After three trades down to accumulate draft picks, and after taking three defensive players -- two of whom project (we hope!) into immediate-impact rookies -- Andy Reid spoke late in the night on Friday about what the Eagles had accomplished in the first three rounds of the draft, and he looked ahead at what is to come.
"We aren't done yet, but I like what we've done. I like the way things have gone so far, and we have a lot more to get to on Saturday," said Reid. "We've drafted three players who are highly-productive players, who love the game and who are going to come in here and help this football team."
No question, the Eagles see first-round pick Brandon Graham as someone who has a chance to make a difference right away, and they used the 37th pick in the draft -- the fifth in the second round -- to take safety Nate Allen from South Florida. Reid raved about Allen, about the way he plays the game, about the physical nature of his game, about his ability to cover. The Eagles have some questions at safety, and at cornerback, and it sounds like Dick Jauron has a chance to work with a player who could help at both spots.
Then the Eagles traded down three times, hoarding draft picks, before they used the 86th pick in the draft on defensive end/tackle Daniel Te'o-Nesheim from Washington, who was fantastically productive at Washington. He wasn't highly rated by the "draft experts," but the Eagles sure liked the way he played in college and they liked what they heard and saw from him when he visited the NovaCare Complex.
The phrase Reid keeps repeating is "high-motor" player, and that is what the Eagles are interested in bringing to this defense. They want physical players. They want more speed and they want hungry players.
Suddenly, the defensive end position is as healthy and as competitive as it has been in years. The Eagles aren't going to shy away from bringing in ends. They want to dominate the edges, and now they have some serious battles coming in training camp. It is going to be really interesting to see how it works out, who the odd man out is when training camp ends.
Clearly, Reid and the defense need to set the tone at the line of scrimmage. They have a chance to do that with Graham, with Darryl Tapp and with the holdovers -- including Pro Bowl man Trent Cole -- and, yeah, Te'o-Nesheim. I haven't seen enough of Graham, nor have I seen much of anything involving Te'o-Nesheim, to make a conclusion.
"You can't," said Reid, "have enough good defensive ends."
I do know the Eagles trust their evaluations. I know they trust their board. And they thought the strength of this draft is in the late second rounds through the fourth round, so with four picks to go in round four, the Eagles will dig into the meat of their board and pluck out some players they have rated as better than fourth-round talents.
The defense has gotten all of the help in the draft, as expected. There are going to be a lot of players moving around here, including someone like Macho Harris, a safety last year who could very well move back to his natural position, cornerback, in his second NFL season. I can't tell you what this defense is going to look like when the post-draft camp begins, because there are just so many new faces on the way. The Eagles have a staggering nine draft picks to use in rounds four through seven, and they will be as creative as possible doing so. Maybe they trade some for picks next year, although the Eagles already have nine for 2011. Maybe they send some away in exchange for veterans, as they have done in the past. Maybe they just use them all and bring in as much talent as possible and raise the level of competition through the roof in the camps.
To suggest that the Eagles "missed out" on chances to bring in talent is to not really understand the plan here: They are following their board, their evaluations. They are not done, not even close.
At the top of the draft, the Eagles picked up two highly-rated players in Graham and Allen. Now we're going to find out, truly, how Howie Roseman and Ryan Grigson did stacking the board with all of their scouts. This draft is far from done, and I am just fascinated by all of the moves and the direction this team is taking.
We're in for a wild one on Saturday. Hold on tight. The Eagles have another day to complete their vision for the 2010 roster -- most of the vision, anyway -- and then and only then is it fair to draw conclusions about the success of this draft process.