Eagles Draft for Defense, Then Grab QB Foles
The Eagles focused primarily on defense through the first two days of the NFL draft, bolstering their front seven with the additions of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry in the first and second rounds. Philadelphia then added quarterback Nick Foles, from the University of Arizona, in the third round.
After moving up from the 15th pick to the 12th pick in the first round by trading a fourth round pick and a sixth round choice to the Seahawks, the Eagles nabbed Cox, a defensive tackle from Mississippi State. The Birds then stayed put with the 46th overall pick, selecting Kendricks, an outside linebacker from California.
Philadelphia then traded down from the 51st pick to the 59th pick, getting Green Bay’s 123rd overall pick in return and thus regaining a pick in the fourth round. Philadelphia chose Curry, a defensive end from Marshall.
The Eagles stayed put with the 88th pick and picked Foles, a 6-foot-5, 243 pound quarterback whose size and lack of speed don’t match the typical traits of Eagles quarterbacks under Andy Reid.
Kendricks checks in at 5-foot-11 and 239 pounds and was the fastest linebacker in the draft, having run a 4.47 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Kendricks has dealt with criticism based on his height in the past.
“I just play big, that’s all I do,” Kendricks said. “I just play big and shut them up that way.”
Kendricks will start as an outside linebacker for the Eagles, who already acquired middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans this offseason.
“The things you see with him are great athletic ability and speed,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “He was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He gives you a good opportunity to cover the tight ends.”
After trading down eight spots with their next second-round pick, the Birds selected Curry, a defensive end from Marshall, weighs in at 266 pounds and stands 6-foot-3 tall. The Neptune, N.J., native grew up an Eagles fan.
“I’ve always been an Eagles fan ever since I started watching football,” Curry said.
Reid indicated that the pick wasn’t to fill a need and was not a statement on any of the defensive ends the Eagles already have on the roster.
“Really he was just the best player on the board at that time,” Reid said. “There was no way that we could pass him up just sitting there. He wasn’t an immediate need or anything like that. It’s not a worry with any of the guys that we have like Brandon [Graham] coming off of a knee or anything like that. That’s not what this is all about.”
Curry has good quickness and scouting reports describe him as bending the edge tightly on the pass rush. While he ran a 4.98 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, Curry improved to roughly a 4.65 time on his pro day.
“If you watched the Combine I kind of tripped over myself towards the back end of the 40,” Curry said.
The 23-year-old expected to go in the first round, but said he’d use his time behind Trent Cole and Jason Babin to learn and push his way into the defensive end rotation.
“Oh, yes sir, I plan to do that right away; trust me when I say right away,” Curry said. “[Defensive line] Coach [Jim] Washburn hand-picked me and I can promise you that I won’t let him down.”
Having made three picks to address their defensive front-seven in the first two rounds, the Eagles went to the offensive side of the ball in the third round to draft a potential successor to Michael Vick.
“Nick is obviously a good passer from the records he set at Arizona – all the school records,” said Reid. “[He] broke all of Drew Brees’ records in high school, so he has a bunch of accolades to go along with being a good football player.
The Eagles seem to believe that Foles may have slipped due to unfortunate circumstances in his final year at Arizona.
“He’ll never tell you this, but the kid is a team captain and he came into the season fairly highly ranked amongst the quarterbacks in the country,” Reid said. “He played behind an all-freshmen offensive line, so he’s not going to stand up here and tell you that. I’m going to tell you that that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Reid praised both Foles mental and physical toughness in handling the situation.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.