Posted by : Gary Laurie Sunday, September 22, 2013

One of the reasons for the Eagles' decline from perennial contender to a team picking in the top five of the NFL draft has been their draft classes.
Specifically, the 2011 draft in which they selected hockey player Danny Watkins in the first round and Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round, neither of whom are on the team just two years later.

The Eagles, while having perhaps as bad a draft as they ever had in 2011 - third-round pick cornerback Curtis Marsh is also gone - and on the heels of a 2010 draft that wasn't so good either, are not alone.
With the exception of a few teams and a few picks, the 2011 draft was just bad.
"What happened that year is a lot of teams reached for quarterbacks, and that's the worst thing you can do," a long-time scout said. "They missed and well, a lot of those same teams are still looking for quarterbacks."
You would have thought with Tennessee taking Jake Locker at No. 8 overall, Jacksonville taking Blaine Gabbart at No. 10 overall and Minnesota taking Christian Ponder at No. 12 overall, some better players would have fallen to the bottom of the first round where the Eagles, at No. 23, and others were waiting. It didn't happen.
Watkins, who the Eagles took, was a bad selection all around. But for the most part, the players, who immediately followed the guard from Baylor with the hockey background, haven't panned out either.
Of the eight players who followed Watkins to finish the first round, two are also no longer with the team that selected them - tackle Gabe Carimi (Chicago) and wide receiver Jon Baldwin (Kansas City). Three others can be considered major disappointments: running back Mark Ingram (New Orleans), defensive lineman Cameron Heyward (Pittsburgh) and tackle Derek Sherrod (Green Bay).
And the first pick of the second round, cornerback Ras-I Dowling taken by New England, isn't on anyone's roster today.
While the Eagles have just three players from the Class of '11 on their current roster - kicker Alex Henery, backup linebacker Casey Matthews and center Jason Kelce, that's not much worse than some other teams.
Carolina, which had the No. 1 pick in that draft, has just two players left on its roster from that class, although one is quarterback and top pick quarterback Cam Newton.
Green Bay, a team who lives by its draft since general manager Ted Thompson refuses to play the free-agent game, has just three players from a draft where it picked 32.
Sherrod has been beset by a broken leg suffered his rookie year and has not played since. Wide receiver Randall Cobb has been a good second-round pick, but third-round pick running back Alex Green was cut.
Other than Cobb, just backup cornerback Davon House and backup tight end Ryan Taylor are on the Packers' current 53-man squad.
Pittsburgh, another team known for its drafting prowess, didn't do so well in '11 either.
The Steelers came away with two starters - tackle Marcus Gilbert and cornerback Cortez Allen. And that's it.
The Giants, also normally an excellent drafting team, took their lumps in 2011. First-round pick cornerback Prince Amukamara looked like a steal, except he's been the one stealing since he can never stay on the field.
Second-round pick defensive tackle Marvin Austin has been released. Third-round pick wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan is the team's No. 5 receiver, and fourth-round pick tackle James Brewer can't start on a bad and banged-up offensive line.
A few teams did manage to make the most of the 2011 draft, and not coincidentally, they are among the best teams in the league.
San Francisco came away with linebacker aldon Smith in the first round and quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second and added backup running back Kendall Hunter (4th) and fullback Bruce Miller (7th).
Seattle picked up four starters - guard James Carpenter, linebackers K.J. Wright (4th) and Malcolm Smith (7th) and a decent cornerback named Richard Sherman (5th).
Denver got the currently suspended Von Miller in the first round, but it also added tackle Orlando Franklin (2nd), safety Rahim Moore (2nd), linebacker Nate Irving (3rd) and tight end Julian Thomas (4th).
Houston took advantage of the quarterbacks going higher than they should have and let J.J. Watt fall to it in the first round. The Texans also added linebacker Brooks Reed (2nd), right tackle Derek Newton (7th), nickel back Brandon Harris (2nd) and backup quarterback T.J. Yates (5th).
