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The Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft class isn’t looking so hot

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Kind of a problem.

Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published on December 4, 2019. Feels relevant again now with the Eagles moving on from Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.


With the Eagles waiving Mack Hollins on Tuesday evening, now seems like a good time to check up on Philadelphia’s 2017 NFL Draft class. Spoiler alert: the results aren’t great.

OVERVIEW

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

DEREK BARNETT

Barnett came off the bench as a rotational pass rusher in his rookie season before becoming a starter in 2018. Barnett has shown promise but availability has been an issue considering he missed 12 games (including playoffs) last year. Earlier this season, Doug Pederson suggested that Barnett was still hampered by injury.

Ultimately, Barnett has logged 64 combined tackles, 45 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one defensive touchdown in 33 games played (18 starts). He’s hardly been a slouch.

But Barnett hasn’t quite been the dominant pass rusher you’d like out of the No. 14 overall pick. A look at his yearly pressure rates, via Pro Football Focus:

2017 — 46th out of 120
2018 — 52nd out of 109
2019 — 62nd out of 119

The Eagles could’ve done worse than Barnett. And he’s only 23 years old so maybe he can make a big leap into becoming a double-digit sack guy. But to this point it’s not like the Eagles hit a home run with this pick. It’s been more like a ground rule double.

Poll

Grade the Derek Barnett pick

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    A
    (165 votes)
  • 57%
    B
    (1749 votes)
  • 33%
    C
    (1007 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (101 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (29 votes)
3051 votes total Vote Now

SIDNEY JONES

Howie Roseman said the following about Jones after drafting him:

“He was a top-10 player on our board, just like Derek was.”

This sentiment wasn’t so crazy at the time because there was some belief that Jones would’ve been drafted very highly had he not suffered an Achilles injury at his pro day.

But there was also ample evidence to be wary about drafting the “medical redshirt” guy considering how often it hasn’t worked out.

In a draft class loaded with corners, the Eagles took a big swing and missed in a big way. Jones has only logged eight starts in 18 career games played through three seasons. His struggles earlier this season have relegated him to being a healthy scratch on game day. He’s currently the seventh corner on the roster behind Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Rasul Douglas, and Craig James.

The Eagles might look to trade Jones in the offseason for pennies on the dollar. It’d be preferable to just cutting him for nothing in return.

Poll

Grade the Sidney Jones pick

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (16 votes)
  • 1%
    B
    (42 votes)
  • 9%
    C
    (273 votes)
  • 33%
    D
    (995 votes)
  • 55%
    F
    (1683 votes)
3009 votes total Vote Now

RASUL DOUGLAS

Douglas has started 17 of his 42 games played. He’s logged 22 passes defensed and five interceptions since entering the league.

Douglas has given the Eagles some quality starts but he’s also been vulnerable to getting roasted and giving up explosive plays. Not exactly shocking that a corner with a 19th percentile 40-yard dash (4.59 seconds) has problems with speed.

Douglas’s struggles have prevented the coaching staff from trusting him as a full-time starter. Douglas isn’t even playing in any defensive subpackages now that is LeBlanc back.

Darby and Mills are free agents after this year so maybe Douglas will have a chance to start in 2020. Or maybe he’s just best suited to be a solid backup corner.

While we’re here, let’s revisit Roseman’s defensive back draft record:

Nate Allen
Trevard Lindley
Kurt Coleman
Jaiquawn Jarrett
Curtis Marsh
Brandon Boykin
Earl Wolff
Jordan Poyer
Jaylen Watkins
Ed Reynolds
Blake Countess
Jalen Mills
Sidney Jones
Rasul Douglas
Avonte Maddox

Not the best group!

Poll

Grade the Rasul Douglas pick

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (29 votes)
  • 15%
    B
    (442 votes)
  • 59%
    C
    (1693 votes)
  • 19%
    D
    (562 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (138 votes)
2864 votes total Vote Now

MACK HOLLINS

Hollins actually showed some promise as a role-playing rookie with 16 receptions on 22 targets (very efficient) for 225 yards (14.1 average) and one touchdown. But then injuries robbed him of his 2018 season. Upon returning to the field in 2019, Hollins struggled with drops and penalties in 2019 before being waived.

The Hollins pick serves as a reminder that Roseman hasn’t been good at drafting wide receivers. Just look at this list since he was promoted to general manager in 2010:

Riley Cooper
Marvin McNutt
Jordan Matthews
Josh Huff
Nelson Agholor
Mack Hollins
Shelton Gibson
JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Cooper is the only Roseman-drafted receiver to ever receive a contract extension from the Eagles. Yikes.

Kind of makes you worry about the Eagles’ ability to get the receiver position fixed moving forward. The evaluations at that spot need to be a lot better.

Poll

Grade the Mack Hollins pick

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (19 votes)
  • 9%
    C
    (254 votes)
  • 39%
    D
    (1089 votes)
  • 50%
    F
    (1392 votes)
2766 votes total Vote Now

DONNEL PUMPHREY

Easily the most frustrating pick from this draft class.

