Last month, we examined how the Redskins’ 2014 opponents fared in free agency. This month, we’re looking at how they performed in the draft, beginning with the NFC East.
Up today …
Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
What they needed: Wide receiver, pass rusher and secondary depth.
What they got: Louisville OLB Marcus Smith (first round); Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews (second round); Oregon WR Josh Huff (third round); Florida CB Jaylen Watkins (fourth round); Oregon DE Taylor Hart (fifth round); Stanford FS Ed Reynolds (fifth round); and Wisconsin DT Beau Allen (seventh round).
What it could mean for their 2014 outlook (read our free agency rewind on the Eagles here): Philly’s defense transitioned to a 3-4 defense last season and, after a rough start, made some strides. But in order for Bill Davis’ unit to take the next step, the Eagles needed to add a pass rusher to a defense that ranked 20th in sacks last season.
And they did, selecting Louisville’s Marcus Smith with the No. 26 overall pick (after trading the No. 22 pick to Cleveland for the Brown’s first round selection and a third). Smith gives the Eagles the true outside linebacker they lacked on the right side to play opposite left OLB Connor Barwin. Last season, Smith recorded 14.5 sacks (second in the nation behind Redskins’ draft pick Trent Murphy) and, if he manages to gets up to NFL speed in short order, he could push 31-year-old Trent Cole for playing time sooner rather than later.
The other possible impact makers—in the short term, that is— are wide receivers Jordan Matthews, whom the Eagles traded up to nab, and Josh Huff. Matthews is the SEC's all-time leader in receptions (262) and yards (3,379) and will likely begin his NFL career as an inside receiver to complement Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. Huff, meantime, played for head coach Chip Kelly at Oregon and reeled in 62 pass for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
The biggest move the Eagles have made so far this offseason was the trade that brought pass-catching running back Darren Sproles to Philly. Add potential playmakers Matthews and Huff to Sproles, Cooper and Maclin and all of a sudden the loss of DeSean Jackson doesn’t look quite as devastating to the Eagles’ passing attack.