Best move: Trading up 12 spots to select Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews in the second round at No. 42 was brilliant. The Eagles were in need of a major upgrade at wide receiver, and they picked up a player who has speed and size. Matthews has the ability to catch the difficult pass across the middle, and he can run a deep route with ease. Without DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, this was a position the Eagles had to monitor. Matthews left Vanderbilt as the SEC’s career leader in receptions (262) and yards (3,759). Look for him to make an immediate impact in the NFL. Matthews is joining a team that needs help at wide receiver. It’s the perfect fit.
Riskiest move: Drafting Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith with the No. 26 pick in the first round has to be questioned. This is a player the Eagles easily could have gotten in the second or even the third round. Smith registered 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior, but that was in the aftermath of a poor junior season with just four sacks. Pass-rushers are hard to find, but the Eagles could have filled another need and added Smith in the second round. Time will tell whether it was worth using a first-round pick.
Most surprising move: This is surprising in a good way here with the pick of Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff at No. 86. The Eagles took Matthews at No. 42 and could have used another big wideout. Huff is 5-foot-11, but he has speed, strength and toughness. Even though the Eagles had a major need at wide receiver, selecting them in consecutive picks was a bit surprising. Huff’s all-around talent, which includes a desire to thrive on special teams, had to be enticing for the Eagles. Returning kickoffs and punts became a problem area at the beginning of last season and didn’t get much better by the end. If Huff can adapt quickly to the NFL style, he’ll be quite valuable to the Eagles.
File it away: Taking Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins with the first pick in the fourth round, No. 101 overall, was a solid move. Remember this pick down the road. The Eagles fielded a lot of calls from other teams but chose to keep the pick. With a major need at cornerback, this was the right move. Plus, Watkins played safety for two years at Florida, so his versatility will be an asset. Having players who can perform at multiple positions is a major bonus in the NFL. Watkins, who played with the Eagles’ Nate Allen in high school, has the speed (4.41 in the 40-yard dash) to be an effective cornerback. And he has the physical presence to be a solid safety. Allen has leadership skills and was named Florida’s captain midway through last season. Getting a player like this in the fourth round is a big-time positive.