By Kevin Kinkead
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —Did we jinx it?READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Winter Weather Advisory In Effect For Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley As Snow Moves In
SuperDraft 2016: The most obvious path was right in front of the Union and, of course, they decided not to take it.
Philadelphia came into Thursday’s draft holding the #3 and #6 overall picks. They traded up to #2 and found themselves in position to make a great haul, maybe three players capable of immediate contribution.
Jack Harrison’s number one overall selection left defenders Josh Yaro and Brandon Vincent available at number two and three. Yaro was the best defender in the draft, and Vincent was a highly rated left back with a recent USMNT call-up under his belt. With a one-two punch, the Union could have rebuilt half of their defense.
They got the first part right and took Yaro at #2. But what happened next would be absolutely inexplicable to anyone but a diehard Union fan. The club went for Keegan Rosenberry at #3, leaving Vincent to be scooped up by Chicago with the very next pick.
But Sporting Director Earnie Stewart didn’t think Rosenberry at number three was a reach at all.
“We didn’t believe that he was going to drop that far (to number 6),” Stewart told reporters post-draft. He was an asset for our thoughts and our plans of how we want to build our team and how we want to build our foundation for a long time to come. So no, I don’t think that was reaching at all. Actually we were very, very keen on getting him and we were in agreement to that position.”
In valuing Vincent, Stewart says it wasn’t a direct comparison to Rosenberry.
“We tried to look at our team and the way we want to shape it and the way we want to form it and the positions that we needed,” Stewart added. This one was very important so we rated this high.”
I don’t really know what that quote means. Maybe it’s a combination of rating Rosenberry and also feeling that Fabinho is sufficient as a starting left back. Stewart confirmed that the Brazilian will be back with the team in 2016.
There’s familiarity with Rosenberry via head coach Jim Curtin, who has known the player since his time with the Union academy and also with Reading United. It’s almost certain the connection, combined with Rosenberry’s combine performance, contributed to his top-three selection.READ MORE: Eagles Fans At McGillin's Old Ale House Disappointed In 'Embarrassing' Loss To Buccaneers
“Keegan’s a guy that we’ve always been high on,” Curtin said. “He’s a guy I’ve coached since he was 16, a guy who had a heck of a career at Georgetown, and a guy whose stock this week at the combine soared and he did pretty well. We were pretty confident in talking with everyone in the room that he was gonna be a top five guy. So we knew we needed to make a move at the third spot.”
Truth be told, this column shouldn’t even exist. We all thought that Rosenberry would sign a homegrown contract with the Union, but that claim was denied a few months back. Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald says Rosenberry’s act of speeding up his degree actually contributed to the denial of the claim.
“Those are things that are out of our control,” said Curtin of the league ruling. “It’s in the past. Sure, it would have made things a lot smoother, and easier for us, but again, it’s the past, it’s all behind us, and we’re happy to have Keegan wear the badge. It’s a badge he’s wanted to wear since he was 16 years old. It’s something he’s proud of. You can tell that when you see his parents out there, his sisters and his girlfriend, you see how much it meant to them, so he’s happy to stay home. We made it happen and it’s a great pick for us.”
Let’s be clear, Keegan Rosenberry is a solid player. He’s well spoken, he’s local, and he wants to be here. He knows the staff, and the staff knows him. He will come in and push for the starting right back job.
Maybe he’ll win the starting right back job.
Any criticism of the selection shouldn’t be a condemnation of Rosenberry as a player, because it’s not fair to him, and it’s not really even about him.
It’s about Brandon Vincent.
There are many out there who pegged Vincent as a starting quality left back who would contribute for many years to come. This is a guy who just got called into USMNT camp and was clearly rated higher than Rosenberry at a position that is generally harder to fill.
That position, left back, has long been ignored by the Union. Not since the 2011 trade of Jordan Harvey has the team had a reliable starter in that spot. Less than a year after sending Sheanon Williams to Houston and claiming that Ray Gaddis had won the right back job, the club has now reached for a player in that same position. Unless Gaddis is off to Colorado as part of the trade for the #2 overall spot, it doesn’t make a ton of sense (Obviously we’re talking pre-Earnie for that first transaction).
Likewise, you could have just drafted Vincent and let Fabinho walk. Fabinho improved drastically in 2015 but he’s still a defensive liability and has a much stronger offensive game. Maybe he’s a left sided midfielder in disguise.
This is a draft that looked like an A+ and fell down to a B. I didn’t even mention the selection of Fabian Herbers at #6, which was a very good pick.MORE NEWS: Officials Across Delaware Valley Focus On Road Preparations In Anticipation Of Snow, Rain
The gripe is this; it’s not that they picked Keegan Rosenberry, it’s that they picked him while Brandon Vincent was still on the board.