these drafts where in reality… but that’s no fun. So let’s hear some grades.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports graded the Eagles draft a “B” saying “The Eagles always seem to do a good job in the draft. This year was no different. The key might be second-round safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.”

As we said earlier, Mel Kiper gave them a C+

Our NFL Draft site, Mocking The Draft agreed with Kiper on the grade, although were overall positive about the selections saying, “This was a very solid draft with few wow selections. Watkins will start right away at guard and bring some toughness to the offensive line. Jarrett is a good safety prospect that might need a little time to fully develop. Marsh is an underrated corner that could fill a nickle roll. Casey Matthews will provide some linebacker depth which is something lacking in Philly. Is this the end for David Akers? Alex Henery is the best kicker in the draft but was selected about a round or two early.”

The most common criticism you see about the Eagles draft is that they took a kicker in the 4th round. Despite the fact that so often the kicker plays a vital role in the outcome of a game, drafting a kicker just offends the sensibilities of all these draftniks. Todd McShay didn’t hand out grades, but he also criticized the Eagles pick of Henery.

“The 120th pick is simply too high for Alex Henery. Yes, he was the No. 1 kicker on our board, but Henery has had some inconsistent stretches in his career, and while he has a monster leg, the Eagles would have been better off addressing right offensive tackle, defensive line, tight end, wide receiver or return specialist, then taking someone like Kai Forbath further down the line. "

Bear in mind that Alex Henery is the most accurate kicker in the history of college football and David Akers is a 37 year old free agent. So McShay’s advice was to grab some other, lesser rated prospect and draft a worse kicker later. Sounds like some plan… Plus, Kai Forbath wasn’t even drafted, which makes McShay’s plan look all the more idiotic.

I think what a lot of people ignore is that the Eagles had so many picks, that they could afford to maybe take a guy a round earlier than they had to, so as to ensure they got the player they wanted. Now, whether or not the Eagles actually could have gotten Henery later is a complete guess no matter what anyone tells you. But even if that was a chance, why risk it? If you’ve got the chance to get the best player by far at a position of need, why isn’t that worth a 4th round pick.


2011 NFL Draft Grades: Was Dion Lewis The Philadelphia Eagles Best Pick?

John Dove, one of our draft gurus from Mocking The Draft has been grading every pick for CBS Sports through this draft. Here’s what he’s had to say about the Eagles picks so far as we enter the 6th round.

Danny Watkins, B- – One thing about the Eagles, they love taking big people. This is an aggressive player who will fit right into the Eagles’ style of play.

Jaiquawn Jarrett, B- – He is a rangy safety who will help in pass coverage. He isn’t a great tackler, but that can improve.

Curtis Marsh, B- - This former running back has good speed, but he is raw. It might take time for him to get on the field. He should play well on special teams.

Casey Matthews, B – Linebacker depth has been an issue for the Eagles. Matthews can play either inside or outside due to his good instincts.

Alex Henery C+ – This is a bit early for a kicker but Henery is by far the best in this class. David Akers is getting older and Henery could be the future.

Dion Lewis, B+ – Lewis lacks ideal size and speed but is very shifty. His ability to make people miss is what makes him special.

Julian Vandervelde, B- – Iowa does a good job producing technique sound offensive linemen. Vandervelde has ability to be a decent guard in the NFL.

Jason Kelce, C- - The Eagles are still focusing on the interior of their offensive line. Kelce doesnt represent much upside and is limited as an athlete.

Brian Rolle, C - Rolle is not an every down linebacker because of his lack of size. He is a guy that is good in coverage and has good speed.

Greg Lloyd, C+ - Lloyd is always around the football and making plays. This last season he suffered a knee injury which cut his season short.

Stanley Havili, B - Havili was my top rated FB. He is strong runner that is able to make some catches out of the backfield.


