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Eagles Draft Preview: By The Numbers

Apr 19, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

Art_2010_draft

Those aren't a series of crazy, nonsensical Lost-style numerals. These represent eight of the Eagles' 11 picks in this year's draft which begins Thursday. Get ready for a bunch more stories about Howie Roseman sitting on the mother load. No other team can claim to own as large a combination of upper and mid-level selections, the impact of which will be felt either positively or negatively for years to come.

In the spirit of the draft, we're taking a closer look at some of these and other numbers that matter this week. Or don't matter. It's more or less a random assortment of facts and thoughts, but we learned a few things doing the research, so perhaps some of these stories will spark some interest. We begin with the long walk to how the Eagles ended up with the 70th pick on Friday.

70

We all know how the Birds came across Washington's second round pick, and 105 and 137 came over in the Sheldon Brown trade. Seattle's third is a bit of a mystery though. The story behind the 70th pick in the 2010 draft is a convoluted one to say the least.

Psu_deon_butler The Eagles initially swapped third round picks with the Giants, moving back from 85 to 91. New York selected Ramses Barden, a 6'6" wide receiver out of Cal Poly who only recorded one catch as a rookie, and the Birds picked up an extra fifth rounder which they later shipped to the Saints (who in turn drafted punter Thomas Morstead).

Six picks later, the Eagles pulled off a head-scratcher by trading out of the third round entirely. 91 went to Seattle in exchange for their third this season, which became number 70 overall, and the Seahawks drafted Penn State wideout Deon Butler, who racked up 15 receptions in his rookie season. That's a net gain of 21 positions.

2002

With what was already one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL on their roster, the Eagles shocked everybody on draft day in '02. The Birds used their first three picks—one in the first, and two in the second—entirely on defensive backs, producing Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, and Sheldon Brown. Amazingly, all three eventually produced Pro Bowl caliber seasons.

With needs at free safety and right corner, the top of the 2010 draft may not look very different, because they are certainly due. That is the only instance during the Andy Reid era the Eagles have used either first or second round picks to address their secondary. The only other DB they've drafted in the past decade who's even been mildly useful is… Sean Considine. Blech.

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Photo by Ezra Shawn / Getty Images

4.4

Sticking with the defensive backs theme, 4.4 seconds is the time three of the first round prospects who have been linked to Philly ran in their 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine: safeties Eric Berry and Taylor Mays, and cornerback Devin McCourty.

Berry was once universally hailed as the best safety in the draft, but some experts believe Earl Thomas from Texas has jumped ahead of him on most boards. If that were the case, it might provide the Eagles a tiny crack to move up and steal the Tennessee product. USC's Mays is an even more impressive physical specimen, running the fastest time among all defensive backs in a 6'3", 230 lbs. frame. He's expected to be chosen somewhere in the twenties.

Rutgers_devin_mccourtyMcCourty's among a pack of corners slated as potential late first rounders, which means he could even last until number 37. Of course, he has a bit of a local connection having attended class and played his college ball at Rutgers. Then again, that doesn't necessarily work out in his favor. The last player taken out of Rutgers in the Andy Reid era: career underachiever L.J. Smith.

5

The amount of times the Eagles have traded their first round pick since 2003—up thrice, down twice. When people say this team doesn't sit still on draft day, they're not friggin' around. Overall the moves have panned out nicely for them, arguably 80% of the time in fact. However, it didn't start out that way. The Birds jumped from 30 all the way to 15 to select Jerome McDougle in '03, who was worth all of three sacks in four seasons here.

Things have worked out better since. The following season, they went up 15 slots again and got Shawn Andrews. Despite all the negative things that occurred over the past two seasons leading up to his eventual release, he was an immediate starter and flat out dominant player for three years. In '07, they traded out of the first round and chose Kevin Kolb. Obviously the jury is still out on that one, but he's recently become the face of the franchise, so at least he's accomplished that much. They traded out the following year as well, grabbing a mixed bag that included Trevor Laws and DeSean Jackson in the second. Then in '09, they moved ahead two picks to ensure they landed Jeremy Maclin, who completed a solid rookie campaign.

24

That's where the home team is currently set to choose on Thursday. Know what that means? Once again, the Eagles had a good season and made the playoffs. You wouldn't necessarily be able to tell with the recent fire sale and general mood and tone emanating from the fan base.

Like 31 other franchises, the Eagles enter this draft with a few glaring holes. The concerns are all justified. Having said that, they don't have a bad team. 11-5 is somewhat deceiving, but they were still better than nine other clubs, plus the Redskins and Giants twice. And as far as the players who are gone, only Donovan McNabb and Sheldon Brown had a significant impact. We're hoping one of those positions is already accounted for.

With those eight picks in the first five rounds, the Birds are about to receive an influx of young talent to add to a developing nucleus. With a little luck, they might find a few new starters. If they can upgrade in just a couple of areas this week, maybe they'll have the pieces to finally jump from good to great.