Florida’s Jaylen Watkins hits hard at safety and cornerback
Pro: At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Smith could be the explosive, pass-rushing outside linebacker the Eagles desperately need in their 3-4 defense. Smith has good speed for his size, and after a year in a 3-4 defense at Louisville, should be ready to play in Week 1. What sticks out most about Smith is how long he is, something the Eagles don’t have in any of their other outside linebackers besides Connor Barwin. If Smith can produce like he did in college — 14.5 sacks last season — there will be no more debate on whether or not he was a reach at No. 26.
Con: Coming into the NFL, Smith carries a label no prospect wants attached to them — tweener. In the eyes of some, Smith does not have the ability to drop into coverage, but is not big enough to play a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. The Eagles seem convinced Smith will be able to make the transition to the NFL, and downplayed that he used to be a defense end and not a linebacker.
Pro: Matthews has perhaps the best resume of any receiver in the draft, as he holds the record for most receptions (262) and yards (3,759) in the history of arguably the best conference in college football, the SEC. Matthews is extremely versatile, as he showed at Vanderbilt he has the ability to play both in the slot and on the outside. The 6-foot-3, 205 pound receiver should also be a threat in the redzone due to his height and strength.
Con: It is hard to find a flaw in Matthews’ game. He had the tendency to drop some balls in college, but they were few-and-far between. The question that follows Matthews will be, was he the right receiver to take? The Eagles chose Matthews out of all the talented receivers in this loaded draft class — a class that will be measured against each other for years to come.
3 (86) Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
Pro: Huff should see plenty of time on the field for the Eagles in a number of different roles. Huff told reporters that during his last season at Oregon with Kelly, he spent close to 90% of his snaps in the slot. Huff should see a good chunk of his snaps on the inside this season, but he also got some experience on the outside last season. Huff also showed breakaway speed last year at Oregon, and could run some of the routes former-Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson did last season.
Con: Huff does not have ideal height, as he is one of the few Eagles’ receivers under 6-foot-1. He is not overly physical, and although he is a good run blocker, might struggle with the bigger cornerbacks in the NFL.
Pro: In Watkins, the Eagles get a cornerback in the fourth round who might have gone higher had he not been injured during workouts this past month. Watkins feels that if he wasn’t dealing with an injured ankle, he would have been the fastest cornerback in the draft. Watkins has decent arm length, something the Eagles look for in a cornerback. His ability to play both safety and cornerback is a major bonus, and should make him a lock to be on the roster.
Con: Watkins can play both cornerback and safety, but there are very few players in the NFL who consistently spend time at both. It is fair to question if Watkins can be elite at either.
5 (141) Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
Pro Hart is familiar with how Kelly does things, as the two were together two years ago at Oregon. That is a bonus for Hart and the Eagles, as he already has an idea of what the Eagles like out of their defensive lineman. Hart also has good size and shows great hustle.
Con: If knowing the head coach is your best attribute, that might be a problem. Hart is not a great athlete, and is not big enough to play nose tackle. It is hard to see him being a better pass-rusher than current Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry, which will make it hard for Hart to find playing time on the field.
5 (162) Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Pro: Reynolds is big for a safety, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 207 pounds. He is also considered a strong tackler, which was not the case with the Eagles’ safeties last year. Reynolds is viewed a safe pick that might not have a high-ceiling, but also doesn’t have much “bust” potential.
Con: Although he does have good size, Reynolds is not considered an elite athlete, especially when it comes to his speed. That is a problem, as the NFC East is now filled with small, fast wide receivers who will test the Eagles’ safeties.
Pro: Allen is one of the strongest players in the draft, and at 6-foot-3, 325 pounds, has the ideal body type to be an effective defensive tackle. The Eagles need depth behind Bennie Logan at the position, and Allen should compete for a roster spot.
Con: As mentioned, the Eagles need competition at the position — but whether or not they are really getting it in a seventh-round pick is debatable.