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Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    It's no secret that it takes several years to fully assess a team's draft performance. Still, with the 2014 NFL draft in the books, we do have a chance to reflect on each of the picks the Philadelphia Eagles made in order to make an initial determination regarding how it appears they fared, pre-hindsight. 

    Here, we attempt to do exactly that. 

List of All 2014 Draft Selections

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    Here's a complete look at who became an Eagle over the last three days: 

    Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville (1st, 26th overall)
    Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (2nd, 42nd overall)
    Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (3rd, 86th overall)
    Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida (4th, 101st overall)
    Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon (5th, 141st overall)
    Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford (5th, 162nd overall)
    Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin (7th, 224th overall)

The Good

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    We start with the picks we liked...

     

    Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (2nd, 42nd overall)

    The Eagles took a huge risk not taking a receiver 26th overall, but they might have completely redeemed themselves, Lloyd Christmas-style, with their second-round addition of Jordan Matthews, who has the ability to become a starting wideout at the next level and has the big-game experience to contribute right away in 2014.

    He’s big (6’3” and 212 pounds), fast (4.46 40-yard dash, per NFL.com) and he’s capable of playing inside and outside, which is something the Eagles really need with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper currently slated to start.

    Matthews might not have the game-breaking ability to fully replace DeSean Jackson, but he was their best option in this spot.

     

    Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida (4th, 101st overall)

    I really think safety was a much bigger need, and guys like Marqueston Huff and Tre Boston were available in this spot, but Watkins is a three-year starter from the SEC who has plenty of experience at both cornerback and safety.

    Considering how much Chip Kelly and Bill Davis value versatility, that makes this an intriguing pick. He isn’t huge, which isn’t ideal for Kelly and Davis, but that speed and versatility makes him a worthwhile fourth-rounder.

     

    Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford (5th, 162nd overall)

    This looks like an absolute steal. While some experts had Reynolds going as late as Round 6, we agree with Matt Miller’s assessment of the kid, which landed him in the third round of Miller’s last mock draft.

    They needed a safety in a big way because Malcolm Jenkins is a highly overrated journeyman who can’t be relied on and the jury’s still out on Earl Wolff. Reynolds has the size Kelly and Davis like and he possesses the ability to cover tough tight ends like Jason Witten and Jordan Reed within the division.

     

    Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon (5th, 141st overall)

    I’m comfortable with Chip Kelly taking some of his Oregon guys in the later rounds, and Hart is a four-year starter in the Pac-12 who can provide a ton of support up front while possibly even challenging Cedric Thornton for reps.

    Don’t be surprised if Hart does as much to help the pass rush in 2014 as Marcus Smith does.

     

    Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin (7th, 224th overall)

    Good teams can afford to take shots at guys like these. Allen is a monster tackle who can serve as a true nose tackle, complementing Bennie Logan up front. He's not an every-down player, but I'll bet he makes the roster. 

The Bad

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    USA TODAY Sports

    We continue with the picks we didn't love...

     

    Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (3rd, 86th overall)

    Jury’s still out on this one because it’s possible Chip Kelly was finally revealing some Oregon bias by taking a player who might have been a fourth- or fifth-round pick otherwise.

    This could pan out because Huff is a good fit for this offense, but they already used a second-round pick on a receiver and there were some quality safeties and offensive linemen on the board here. This pick didn’t take advantage of a deep draft.

The Baffling

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    And we wrap it up with the picks we sort of hated...

     

    Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville (1st, 26th overall)

    Everyone talked about how badly the Eagles needed pass-rushing help, but Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are still entrenched as starters so I don’t completely comprehend why they jumped at an outside linebacker in Round 1, especially considering that nobody considered this to be a steal.

    B/R’s Matt Miller had Smith pegged as a third-rounder, while NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki figured he’d be taken in the third or fourth round.

    What I’m gathering is this pick wasn’t made with 2014 in mind, because Smith is somewhat of a project and Cole isn’t ready to step aside just yet. But this defense and that receiving corps need help right now, and potential instant contributors like Jimmie Ward, Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee were still on the board here.

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