Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Interesting Draft

The Eagles have a bad track record of trading away their top draft choices.  Yesterday was the first time in several years that they actually got to use their first round draft choice.  There was a lot of speculation that perhaps the Birds might trade their remaining first round draft choice (they had already traded one first round draft choice to Buffalo for offensive tackle Jason Peters) to Phoenix for disgruntled wide receiver Anquan Boldin.  Not that the Eagles management has ever cared about this sort of thing, but there was a fair amount of pressure coming from the fans and local sportswriters for them to go after Boldin, who has been a game-breaking wide receiver of the sort that the Eagles have not had since Mike Quick retired (with the exception of the one season that Terrell Owens behaved himself and played to his ability).  

The Birds also have been sorely lacking at tight end for some time now.  While L. J. Smith has decent hands, he's a lousy blocker and he's been very injury-prone during his career.  Some had speculated that the Eagles would use their first round draft choice on monster Oklahoma tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who was still available when the Eagles picked (in fact, Pettigrew was the next player taken after the Eagles picked, going to the Detroit Lions, who had two first round picks and need all the help they can get after an 0-16 season last year).

Instead of bowing to the pressure, the made some interesting moves.  They traded up in the draft, swapping first round picks with the Cleveland Browns.  They then drafted University of Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.  Maclin is the sort of receiver that can make an immediate impact.  He can return punts, kicks, and he has blazing speed and good size, and is the sort of a wide out who can make substantial contributions to the Eagles' West Coast offense.  They now have a good receiving corps, consisting of DeSean Jackson, who had an excellent rookie year last year, Kevin Curtis, who is healthy again, Hank Baskett, Jason Avant, and now Maclin.  The Birds should be set at wide receiver for a few years now.

They used their second pick to draft Pitt running back LeSean McCoy.  McCoy, a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, posted 35 rushing touchdowns and 2 1,000 yard seasons in his two years at Pitt, and provides the Eagles with an alternative to Brian Westbrook, who is coming off of knee surgery and is now 30 years old.  McCoy bring size and speed, but with only two years of college football experience, still has plenty to learn.  Eagles coach Andy Reid has already told McCoy that he wants him to work on his blocking, so time will tell whether McCoy can become effective n providing additional protection for Donovan McNabb or blocking for newly-signed fullback Leonard Weaver to carry the ball.

True to form, the Birds then traded away their third round pick.  They'd already traded their fourth round pick to move up in the draft, so the middle round picks won't do much to help the team.  Time will tell.  

One thing is clear: the Eagles certainly march to the beat of their own drummer when it comes to personnel decisions.  Yesterday proved it once more.  Let's hope that Maclin and McCoy become the sort of impact players that will cause Eagles fans to look back with appreciation on the 2009 NFL draft.

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