Pumphrey was incredibly productive at the college level, sure, but there wasn’t much reason to believe it would translate to the NFL level. There was really no precedent for a player with his lack of size and athleticism to succeed.

Roseman used the word “historic” to describe the surplus of running back talent in the 2017 draft class. And yet he traded up for a running back that will never end up playing a single NFL snap. How does that happen?

Look at all these other backs from that year:

Leonard Fournette
Christian McCaffrey
Dalvin Cook
Joe Mixon
Alvin Kamara
Kareem Hunt
James Conner
Tarik Cohen
Marlon Mack
Aaron Jones
Chris Carson

Mack, Jones, and Carson were notably drafted after Pump. Heck, Carson was even drafted after the seventh-round pick the Eagles traded to move up for Pump.

One could surmise the Eagles missing out on Cohen (selected one spot after Hollins) prompted the Eagles to panic trade into getting a player in Pump who fit the same theoretical mold but was actually much, much worse.

Poll

Grade the Donnel Pumphrey pick

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (81 votes)
  • 95%
    F
    (2612 votes)
2722 votes total Vote Now

SHELTON GIBSON

Gibson had a mere 2 receptions for 11 yards as a rookie before logging a single reception for 48 yards in 2018. It was strange how Gibson couldn’t get more playing time in 2018 considering how badly the team lacked an explosive weapon. The coaching staff clearly didn’t trust him. On that note, it’s fair to wonder how much the Eagles’ coaches should be responsible for failing to oversee quality player development.

Gibson was waived during final cuts prior to the 2019 season. He signed to the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad and has remained there since.

Poll

Grade the Shelton Gibson pick

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    C
    (115 votes)
  • 23%
    D
    (590 votes)
  • 71%
    F
    (1828 votes)
2551 votes total Vote Now

NATHAN GERRY

Gerry played safety in college but the Eagles drafted him to play linebacker in the NFL. The man nicknamed “Whitesnake” has worked hard to make the transition. The coaching staff trusted him to be the team’s primary linebacker when Nigel Bradham was missing games earlier this season. Gerry has made some big plays (two interceptions) but he’s also struggled with processing speed. Overall, he looks like a replacement level defensive talent who can contribute on special teams. That’s fine for a fifth-round pick.

Poll

Grade the Nathan Gerry pick

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A
    (109 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (810 votes)
  • 46%
    C
    (1238 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (389 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (106 votes)
2652 votes total Vote Now

ELIJAH QUALLS

Qualls played in six games as a rookie, logging four total tackles. He hasn’t been on a regular season NFL roster since. Hard to kill the Eagles here for missing on the fifth to last pick of the sixth round.

Poll

Grade the Elijah Qualls pick

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    B
    (30 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (429 votes)
  • 29%
    D
    (686 votes)
  • 50%
    F
    (1175 votes)
2334 votes total Vote Now

WORTH CONSIDERATION

Signing Corey Clement as an undrafted rookie free agent ended up being a great move for the Eagles considering he was the team’s leading receiver in Super Bowl LII with four receptions for 100 yard and one score. Clement hasn’t made much of an impact since his rookie season, however, as he’s been plagued by injuries.

The Eagles signed a rookie Jake Elliott off the Cincinnati Bengals’ squad and that was clearly a good decision considering he’s made some huge kicks and developed into the team’s long-term answer at kicker.

SUMMARY

Derek Barnett — Okay starter

Sidney Jones — Bust

Rasul Douglas — Backup/spot starter

Mack Hollins — Fringe NFL talent

Donnel Pumphrey — Not an NFL player

Shelton Gibson — Fringe NFL talent

Nathan Gerry — Replacement level contributor

Elijah Qualls — Not an NFL player

Poll

Grade the Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft class

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (12 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (323 votes)
  • 61%
    D
    (1577 votes)
  • 25%
    F
    (641 votes)
2563 votes total Vote Now

SO, WHO’S TO BLAME?

2017 was the Eagles’ first draft class where Joe Douglas served as the team’s vice president of player personnel. Therefore, Douglas is clearly to blame and Roseman’s hands are washed clean!

Well, not so fast. First of all, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie tasked Roseman with hiring a top notch personnel chief and Douglas was Roseman’s pick. In other words, Roseman shares any blame that Douglas gets. It should also be noted that while Douglas set the Eagles’ draft board, it was ultimately still Roseman with final say on the picks.

The Eagles were able to win the Super Bowl in 2017 because Roseman really nailed free agency that year. He deserves all the credit in the world for that. But that kind of hit rate hasn’t been sustainable since then. The Eagles really do need to start hitting on more draft picks. And given that that’s never been a huge strength since Roseman was hired back in 2010, well, there’s reason to wonder if things will really be different moving forward.

Poll

Are you confident in Howie Roseman’s drafting ability?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Yes
    (284 votes)
  • 88%
    No
    (2152 votes)
2436 votes total Vote Now