Finally, Cincinnati bypassed the bad quarterback group in the first round and selected wide receiver A.J. Green. The Bengals then took Andy Dalton, although they took him ahead of Kaepernick, in the second, and got starting guard Clint Boling in the fourth.
TRENT TO INDY: In an early-season shocker, the Colts acquired running back Trent Richardson from the Browns for a first-round pick in next year's draft. If Richardson helps the Colts as much as they obviously think he will, that pick will be near the bottom of the first round, and it won't be that bad of a deal for Indy, which needs a running game to take some pressure off quarterback Andrew Luck.
By the way, if you told the Colts - or any team for that matter - the morning of the 2012 draft they would have Luck and Richardson by the third game of the 2013 season, I think they would have been ecstatic. Now, let's see how it works out.
CLEVELAND'S SIDE: The Browns are going to stink this year and probably next year - with or without Richardson and his career 3.5 yards per carry. They can't win without a quarterback, and they don't have one. Now they have to hope the Colts don't get too good, and they end up with two nice draft picks in a 2014 class loaded with quarterbacks.
DOGS AND MORE DOGS: After two weeks, the underdogs hold a 18-13-2 edge on the favorites against the spread, including Kansas City's win over the Eagles Thursday night.
And even though my man Chuck "Home Dog" Miller has been more of a "Road Dog" this season, traveling around the country, home underdogs are 6-3 in the early going thus far this season.
PRIME TIME?: You knew this week was coming sooner or later where both of the prime time games are not exactly worthy of, well, prime time.
Sunday, it's Chicago and Pittsburgh, not terrible, but not worth missing Breaking Bad, Ray Donovan and Dexter to watch.
Monday night, it's Oakland at Denver. Unless you really don't like the Raiders, there's no reason to watch this. Heck, I might watch Breaking Bad, Ray Donovan and Dexter again Monday night.
It gets better next week when New England and Atlanta play Sunday night, and New Orleans and Miami play Monday night.
EX-EAGLE UPDATE: Linebacker Moise Fokou is the starting middle linebacker for the Tennessee Titans and has recorded nine tackles and three quarterback hits in the first two games of the season. Fokou was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2009 and was always a good special teams player for them.
ROOKIE REPORT: Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel might be better than anyone - except the Bills - thought. The first-round pick from Florida State led the Bills to a 24-23 win over Carolina last week with an 80-yard drive in the final 1:38 and hit Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left for the win. On the drive, Manuel was 6-for-8 for 64 yards; for the game, he was 27-for-39 for 296 yards. Today, he'll face the Jets and fellow rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Oldest Starting Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Denver, 37
Tom Brady, New England, 36
Drew Brees, New Orleans, 34
Carson Palmer, Arizona, 33
Tony Romo, Dallas, 33
Mike Vick, Eagles 33
Eli Manning, Giants, 32
Matt Schaub, Houston, 32
Green Bay at Cincinnati

This is a classic matchup of a high-powered offense (Green Bay) against a really good defense, especially the front four (Cincinnati).
"I think me and Coach (Marc) Trestman are probably the only two people who understand each other. I always say Coach Trestman reminds me of the first Willy Wonka, not the Johnny Depp one; the Johnny Depp one was really cool. But the first one, before that the 1943 version."
- Bears tight end Martellus Bennett to the Chicago Tribune
1. Denver (2-0)
2. Seattle (2-0)
3. San Francisco (1-1)
4. New Orleans (2-0)
5. New England (2-0)
28. Washington (0-2)
29. Tampa Bay (0-2)
30. Oakland (1-1)
31. Cleveland (0-2)
32. Jacksonville (0-2)
Top Plays (3-0)

Tennessee -3 over San Diego
Spot Play (1-1-1)
Giants -1 over Carolina
Upset Watch (2-2)
Baltimore +2½ over Houston
Monday Night (2-1)
Denver -15 over Oakland
Contact Mark Eckel at
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Source: Nj

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