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The Sports Daily > Eagles Eye Blog
Eagles can ill afford to draft squashed careers in the early rounds…

Here’s where we left off with Drafttek‘s Eagles analyst ~BROZ’s previous 1st and 2nd Round picks:

14 Philadelphia
Marlon Humphrey
Alabama
CB
    Reach/Value:     -2
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
197
Original CMD#10 Pick:
Dalvin Cook

“The Eagles’ most pressing team need this offseason was finding Carson Wentz immediate and impactful support in the passing game. The contracts that Ashlon Jeffery and Torrey Smith signed not only filled that need, but also had more zeros in them than a singles mixer at a comic book store. While the Eagles still could add a younger receiver (even in the first round), the cornerback position is now the most frighteningly glaring need followed closely by pass rushing defensive linemen.

“If the draft fell this way in April, the Eagles might seriously consider trading up a bit to acquire a bona fide difference maker like Reuben Foster or Solomon Thomas, or even back a bit if a willing trade partner was available. There are many differing opinions on Marlon Humphrey. Some feel he is overrated, that he benefited from the talent he played behind at Alabama, and is highly susceptible to getting burned deep. Others (like USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster) feel he has the best height/weight/speed combination, and coupled with his aggressive run support, is a true Top 10 player. He doesn’t have eye-popping stats (5 career INTs, 13 PDs), but his physical style of play is sure to appeal to Jim Schwartz. Take a look at this and judge for yourself. ~Broz, Eagles Analyst”

43 Philadelphia
Teez Tabor
Florida
CB
    Reach/Value:     +1
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
199
Original CMD#10 Pick:
T.J. Watt
Alternate Pick #2
Demarcus Walker

“The Eagles arguably had the worst set of cornerbacks in the league in 2016. So what did they do? They let 2 of their top 3 CBs walk (Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin), and added no one in Free Agency. Remember Jalen Mills, the guy from the 7th round with the green hair? He’s your current #1 cornerback on the Eagles’ depth chart. If that’s not enough to scare you…C.J. Smith is the current #2 guy. So now that we’ve illustrated why the Eagles went cornerback in RD1 and RD2 this week, let’s take a closer look at Teez Tabor. I’ll state this plainly: Tabor’s Combine sucked eggs. In my opinion, Tabor is the classic example of a guy that does not test well in track shoes and yoga pants, but knows how to ball on the field (9 career INTs, 3 TDs) and stand out on tape. He may not have the straight line speed you want (we’ll see how he runs at his Pro Day this week), but he demonstrates great instincts, confidence, and closing speed to break up (or intercept) passes on the field. ~Broz, Eagles Analyst”

Throw in the 3rd and 4th Round picks for extra credit:

74 Philadelphia
Dawuane Smoot
Illinois
EDGE
    Reach/Value:     -36
Height:
6’3″
Weight:
264
Original CMD#10 Pick:
Dalvin Tomlinson
118 Philadelphia
Josh Reynolds
Texas A&M
WRF
    Reach/Value:     +3
Height:
6’3″
Weight:
194
Original CMD#10 Pick:
Tyler Orlosky
139 Philadelphia
Kareem Hunt
Toledo
RBF
    Reach/Value:     -11
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
225
Original CMD#10 Pick:
Tyler Orlosky

Okay, I know ~BROZ is going to adjust those early round picks another few times before we are officially in Draftmas mode.

But here’s my dilemma— when you’re drafting early for defensive needs, especially at the corner position and a little less so at edge rusher, you are gambling on the kind of blue-chip hit that is historically hard to find.

Part of that history with the Eagles, for whatever reason, is you are daring the odds of a young kid being put on an island and either staying healthy enough or smart enough to not get chewed up or totally disillusioned by the competitive forces against him.

It’s a long shot.

It wasn’t that much of a leap of faith to draft a defensive back early back in the old days. But today, with all the coverage rules skewed in favor of the offensive opponent, it’s a real crap shoot.

It’s a game rigged against any rookie cornerback, maybe a little less so against a rookie edge rusher. Let’s just say it’s tough for even a competent rookie at these defensive positions to make a substantial impact in his first two seasons, if he lasts that long physically or psychologically.

Part of the problem is these kids have to get used to getting beat badly. That didn’t happen to them very much in high school or college. A relatively very few early-round draftees have come back from getting beat in high profile situations in their first or second years of NFL competition. That’s when promising careers get squashed.

I go back to 1995 when the Eagles drafted Bobby Taylor at cornerback in the 2nd Round (50th overall) from Notre Dame. He was long (6-3), strong at 216 lbs. and as fast as his father Robert who was a track star in the 1972 Olympics. The kid had it all—playmaking ability, sure tackling skills, and a sharp mind which got him a degree as a sociology major.

The cornerback-starved Eagles threw Taylor quickly into the starting mix.

“I was happy,” said Taylor. “I just wanted to have an opportunity to reach my lifelong dream of making it to the NFL. So once the Eagles drafted me, I was super excited and ready to go to Philadelphia.”

Even though the rookie found himself in the starting lineup after just four games, Taylor didn’t find adjusting to the NFL to be an easy task.

“It was kind of difficult coming from college and playing against bigger receivers, faster receivers that ran better routes,” Taylor said. “And you also have to add the quarterback aspect. We had quarterbacks that were able to get balls into very small windows. So if you weren’t on your game from a defensive back standpoint being in your coverage, the chances of you even getting a fingertip on the ball were not likely.”

Getting his hands on five interceptions in his first two seasons, Taylor suffered an ACL injury in 1997 and missed 10 games.

The cornerback’s dreams—and the value of drafting him high in 1995— were about to be squashed.

But, Taylor turned out to be the exception to the rule. Following three losing seasons and the hiring of Andy Reid to replace Ray Rhodes in 1999, the Eagles started to turn things around in 2000 with the first of five consecutive years making it into the playoffs.

“I think it was just guys maturing as football players,” Taylor said. “We added a couple of key free agents here and there, but for the most part we were guys that were drafted by the organization. They were able to develop us and we became more mature and good NFL football players. And it showed out on the field.”

Three of those “good NFL football players” shared Philadelphia’s defensive secondary. Taylor, fellow cornerback Troy Vincent and free safety Brian Dawkins’ exceptional play was recognized when each was selected to play in the 2002 Pro Bowl.

“We all pushed each other,” said Taylor. “We all knew that we had a specific skill set. But day in and day out, we just worked hard at everything when it came to technique, to the way we watched film. We were our own toughest critics. Even more so than our coaches. And I think that really just became infectious among the three of us and also with the other guys that we played with in the secondary, as well.”

I guess the moral of the story is drafting cornerbacks (or edge rushers) early and expecting them to become immediate impact players is a lot of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. It may take years to develop these positional talents—and in many cases, never.

 

 

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