The 2018 NFL Draft is over, so now it’s time for everyone’s favorite activity: NFL Draft Grades!
You may believe that draft grades are completely meaningless and arbitrary at this point, but you’re wrong. This is about grading the process, not just the results. (Shout out to Sam Hinkie.)
As a reminder, here are your 2018 Eagles draft picks.
2nd - No. 49 - Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
4th - No. 125 - Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh
4th - No. 130 - Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
6th - No. 206 - Matt Pryor, OT, TCU
7th - No. 233 - Jordan Mailata, OT, South Sydney Rabbitohs
Let's start off with my own grade.
I’m gonna be honest: it’s hard to get to super fired up about only making five picks. Especially when there was no first round pick and only one total selection during the first two days.
But we have to remember why the Eagles were so limited on picks. Howie Roseman used them to acquire the following players: Carson Wentz (2018 second), Ronald Darby (2018 third), Jay Ajayi (2018 fourth), and Michael Bennett (2018 fifth). Those are some real important pieces.
We also have to remember the Eagles acquired Baltimore’s 2019 second round pick. Considering the Ravens aren’t some juggernaut, that could be a pretty decent pick. At the very least, Philadelphia will have three picks in the top 64 next year. The Eagles project to have 10 total picks in the 2019 NFL Draft after trading away one of next year’s sevenths on Saturday. Having those picks is important because the Eagles have a number of players who will be free agents after the 2018 season. Howie Roseman will need to replenish the roster while being tight up against the cap.
Let’s get back to this year’s actual picks.
The popular comparison for Goedert is Zach Ertz but I’m more reminded of Travis Kelce when I watch him. Goedert even compared himself to the Chiefs tight end. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles run some tricky plays to get the ball in his hands, just like Kansas City does with Jason Kelce’s little brother.
Goedert also figures to be an important weapon in the red zone. The Eagles have the ability to go really big down there with the presence of Goedert (6-5), Ertz (6-5), Mack Hollins (6-4), and Alshon Jeffery (6-3).
As I explained on Saturday, my only quibble with the Goedert pick relates to his potetial playing time. I don’t need him to make some huge impact as a rookie. I just wonder how much he’ll get on the field in the future with Ertz being 27 years old and signed through 2021. Then again, he doesn’t necessarily need to play a ton if he provides the team with a significant impact when he does get snaps.
It would’ve been pretty surprising if the Eagles made it through this year’s draft without adding a nickel corner type. They showed a ton of interest in those prospects leading up to the draft. What Maddox lacks in size he makes up for in pure athleticism. He also has some returning experience, although his college numbers indicate he’s just OK in that regard. Maddox should challenge for playing time in the slot. He’ll ideally be able to match up with smaller, shiftier receivers while Malcolm Jenkins can go up against bigger slot guys.
The Eagles didn’t need instant impact at defensive end, an area where they’re already loaded, as much as they needed long-term depth. Chris Long is 33, Michael Bennett is 32, and Brandon Graham is 30. Long and Graham are scheduled to be free agents after 2018. (Please re-sign BLG, Howie.) Bennett has no guaranteed money in his deal after this year so he can easily be cut.
We’ll see what happens with those veterans after this season, but for now they figure to be big contributors in 2018. That buys time for Sweat, who Mike Mayock said would be a first-round if not for his knee concern, to develop into valuable pass rusher for this team. Sweat said he looks forward to playing in Jim Schwartz’s attacking scheme. Florida State didn’t allow him to fire off the edge like that.
Let’s be honest: no one really even knew who this guy was before yesterday. BGN draft writer Benjamin Solak even admitted as much.
What we do know about Pryor is that he’s a massive man who can play either guard or tackle. He did not test very well at all athletically. Despite that, Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland clearly sees something in him that he likes.
Offensive tackle isn’t an immediate need with Jason Peters and Lane Johnson in place. But with Peters nearing the end of his career, it’ll be an important position to fill at some point down the line. If Pryor turns into a swing guard/tackle, this will be a fine pick. Maybe he can prove to be the next Allen Barbre.
The Eagles traded one of their two 2019 sevenths to get this monster of a man. At 6-8, 346 pounds, Mailata is intriguing as hell. He’s super long and athletic.
Mailata doesn’t have ANY American football experience, so he’s far from guaranteed to pan out. But I like the Eagles’ thinking here. Why not swing for the fences in the seventh round.
