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On Day 2, Eagles Add Options For Offense

Posted May 9, 2014

Here are the three names, in no particular order: Marcus Smith, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. One linebacker and two wide receivers. Three picks, three talented additions and suddenly the Eagles roster enjoys a huge boost ...

Here are the three names: Marcus Smith, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. One linebacker and two wide receivers. Three picks, three talented additions and suddenly the Eagles roster enjoys a huge boost ...

But the order in which the players were drafted isn’t the conversation here, and the truth is that nobody on the Eagles’ coaching staff cares who went first on Thursday or fourth on Friday. The newest Eagles add youth, speed, tremendous athletic ability and a college career’s worth of production on tape, and that’s why general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly maneuvered on each of the first two nights of this draft and addressed needs.

On Thursday, they drafted Marcus Smith, an outside linebacker whom the Eagles think has a great upside and a hunger for the game and the physical abilities to fit into the defensive scheme. Smith was the pick at 26 in the first round after the Eagles moved out of 22, added a third-round draft pick and created some options for moves to make on Friday and Saturday.

Roseman and Co. took advantage of that flexibility early on Friday, moving up in the second round to take Jordan Matthews, a tremendously productive receiver who caught the most passes in SEC history during his years at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have never been known for their offensive prowess and the quarterback situation has never been stellar, but Matthews rose above all of that, becoming the leading receiver in SEC history. To start, Kelly says, Matthews willl roam the middle of the field from the slot.

Then in the third round the Eagles moved around again, trading the 83rd overall selection for a fourth-rounder (No. 101 overall) as well as a fifth-round (No. 141 overall) selection. The Eagles have four draft picks on Saturday, where the value is still very high.

“There are still some quality guys on the board that we really want to get,” said Kelly. “We hope they are still there when we’re picking.”

At No. 86 overall, the Eagles took Josh Huff, who’s a playmaker at the wide receiver position and as a kick return man. He could possibly move around the offense a bit as the Eagles try to take advantage of his quickness and speed, and certainly Huff knows the offense well, having played for Kelly at Oregon.

Any idea that the Eagles would be shortchanged offensively when they released wide receivers Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson was debunked in this draft. Combined with the addition of running back Darren Sproles, a dangerous playmaker both in the running game and in the passing game whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with New Orleans, the Eagles re-stocked the weapons shelf very nicely. The idea, to borrow a vision from hockey, is to have waves of playmakers coming in from the sidelines, rotating in shifts, exhausting defenses with energy and speed and relentlessness.

And let’s be honest: When the Eagles entered the draft and you looked at the wide receiver position, you saw Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper as the penciled-in starters. Who would provide the depth? Damaris Johnson, Brad Smith, B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Maehl and Arrelious Benn, among others. Add two draft picks to the competition and let the best players win.

Thursday night’s selection of Smith was one for the defense, and Smith comes in to work at the linebacker positions with Trent Cole and Connor Barwin.

Friday night was for the offense, and for setting up a big effort on Saturday in rounds four through seven. The Eagles have four selections, including the first pick of the fourth round. It’s a strong position to be in for a team that has a roster that is very strong, and building and with a lot more on the way. The Eagles have 71 players on the current roster and will max out at 90.

With four draft picks and a potentially fertile post-draft period ahead, the Eagles are adding pieces. Big time. The fun is just beginning. The Eagles think there is a lot of talent still on the board and they intend to make the most of these final four rounds.

Trust that the Eagles are going to keep their options open and see how the players line up against their draft board and when it’s over, and after they’ve signed the players after the draft, they are going to like what they see on the 2014 Eagles roster.

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