Do The Football Chains Ever Come Back With A Penalty Where’s The Talent

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Where’s The Talent

Did you ever think the Eagles would miss Tom Modrak so much?

There are many reasons why the Birds are 5-6, have lost four of their last five games and are 11-16 over the past two seasons, a ship struggling to stay afloat in rocky waters.

Poor play calling. Lack of effort. Stupid penalty. Silent gameplans. injury Poor implementation.

And while those are all viable, and obvious, reasons for the Eagles’ fall from the NFL elite, they are merely symptoms of a larger problem plaguing this organization.

Terrible drafts that have left them desperately short of quality NFL talent.

And whatever falls at one man’s feet… Big Enchilada… Mormon Mound of Rebound… Nova Care Complex Alpha Dog…

…Head Coach and Player Personnel Andy Reid President.

While Tom Heckert officially holds the title of general manager, everyone knows he doesn’t have the final say on any player moves on the Birds. Every player on this roster has been brought into the Eagles’ nest at the behest of one man… Big Red.

And when Reid typically eschews free agency when it comes to bringing in star-quality players (Terrell Owens, Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard notwithstanding), this draft becomes an even more critical task for this team’s success.

Don’t get me wrong, drafting is a prudent way to build a successful NFL franchise. We’ve all seen how unsuccessful the Redskins’ way of building a team has been. Building a team from the ground up, through the draft, is the best way to ensure consistency and chemistry for years to come.

When it’s done right. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they haven’t been doing it right for a while now.

Offensively, the big man has done just fine. His most flashy pick was clearly McNabb in ’99, followed by the third-round steal of RB Brian Westbrook in 2002. More recently, TE LJ Smith (2003, Rd. 2), OL Shawn Andrews (2004, Rd. 1) and WR Reggie Brown (2005, Rd. 2) have all been nice picks.

Reid’s choices for defense have been less successful. While he pulled some great defensive players in the 2002 draft, selecting CBs Lito Sheppard (1st round) and Sheldon Brown (2nd round) and former Pro-Bowl safety Michael Lewis (2nd round), the rest of his defensive picks were abysmal. .

No one said predicting a college player’s ability to turn into a quality NFL player was easy. This is a monumentally difficult challenge. However, for a guy who believes you build winners through the draft, it’s pretty easy to see why the Eagles have struggled so much over the last 15 months.

Below are the results of Reed’s drafts with my grades for each pick in parentheses…starting in 2003…

2003:

Rd1. DE Jerome McDougle – Without question the biggest bust of the Andy Reid era. The Eagles moved up 15 spots to land him with the 15th pick and had almost nothing to show for it. (f)

Rd2. TE LJ Smith – A Pro-Bowl caliber pass-catching tight end. He can’t block to save his life, but he can grab a rock and seems to come into his own. (b)

Rd3. WR Billy McMullen – A third round pick who was never more than a #4 receiver with the Eagles. (f)

Rd4. DE Jamal Green – McDougall’s teammate on the Hurricanes, never a contributor for the Birds. (f)

Rd6 and 7. OL Jeremy Bridges and S Norman Lejeune – Nobodies. (f)

Just a decent player throughout the draft.

2004:

Rd1. OL Shawn Andrews – Moved up 12 spots to grab him, a questionable draft pick at the time, but looks like a great pick for Reid. This kid will be a force on the offensive line for years to come. (a)

Rd3. CB Matt Ware – Never higher than the Birds’ fourth-best cornerback, now toiling on the Arizona Cardinals. (d)

Rd4. S JR Reed – Would have been a great pick if a leg injury hadn’t derailed his career jumping over a chain-link fence. He had a long career as a kick returner. Can’t blame Reid for that. (C)

Rd4. OL Tony Derilek – If you’ve ever heard of this guy before, you’re a better informed guy than I am. (f)

Rd5. RB Thomas Tepeh – Somehow this guy is our starting fullback. He can’t run the ball, lacks pace and is a mediocre run blocker. But not terrible value for a 5th-rounder. (C)

Rd6. QB Andy Hall – A project from the start. Project… canceled. (d)

Rd6. CB Dexter Wynn – The Birds’ number-four cornerback, was recently demoted from his kick return duties. A decent cover guy, not bad value in the 6th round either. (C)

Rd7. OG Adrian Clark, RB Bruce Perry, C Dominic Furio (D-)

Again, there is only one truly productive NFL player in this draft.