The reality is a lot of these long shot picks don’t end up amounting to anything. Maybe I’m just a sucker, but I think Mailata might stand a better chance than others. He’s just SO much of a freak athlete. And he’s only 20 years old! It’ll be Stoutland’s magnum opus if he can make Mailata into anything worthwhile at the NFL level.
I think the Eagles did a nice job of addressing needs while also accounting for value. Tight end and slot corner were two of the most important areas that needed to be addressed.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Eagles spent three picks on linemen. Building through the trenches earned them a Vince Lombardi Trophy. Who can blame them for continuing to invest in those units?
The only real gripe I see people having with this draft is that the Eagles didn’t add a running back. But that shouldn’t be a major issue now that we know Darren Sproles is coming back. And, unlike last year at this time, Philly has a legitimate lead back in place due the presence of Ajayi. Sproles, Ajayi, and Corey Clement figure to be locks to make the team in 2018. Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, and Wendell Smallwood will battle it out for the fourth spot.
Overall, I think the Eagles deserve an A- grade. You could talk me into a straight A grade but we’re just splitting arbitrary hairs at that point anyway.
See below for more hot takes and grades from around the web.
After sitting out the first day of the draft, the Eagles hit on the second and third days of the draft. South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert should easily replace Trey Burton and Brent Celek from a pass catching standpoint.
At the 130th pick, the Eagles got a pass rusher in Josh Sweat that some thought would sneak into the first round. Where he plays in Philadelphia is a little unknown. It could be standing up since the Eagles have so many defensive linemen. If he’s healthy, he could be a steal of the draft.
The Super Bowl champions got better during the draft. The knock is that they didn’t get an offensive lineman earlier than Matt Pryor in the sixth round. He’s a solid right tackle. The Eagles also picked up one of my sleepers in Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata in the seventh round.
It’s good to be the Eagles. Coming off a Super Bowl title, they have no major needs and get to develop starters -- not try to draft plug-and-play guys. They’re looking for impact depth. That’s why we saw GM Howie Roseman trade out of the last pick in the first round to move down 20 spots and add an extra 2019 second-round pick (plus pick 125 in this draft). That 2019 pick is an extremely valuable one to stash away.
Now, you have to laugh at the Eagles trading up three spots to take tight end Dallas Goedert ahead of Dallas (49) with the draft in the Dallas area. And my best comp for Goedert all along was Zach Ertz, so now the Eagles have both players. Goedert is the best pass-catching and most athletic tight end in this class. Remember: Trey Burton and Brent Celek are both gone from 2018, so Goedert is going to play. Philadelphia led the league with 110 receptions by tight ends last season. If Goedert had gone late in Round 1 -- maybe to Philly! -- it wouldn’t have surprised me.
The Eagles didn’t have a third-round pick due to the Jordan Matthews-Ronald Darby swap with Buffalo last year, so Philly had only one pick on the first two days. Fourth-rounders Avonte Maddox (125) and Josh Sweat (130) are talented and athletic. Maddox was a four-year starter who ran a 4.39 at the combine. Sweat had 29 tackles for loss in college and had a 39.5-inch vertical jump at the combine. I moved up Matt Pryor (206) over the past few weeks after people in the league told me he was going to move to guard. And how about the Australian former rugby league player Jordan Mailata going late in the seventh round? Philly is going to try to make him an offensive tackle.
The reason this class isn’t a straight “A”? Not a single running back (though they did announce the re-signing of Darren Sproles when the day ended). If that’s the only bad thing I can say, the Eagles must have had a good day.
General Manager Howie Roseman took advantage of other teams ignoring Lamar Jackson by trading out of the first round so Baltimore could select him. He grabbed the Ravens’ 2019 second-round pick and moved up in the second round on Friday night to select a tight end they could have taken in the first round: Dallas Goedert. He’ll be an outstanding player in the Jimmy Graham mold. The Eagles had given up their second-round pick to the Browns to get Carson Wentz two years ago and traded away their third-rounder to Buffalo, giving them just two picks in the first three rounds. The feisty and small Maddox can help replace Daryl Worley. Roseman reeled in Sweat, a first-round talent, in the fourth round, only because of medical concerns. Mailata’s potential as a 6-foot-8, 350-pound offensive tackle without football experience (he’s a former rugby player) was worth a flyer in the seventh round. They could have used a little more linebacker depth, but they might find it on the undrafted free agent market.
In one sentence: Philly got the “1A” tight end int his class, acquired a Round 2 pick next year, and got a huge steal in Sweat (assuming his knee holds up).
