The Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft class started with the selection of Derek Barnett and ended with Elijah Qualls. The Eagles entered the draft with eight picks and make eight selections. The final results can be found below.
First Round - Derek Barnett
Unlike last year when the Eagles traded up for Carson Wentz, it wasn’t clear who Philadelphia was going to select at No. 14. There were rumors it was going to be a defensive end, and those ultimately turned out to be true. The Eagles believe in building through the trenches, especially with Jim Schwartz at defensive coordinator. Barnett is 20-year-old pass rusher who was extremely productive in college. Even if he’s not a Day 1 starter, Barnett still figures to challenge for playing time right away. Philadelphia hopes a better pass rush will lead to an improved passing defense.
Second Round - Sidney Jones
The Eagles took a big gamble in the second round by drafting Jones. The 20-year-old corner suffered an Achilles injury at his pro day in early March. It’s expected he won’t be able to get back on the field until October at the earliest, and it remains to be seen how that timeline holds up. If Jones turns out to be healthy moving forward, the Eagles may very well have gotten a steal in the second round. Many expected Jones to be a first-round selection prior to him getting hurt. But it can’t just be assumed he’s definitely going to be fine. For the Eagles’ sake and his own, hopefully Jones does recover 100%.
Third Round - Rasul Douglas
To the surprise of no one, the Eagles double-dipped at the cornerback position in this year’s deep draft class. Douglas projects as an ideal Jim Schwartz cornerback given the combination of his size and attitude. Unlike Jones, Douglas will have a chance to compete for playing time on the outside right away.
BONUS NOTE: Timmy Jernigan
This deserves a mention since the Eagles swapped third round picks with the Ravens this offseason in order to acquire new starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. It’s fun to think about his pass rushing ability while playing next to Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia’s attacking scheme. Jernigan needs to be factored in when grading this draft class.
Fourth Round - Mack Hollins and Donnel Pumphrey
After going defense with their first three picks (that’s “GM Schwartz” - not Jim Schwartz), the Birds finally got Carson Wentz some offensive help by drafting Hollins in the fourth round. The North Carolina pass catcher is hardly a proven option as a volume receiver but he’s very efficient when it comes to big plays and scoring. Hollins averaged over 20 yards per reception and caught a touchdown on 20 of his 81 college catches. Hollins has a great combination of size and speed. He’s also believed to be one of the best special teams gunners in the draft. Dave Fipp will love that.
The Eagles traded up to get Pumphrey after some running backs went off the board early in Round 4. Pumphrey is very small at only 5-8, 176 pounds, but he was a very productive player in college. He should be a nice addition to the Eagles’ offense as another weapon for Wentz. With that said, it’s hard to imagine him being used as the Eagles’ three down back. So the Eagles still only have a lot of rotational guys without a real lead horse.
Fifth Round - Shelton Gibson and Nathan Gerry
Not only did the Eagles double-dip at corner; they also took two wide receivers as well. Gibson is one of the faster players from this year’s class. He “only” ran a 4.5 at the NFL Combine but he improved his time to a 4.38 at his pro day. Gibson’s deep threat ability shows up in his stats. He averaged an impressive 22.6 yards per reception during his time at West Virginia. The Eagles sorely lacked vertical threats last year so Gibson could earn playing time as a big-play specialist with the hope he can eventually develop into a more regular contributor.
Gerry is one of the Eagles’ most interesting picks in the sense that they’re changing his position from safety to linebacker. Philadelphia will likely have Gerry beef up a tiny bit to better fill his new role. Gerry posted strong pass defense numbers at Nebraska so the Eagles might hope to have him be their new WILL linebacker. That makes sense considering the team will need to replace Mychal Kendricks if/when they move on from him. Gerry also figures to be a key special teams contributor.
Sixth Round - Elijah Qualls
The Eagles beefed up their defensive line with the selection of the 6-1, 313 pound Qualls. Philadelphia already has two starters at defensive tackle with Timmy Jernigan and Fletcher Cox but they needed more depth. Jernigan and Beau Allen, who is hurt and might not be ready by Week 1, are both unrestricted free agents after this season. Qualls could become Allen’s replacement as a rotational run-stuffer behind the team’s two starting tackles.
Here are your 2017 Eagles draft picks. Click on the link for more detailed write-ups.
1st - No. 14 - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
2nd - No. 43 - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
3rd - No. 99 - Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
4th - No. 118 - Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina
4th - No. 132 - Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
5th - No. 166 - Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
5th - No. 184 - Nathan Gerry, LB, Nebraska
6th - No. 214 - Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
Stay tuned for undrafted free agency.