The Philadelphia Eagles didn't get a lot of instant impact last season from their 2014 NFL Draft class. First round pick Marcus Smith only played 105 snaps. Jordan Matthews filled a major role as the team's starting slot receiver, but other than him no other draft pick proved to be a huge difference maker.
Looking ahead to this coming season, it'll be interesting to see what kind of contributions the Eagles get from their 2015 draft class. NFL.com recently released a list projecting the top 100 rookies and two Philadelphia players made the cut. The Eagles' first round pick ranked highly:
"7. WR Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles: Jeremy Maclin is gone and his immediate replacement could put up similar numbers in Chip Kelly's offense."
Dave Mangels already took a look at a reasonable projection for Agholor's rookie statistics and he came up with around 60 receptions, 850 yards, and six touchdowns. It's true that Maclin's absence will open up opportunity for the rookie. Agholor won't exactly face the stiffest competition when it comes to playing time so he'll have a great chance to get on the field right away. It also won't hurt that he could contribute as a punt returner if the team decides to rotate him with Darren Sproles, which is something Kelly hinted at.
The second Eagles player to make the list was their second round pick.
"93. CB Eric Rowe, Philadelphia Eagles: He'll be part of the rotation in the secondary quickly and has the skill set to help double some of the division's toughest receivers."
Rowe's role isn't easy to predict right now. It seems like he's destined to start out at cornerback, but the team already has a number of bodies competing for the starting spot at that position. Rowe, a converted safety, will have to contend with veterans such as Nolan Carroll, Walter Thurmond, and Brandon Boykin (?). Fellow rookies JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans are also in the mix. Safety, on the other hand, is wide open for the taking. The Eagles don't even have a clear projected starter next to Malcolm Jenkins so Rowe could easily fit in there. It's unclear how/when Rowe will get on the field but he should have at least some kind of impact at some point.
Outside of Agholor and Rowe, the Eagles might not get a lot of instant impact from their draft picks. Third round pick Jordan Hicks is stuck behind a lot of talent at inside linebacker. Shepherd and Evans figure to serve as depth early in their careers. Seventh round pick Brian Mihalik isn't necessarily guaranteed a roster spot.
It's unrealistic to think every pick will be an instant starter. Getting two key contributors (Agholor and Rowe), a rotational player (Hicks?), and some depth (Shepherd, Evans, Mihalik) isn't a bad haul if that's how the class turns out. Undrafted free agency could always be a factor as well.