NFL Draft: Philadelphia Eagles Select Greg Lloyd Jr, Son Of Steelers Legend

Call this “The Bloodlines Draft.” With the 237th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Eagles selected UConn LB Greg Lloyd, who is the son of Pittsburgh Steelers great Greg Lloyd Sr. Unfortunately the family ties stop with the bloodlines. Lloyd Jr does wear his father’s number, but the two are estranged and don’t speak. Greg Lloyd Sr was not a great guy in his post football career to say the least. He was arrested sticking a gun in his son’s mouth when the 12 year old brought home bad grades. He was tried twice in that case, resulting in two hung juries. He later was arrested for pointing a gun at his ex wife, Greg Jr’s mother.

So suffice to say, it makes sense that Lloyd Jr doesn’t have any contact with his pop. He did get some of the good genes though. He’s 6-2, 259 and is known as a big hitter. He’s not incredibly quick however which limits his ability to get sideline to sideline. He’s a nasty presence in the box however.

Of course, there’s one really big negative.In 2009 he tore both his ACL and MCL against Syracuse in the second to last game of the year. He managed to get in only seven games last year. It’s a speculative pick, but this is the 7th round we’re in… If he can get back from a pretty nasty injury, the Eagles could potentially have found themselves a player here. But he’s a long shot like all 7th rounders.


Eagles Draft Pick Brian Rolle Says He's As Good As Von Miller

With 193rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Eagles have selected LB Brian Rolle from Ohio State. He’s the second “bloodlines” type player the Eagles have taken in this draft, as he’s the cousin of Giants’ safety Antrel Rolle.

Rolle is a speedy, yet undersized LB at 5-9, 225 pounds. However, Rolle rejects the idea that his size holds him back in any way. In fact, he says he’s as good Von Miller, who was taken #2 overall this year.

“People who say (size) is an issue, they must not have seen any film,” Rolle said, “because put on Von Miller (the draft’s top-rated linebacker, from Texas A&M) and put me on film, and everything he does, I can do just as well. So scouts and coaches – guys who actually watch film and evaluate me – I’m pretty sure they know I can play football.”

Rolle was a standout special teamer in his first two years at Ohio State, before taking over a starting job in his final two. Scouts Inc said of him “He is vastly undersized and plays the game with borderline wreckless abandon.”


Eagles Draft Picks: Julian Vandervelde, Fifth Round

With the 161st overall pick from the Jets, the Eagles took offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde from Iowa.

The 6-2, 301 pound Vandervelde projects as a guard in the NFL. He’s athletic and can pull in the running game while also getting to the second level on blocks. Vandervelde said the player he compares himself to is Casey Weigmann of the Kansas City Chiefs

I really respect Casey Weigmann of the Chiefs. A former Hawkeye himself we have a lot in common. Just seeing how long he has lasted in the NFL and his attitude and toughness that he brings to the game. He isn’t over-sized and is very tough and smart. He is very durable. He takes hits and keeps coming back and has had a lot of success in the NFL.

Also Vandervelde might have the best tidbit of any player in this draft. When President Obama visited the University of Iowa, it was Vandervelde who sung the national anthem.


2011 NFL Draft: Eagles Select RB Dion Lewis, Who Had Replaced LeSean McCoy At Pitt

Two drafts ago, the Eagles took a RB out of Pitt that worked out well and they’ve went back to that well this year. With the 149th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft the Eagles selected RB Dion Lewis, who had replaced LeSean McCoy at Pitt.

Lewis is a speedy back with a low center of gravity and compact running style. He has a knack for making defenders miss, runs through arm tackles and has good cutback ability. Lewis shows good patience behind the line and often seems to find his way through a crowd. He was rarely ever asked to block, so that’s obviously something that needs to be worked on.

He has 30 TDs in his college career including 13 from last season. He has experience as a receiver out of the backfield catching a little over 50 passes over the last two years. At 5-7, 193 pounds there is some concern whether he’s got the size to be an every down back in the NFL, but that’s not going to be a role he’s likely asked to play by the Eagles anyway.

