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Where’s The Talent
Did you ever think the Eagles would miss Tom Modrak this much?
There are many reasons why the Birds, who are 5-6, have lost four of their last five games and are 11-16 over the past two seasons, are struggling to navigate rocky waters.
Bad call. Lack of effort. Stupid fines. Incredible game plans. Injuries. Slow performance.
And while these are all viable, and obvious, reasons for the Eagles’ fall from the NFL’s elite, they are merely symptoms of a larger problem plaguing the organization.
Horrible drafts that left them very short on quality NFL talent.
And all that falls at one man’s feet… The Big Enchilada… Mount Mormon from Recovery… Care Nova Alpha Dog Complex…
… Head coach and player personnel president Andy Reid.
While Tom Heckert officially holds the title of general manager, everyone knows that he does not have the final say on personnel moves made by the Birds. Every player on this list was brought to the eagles nest by one man… Big Red.
And since Reid usually avoids free agency when it comes to signing quality players (Terrell Owens, Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard notwithstanding), the draft becomes an even more important task for this team’s success.
Don’t get me wrong, building a draft is a smart way to build a successful NFL franchise. We’ve all seen the Redskins’ way of building a team fail. Building a team from the ground up, through the draft, is the best way to ensure continuity and chemistry for years to come.
When it’s done right. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they won’t be doing it right for long.
Offensively, the big guy did well. His greatest pick was undoubtedly taking McNabb in ’99, followed by the steal of third round RB Brian Westbrook in 2002. Recently, TE LJ Smith (2003, Rd. 2), OL Sean Andrews (2004, Rd. 1) and WR Reggie Brown (2005, Rd. 2) all seem like good choices.
Reid’s selection was less successful on defense. While he selected several outstanding defensive players in the 2002 draft, selecting Lito Sheppard (1st round) and Sheldon Brown (2nd round) and former Pro Bowl safety Michael Lewis (2nd round), the remainder of the selection His defense was extremely bad. .
No one said it was easy to predict a college player’s ability to become a quality NFL player. This is a very difficult problem. But, for a man who believes you can win through the draft, it’s pretty easy to see why the Eagles have struggled so much over the past 15 months.
Below are Reed’s draft results with my grades for each pick in parentheses…starting in 2003…
Rd1. DE Jerome McDougle – Arguably the greatest quarterback of the Andy Reid era. The Eagles moved up 15 spots to land him with the 15th pick, showing almost nothing. (F)
Rd2. TE LJ Smith – A Pro-Bowl caliber pass-catching tight end. He can’t stop to save his life, but he can grab a rock and seems to come to himself. (B)
Rd3. WR Billy McMullen – A third-round pick on a guy who was never more than the No. 4 receiver with the Eagles. (F)
Rd4. DE Jamaal Green – McDougle’s Hurricanes teammate, never a contributor for the Birds. (F)
Rd6 & 7. OL Jeremy Bridges & S Norman Lejeune – None. (F)
Only one decent player in the whole draft.
Rd1. OL Sean Andrews – Moved up 12 spots to grab him, was a questionable draft pick at the time, but looks like a great pick for Reed. The kid will be a force on the offensive line for years to come. (A)
Rd3. CB Matt Ware – Never more than the Birds’ fourth-best cornerback, currently working for the Arizona Cardinals. (D)
Rd4. S JR Reed – Would have been a great pick if he hadn’t ruined his career by jumping over the chain link fence with a leg injury. He had a long career as a kick returner ahead of him. Can’t blame Reed for that. (C)
Rd4. OL Tony Darilek – If you’ve ever heard of this guy, you’re a better person than I am. (F)
Rd5. RB Thomas Tapeh – This guy is our starting quarterback anyway. He can’t run the ball, lacks speed and is a mediocre blocker. But not a terrible value for a 5th rounder. (C)
Rd6. QB Andy Hall – Draft from the start. The project was… aborted. (D)
Rd6. CB Dexter Wynn – The Birds’ number four cornerback who was recently demoted from his kick return duties. A decent cap guy, also not a bad value in the 6th round. (C)
Rd7. OG Adrien Clark, RB Bruce Perry, Dominic Furio (D-)
Again, only one truly productive NFL player in this draft.