The Eagles didn’t have many picks after trading No. 96 to the Bills for Ronald Darby and No. 131 to the Dolphins for Jay Ajayi, but those players remain under contract with the team and are considered part of this draft class. As is Michael Bennett, although he is currently in legal hot water. The Eagles also acquired the Ravens’ 2019 second-round pick in Thursday’s Lamar Jackson trade. Philly began its draft by leapfrogging the division-rival Cowboys for Goedert, the best two-way tight end in this class and a surefire Dallas target with Jason Witten retiring. Maddox is a feisty slot corner with lightning-quick short-area agility, helpful when covering quicker-than-fast interior receivers like Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, and Sterling Shepard. Sweat has first-round athleticism and pass-rush potential. He fell due to knee problems that have plagued him since high school. Pryor’s probable ceiling is a long-term swing guard-tackle backup. Massively athletic rugby freak Mailata was a seventh-round shot in the dark.
With their first pick, the defending Super Bowl champions leapfrogged their division rival Cowboys to draft a tight end (Dallas Goedert) who can play alongside Zach Ertz. Head coach Doug Pederson understands that defenses hate an offense that can throw the ball out of two tight end sets, and that’s especially true when that offense has a running game as expansive and effective as Philly’s. With Ertz and Goedert on the field together, No. 3 linebackers will now be forced into coverage. Carson Wentz is licking his chops.
After that, it was just about building depth and taking the best players available—a perfect scenario for any team, and an unthinkably perfect one for a defending champion. The Eagles didn’t address their inside linebacker situation after their predraft behavior suggested they would. But even if the injury-prone Jordan Hicks doesn’t bounce back from last year’s torn Achilles, riding one more year with Mychal Kendricks alongside the recently re-signed Nigel Bradham isn’t the worst thing.
Champs often draft for depth, and GM Howie Roseman traded down to get more. Stealing TE “Dallas” Goedert in Jerry Jones’ backyard was a nice touch. But getting Florida State pass rusher Josh Sweat in Round 4 might wind up being Roseman’s best pick.
Dallas Goedert: He is a nice pass-catching tight end who will replace Trey Burton. I like this pick for the Eagles. (B+)
Avonte Maddox: Feisty, ultra-aggressive slot CB with the agility to match with quickest WRs in the league. Gets his hands on loads of passes. (A)
Josh Sweat: Clowney-like linear freak athlete. Powerful jolt with long arms. Embarrassment of riches up front on Eagles defense. (A)
Matt Pryor: Tremendous size and length. Could shed some weight. Won’t lose in power situations. Has trouble with quickness. Quality depth for Philly up front. (B+)
Jordan Mailata: Rugby player with ridiculous size, power athleticism. Has yet to play a down of football. His measureables make him worthy of a flier this late. (C-)
In making this kind of trade, Howie Roseman was able to exploit a market inefficiency. The idea that future picks should be worth significantly less than picks in the current year is crazy to me. General managers in the NFL tend to have short shelf lives. It’s win now, or hit the road. As such, logic would dictate that many of them do not want to trade current picks for future ones because they need immediate results. Coming off a Super Bowl win after just a two-year rebuild, Roseman has no such job security concerns.
Meanwhile, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has already announced that he is retiring after the 2018 season. What does he care if the Ravens don’t have a second round pick in 2019? He was able to land perhaps the team’s franchise quarterback in Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick on his way out, off into the sunset, while keeping all of his team’s other picks in his final draft. If he weren’t retiring, I wonder if Newsome would have still made this trade. I’m betting he wouldn’t.
Day 2: With one pick in the first two days of the draft, it’s just as well the Eagles roster is in good shape, and they showed that by making something of a luxury pick with the selection of TE Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State. Goedert has reminded many in the pre-draft process of Zach Ertz, so it’s interesting to see the two players on the same roster. Against admittedly questionable competition, Goedert was on another level of dominance, averaging 8.1 yards per catch after the reception and breaking a dozen tackles along the way. Goedert’s run-blocking grade was solid, but this was against FCS competition and it will be unlikely to be a major strength at the next level.
Day 3: Josh Sweat is an edge rusher a lot of people had higher on their boards but had some injury concerns. He had 34 total pressures in 2017 and 32 defensive stops. Avonte Maddox would be a much higher pick if he wasn’t just 5-foot-9 as he had 30 pass breakups over the past four seasons. They also grabbed an Australian NRL rugby player in OT Jordan Mailata in the seventh round as a flier.
A = 1
A- = 2
B+ = 5
B = 1
B- = 1
Overall average grade: B+
How would you grade the Eagles’ 2018 draft class?
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