Sideline scouting had to say on Lewis

Strong for his size, reportedly can bench press 400 pounds, over twice his body weight… Rarely fumbles, does a good job of holding the football high and tight… Very quick and shifty in the open field, shakes a lot of tacklers… Great short area burst, hard to contain… Surprisingly good runner between the tackles, keeps his pad level low… Outstanding vision, finds the crease almost immediately… Patient runner, consistently waits for his blockers to set up… Good hands out of the backfield, secures the ball with both hands…


Eagles Draft Pick Alex Henery Means David Akers Era Is Over

The Eagles longest tenured player and the longest currently tenured athlete in Philadelphia appears to have reach the end of the line. The Eagles selection of kicker Alex Henery from Nebraska means that David Akers is likely finished in Philadelphia.

Akers spent 12 years in Philadelphia, making five pro bowls in the process and being named an all pro four times. Unfortunately, as Jimmy pointed out on Bleeding Green Nation, as good a guy as he is… it’s business.

He’s been an extraordinary player, person, and role model for the Eagles during his tenure here. But he’s a free agent, and the Eagles tagged him as their transition player this offseason, a move that Akers and agent Jerrold Colton balked at. The uncertainty of Akers’ contract is likely the motivation for picking a kicker, and in Alex Henery, they get a fantastic player.

As sad as it will be to see Akers go, it’s pretty exciting to see Alex Henery coming in. It’s rare to see a kicker go in the fourth round, but it’s also rare that a kicker like Henery comes around. One of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history, Henery missed only two kicks from inside 50 yards during his Nebraska career.

He’s also got ice in his veins as our pals at the Jets blog Gang Green Nation pointed out.

In the pressure packed Big XII Championship Games of the past two seasons, Henery hit 6 of 6 field goal tries. 5 of these 6 were from over 40 yards. 2 were from over 50, including a 52 yarder that gave the Cornhuskers a late lead in the 2009 title game against Texas with under 2:00 to go. A kicker battle tested like this is a good thing.

It’s actually somewhat odd that a position which continually plays such a vital role in the outcome of a game is so often ignored in the draft. I think this is a great use of a fourth round pick to grab far and away the best kicker of this class. Henery also served as the Cornhuskers punter and averaged 43.2 yards per kick as a senior. I doubt the Eagles will want him punting in the NFL, but it’s a useful skill nonetheless.

If there was on knock against Henery it’s that he didn’t kickoff at Nebraska, who opted to use a specialist. Clearly though, Henery has a leg for it and given the NFL’s new kickoff rules, it’s just not that important.


Eagles Draft Picks: Philadelphia Takes Casey Matthews, Brother Of Clay Matthews

With 116th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected LB Casey Matthews from Oregon. If you don’t know Matthews, you certainly his bloodlines. His brother, father, uncle and grandfather all played in the NFL. His brother is of course Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers.

Matthews isn’t quite the athlete his brother is and doesn’t have his size, but he does that have Matthews motor and instincts. Oregon coach Chip Kelly called him “the most instinctual player he has ever coached.” He was a finalist for the Butkis award in 2010 as the nation’s top linebacker.

As FFToolbox put it, “He is a football player, not an athlete. That means he will be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, but be around the NFL a lot longer than many players drafted before him.”

Here is a scouting report on Matthews from Mocking The Draft.

Matthews is a good looking prospect that will make plays in the NFL. He has really good instincts and the tenacity necessary to contribute. Matthews is always round the football and looking to create a turnover. He possesses enough athletic ability to cover sideline to sideline. His 2nd gear and short area burst allow him to close on the ball carrier. He doesn’t have his brothers pass rushing ability but he knows how to create pressure. Matthews is a good blitzer with excellent timing and savvy.


NFL Draft Results: Eagles Trade Down, Select CB Curtis Marsh From Utah State

The Eagles came into this draft with two glaring needs in the eyes of many fans an pundits. One was on the offensive line, which was addressed in round one with Danny Watkins. The other was cornerback, which was addressed the with selection of Utah State corner Curtis Marsh.

Marsh has all the physical tools you look for in a corner prospect. He’s tall at 6-1, he’s got good speed (ran a 4.4 40) and he’s got long arms that give him a knack for breaking up passes. He was ranked sixth in the nation last season in passes defensed per game.