Rd1. DT Mike Patterson – Recently signed to a ridiculous seven-year contract extension that will keep him an Eagle through 2016, the second-year starter has just 1 1/2 sacks for the Birds in ’06 and just 25 sacks in 11 games. It’s not too much to ask for a little impact from last year’s first-round pick. (C-)
Rd2. WR Reggie Brown – Was a solid wide receiver in his second year for the Eagles and should only get better. He’s struggled to keep possession and isn’t a playmaker, but he’s shown himself to be a worthy second-round pick. (B)
Rd2. LB Matt McCoy – Perhaps the prime example of why the Eagles lose. It was a second round pick??? Watching him rail at Dallas Clark Sunday night made me want to cut him right then and there. He stinks. (D)
Rd3. RB Ryan Moats – A waste of a draft pick. Why get a little run when you already have Wesbrook? Wouldn’t a smarter move have been to design a bigger rear to complement the B-West? Moats didn’t see the field in ’06 and likely will soon. (D+)
Rd4. C Sean Considine – Here’s a guy who’s been thrown around like a rag doll lately, though that’s mostly because the linebackers have been so brutal. It looks like he could develop into a decent playmaker over time. Not a bad choice and the jury is still out on him. (C+)
Rd4. Ol Todd Herremans – A starting offensive lineman on one of the strongest offensive lines in football. A tough choice. (B+)
Rd5. DE Trent Cole – While he got off to a fast start, he has slowed down considerably since becoming the starter. Not sure yet if he’ll turn into a stick defensive end, but he’s shown enough promise to keep you optimistic. Definitely good value here in round five. (C+)
Rd5. OL Scott Young – Never heard of him. (incomplete)
Rd6. Ol’ Calvin Armstrong – Why another offensive lineman here? (incomplete)
Rd7. DT Keyonta Marshall and LB. David Bergeron – Coach the team players. (incomplete)
Six current leaders are from this project. The problem is…, only one (Herremans) looks like a future Pro Bowler, and only two others (Brown and Cole) look like long-term solutions at their position.
Rd1. DT Broderick Bunkley – It’s a shame the 14th pick in the draft is so invisible. I know this is his rookie season, but I think we deserve to expect more from a first round pick, especially at a position like defensive tackle. A huge failure so far, but it’s too soon to tell. But he is well on his way. (C)
Rd2. Al Winston Justice – Again, the offensive line is stacked, and right now, he’s where he needs to be. As a copy. (incomplete)
Rd3. LB Chris Gokong – In an extremely weak position, Gokong had a chance to show his stuff, but a neck injury ended the ’06 season prematurely. (incomplete)
Rd4. OL Max Jean-Gilles – Like Justice, waiting his turn to fill in for an injured offensive line. (incomplete)
Rd4. WR Jason Avant – While he has gotten some playing time this year, Andy Reid’s offensive scheme is too complex for the rookie wide receiver. (incomplete)
Rd5. WR/KR Jeremy Bloom – You never like to hear about a speed guy with hamstring issues. About IR. (incomplete)
Rd5. LB Omar Gaither – Perhaps best known as the 12th man on the field in the final minutes of the New Orleans game, a penalty that cost the Birds a final shot when they beat the Saints. Now paying his dues in special teams. (incomplete)
Rd6. DT Lajuan Ramsey (incomplete)
No single player made an impact in ’06. Just inexcusable.
And let’s not forget the two major defensive busts Reid was involved with prior to 2003… L.B. Barry Gardner (’99, 2nd), LB. Quinton Cover (’01, Rd.2) and a solid selection, 2005 sack leader DE Derrick Burgess (’01, Rd.3) let the Eagles, immediately he became healthy and dominant. Don’t you think he wouldn’t be a huge help to a struggling D-Line right now?
Building a team through a project is a smart way to go. But Reid’s refusal to acquire free agents at key positions of need, primarily defensive tackle and outside linebacker, and his reliance on unproven first- and second-year players is a big gamble that hasn’t paid off over the past year and a half.
And why has Reid built an offensive and defensive system so difficult to understand that the effectiveness of this year’s draft picks is virtually impossible? What does this mean?
The depth of the Eagles is terrifying. The Bird’s defenses, mostly drafts of Reed’s previous drafts, haven’t done the job. And high-round draft picks that see significant playing time have underperformed.
The Eagles need someone to be an evaluator of college talent. Someone who has experience in designing excellent projects. Someone who doesn’t care about leading the team at the same time.
It’s time for Andy Reid to hand over the GM reigns to someone who, frankly, is better.
Does anyone know Modrak’s camera number?
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