Howie Roseman has spent the last few weeks of the off-season filling out the Eagles roster with a number of free agent signings and trades, including yesterday’s deal for running back Jordan Howard. So with the bulk of free agency now out of the way, the off-season focus has fully pivoted to the NFL Draft.
The Eagles own seven picks this year, including pick No. 25 in the first round and two second rounders, Nos. 53 and 57. After last year, when they traded out of the first round pick and had only five picks overall, Roseman and the Eagles see these next couple drafts as an opportunity to stack the roster with some much-needed young talent.
Because the Eagles have already filled many of their needs through free agency and trades, there isn’t any reason for the team to focus on one particular position. They can choose the best available player, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them land an offensive lineman, defensive lineman and/or perhaps a running back with some their first three picks.
This will be Roseman and Joe Douglas’ fourth go-around running their own draft. In previous years, Chip Kelly’s and Andy Reid’s influence on the drafts were prominent, so we’re only going to take a look at the last three, the ones that most had Roseman’s (and Douglas’) fingerprints on them.
How have they done? In some cases, particularly last year, it’s hard to know yet. But overall, there have been some great hits as well as some wild misses.
2016 Eagles Draft Picks
The 2016 Draft is the one we can make the best judgment on, simply because the players selected in that class have played three full seasons of football. For this one, the bottom line is simple.
Any draft that nets you a franchise quarterback has to be considered a good one.
Roseman moved Heaven and Earth to get up to No. 2 to draft Wentz leading up to his selection. They started with the 13th pick in the Draft after a 7-9 season in 2015, and managed to move up to No. 8 by dealing No. 13, cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Following that maneuver, they moved all the way to No. 2 by giving Cleveland their No. 8 pick as well as their 2017 first round pick, their ‘16 3rd and 4th round picks and a 2018 2nd-rounder.
Those maneuvers netted the Eagles a QB who would have been MVP of the league in 2017 had he not suffered a serious knee injury. One season of up-and-down play while dealing with the after-effects of surgery and a back injury certainly shouldn’t take much of the bloom off of Roseman’s ability to somehow land the team their quarterback for the next decade.
Roseman also got a solid offensive lineman in the 3rd round in Isaac Seumalo, and in the 5th round, snagged Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who isn’t outstanding but did sub in well for Jason Peters during the team’s Super Bowl run in ‘17. And landing Jalen Mills in the 7th round is just flat-out stealing, no matter how schizophrenic Mills’ play can sometimes be.
Wendell Smallwood hasn’t been terribly productive, but other than that, the ‘16 draft looks fantastic right about now.
2017 Eagles Draft Picks
The jury is still out on the ‘17 Draft, but the early returns have not been good.
As I wrote about earlier this month, the Eagles are depending on Derek Barnett to have a breakout season in 2019.
He started six games last year and tried to play the last two of them through his injury, but his play suffered and he ultimately ended up on IR. He recorded 2.5 sacks, 14 QB hurries and 11 QB hits before he went on injured reserve, and up to that point, PFF gave him a grade of 67.5, an above average score that was especially impressive given some of that grade came as he tried to grit through the pain.
So far, the Eagles haven’t gotten the production they were expecting when they moved up to No. 14 to nab Barnett, although he did seem to be getting better and better each week until he got hurt. Unfortunately, Sidney Jones has been a disaster of a pick so far. He fell to the second round after suffering an Achilles injury during a pre-draft workout, and simply hasn’t been able to stay on the field. He was in just nine games last year and recorded just two passes defensed, 25 tackles and no interceptions.
Rasul Douglas in the 3rd round was OK, as Douglas had moments of productivity last year. After a couple of big plays in ‘17, Mack Hollins never played last season due to an injury. But the biggest miss was when he traded up for Donnell Pumphrey. Just look at some of the running backs who went before and after Pumphrey at No. 132.
RBs Taken In 2017 NFL Draft
Pumphrey was a massive whiff, but Roseman managed to get a good RB core in place for that season by signing Corey Clement as an undrafted free agent, bringing LeGarrette Blount aboard as a free agent, and trading for Jay Ajayi during the regular season.
The jury is still out on Shelton Gibson, although optimism is not high he will become anything special, and while Nate Gerry was a fine selection in the 5th round, serving as a back-up linebacker.
All in all, though, this wasn’t Howie’s finest moment.
2018 Eagles Draft Picks
It’s unfair to say whether last year’s draft is “good” or “bad,” as all these players have just one year under their belts. They also had just five picks, thanks to trades for players like Ajayi and Wentz in previous seasons. But so far, the early returns are good.
The Eagles entered the 2018 Draft with pick No. 32, the last of the first round thanks to their Super Bowl title. They traded out of the first round and gave the Baltimore Ravens their 4th rounder in exchange for a 2nd rounder, a 4th rounder, and a 2nd rounder in this year’s draft. Roseman later traded up in Day 2 to move up a few spots to snag tight end Dallas Goedert, who looks like he’s going to be a real weapon in both the running and passing games. Last year, he showed great athleticism, good hands, incredible size and strong blocking techniques in his rookie year and, paired with Zach Ertz, gives the Eagles real mismatch advantages in “12” personnel.
Grabbing Avonte Maddox in the 4th round could end up being the steal of the draft for the Birds. Maddox burst onto the scene in the middle of last year after injuries to Ronald Darby, Mills, Jones and safety Rodney McLeod forced Maddox into the lineup, first as a cornerback playing safety for the first time in his life, and then later back at corner. He performed exceedingly well for a rookie, and appears to be a major piece of the puzzle in Jim Schwartz’ defensive scheme in the future.
The Eagles remain high on defensive end Josh Sweat, although there’s no real information to go on with him yet. Same with Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata, although scouts salivate at Mailata’s athleticism for such a big man.
So as Roseman enters his fourth draft calling the shots with Douglas, it’s clear he’s had some solid picks, some really terrible ones, and lots of stuff in between.
Kinda sounds like the drafts of just about every GM in every sport, huh?