This is just the way Reid operates. He doesn't show his hand, not from the very first draft here when the Eagles stepped up with the second pick in the 1999 draft and selected quarterback Donovan McNabb from Syracuse. Reid plays his hand, and he plays it well. He has been far from perfect in the draft, but Reid has been good enough to keep the Eagles' roster stocked well enough to make the playoffs in nine of his 12 seasons, including six NFC East titles.
Analyzing the current roster is something we have done time and time again in this offseason. The Eagles have a good team, one capable right now of competing for a Super Bowl title. But there is no doubt pieces are needed to upgrade, and in a matter of three weeks Reid and General Manager Howie Roseman will go about that task.
I'm not here to tell you the strategy the Eagles will employ, because I don't know their intentions. I know they are best served by taking the best players on the board at the time they choose, rather than fitting players into positions of need. I have been around too many Antone Davis drafts and Leonard Renfro selections and Jon Harris mistakes to believe even a little bit that drafting for "position of need" is the way to go on the most important weekend of the offseason.
Reid has an excellent track record on his first-round picks, no small accomplishment. He has taken Pro Bowl players like McNabb, Corey Simon, Lito Sheppard and Shawn Andrews at the top of the Eagles' draft. He has taken players who have fit roles well, like wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, but who were nonetheless disappointing. He has taken one flat-out miss, defensive end Jerome McDougle, who wasn't able to shake free from injury to develop. He has taken wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, a soon-to-be Pro Bowl player. Reid has selected players who became solid, not spectacular, starters like Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. And the head coach has twice traded out of the first round, deals that have taken years to evaluate.
Reid's best picks? McNabb, for one. Running back Brian Westbrook, a third-round steal. Defensive end Trent Cole, a fifth-round heist. Potentially seventh-round draft pick Jamar Chaney, who I think is going to be an outstanding linebacker for this team for years to come.
Worst picks? Linebacker Quinton Caver in the second round of 2001. Just about the entire 2003 draft. Linebacker Matt McCoy in 2005's second round, although McCoy remains in the league.
It's easy to look back with 20/20 vision. Money time is draft weekend, and at that time all the picks look good.
So, getting back to now, what are the Eagles going to do? Conventional wisdom suggests the Eagles take defense at the top of the draft, but they won't pass on higher-rated players just because they play offense. All I know is that Reid is incredibly unpredictable, which makes this team always one to watch on draft weekend.
- What does what happened in the courts in Minneapolis on Wednesday really mean? It means we have to wait some more for more court time to decide the next step in this work stoppage. It means that it becomes perhaps more unlikely that there will be a period of free agency prior to the draft. And if that is the case, then teams are really going into uncharted waters with regards to building this roster. And, yes, it means that trading players becomes that much more difficult, at least from this perspective.
- Look for the schedule to be released within the next two weeks. I wonder how the fans are going to react when it is out? That is usually a very special day and fans rush to make reservations for road games. What happens this year?
- I have to believe that defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is about as well versed at this point in the scheme and with what he wants to do as he could possibly be. Castillo has immersed himself in the job and has had plenty of time to review the defense and to work with his coaching staff on wrinkles moving foward.
- ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. held a conference call on Wednesday discussing the draft and did an excellent job. He continues to insist the Eagles will take Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi at No. 23. That wouldn't be an "exciting" pick, but it would help the Eagles' offensive line. I think the Eagles are going to have a lot of options if they stay at 23. The key words there are "if they stay at 23." Do you really think they will? I don't. I never do. History says the Eagles will make a move up or down.
- Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has gone from a potential first pick overall to a player with a serious medical concern who may fall out of the top 10, maybe the top 15. He has a knee injury that some have speculated could require microfraction surgery. Would you take him if you were the Eagles, knowing he could miss an entire season, but that a return to health could mean having a dominating defensive tackle in the lineup for the next five or six seasons? Isn't the draft all about gambles? Is this one worth taking?