Teams don’t often cut second round draft picks one year later. So it’s worth examining at the case of Jaiquawn Jarrett to examine what went wrong with the Eagles safety. NFP spoke with three front office men to get their input.
These were the mistakes that were identified in the Jarrett case.
*The Eagles drafted for need at too early a point in the draft. They since have publicly said they shifted their drafting philosophy to focus more on best available player. The best available player with the 22nd pick in the second round of the 2011 draft may have been Randall Cobb or Demarco Murray.
*The Eagles reached. It was an extremely weak group of safeties. Jarrett was the second highest rated safety behind Rahim Moore on some boards, but he still was ranked as a fourth rounder by many evaluators. Of the four front office men I asked about Jarrett before the draft, only one said he might be worth a third round pick. None thought he was worth a second rounder. With Moore already taken by the Broncos with the 13th pick in the second round, the Eagles undoubtedly felt they had to overdraft Jarrett or he would be gone by the time they picked again.
*Jarrett was a bad system fit, and he would be for most defenses. He wouldn’t have been a bad fit for a lot of defenses 10 years ago, but he is today because of the way offenses are stressing safeties in the passing game.
“He is a strong safety athlete who is not particularly good in space,” one scout said. “He is tough enough to hit and play run support, but there are a lot of ways for offenses to isolate a guy like him with the way schemes are going. He doesn’t have enough quick twitch to stay with receivers.”
The Eagles convinced themselves they could live with Jarrett because they loved his toughness. They saw him as a new Brian Dawkins. And they probably thought they had enough athleticism at other positions to compensate for his deficiencies in coverage. But it’s hard to hide those deficiencies anymore, and it became apparent during preseason.
“He is a 4.65 guy,” another talent evaluator said. “Good luck with that.”
A personnel director described Jarrett this way: “He is a big hitter and secure tackler, but he is an average athlete who is not very fast or explosive in his movements.”
If Jarrett had been a fourth round pick like he should have been, perhaps the Eagles could have kept him and gotten something out of him as a special teams player and backup. But expectations were raised for him because he was a second round pick, and it was best that they move on.
Jarrett will play in the league. He just won’t play the way the Eagles envisioned him playing.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.