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How Much Will Draft Help In 2012?

I mean, I loved the draft. Who wouldn't? The Eagles brought in a bunch of players they obviously graded very highly and that project as future starters. That's great. Howie Roseman trusted his board, trusted his scouts and drafted accordingly.

Now, though, the players are just players. They are no longer draft picks. Sure, a first-round draft pick has a better chance to make the team than does, say, a seventh-round pick. That's the nature of the business.

But once the players report to the NovaCare Complex, along with a handful of non-drafted guys, they are one and the same. There are no promises and certainly no guarantees.

I walked past head coach Andy Reid an hour after the draft ended on Saturday night as he was surrounded by newspaper reporters peppering him with questions about the draft. "How does so-and-so project?" "Who is second on the depth chart at quarterback?" What can you say about the 'depth-guys' you drafted today?"

These are natural questions. We all want to rush to the end of the book to see how these nine draft picks pan out. But it's just guesswork at this point. I will indulge you all -- and here is a thank you from the bottom of my heart for the great fan interaction on throughout the draft -- and tell you, at the very least, why the Eagles drafted who they drafted and where ...


This was the no-brainer of the draft. The Eagles made only two trades during the three days of the draft -- one fewer than my over/under of three -- and they made this one count. They jumped from 15 to 12 in the first round, giving up the 15th pick plus a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick in the process, to take Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State.

Cox is the player the Eagles wanted, honestly and truly. They targeted him long ago and they see him as someone who can potentially contribute early in 2012. The Eagles suddenly have an incredibly deep and talented defensive line, and a front seven that looks waaaaaaay better than it did a few months ago.

Cox is a central figure in the plans. He needs work, of course. As line coach Jim Washburn says, Cox is a better prospect now than he is a player. He has to prove it now to get on the field.


First it was DeMeco Ryans, acquired in a trade with Houston. Now it's Mychal Kendricks, a powerful figure from Cal who is going to compete with Jamar Chaney at the SAM linebacker spot. Kendricks, say the scouts, is athletic enough to run with tight ends in coverage and is powerful and physical enough to bust a wedge and play in kickoff coverage.

It is far from certain that Kendricks will become an instant starter, because Chaney is a quality player who knows Juan Castillo's system. But Kendricks is going to get his shot. He played with a nasty demeanor at Cal, with that fire and venom that the Eagles need defensively.

Kendricks is going to have to physical and he is going to learn quickly to make a fast transition to this defense. He seems up for the challenge. Kendricks rushed off the edge, he came up the "A" gap and he dominated the football at Cal. The Eagles jumped all over him in the second round.


The Eagles just couldn't pass up Vinny Curry in the second round with pick No. 59. The team moved out of the 51st pick and acquired a fourth-round pick that came in handy on Saturday. Curry was by far the highest-rated player remaining on the Eagles' board and he comes in to challenge what is already a deep position.

I've learned enough about Curry to know that he could be a great fit in Washburn's Wide 9 alignment. Curry has a burst off the edge and he has good technique. Again, there is a lot to learn. But comes with an arsenal of tools.


We all kind of figured the Eagles would take a quarterback, and they selected one nobody expected. Marty Mornhinweg fell in love with Nick Foles and the Eagles took him in the third round.

Foles is 6 feet 5 and he is athletic enough to play basketball at a Division I level. We'll see how the Eagles develop him and work on his mechanics, but the coaches are clearly enamored of Foles and his skills.

Coaching issues and protection breakdowns at Arizona hurt Foles' production in his senior season, but the Eagles sure are eager to see what he can do in this offense, with this structured program.

Where does Foles figure into the plans this year? It's far too early to tell. Mike Kafka is the No. 2 quarterback behind Vick now. Trent Edwards has won games in the NFL.

Foles is the bottom man on the ladder at the moment.


One of the team's favorite picks, Brandon Boykin will have a chance to challenge Joselio Hanson for the nickel cornerback spot and earn playing time in the return game. Special teams coach Bobby April had Boykin as the top-rated return man in the draft.

Now, Boykin is only 5 feet 9 and change. He weighs maybe 185 pounds. He isn't a big guy. But Boykins is explosive and is a competitor. He is a ferocious guy. A broken leg in the Senior Bowl likely pushed down Boykins' draft stock, and the Eagles eagerly grabbed him with the 123rd overall selection.

Looking for a slot corner? It is Boykin vs. Hanson, straight up. Key at cornerback is the development of second-year man Curtis Marsh, who likely can focus on playing outside this season.

Boykin is going to have to show he can press at the line of scrimmage. That is what cornerbacks coach Todd Bowles wants from his players.


A right tackle in college, he has to show he is athletic enough to play both sides here. Dennis Kelly is 6 feet 8 and 321 pounds, so he has to put on some bulk and add strength. Those long arms will help him.

Line coach Howard Mudd liked Kelly enough to use a fifth-round pick here, so that is a hearty endorsement. Who is going to argue with Mudd? If Kelly is an athlete, he has a chance to be a player worth developing here.


With a big body, good hands and excellent production at Iowa, Marvin McNutt has a chance to challenge for a roster spot and the fourth wide receiver job here. McNutt isn't especially fast, but the Eagles couldn't pass up his strengths in the sixth round.

DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are the top three receivers here. McNutt isn't going to crack that threesome. McNutt has played some in the slot and he has been a standout in the red zone.

If McNutt can run well enough, he will push Riley Cooper.  


The Eagles want to develop some young depth at both tackle spots and at guard, and Brandon Washington has the athletic ability that Mudd looks for. Washington has to develop and he has to show that he can be versatile for the offensive scheme.

Washington and Kelly, D.J. Jones and King Dunlap, who has a one-year contract, seem to be in the lead for the backup tackle spots.


This is one of the most interesting late-round draft picks the Eagles have ever made. Bryce Brown was one of the top-rated players in the nation coming out of college and in fact was named the High School Player of the Year in some circles. A high-level recruit -- rated as 5 stars by scouting services -- Brown played very little in college. He initially was expected to go to Miami, then committed to Tennessee and played well there as a freshman.

But Brown then left Tennessee and attended Kansas State, where he played sparingly.

So the Eagles sent running backs coach Ted Williams to Wichita to have a private workout with Brown and clearly liked what he saw. Brown is about 5 feet 11, 223 pounds. He was compared with Adrian Peterson coming out of high school. There isn't much wear and tear on his body.

There are certainly a ton of questions when it comes to Brown, but how can you not trust Williams and his eye for talent? Williams *always *has good running backs lined up for the Eagles. He knows his craft as well as any assistant coach in the league.

Can Brown show enough to make the roster? He has to be humble, work hard and display toughness and the ability to learn quickly to make it at a position that already has LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis.

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