Marsh actually went to Utah State initially as a running back and played there for two years. However, when coach Gary Anderson came in, he took one look at Marsh’s size and athleticism and decided he would be best served at corner. It appeared as though he was right. After his second year playing corner, he earned All-WAC honors in his senior season and had a big game against highly touted Boise State WR Titus Young, who was taken with the 12th pick of the 2nd round this year.

He did in fact have a visit with the Eagles earlier this month and was projected to go anywhere from the second to third round. Solid value, great physical tools and still with plenty of room to improve. There’s a lot to like about this pick.

“He has a lot of upside,” Utes coach Gary Andersen said. “He’s only been playing the position for two years. His best football is ahead of him, and as he gets more comfortable with the position, he’s only going to get better.”

Marsh earned All-WAC honors last season and was sixth in the country in passes defensed per game. As we said earlier, his long arms gives him a knack for that. Marsh started to grab the attention of scouts last season, when he shut down highly touted Boise State WRs Titus Young and Austin Pettis last season. Those players went the second and third round respectively this year.

He did in fact have a visit with the Eagles earlier this month and was projected to go anywhere from the second to third round. Solid value, great physical tools and still with plenty of room to improve. There’s a lot to like about this pick.


Eagles Draft Pick Danny Watkins Reflects On Day At Ground Zero With FDNY

Eagles draft pick Danny Watkins spent four years as a firefighter in his native Canada before he ever even decided to play football. In fact, he only took up football when he came to the US to study to become a full time firefighter. So when he came to the New York this week for the NFL draft, it made sense that the FDNY invited Watkins and his firefighter cheering section out with them.

"We had an amazing day with the FDNY," Watkins said, "Just the opportunity to spend time with them and meet them... They embraced me as one of their own, as a brother, like I've known them 20 years. When my name got called tonight I thought there was going to riot up there on the balcony."


Watkins said that the FDNY took him to ground zero for a tour and to talk about their memories with a fellow firefighter.


"We had the opportunity to pay our respects to ground zero and that was probably one of the most sobering and humbling experiences of my entire life. I don't know what I'd do losing one member of the fire service that I grew up with, let alone 343 brothers. Seeing that, seeing the memorials and speaking to the guys that lost guys, words can't describe the pain you felt for them. It doesn't seem that long ago after being there today. Today, besides from the draft, it was something I'll never forget, that's for sure."


Teams always say they love "higher character guys," and Eagles fans should be proud to have the guy who many see as the highest character player in the draft.


Eagles Draft Pick Danny Watkins Brings Firefighter Cheering Section

With the 23rd pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected offensive lineman Danny Watkins from Baylor. It was a pick that not even the Giants fans in attendance could boo. Why? Because Watkins had the best cheering section in the house.

For those that don't know, Watkins was a firefighter for four years in Canada who didn't even begin to play organized football until about five years ago. He actually started to play football when he moved to Northern California to attend Butte junior college where he planned to study to become a professional fireman. The football coach there saw the giant kid walking around and convinced him to play.

However, it's not his experience in football that made Watkins the person he is. Much of who he is and the way he carries himself comes from his time as a firefighter. Just as an illustration of the bond he had with the guys he calls "his brothers" at least 10 of them made the trip from British Columbia to cheer him at the draft. As soon as the pictures of him smiling on his phone came up on the monitors, his firefighter buddies went nuts. In the photo on top of this story, Watkins is giving the thumbs up to all the firefighters in the balcony that were yelling and chanting his name.

Afterward, he told me that he and his firefighter friends were invited out by members of the FDNY, who only gave them a tour of their house but also took him to ground zero, where all the men shared stories of people they'd lost. Watkins said that he couldn't imagine losing one brother, let alone 343 on one day and that his experience with the FDNY, who he said he called him their brother, is one he'll never forget.

A lot of people use the cliche that a guy with courage is one that will "run into a burning building." This is guy is no cliche. He really has done that. There's no doubt that his age is a concern. There's a reason teams pick 22 year olds, because they're looking for longevity. But Watkins' age and life experiences give him a perspective on life that arguably no other player in this draft has.

Below is the video of the Watkins' selection, complete with some shots of his firefighter buddies in the balcony.

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