Looking back at Eagles draft classes: 2012 draft

It seems that the consensus among NFL fans and writers that at least three years need to pass by before an accurate judgment can be passed on a team’s draft class. It’s impossible to grade a group of rookies after just one year in the league, and it’s even harder to grade them before they step on the field. While I naturally feel inclined to give an immediate grade of the Eagles’ 2015 draft because I’m both a fan and an Eagles blogger, I realize it’s futile to expect it to be accurate. Thus, the series of analyzing old drafts begin.

I’m going to start the series with the 2012 draft class, which has now had three full years in the NFL.

Important Notes

-Total picks: 9 (5 offense, 4 defense)
-Notable picks: Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles
-Players remaining on team: 5

1. DT Fletcher Cox

The Eagles, who had the 12th pick in the NFL draft in 2012, selected Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox, who has already turned into one of their best defensive players. This was the final draft of the Andy Reid era, and while a lot of guys from that era have already left the team, one has to admit that this was a great pick. After playing his rookie season as a typical 4-3 DT, he moved to the role of 3-4 DE for his next two years as an important part of the run-stopping attack. He has started in 41 out of a 48 possible games, totaling 112 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He also has two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, one of which went for a touchdown last year. He’s easily the most successful player in this draft class, therefore declaring the pick a success. Believe it or not, but Reid actually made a good first round selection.

2. LB Mychal Kendricks

Kendricks was also another very good pick, providing talent one would expect from a guy taken in the second round. Kendricks, seen as a small, possibly undersized inside linebacker, makes up for it in toughness and production. He’s started in 40 out of 48 possible games, missing four games last year due to a calf injury. While that seemed to put him on the bad list in Chip Kelly’s eyes, he’s still been a great presence for the team both against the run and the pass. His 2013 season was easily his best, where he recorded 86 tackles, four sacks, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions. There was lots of talk of him being traded, and it’ll be interesting whether he’s going to actually start with the addition of Kiko Alonso, but he’s definitely been another strong draft pick.

3. DE Vinny Curry

Curry was the second of the Eagles’ second round picks in 2012, and he’s quickly become one of my favorite players on the team. He’s never started a game for the team, yet his production has been great, especially in 2014. He was the classic example of a high-round rookie having to earn his playing time and thus not getting much in his first year. As a rookie, he played in just six games, recording eight tackles along the way. But he continued to prove in training camp and preseason why he was a valuable player, and they have slowly used him more. Curry played in all 16 games last year and finished tied for 20th in the entire league with nine sacks, adding four forced fumbles as well. For a backup, you can’t ask for much more than that. In fact, he had more sacks than any regular backup in the NFL. Another great player.

4. QB Nick Foles

Ah, ol’ saint Nick. Foles is probably the most difficult player to judge due to the fact that two of his years with the team he had a different head coach than the one who drafted him (which is true for every player on this list, but can often have a greater effect on quarterbacks), as well as a different QB coach each year. Would Foles have performed better under a different set of circumstances? In 2013, there’s basically no way he could’ve performed better with his famous 27 TD and 2 INT performance. No quarterback in NFL history finished a season with a better TD:INT ratio. So that must mean success, right? Well, just one season after that year, he was shipped to St. Louis along with picks for a quarterback who’s coming off back-to-back ACL tears. It’s hard to overlook his 14-4 record the past two years though, as well as the fact that he’s the only player from this draft class to earn a Pro Bowl berth. He may not have been the best fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, but I will always stand by the fact that he was a success.

5. CB Brandon Boykin

Boykin is another player who had an excellent 2013 campaign before falling back to earth in 2014. As the team’s primary nickel cornerback the past few years and their fourth round pick in 2012, he has done a very solid job, totaling 102 tackles and seven interceptions. Six of those picks were in his excellent 2013 season though, where he was seen as a top nickel corner in the whole league just two years into the NFL. Like Kendricks, he’s seen as too small (5’9″) to start on the outside and cover guys like Dez Bryant regularly, and now with the addition of Walter Thurmond to the team, who also only has one year left on his contract before he’ll become a free agent, he’ll have to fight for his position. I could easily see Boykin gone after 2015, but he’s still done a pretty good job with the team.

6. OT Dennis Kelly

Kelly was forced to start almost immediately after the Eagles’ disastrous 2012 season left their offensive line looking like Swiss cheese. He started 10 games that year, playing in 13 total, but once people came back from their ailments in 2013, he didn’t see the field once. He then started three games in 2014 while Lane Johnson completed his four-game suspension and after Allen Barbre was lost in Week 1 to a season-ending ankle injury. Kelly has been okay as a fill-in, but he’s definitely not starter quality. He’s not exactly a lock to make the roster in 2015 despite the aging line. So far, he’s been the worst pick among the aforementioned guys, but that’s what to expect from a fifth round pick.

7. WR Marvin McNutt

The sixth round pick McNutt was a great receiver in college, but it was clear he wasn’t going to develop into a top NFL talent. McNutt actually played in four games for the Eagles in his rookie year as a special teams player. He didn’t record a catch though and has yet to do so despite bouncing around to three other teams.

8. OG Brandon Washington

Washington was definitely the least valuable player in this draft. Also a sixth round pick, Washington never even made the team his rookie year, instead ending up on the Rams as a backup lineman. He’s only played in one game for them though over three years on the team.

9. RB Bryce Brown

Taking a risk on Brown in the seventh round made a lot of sense for a team that needed a backup running back badly. Brown was a very talented player coming out of high school, but struggled to stay with a team in college after transferring from Tennessee to Kansas State, then leaving the K-State team after just a few games. Everyone seemed to jump on the Brown bandwagon after back-to-back starts his rookie year where he rushed for over 150 yards and two touchdowns, but he also lost three fumbles in those two games, leaving the team feeling unsure about him. He ended up running for just 76 yards on 40 carries in the next four games combined, also failing to record a touchdown. The Eagles ended up trading him on draft day to the Bills for a fourth round pick.

People give Andy Reid a lot of flak for being a terrible drafter, but overall, this was a great draft. Not every player looks like they’re going to last for ten years, but they got some very solid talent in the early rounds without a single bust. The only two players that didn’t really do anything were sixth round picks, where it doesn’t really matter anyway. Foles made NFL history and Cox, Kendricks, Curry and Boykin have been very productive for the defense over the last three years. It would be wrong to not call this draft a success. Not everyone is the greatest fit, but they’ve still done well, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Draft grade: B+

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