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2012 Draft Shapes Eagles Today

Posted Apr 14, 2014

It was a turning point for the franchise. A re-organization internally led to a new way of business on draft weekend, and the results from 2012 shape the Eagles in 2014 ...

Think about where the Eagles stood entering the offseason prior to 2012. Coming off a tremendously disappointing 8-8 campaign -- the Eagles won their final four games of the season to reach the .500 mark -- the Eagles needed to approach the future in a different manner. Jeffrey Lurie termed 2011 as "the most disappointing season since I've owned the team. It's completely unacceptable."

Internal changes were made, starting with the way the Eagles approached the NFL draft. General manager Howie Roseman was given, starting in April of 2012, control of the way things were done in the draft room.

The previous draft classes had produced limited hits, and that didn't sit well with the team.

Roseman, the general manager since 2010 but not given full authority in the draft, recognized the need for change.

“We had to look at ourselves and say, ‘What are we doing here? Why aren’t we getting great contributions from our draft picks?," he said.

With that, the Eagles went about the business of drafting in 2012 intent on taking the best players on their board in each round. There were too many "reaches" in previous seasons and, thus, too many misses.

In retrospect, 2012 started the turnaround for the team's on-field fortunes. The draft class produced starting defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, the team's most productive defensive line draft pick since Corey Simon in 2000. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been a starter since Day 1 and in 2013 led the NFL with four fumble recoveries, part of his 8-takeaway season (along with three interceptions and a forced fumble) in his first season as an inside linebacker.

Third-round draft pick Nick Foles set franchise record in all major passing categories for rookies in 2012 and then stepped in midway through 2013 and had a Pro Bowl season with 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions as the Eagles won seven of their last eight games in the regular season to win the NFC East title.

Fourth-round draft pick Brandon Boykin started as the slot cornerback and was nothing short of outstanding in '13, leading the team and tying for second in the NFL with six interceptions.

Seventh-round draft pick Bryce Brown has been a valuable part of the offense in a backup running back role, delivering huge plays when LeSean McCoy was injured in 2012 and then producing strong games down the stretch in the playoff drive last season.

Second-round draft pick Vinny Curry, the team's third overall selection in 2012, has shown promising pass-rush ability when called up, even as he's made the transition from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 tackle/end.

It's a fantastic draft class that, combined with the excellence from 2013 -- immediate contributions from offensive tackle Lane Johnson, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive tackle Bennie Logan and safety Earl Wolff -- forms the young core around which the Eagles hope to build and sustain for years to come.

In addition to the strong showing on draft weekend in 2012, the Eagles earlier engineered a trade to acquire linebacker DeMeco Ryans from Houston. A former Pro Bowl player with the Texans, Ryans suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2010 and then worked his way back into form in 2011 before the move to Philadelphia.

Ryans, of course, has become the unquestioned leader of the Eagles locker room, and an extremely productive player who played more snaps than any defensive player in the league in 2013.

The Eagles largely stayed competitive in the years prior to 2012 despite many draft swings and misses. They made the postseason in 2009 and 2010, but failed to advance past the first round. They went big in the free agency period of 2011, but the chemistry problems and poor fits within the schemes from several of the players acquired undermined the "big-name" glamour of some of those signed.

It took a couple of years and an overhauling in the coaching staff and the personnel department around Roseman to get the Eagles headed back in a positive direction. By professional franchise standards, the dip in performance and the turnaround happened in a relatively short period of time. It's a mark of an outstanding program to bottom out as the Eagles did in 2011 and in 2012 and then to point the arrow up a season later.

Roseman is committed to keeping the same philosophy of taking the "best player" on the board when it comes time to draft. The lessons have been learned, and in the big picture we will look back at the 2012 offseason as the one that launched the Eagles back to the top of the NFC East.

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