2005:

Rd1. DT Mike Patterson – Recently signed to a ridiculous seven-year contract extension that makes him an Eagle through 2016, the second-year starter has just 1 1/2 sacks for the Birds in ’06 and just 25 tackles through 11 games. A bit of impact from last year’s first-round pick isn’t too much to ask. (C-)

Rd2. WR Reggie Brown – Has been a very decent wide receiver for the Eagles in his second year and should get even better. He’s struggled to hold onto the ball and isn’t a playmaker, but he’s shown to be worthy of a second-round pick. (b)

Rd2. LB Matt McCoy – Perhaps the prime example of why the Eagles are losing. This was a second round pick??? Dallas Clark watching him go on the railroad Sunday night made me want to cut him right there. It stinks. (d)

Rd3. Ditch RB Ryan – A waste of a draft pick. Why take a little run when you already have Wesbrook? Wouldn’t it have been a smart move to draft a big back to complement B-West? Moats hasn’t seen the field in ’06 and doesn’t seem likely to anytime soon. (D+)

Rd4. S Sean Considine – Here’s another guy who’s been thrown around like a rag doll lately, though the main reason is because linebackers are so brutal. He feels he can become a decent playmaker with 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 solid choice. (B+)

Rd5. DE Trent Cole – Although he got off to a fast start, his speed has slowed considerably since becoming the starter. Whether or not he’ll turn into a stud defensive end isn’t certain yet, but he’s shown enough promise to make you optimistic. There is definitely good value here in the fifth round. (C+)

Rd5. OL Scott Young – Never heard of him. (incomplete)

Rd6. OL Calvin Armstrong – Why another offensive lineman here? (incomplete)

Rd7. DT Keonta Marshall and LB David Bergeron – Practice squad players. (incomplete)

There are currently six starters from this draft. The problem…, only one (Herremans) looks like a future Pro-Bowler, and only two others, (Brown and Cole) look like long-term solutions at their positions.

2006:

Rd1. DT Broderick Bunkley – The 14th pick in the draft is a sin to be 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 underachiever so far, but still too early to say it’s a bust. But he is on his way. (C)

Rd2. OL Winston Justice – Again, the offensive line is stacked and, for now, he’s right where he should be. As a back-up. (incomplete)

Rd3. LB Chris Gokong – In weakness, Gokong would have had a chance to show his stuff, but a neck injury ended his ’06 season prematurely. (incomplete)

Rd4. OL Max Jean-Gilles – Like Judge, waiting his turn for an injured offensive lineman. (incomplete)

Rd4. WR Jason Avant – While he’s gotten little playing time this year, the Andy Reid offensive scheme is too complicated for the rookie wide receiver to understand. (incomplete)

Rd5. WR/KR Jeremy Bloom – You never like to hear about a speedster with hamstring issues. On the IR. (incomplete)

Rd5. LB Omar Gaither – Known as the 12th man on the field in the final minutes of the New Orleans game, this penalty was the last shot the Birds had to make in defeating the Saints. Now paying his dues on special teams. (incomplete)

Rd6. DT Lajuan Ramsey (incomplete)

There isn’t a single player who made an impact in ’06. Just unforgivable.

And don’t forget the two major defensive draft busts Reid was a party to before 2003… LB Barry Gardner (’99, Rd.2), LB Quinton Kaver (’01, Rd.2), and a solid pick, the 2005 Leader DE Derrick Burgess (’01, Rd.3) who was immediately released by the Eagles is healthy and dominant. Don’t you think he’ll be a huge help to a struggling Birds D-line now?

The smart way to build a team is through the draft. But Reed refused to take free agents at key positions of need, mainly 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 complicated to understand that it’s nearly impossible for the current year’s draft crop to be productive? What does that mean?

The Eagles’ depth is brutal. Bird’s back-up, mostly draft picks from previous read drafts, didn’t work. And high-round draft picks who are seeing significant playing time have underperformed.

The Eagles need an expert college talent evaluator. Someone with a track record of compiling excellent drafts. One who doesn’t have to worry about running a team at the same time.

It’s time for Andy Reid to freely hand over the GM reins to someone better.

Anyone know Modrak’s cell number?

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