With the 54th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles have selected Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, making him the highest drafted Philadelphia college athlete the Birds have taken since Villanova quarterback Jim Grazione in 1959. A four year starter for the Owls, Jarrett is capable of playing either safety position, bringing versatility to an undermanned Eagles secondary.
Coming into the draft, the organization was expected to make moves intent on suring up the defensive side of the ball. While picks set to fill holes at cornerback, linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle were all expected, the Eagles have exited the second round with the only position not popularly labeled a pressing "need." Still, even though there are these real needs at other positions, it should be remembered that this draft is highly irregular given the absence of free agency. For the Eagles, this may simply be a case of taking the best player they feel available, while hoping to fill their other holes once free agency is reinstated. Sure, it's a gamble, but it's also the reality of professional football in 2011.
As for Jarrett himself, his selection to stay around in Philly isn't all that surprising. There have been a slew of reports over the last few weeks that the Eagles were "extremely interested" in the 6'2, 205-pound safety. Plus, it's not as though scouting the kid has been much of a challenge. He's played the last four years in the Eagles' (literal) back yard. Or maybe the front yard. You get the point.
Plenty of analysis and a hard-hitting highlight package after the jump...
So, what can we look forward to from our new second rounder? Jarrett is excellent in defending the run, and can stuff a play in short yardage without the need of a head start blitz. In pass coverage, Jarrett played a good deal of zone at Temple, but may lack the speed to keep up with wideouts in the NFL, especially in man coverage. That assessment comes as a result of his mediocre combine numbers, which may indicate some issues against quick slot recievers with downfield intentions. Consequently, it's worth noting that Jarrett was projected at least a round, possibly even two rounds, later than the Eagles' grabbed him.
For those of you a little uneasy with what you've read so far, the good news is that Jarrett has been a quality tackler. Season after season of blown attempts in the Eagles' backfield no doubt played a part in this selection, and will now hopefully be somewhat rectified. Moreover, combine numbers, while great for judging raw athelticism, don't necessarily translate to how well someone actually plays football. In tune with such a philosophy, this comes from CSNPhilly's Eagles Insider Reuben Frank:
His 4.62 time in the 40 most likely hurt his draft status, but he’s also run as fast as 4.54.
“I think a lot of teams shied away from me because of my 40,” Jarrett said from his home in Brooklyn Friday evening. “But all a 40 measures is how fast you run a 40. Coach [Andy] Reid didn’t really focus on my testing, just focused on what kind of football player I can become.”
Jarrett said people who judge him by his 40 time aren’t getting the full picture of what sort of player he is.
“I’m going to bring physical, toughness and a smart player,” he said. “I’m real disciplined, and coach Andy Reid likes disciplined guys who are going to go out there and do whatever it takes to help the team win, and that’s what I’m all about.”
Backing up his new safety, coach Reid is calling Jarrett "the most intimidating hitter in the draft." The video posted below certainly seems to back up the head coach's evaluvation.
Though substantive personnel decisions aren't exactly allowed at the moment, Jaiquawn's future with the team, assuming he can step in right away, will obviously have meaningful ramifications for the career of free agent Quintin Mikell. While it's still a little early to tell the immediate standing of either, the long term future of the Eagles safeties could very well lie in the potential combination of JJ and an eventually rehabilitated Nate Allen.
Returning to Temple, Jarrett's selection comes on the heels of fellow Owl Muhammad Wilkerson making an opening night splash and heading to the New York Jets. This is a pretty cool feeling for Philly-born Temple grads like Matt P. and I. After typing this less than twenty-four hours ago, the whole things feels just a little surreal.
Without question, these draft selections are a testament to Al Golden. Though he's recently traded in North Philly for South Beach, Temple fans, adminstrators and players still owe Golden a massive debt for rescuing their program. Even after his departure, the coach's legacy is still being felt, with Wilkerson and Jarrett garnering the program substantial national press. To quote Chris Berman, "Wow, can you believe it? Two Temple kids in the first two rounds!"
Good for Al. Good for Temple. Hopefully good for the Eagles.
But, hey, my opinion on this is clearly a bit colored. How's everyone else feeling? As Matt P. was able to dig up, Brian Dawkins seems like a fan. How 'bout you?
Update: After trading down to the 90th pick and gaining a selection in the sixth round, the Philadelphia Eagles have selected Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh. The Aggie stands about 6'1 and weighs in right around 200 pounds, which is pretty good size for a corner and a substantially larger option than the Birds have had in recent years. A 4.4 40-speed doesn't hurt either. So, for those of you in search of a corner, here's your corner—Mr. Curtis Marsh. Let's call this an apropos finish to a day manned by Eagles' Draft representative Troy Vincent.