Jarrett cleared waivers, as no team wanted to guarantee his rookie salary. Coach Andy Reid acknowledged the 2011 second-rounder was never a good fit in the Eagles defense. Jarrett will play special teams no matter where he ends up.
Eagles coach Andy Reid on drafting Jaiquawn Jarrett: 'I goofed'
A day after the Eagles released Jaiquawn Jarrett, their 2011 second-round draft pick, coach Andy Reid admitted that he reached in selecting the safety.
“That’s my responsibility. I misevaluated that,” Reid told two reporters after his Wednesday press conference. “I think one of the key things is when you make a mistake for your system that you correct it and you can’t let your ego get in the way of that. You just can’t do it.”
Jarrett was chosen 54th overall and was viewed by some at the time to be more of a third- or fourth-round talent because of his relatively slow (4.62 seconds) 40-yard dash at the combine. The only player drafted higher than Jarrett to be released has been Colts guard Ben Ijalana, selected 49th overall, who was waived-injured after he tore his ACL twice.
When the Eagles selected Jarrett out of Temple they said they were getting a sound tackler who could be a feared hitter in the NFL. Reid compared him to Brian Dawkins. Safeties that play the game like Dawkins did are becoming obsolete, however, as the league cracks down on big hits to improve player safety.
Jarrett never seemed to be even close to making such a hit. He lacked NFL foot speed and the Eagles’ scheme had him playing as much in centerfield than in the box where he thrived in college.
“I have final say on all the picks,” Reid said. “You’re going to find ones that fit into your system and some that don’t. You’re going to be right sometimes, you’re going to be wrong sometimes. That doesn’t mean that the kid can’t play in this league for somebody.”
In January, general manager Howie Roseman said that the Eagles had altered their philosophy and were committed to sticking to their draft board. Roseman, whose first draft class as GM came in 2010, and Reid have since said that the 2012 class reflected this change.
Of the Eagles’ 24 picks from the drafts of 2010-11, 14 were defensive players. Eight remain on the roster. Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are the only starters in the group. Defensive end Brandon Graham, the Eagles’ top pick in 2010, played only four snaps Sunday.
Jarrett wasn’t the only high draft pick on defense the Eagles recently gave up on rather quickly. Defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim – a 2010 third-round pick that many also said was a stretch – was signed by Tampa off the Eagles practice squad last year.
“That’s my fault. Both those guys are my fault, absolutely my fault,” Reid said. “It you want to bolster the defense, which we were trying to do, sometimes you put yourself in a position where maybe you stretch it. I goofed on that.”
The release of Jarrett, a game into the season, was the earliest Reid has cut the cord on one of his second-round picks. In Oct. 2002, the Eagles waived linebacker Quinton Caver a year and a half after he was taken with the 55th overall pick.
Earlier during his press conference, when he was reluctant to talk about Jarrett’s departure, Reid was asked in general terms what it took to move on from a second-round pick after so little time.
“I think you have to be honest with yourselves,” Reid said. “If it’s working then it worked. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. I think that’s the important thing there. And then you give the kid an opportunity to make a living.”
With Jarrett out of the picture, the Eagles now have four safeties on the roster. David Sims and Colt Anderson are the backups to Allen and Coleman. Reid said Wednesday that Anderson, who tore his ACL last December and did not dress for the opener, would be back for Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
The Eagles traded for Sims, a 2011 undrafted rookie who has yet to play an NFL down, on Aug. 31. The team sent the Browns a 2013 conditional draft pick for the 5-foot-9, 204-pound Sims. He said he’s ready to play on either special teams or on defense if needed.
The Eagles have “the same defense as Cleveland,” Sims said. “It’s pretty [much] the same. All I have to do is transfer the terminology and I’ll be fine.”
With less than two weeks before the NFL draft, the Jets have brought 25 prospects for visits to their Florham Park facility, according to team announcements. Of the two dozen, 16 are defensive players, an indication this could be a defensive-minded draft -- which, of course, would shock no one.
More visitors could be on the way. Each team is allowed 30 non-local visits.
Jarrett is a very productive collegiate safety, but he may lack the size and speed to make an impact at the next level. He is a four-year starter that seeks out contact in run support and breaks down ball carriers in the open field. In the passing game, he uses very good recognition skills to effectively cover the deep-third of the field despite less than ideal speed. It remains unclear if his toughness and instinctual advantages can make up for his size and speed deficiencies in the NFL, but he has a great attitude and work ethic and should be a middle round pick.
Jarrett is a well prepared player that is always in position. Possesses good instincts, reads quickly and is very effective in zone coverage. Flashes the ability to cover slot receivers in man coverage. Wades through traffic, fills hard in run support and is a good tackler in the open field.
Does not have the size to play near the line of scrimmage at the next level. Lacks the top end speed to be a true center fielder and will struggle to recover once he is beat. Hands are not reliable and he does not have the ball skills to be a ball hawk.
NFP: Examing why second round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett was a bust in Philly
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.