The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles came into the 2018 NFL Draft with few questions about the talent of their roster and left with even fewer questions. You can consider that a win, but obviously it’s more complicated than that. At the conclusion, I came away with ten thoughts about the the Eagles performance in Dallas that span a wide assortment of topics.
1. ‘Philly’ Goedert adds a new dimension…
The knock on Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has always been his inability to create additional yardage after the catch. This aspect of his game has been downplayed lately as the rest of his game has flourished, but it’s of note that Dallas Goedert brings a new dimension to the Eagles potent passing attack.
A caveat about level of competition aside, Goedert was the most effective player after the catch in college football last year, at any level. His 12 forced missed tackles were tied for first in the nation, while his 573 yards after catch (8.2avg) took top honors. Additionally no other tight end over the past two years has as many receptions (164) or receiving yards (2,404) as the South Dakota State stand-out.
The Jackrabbits used Goedert in the slot frequently and often manufactured touches for him behind the line of scrimmage to take advantage of his play-making abilities in space. They also used him as an inline tight end more than is being talked about, logging 206 snaps last year in the more traditional alignment. He’s a willing blocker in need of technical refinement, but if he’s being used in the “Trey Burton role”, he’s an instant upgrade in that regard.
Look for the Eagles to continue their above league average use of 12/13 personnel sets to get Goedert on the field. The situation has parallels with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, who just extended tight end Cameron Brate after drafting OJ Howard in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bucs found a way to give both players over 50% of the snaps. I don’t expect Goedert to eclipse 40%, but he will be used enough to justify the selection and adds much needed depth after the departure of Burton and Brent Celek.
Simply put, Goedert (pronounced “GOD-ert”) is a new type of tight end for the Eagles offensive brain trust to utilize, one that can create his own yardage.
2. Finding a trade partner…
Everybody wants to trade back but you have to have a willing partner that is going to give proper value to facilitate a move. The swap with the Baltimore Ravens nearly never happened. When the New Orleans Saints traded up with the Green Bay Packers, many instantly penned in Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. And rightfully so, Drew Brees is in his twilight years and Jackson would benefit from a creative head coach like Sean Payton that could squeeze every drop of talent out of the polarizing prospect. Instead, they selected UTSA edge rusher Marcus Davenport in one of the most controversial picks in the draft.
Without the Saints passing on Jackson, do the Eagles find a dance partner for the 32nd overall pick? Through Howie all things are possible, but it almost assuredly would’ve taken the Ravens out of the picture. Ultimately the Ravens would pay $1.23 on the dollar to move up for Jackson, providing the Eagles with an extra 2nd round pick for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Other movements threatened the eventual selection of Goedert. With the Dallas Cowboys finding out about the retirement of Jason Witten, the Eagles were able to find a second dance partner, trading up three spots with the Indianapolis Colts at the low cost of a late 5th round pick.
3. Securing draft capital for the future…
The aforementioned trade with the Ravens that brought an additional 2nd round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft should not be understated. This puts the Eagles in a unique situation considering their lack of draft capital after going all in on their future franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. This has multiple ramifications.
First, if the Eagles find another bargain in the trade market, expending mid-round picks won’t take as much of a chunk out of the total draft haul. Second, with multiple contracts to hand out (or not), including the eventual Wentz deal, it’s important to find meaningful contributions in the short term from low cost free agents but to also continue to build with cheap youth in the draft for long term solutions.
If Flacco struggles and Jackson experiences the normal growing pains of a rookie quarterback, the Eagles will be sitting pretty with the 32nd overall pick, an early second round pick, and the 64th overall pick. They are also projected to receive extra compensatory picks in the 4th and 6th round. Giving Howie Roseman that type of freedom to move throughout the draft is a dangerous thing for the rest of the league.
4. The curious case of Derrius Guice…
If you’ve been following me at all in the pre-draft process, you know my major draft crush was LSU running back Derrius Guice. If the Eagles selected him with the 32nd overall selection, I would have embraced it, regardless of the cries of the “you can’t take running back in the first round even though the historical hit rate is abnormally high and we already have a quarterback unlike the idiot Giants” crowd. Apologies to those in that crowd, maybe.
That said, while we did the live stream for BGN Radio, the entire crew, including myself, agreed that trading back was the best option. That meant potentially missing out on Guice and other top-shelf running backs. Apparently the Eagles weren’t that interested in taking Guice anyway, and rumors swirled during the draft about a supposed blow-up between Guice and the Eagles staff.
