The Eagles began this prime-time Friday NFL draft event with two picks and they did, indeed, end up taking two players on the second day of the 2010 NFL draft. But after they selected South Florida safety Nate Allen with the 37th overall selection (fifth in the second round), the Eagles traded out of the 55th slot not once, not twice, but three times, moving all the way back to the 86th overall pick (22nd in the third round) and selecting Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
For their patience, the Eagles were rewarded with a bounty of two extra picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds. Of course, in addition to those added picks, the Eagles added two chess pieces for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to move around, and two players whom head coach Andy Reid says fit the Eagles' mold.
"We ended up drafting Nate Allen, a secondary player," Reid said in his press conference wrapping up the day's festivities. "When I say that, he's a safety, but I believe he also can play corner for you. We drafted him in the second round. His strengths are he has a great eye for the ball; ball hawk. He's a very, very good tackler. I think those are two important things when you are the last guy to the end zone. I feel very comfortable with him, he's very intelligent, he's got everything that we like here and we look forward to getting him in.
"We have another TO in the building; that's the important thing. This TO is a defensive end, he can also play defensive tackle, particularly on pass-rush situations although he did it both ways there. He was the career sack leader for the University of Washington. I believe he had 31 sacks. That's quite a statement in itself. He's very good against the run."
On the heels of the first-round selection of defensive end Brandon Graham, the Eagles have now significantly re-made the defensive side of the football in a very similar fashion to the re-tooling of the offense last off-season. Graham and Te'o-Nesheim are both high-motor defensive linemen who will be charged with attacking the quarterback, and Allen is a cog in the secondary machine that now has several pieces, especially at safety, with free-agent signee Marlin Jackson, Macho Harris and Quintin Demps.
"I think you'll see between Graham, (Darryl) Tapp, and now (Te'o-Nesheim) that you're going to see guys that have high motors, and are very aggressive," Reid said of the revamped line. "They have that type of motor where they're relentless football players, they're intelligent guys and I think our fans will appreciate the way they play the game."
"I just know it's a good thing to get Marlin all the way back. It gives us flexibility at the corner spot and it gives us flexibility at the safety spot. I just think it's good. That's a good thing and we're not done yet, we're not done. I'm not saying that we're going to draft nine more safeties or corners, but we're not done putting this whole thing together, but I kind of like what I see."
Last year, the first two players selected by the Eagles, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy both ended up making significant contributions as rookies. Does Reid expect this troika of defenders to make the same kind of immediate impact?
"We've done that the last few years with some of the young guys and we're going to give them an opportunity to compete and see what they can do and if they work in there, the more power to them," Reid said. "Everybody we draft, we draft to be starters. It may not be the first year, second year, third year, but that's how we look at it. We try not to draft back-up players, but guys that have the opportunity to start somewhere in the future."
Whether Allen steps in to become a starter right away remains to be seen, but according to Reid, the 6-foot 1/2, 207-pound safety is an "accurate tackler," meaning that while he does often make big hits, he also rarely misses. Reid also lauded Allen's ball skills, saying he has a "knack for making plays when the ball is in the air."
Te'o-Nesheim, meanwhile, is another "fastball" on the defensive line, as Reid often refers to his pass rushers. Te'o-Nesheim has experience playing both end and tackle in college, and it's quite easy to see him becoming one of the Eagles' patented inside pass rushers on third-down. But Reid actually brought up a rather interesting comparison for Te'o-Nesheim, one originally mentioned to him by Te'o-Nesheim's head coach in college, Steve Sarkisian, who previously coached at Southern California.
"He's a very, very quiet guy," Reid said. "Do you know that guy who plays safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers? (Troy) Polamalu. (Sarkisian) said, now he coached both guys here, he says, 'This is what he is except as a defensive lineman. He's very quiet, very soft spoken. When he puts on his uniform, he's a different guy.' When you talk to him and then when you watch some of his highlights, I think you'll get an idea of what I'm saying here and what really his coach said."
And so now the Eagles turn their attention to the final four rounds of the draft which begin Saturday morning at 10 AM (follow all the Eagles picks here on Eagles Draft Live! presented by Dietz & Watson). The Eagles have nine picks currently in their possession: four fourth-rounders (105, 121, 122 and 125 overall), two fifth-rounders (134 and 146 overall), one sixth-rounder (200 overall) and two seventh-rounders (243 and 244 overall). With those picks, the Eagles have the flexibility to do any number of things to address positions like cornerback, linebacker, offensive line, and running back.
"We've created a little bit of flexibility there now, so we'll see how we can work that and whether we move up with some of the picks or whether we move back in the next year, whatever it may be, we have a little bit of flexibility there," Reid said.
In terms of a progress report, Reid said that they've done exactly what they wanted to do, but there is still work to be done.
"If I could have told you that we were going to end up with these three players, I would have told you I'd be a happy guy; I'm a happy guy right now," he said. "I look forward to getting them in here and playing. Now we're not done, it's kind of half done. We have to make sure that we finish this thing up right tomorrow."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 12:07 a.m., April 24