Ten games into the 2020 season and it is hard to feel good about anything related to the Philadelphia Eagles. Yet, taking a step back, there are few things more glaring than the abject failure of their ability to draft.
The NFL Draft is fickle. Every strategy and outcome should be judged uniquely by where the team is going into the draft in terms of short and long-term goals. A young team may opt to load up on high upside players who have time and opportunity to develop. Older, more proven teams may look for instant impact rookies who can push them over the hump. However, young teams may need blue chip players to help them start winning games and older teams may have the luxury of stocking up on developmental players while their starting roster carries them.
There is no orthodoxy in draft strategy. This is why open-mindedness won out after the Eagles’ questionable 2020 draft where they spent a second round pick on a quarterback and seemed content sitting back and letting the chips fall where they did in terms of the wide receiver class.
It is clear, beyond a shadow of any doubt or reason, that this was a bad strategy.
In 2019, the Eagles eked out a playoff appearance for the second year in a row. Carson Wentz overcame an understocked cupboard of wide receivers to have a historically good Eagles quarterback season and bring Philly to the postseason.
The offseason goal was clear: Get Wentz weapons. Now.
While my colleagues have and will continue to write about Howie Roseman’s failure to capitalize on a loaded free-agency and trade market in the spring, I will focus on the historically good wide receiver draft class that the Eagles punted on.
The Eagles had ten picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, which can only be described as an abundance of resources considering their five picks the year before. 15 wide receivers went in the first three rounds and the Eagles selected one of them. Yes, they eventually drafted two more on the third day of the draft, but over 140 picks passed between them selecting Jalen Reagor and them drafting John Hightower. 17 wide receivers were picked over that span; including Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, KJ Hamler, Michael Pittman Junior and Laviska Shenault.
Now, Jalen Reagor might end up being a good player. In fact it is more likely he will than won’t, but for the Eagles to be content with just Jalen Reagor given their extremely glaring needs going into the draft is inexcusable.
Ten picks. Plenty of draft capital to trade up in the first round for an impact wide receiver like CeeDee Lamb. Or, after drafting Reagor, maybe moving up in the second round to snag Tee Higgins or Claypool.
Wait some more. Draft a backup quarterback with the 53rd pick.
Draft a developmental nickel linebacker with Gabriel Davis and Bryan Edwards on the board.
We were all scratching our had during the draft and our skepticism has unfortunately proven well placed. It’s stupid. It’s mind-numbingly stupid that Howie Roseman and whoever else was shot calling back in spring thought this was the right approach.
Even if this whole class eventually pans out, the damage of this year looks to be long term. Carson Wentz has regressed in a shocking way. After carrying the offense on his back last year, his play has deteriorated rapidly this season. The team’s inability to put a stable offense around him; from the offensive line to the wide receivers to the coaching staff has resulted in a catastrophic step back.
Even if you want to chalk this up to the insanity of 2020. That between the shortened offseason, the bevy of injuries and (oh right) the global pandemic, it still doesn’t excuse the disastrous drafting that led to this point. Plenty of teams have overcome injuries and a shortened offseason. Plenty of rookies, wide receivers and otherwise, have looked phenomenal despite the extremely strange offseason. This is a failure that falls solely on the shoulders of Eagles decision makers. They failed to draft for right now despite it being a draft class almost perfectly tailored to their needs.
Howie Roseman and whoever else is responsible for this disaster should not get the chance to make decisions for the Eagles ever again.