#LSU RB Derrius Guice planned to dress “flashy” for the #NFL Draft tomorrow.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) April 25, 2018
Criticism of his character/personality has forced him to go casual and “simple.”
“Can’t really let my personality shine like normal. Now I’ve got to be this person I’m not. Got to hide who I really am” pic.twitter.com/aWLWfuFOlr
There were also rumors being floated by Mike Mayock about a potentially “embarrassing” incident, to be reported by TMZ, being investigated that dated back to Guice’s time at LSU. Both of these claims were shut down by those supposedly involved and TMZ never released anything regarding Guice. So what’s the truth?
The truth is we don’t know the root of these multiple rumors, we don’t know who is lying and who is telling the truth, and we may never know. The truth is the NFL is decadent and depraved and sometimes prospects get dropped for ugly missteps in their past or real flaws in their character, and sometimes prospects get dragged through the mud for ulterior motives.
5. Rugby league players have more fun…
And so should you. Taking a swing on a young, uber-athletic, developmental project that was fully vetted is what you do in the 7th round draft. The vast majority of late Day 3 selections are big projects and most won’t make the team. If you’re still desperately trying to fill a perceived need that late in the process, you probably aren’t going to fill that need at that point. Jordan Mailata is one of us now, embrace him. Also, Dougie P, if you’re listening, try him at kick returner. Thank you.
6. Undrafted free agents… so you’re saying there’s a chance?
If I had to make a wager on the undrafted free agents the Eagles have brought in, my money would be all in on South Alabama defensive back Jeremy Reaves. Having seen him live in Mobile for the Senior, where he got better on each passing day, Reaves has a clear path to the roster, one that could cost Chris Maragos a job. The third safety role has been in constant flux for the Eagles, and Reaves possesses the coverage abilities and reliable tackling to eventually make that his own.
Eagles UDFA pick-up.. South Alabama S Jeremy Reaves closes down Baker to Gesicki w/good timing and location.. pic.twitter.com/X6cWO5cfst— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) April 29, 2018
The honorable mention is Central Michigan defensive end Joe Ostman, who has racked up 21 sacks over the last two years for the Chippewas. Unfortunately for him, defensive end is unbelievably stacked, and it’s doubtful that he could pass through waivers.
7. Secondary reinforcements…
Along with the aforementioned Reaves, the Eagles brought on a twitched up, pint-sized cornerback in Pittsburgh’s Avonte Maddox. He’ll immediately press for nickel snaps and fits the exact mold in which the Eagles were apparently targeting if you look into the official visits at the position. For more on Maddox, check out Benjamin Solak’s Inside the Film Room.
8. Did the Eagles help their line depth?...
I admittedly haven’t seen much of 6th round selection Matt Pryor (OT, TCU), or undrafted free agents Toby Weathersby (OT, LSU), Ian Park (OG, Slippery Rock), Aaron Evans (OT, UCF) and I also understand that Mailata is unlikely to make any kind of meaningful contribution until a few years down the line at the earliest. Thus, this remains a major question mark, at least for me. Luckily, Inside the Pylon and Dane Brugler had thoughts about most of these incoming rookies.
Matt Pryor (OT, TCU):
“A dancing bear, Pryor has massive size measurements and coordinated movement skills to sustain blocks while keeping his balance. He is aggressive in his protections and drives defenders in the run game, but his tall pad level and technical break downs lead to negative reps. Overall, Joseph Noteboom will likely be the first TCU offensive lineman draft, but Pryor has a chance to have the better long-term NFL career if he stays in shape.” – Dane Brugler
Toby Weathersby, (OT, LSU), 3-Year Projection:
“Good starting guard who will win with his play strength, run blocking ability and will to finish. Would like to see him improve his play speed and awareness after the snap… Can improve his lower body strength…” – Inside the Pylon Draft Guide
Aaron Evans (OT, UCF), 3-Year Projection:
“Starting iOL you can win with in any zone blocking system. Good understanding of angles enables him to functionally occupy/cut off defenders at the first level… Adequate foot speed causes him to struggle getting leverage on longer-distance 2nd level or perimeter blocks.” – Inside the Pylon Draft Guide
9. The NFC East largely helped themselves…
This thought it more of a promise for future thoughts by way of The Kist & Solak Show, brought to you by the fine folks at BGN Radio. We’ll be breaking down each selection for each NFC East team later in the week, but overall I thought the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins came away with solid hauls that put them in a position to improve their on-field product. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis.
10. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl…
People forget that.