Eagles Draft a Winner for Its Simplicity

Eagles Draft a Winner for Its Simplicity

Every year we try to rationalize or critique the NFL Draft in
the days that follow as if some of us had a crystal ball. Sure, the grades
sportswriters hand out almost always come with the disclaimer that we won’t
really know which picks will pan out for 3-5 years, but that doesn’t stop
anybody from guessing.

Having said that, it’s difficult not to feel good about what
the Eagles accomplished over the weekend – and I don’t necessarily mean
specific players. Don’t get me wrong, I liked their choices, from an incredibly
athletic offensive tackle at No. 4, to a fourth-round quarterback who might
have been taken in the top five had he entered the draft a year ago. Even the
guys in the seventh seemed to be good values.

There’s no need for a sales pitch though. The Eagles did
simple things in this draft that fans have been clamoring for, if not begging
for them do for years.

For starters, Howie Roseman didn’t do a lot of maneuvering
up and down the draft board, which has been a staple of theirs for years.
Coming into this year, the Eagles had either moved up in the first round or out
of it entirely in five of the past six drafts, and seven out of 10. Again, that’s
in the first round alone.

This year Howie made one swap, sending a lone seventh
rounder to Jacksonville to jump up three spots into the first pick on day three,
where they got USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Every other time, they stood pat
and made their selections with conviction.

That’s not to say trading in the draft is intrinsically bad,
but sometimes it’s best to do the easy thing. Just stay put and take the best player
available when it’s Lane Johnson, a left tackle who could anchor your offensive
line for the next decade

Maybe it’s a little more effortless to be patient when the
war room is picking at the top of every round, but here’s another aspect of the
draft that should delight. Every single player chosen went to a school in a
major conference. All of ‘em.

There was no Matt McCoy, linebacker from San Diego St. in
round two, nor a Bryan Smith, defensive end/linebacker out of McNeese St. in the
third. Not surprisingly, Clay Harbor’s alma mater of Southwest Missouri St. did
not produce a player taken in the fourth round this year, while the Eagles didn’t
“steal” any talent from Delaware, North Dakota St., or Wheaton in the later
rounds, either.

That’s not to say good players never come from small
schools. Todd Herremans came from Saginaw Valley St., while one of the best
running backs in franchise history was Brian Westbrook out of Villanova. More
often than not though, they don’t.

In fact, we didn’t see a lot of weirdness in general. There
wasn’t that one terribly obvious reach like Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second.
They didn’t draft a defensive end and immediately announce they were going to
move him to linebacker as the Eagles once did with Chris Gocong. They didn’t go
after any players with career threatening injuries such as a Jack Ikegwuonu,
either.

Every selection was a sound football player from a good
program, tremendous athletes without lengthy medical histories who already fit
their defined roles. Imagine that.

And here’s one more: most of these are kids Chip Kelly had first-hand
experience coaching against. He didn’t just scout these players from a draft standpoint.
Kelly actually had to figure out how to stop several of these players or
minimize their impact on a game as a head coach. In some cases, such as Stanford
tight end Zach Ertz, he couldn’t stop them.

It gave the Eagles a different perspective on players like
Ertz, Barkley, LSU defensive lineman Bennie Logan, and Oregon St. corner Jordan
Poyer. Somehow that little bit of extra knowledge just makes me more
comfortable about those picks.

Obviously how history ultimately views this group of players
will be based on what they do on football field, not day-after grades, what
schools they went to, or how many picks were dealt or stockpiled while making
the selections. Still you get the sense though that Roseman and Kelly were content to
allow the draft to come to them instead of looking for every angle. There’s no
doubt that was a welcome change.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)