It's one thing to grade a draft class strictly on the players selected, but it doesn't always provide the entire picture. A team as aggressive as the Eagles have been in the draft during the Andy Reid era will use draft picks as chips to acquire veteran players.
That is why I was surprised to see CBS Sports' Pete Prisco downgrade the Eagles' Class of 2008 from an initial B to a C in a recent re-grading session. The first two lines of his item regarding the Eagles highlighted the point I made above about how every move during a draft has to be taken into consideration.
"The Eagles didn't have a first-round pick, trading it to Carolina for a 2009 first-round pick and some other picks," Prisco wrote. "That pick was traded in 2009 to the Bills for other picks."
It is correct that the Eagles traded its first-round pick to Carolina in 2008 for a 2009 first-round pick, a 2008 second-round pick and a 2008 fourth-round pick. But to write that the pick was traded to the Bills "for other picks" is just a bit wide of the upright. If that was the truth, Prisco's decision to give the Eagles a C would have a stronger argument.
However, the first-round pick acquired from Carolina was part of the package used to acquire Jason Peters from the Bills. To obtain the man Reid called "the best left tackle in football" is a slight bit different than just "for other picks." In his two seasons with the Eagles, Peters has done nothing to hurt that reputation as one of the NFL's premier offensive linemen as he's earned two trips to the Pro Bowl and recognition as an All-Pro.
That should earn the Eagles some extra credit towards their grade. In terms of players selected by the Eagles in the Class of 2008, the first player selected was defensive tackle Trevor Laws who struggled for two seasons before becoming an integral role player last season. Then, there's some wide receiver named DeSean Jackson who has only made history since being drafted by the Eagles becoming the first players to be selected to the Pro Bowl at two different positions (wide receiver, returner) in one season.
Both Peters and Jackson made Prisco's list of the Top 100 NFL players.
Two key contributors to the offensive line were also selected by the Eagles in 2008. Mike McGlynn started virtually the entire season at center following Jamaal Jackson's season-ending triceps injury. King Dunlap started at both left and right tackle in 2010. He stonewalled Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham in the win over the Falcons. Dunlap is very much in the mix to battle Winston Justice for the right tackle job next season.
Three other players were drafted who are now making an impact for other teams. Guard Mike Gibson started last year for the NFC West-champion Seahawks. Linebacker Joe Mays was traded during last year's training camp to Denver and started during the year as one of the two inside linebackers in their 3-4 scheme. Lastly, there is Andy Studebaker who has played in all of Kansas City's games over the past two seasons and contributes on defense and special teams.
Overall, the Eagles came out of the 2008 draft with two All-Pro players in Peters and Jackson and three potential starters for 2011 in Laws, McGlynn and Dunlap. Not a bad draft by any means and certainly one worthy of a grade better than a C.