Aiming to keep it a little shorter today. I’ll start with the Benn trade and then throw some food for thought out there.
Benn Trade (Steal?)
As everyone now knows, the Eagles acquired Arrelious Benn from Tampa Bay over the weekend. The Eagles, in exchange for Benn, essentially traded down this year from the 6th to 7th round, and also gave up a conditional pick next year (no word on the conditional, but we can probably assume it’ll be no higher than a 5th, and likely lower than that).
Initial thoughts? The Eagles stole him. Benn is 6’2″, 220 lbs. and was a 2nd round draft pick in 2010. Great size, but he never hit his potential and was injured last year, only playing 8 games. Still just 24 years old.
That sounds pretty good, but don’t get too excited. He is not being brought in to be an impact receiver. This is, as I see it, another low-risk-medium reward play for the Eagles, and on targeted solely at improving special teams.
The Eagles were among the worst Special Teams units in the league last year, and as we saw with the field position numbers (Eagles last by a long shot), that had a LARGE effect on both the offense and defense. Benn showed a lot of promise on STs last year, and I have no doubt that’s where he’ll be asked to make his mark. He is a good downfield blocker, which Kelly likes, but I believe that’s more of a bonus and isn’t a major factor in why the trade happened.
So why is it a steal?
Let’s bring back our draft chart, this time only looking at the 6th and 7th rounds. To refresh, the chart was put together using every player drafted from 1999-2011. Players were classified as “starters” if they either started for 5 years or, if they have not been in the league that long, started for at least half the seasons in which they’ve been in the NFL.
What do we see? 6th round picks, historically, have NOT offered significantly better odds of finding good players than 7th round picks. Yes, this late in the draft teams are looking for depth, but they are still trying to select the best players possible at the target position. The numbers above show that, this late in the draft, it’s a complete crapshoot.
In light of this, the Eagles really don’t lose any value by trading from the 6th to the 7th rounds. Therefore, the Eagles acquired Benn for just a conditional draft pick. That’s why it’s a steal. Benn will likely end up being a non-factor, but he’s certainly better than anyone the Eagles would be able to select with whatever conditional pick they end up losing.
– I’m very surprised the Eagles haven’t been strongly linked to Sebastian Vollmer, the free agent OT from the Patriots. I’m assuming the OT market was held up by Jake Long, who signed last night. If that’s the case we should see the other OTs start to fall into place. Vollmer would be the best fit. If the Eagles do not sign a OT, then obviously the odds of drafting an OT go up. Note this does not mean abandoning the “best available” strategy that Howie is now swearing by. The team may have looked at Eric Fisher and decided he’s their guy, so no need to sign anyone.
– At this moment, the Eagles’ clear top option for the draft is to trade down with a team trying for Geno Smith. I discussed this last week. However, if a trade can’t be made, I think the pick comes down to Fisher (assuming Joeckel is gone), Milliner, or Lotulelei.
Not seeing anyone slotting Lotulelei to the Eagles in mock drafts, but he makes too much sense to me to overlook. He’s a force in the run-game, which the Eagles need, and will draw consistent doubles, freeing Cox up to wreak havoc. Also, Lotulelei as a pivot would immediately make Kendricks and Ryans look better, since they wouldn’t have to shed as many blockers to get to the ball. For reference, Sharrif Floyd seems much more similar to Cox as opposed to complimentary.
Eric Fisher would make sense for the reasons explained above.
Milliner is intriguing because he plays a premier position, is by far the best prospect available at that position, and is the #1 player according to the PVM system. Note: with the current scouting ratings, his consensus ranking is #3 overall. The positional value bumps him to #1.
For my money, a defensive backfield with Milliner and Williams does sound a lot better than one featuring Williams and Fletcher and whatever rookie is added in the draft. I realize there are other CBs on the roster, but they look like slot guys or backups.
I don’t see Dion Jordan being the guy, unless the Oregon ties come into play. Seems like he’d be a luxury pick that the Eagles can’t afford. He doesn’t look like the best player on the board and doesn’t fill a pressing need (arguable), therefore he doesn’t seem worth the #4 pick.
Also remember that LBs carry the worst hit-rate of any position in the 1st round. For whatever reason, there seems to be a much bigger margin of error in scouting/projecting LBs than in most other positions. Consequently, Jordan would appear to be a higher risk pick as well.
In any case, we should get a better sense of the draft in the next couple weeks, as each team’s needs come into clearer focus.