Over the course of the seven rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft in New York City this past April, the Eagles drafted 13 players, most of any team in the league. While I do not see any future superstars out of this class, I can see this organization coming away with six or seven quality starters out of this draft that can carry this team for years to come. Yes, it’s still early to evaluate players who have yet to complete their first NFL season, but I will attempt it anyway.
1. Brandon Graham (Round 1, Pick 13). Currently on injured reserve, Graham had three sacks and two forced fumbles in six starts. I loved him coming out of Michigan, and I haven’t been as impressed with him as I thought I’d be. Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp have been more effective rushing across from Trent Cole. With that being said, Graham is athletic and relatively stout against the run. Once he refines his pass rushing skills, he should be an 8 to 10 sack per year type of player. As of now, he’s a valuable member of the defensive line rotation who may not be worthy of a top 15 pick, but will certainly be a quality player for years to come.
2. Nate Allen (Round 2, Pick 5). Allen was selected with the pick that the Eagles received from the Redskins in the Donovan McNabb blockbuster trade. Early in the season, Allen was a candidate for defensive rookie of the year. His play has dropped off a bit since September and hit rock bottom against Tennessee, but he has been generally solid despite some rookie mistakes. He was injured against the Giants and will not return this season. He should be the starter at free safety for years to come and is proving that he should have been a first round pick.
3. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (Round 3, Pick 22). Te’o-Nesheim was a bit of a surprise pick. He was drafted to be the fifth defensive end, which is a head scratcher in the top 100 selections. Consequently, he has not made the active roster very often, and the Eagles just went out and signed Derrick Burgess to ensure that the streak continues. I don’t have high hopes for the former Husky and fear that he is just the last example of a string of third round busts including Bryan Smith, Tony Hunt, Ryan Moats, and Billy McMullen.
4. Trevard Lindley (Round 4, Pick 7). Lindley was regarded as a potential first round prospect until his senior season was ruined by a high ankle sprain. He was never quite right even leading up to the draft at the Senior Bowl. During his rookie season with the Eagles, he has gone from the roster bubble to playing almost half the snaps in games against Houston and Chicago. He is steadily improving and is the tallest Eagle corner at 6’0″. I truly believe in Lindley’s potential and he will likely be a physical nickel corner for much of his career who can step in and start if need be.
5. Keenan Clayton (Round 4, Pick 23). Clayton was drafted to provide linebacker depth, and he is known for his athleticism though he is undersized at 228 pounds. He looks to fit the mold of an elite special teams player, but nothing I have seen of him indicates to me that he belongs on the field as the WILL linebacker. Still, he should make the roster as a hustle player who reminds me of Tracy White, who recently played for the Eagles. Your average fourth or fifth round selection.
6. Mike Kafka (Round 4, Pick 24). I saw a few of Kafka’s games at Northwestern, and he is certainly capable of moving the football. He has a great feel for the game, but threw too many picks for the Wildcats. He’s definitely a project player, but I trust Andy Reid’s decision because Reid has earned the benefit of the doubt and Kafka unquestionably has a large amount of untapped potential. Kafka may be a valuable backup or end up on the street, but taking a chance on him was the right thing to do.
7. Clay Harbor (Round 4, Pick 27). Clay Harbor is a small school prospect who lit up the combine with a 4.69 40 yard dash, 30 bench press reps, and a 40″ vertical. He hasn’t had much of an opportunity to show me anything, but he seems to have a good grasp on the offense, a willingness to block, and sure enough hands. It would not surprise me if he ended up as our starter, but it’s admittedly just as likely if he failed to make the team next year.
8. Ricky Sapp (Round 5, Pick 3). Sapp tore his ACL during his senior season at Clemson, but, like Lindley, was regarded as a first round prospect before the injury. Not hurting for defensive ends, the Eagles opted to put Sapp on injured reserve and let him get completely healthy. At 255 pounds, he is both able to play his natural defensive end position as well as the SAM linebacker spot. He could be a very good rotational player or a potential starter at linebacker, but everything depends on his ability to recover from his injury. Unfortunately, many in his position do not.
9. Riley Cooper (Round 5, Pick 28). Cooper was a very difficult prospect to evaluate because he played in a goofy, run-oriented offense at Florida, playing alongside Tim Tebow. Florida has also seen many receivers become busts as they try to make the transition to the NFL such as Chad Jackson. Cooper, however, looks to be the real deal. At 6’3″ and over 220 pounds, Cooper lit up the preseason with his strong hands and great deep speed. He has also excelled on punt and kick coverage units and is the only Eagle receiver over 6’0″ tall. He has outplayed Jason Avant this year, and should be an outstanding complementary receiver for a long time.
10. Charles Scott (Round 6, Pick 31). Was traded to Arizona for fellow rookie cornerback and return man Jorrick Calvin. Calvin has not gotten his opportunity on defense, and it’s looking as though Calvin will be a pure special teamer. He has been fairly average, but has proven he can be a solid kick returner. Really, he is not particularly impressive though and is interchangeable. In my opinion, the Eagles are better served finding a return man who can contribute in other phases of the game.
11. Jamar Chaney (Round 7, Pick 13). Chaney was brought in to simply push for a roster spot by playing great special teams. Instead, he beat out Omar Gaither for the backup MIKE linebacker job. Chaney ran an unbelievable 4.54 40 yard dash and once he gets adjusted to Sean McDermott’s scheme and the speed of the game, he should be a considerable upgrade over Stewart Bradley in coverage. Also, in his first career start against the powerful Giants rushing attack, Chaney proved that he could play with the best and help stifle Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Chaney was a great selection whose playing time may depend on his ability to play two or three different spots. Nevertheless, Eagle fans cannot help it but to be encouraged by his progress so far.
12. Jeff Owens (Round 7, Pick 36). Owens was a short but very powerful defensive tackle who played at a big time program at Georgia. He was the prototypical Eagle defensive tackle as Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, and Antonio Dixon are only averaging a height of 6’1″ and have played at Florida State, USC, and Miami, respectively. I thought Owens would make the team over Jamar Chaney or Charles Scott, but he simply did not show enough.
13. Kurt Coleman (Round 7, Pick 37). Despite making many all-american teams, Kurt Coleman was drafted 200 selections behind his elite fellow prospects. As a 5’10” strong safety who weights well under 200 pounds, it was apparent why NFL teams though he would not make it. However, safety is a position where players rely on intangibles rather than their physical attributes. Coleman is very intelligent, a great tackler, and has a ton of experience in a tough conference (Big 10). He has been reliable but unspectacular when he has been asked to start. He looks to be at least a candidate to replace Quintin Mikell at strong safety.
Undrafted: Austin Howard. A massive offensive tackle (6’7″, 336) out of Northern Iowa, Howard dominated other reserves in the preseason. He has never faced elite competition, but looked truly unbelievable against weaker opponents. He is one to keep an eye out for.
Overall, the Eagles had yet another great draft. As long as they keep their few core players in Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin, their draft picks will not have to be superstars. They will have to compete with each other and be reliable on the field. The Eagles have successfully injected their defense with more youth at every level with players like Brandon Graham, Jamar Chaney, Nate Allen, and Kurt Coleman. They have also added even more playmakers on offense with the additions of Riley Cooper and Clay Harbor. Look out for this draft class to carry the Eagles for the rest of this young decade.