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Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 1

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It usually takes a few years to determine winners in the NFL Draft. It won’t take nearly that long this year.

The undisputed winner of the NFL Draft was Philadelphia.

An estimated 250,000 attended the draft, which was held at the base of the Art Museum steps that Rocky made famous. The crowds filled Eakins Circle and a good portion of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The enthusiasm of the fans, most of whom were Eagles fans, created an amazing atmosphere.  Among the many examples of the special moments that only Eagles fans could create included the following:

  • The booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The booing started with Goodell’s first appearance – and never stopped. Goodell thanked the fans at the start of the second night, but the fans reacted properly to this attempt to suck up with more boos.
  • Former Cowboy Drew Pearson’s incitement of the crowd with “how ‘bout them Cowboys?” a reference to the Cowboys’ championships and praise for owner Jerry Jones created an outstanding display of Philadelphia passion. You could barely hear Pearson announcing the Cowboys’ draft pick over the crowd noise.
  • The enthusiasm wasn’t all about negativity. Ex-Eagles Ron Jaworski, Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins all received rousing ovations.
  • The loud late-night version of “Fly, Eagles, Fly” after the Eagles drafted cornerback Rasul Douglas late in the third round demonstrated that a lot of fans stuck around for the end of the night despite the large gap between the Eagles’ selections in the second and third round. It also demonstrated that the fans hadn’t lost any of their enthusiasm.

In the Fish ‘n Chips column prior to this one, I suggested that the NFL keep the draft on the road, opening it up to different cities. I also suggested that some cities, with Philadelphia being one of them, should be part of the regular rotation, hosting at least once once in every decade.

After watching the way Philadelphia embraced the draft, however, I’m going to amend that suggestion. The NFL Draft should return to Philadelphia next year. That would be the proper reward for the city and Eagles fans raising the bar by making this year’s NFL Draft the best in history.

*****

BIRD DROPPINGS: I’m not quite as enthusiastic about the Eagles’ draft selections as some of the so-called experts. There wasn’t much wrong with the draft. Defensive end Derek Barnett could turn out to be a terrific pick.

What prevents me from wholeheartedly endorsing the Eagles’ draft slate is I’m not sure they drafted anyone who will start for them at the beginning of next season. The problem I have with the failure to find any starters is that this draft was particularly deep in defensive players. More specifically, the draft was extremely deep at cornerback, a position at which the Eagles don’t have any incumbent starters or any obvious replacements.

The Eagles might receive contributions from Barnett and third-round pick Rasul Butler, or fourth-round picks Mack Hollins (receiver) and Donnel Pumphrey (running back). In fact, they had better receive contributions from these players. But they may not have selected a player who will make a significant impact as a rookie.

*****

MISDIRECTION PLAY: Could the Eagles stop saying they’re going to take the best player available? Do they expect us to believe that the best player available every time it was their turn to draft during the first five rounds just happened to be a position of need (defensive end, cornerback, receiver or running back)?

It’s so obvious that it’s not true that I don’t understand why the Eagles spent so much time before the draft insisting that it was true. What’s wrong with saying you’ll take the best player available at a position of need?

*****

ARMS RACE: Gordon Glantz’s mock draft for PhillyPhanatics.com didn’t have any quarterbacks being selected until the latter part of the first round. In reality, three quarterbacks were drafted within the first 12 picks, with all three teams trading up to select those quarterbacks. Although Gordon couldn’t predict those trades, I’m not sure that he’s wrong about the values of the quarterbacks.

The Bears were fleeced by the 49ers to move up one spot, from No. 3 to No. 2, to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The 49ers got the players they wanted, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, at No. 3, while the Bears, who signed Mike Glennon to an expensive contract, reached for a quarterback whom they certainly could have selected at No. 3. If anything, the Bears should have traded down a few spots. Trubisky still would have been there for them.

I’m going to give Andy Reid the benefit of the doubt on trading up 17 spots to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes at No. 10. The pick feels like a bit of a reach, but Reid knows how to select and develop quarterbacks. Also, Mahomes might not have lasted until No. 27, when the Chiefs were scheduled to pick.

The Texans then traded up to No. 12 to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. I think this was too high a pick for Watson. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt on selecting quarterbacks.

Why did the Chiefs and Texans trade up so high? Many thought the Cardinals were going to select a quarterback at No. 13, so the Chiefs and Texans had to move ahead of them. Then again, the Cardinals didn’t select any quarterbacks later in the draft, so perhaps there was some misinformation being spread about – or by – the Cardinals.

*****

TRADING PLACES: The first five players selected in the second round were all picked by teams that traded into those slots.

*****

TAINTED VALUE: I understand that he was considered a good value with the 48th overall pick, but I could never have picked Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, as the Bengals did, after watching the video of him breaking a women’s jaw.

The Bengals picked Mixon after trading down in the second round. The Vikings, who traded into the Bengals’ slot, picked running back Dalvin Cook, another player with some off-the-field issues, with the 41st overall picks. There are rumors that the Vikings traded up to move two spots ahead of the Eagles, who reportedly were considering taking Cook with that selection.

*****

TAR HEEL RECEIVERS: The Eagles have to hope that North Carolina receiver Mack Hollins has a better career than Ryan Switzer, his college teammate. The Eagles selected Hollins (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) with the 12th pick of the fourth round. The Cowboys selected Switzer (5-8, 181) with the 27th pick of the fourth round, one pick after the Eagles traded up to selecting San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey (which means that player who are 5-8 were taking with consecutive picks).

If Switzer turns out to be a better pro than Hollins, the Eagles will forever hear that they picked the wrong Tar Heel receiver. The fact that Switzer is with the Cowboys will serve as a reminder of that “mistake” twice a year.

*****

AT A GLANTZ: In the second of Gordon Glantz’s Eagles mock drafts, he had the Birds selecting cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round and Donnel Pumphrey with their second fourth-round pick.

*****

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Despite speculation that the Eagles’ primary goal in the draft was to surround Carson Wentz with more weapons, their first three selections were all defensive players.

*****

SECOND THAT EMOTION: Overshadowed by the NFL Draft was the NHL Draft lottery. The Flyers jumped up 11 spots to the second overall pick. That’s a big deal that a lot of people didn’t notice.

*****

WINNING BET: I’ll end with a non-draft note. In my last Fish ‘n Chips column, I suggested a proposition bet for who would earn a win first, Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez or the Union? Velasquez notched a win against the Marlins, his first win since last July. The Union (0-4-4) are still winless since last August, a stretch of 16 games.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, was apoplectic when a blown fuse knocked out his television and Internet three minutes before the start of the NFL Draft.

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