The 2020 NFL Draft is over and now it is time for everyone’s favorite activity: NFL Draft Grades! You may believe this exercise is arbitrary and reductive ... but you’re wrong! It’s not about waiting to see how the picks turn out. Instead of being results-oriented, the goal here is to evaluate the process behind the selections. Did the Philadelphia Eagles make good bets based on the information that was available to them?
As a reminder, here’s this year’s Eagles draft class:
1st - No. 21 - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
2nd - No. 53 - Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
3rd - No. 103 - Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
4th - No. 127 - K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
4th - No. 145 - Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn
5th - No. 168 - John Hightower, WR, Boise State
6th - No. 196 - Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple
6th - No. 200 - Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss
6th - No. 210 - Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
7th - No. 233 - Casey Toohill, DE, Stanford
If we’re accounting transactions made with draft picks when judging a class, here are some additional factors to consider.
- The Eagles traded their 2020 third-round pick (No. 85) and their 2020 fifth-round pick (No. 166) for Darius Slay.
- The Eagles ultimately traded the fourth-round compensatory pick (No. 146) they received for letting Golden Tate leave in free agency for three 2020 selections and the Dallas Cowboys’ 2021 fifth-round pick.
- The Eagles traded Johnathan Cyprien and the 2020 seventh-round pick (No. 228) they originally received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s DeSean Jackson trade to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for Duke Riley and the Falcons’ sixth-round pick (No. 190). The Eagles then traded down 20 spots in the sixth-round (No. 210) for veteran wide receiver Marquise Goodwin from the San Francisco 49ers.
- The Eagles traded their 2020 sixth-round pick (No. 200) to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Jordan Howard last year. Howard walked in free agency, which will potentially allow Philly to recoup a sixth-round compensatory pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But enough about trades, let’s get back to this year’s actual selections.
See below for more grades from around the web.
Reagor has the best chance of any Eagles rookie to contribute right away.
I mean, that’s usually true of any first-round pick. But not always! See: Andre Dillard last year.
The Eagles really need Reagor to make an instant impact. They’re counting on him to bring the explosive element to an offense that’s sorely lacked as much.
Reagor’s upside is very intriguing. I think he legitimately has the chance to be a star wide receiver. I love watching how he really takes off after he gets some daylight to work with. Reagor has some real juice; defenders look so slow and outmatched as he runs by them. That 4.2 speed might be real.
But his downside must also be considered.I don’t think this Reagor’s profile suggests that he’s a high floor prospect. There are legitimate reasons (ex: drop issues) why former NFL talent evaluators like Daniel Jeremiah and Gil Brandt didn’t have him in their top 50 prospects. One current NFL general manager anonymously dubbed Reagor as the worst pick in the first round.
The Reagor pick felt like a little bit of a reach. And it’s hard not to evaluate this selection without applying the context of the Eagles’ potentially opportunity to trade up for CeeDee Lamb and prevent him from joining the Dallas Cowboys. It’s also fair to wonder if Justin Jefferson, who wasn’t the perfect fit but represents a more likely bet to be a good pro, should’ve been the selection instead.
So, I can’t say the Reagor pick was a home run. But I do like his potential and I’m looking forward to watching him team up with Carson Wentz. Maybe better quarterback play will truly make a huge difference for him. That’s what the Eagles are hoping to see.
As an added bonus, the Eagles can get creative with Reagor on jet sweeps and such. He could also be a real weapon on punt returns.
My grade: B-
It’s one thing to try to make sense of why the Eagles drafted a backup quarterback at No. 53 overall. It’s another thing to galaxy brain yourself into believing this is actually a genius move by the Eagles. Miss me with the latter.
I don’t hate Hurts as a prospect. Leading up to the draft, I generally thought he was being underrated. I think too many only remember him for being benched for Tua Tagovailoa and don’t give enough weight to his strong senior season at Oklahoma. I mean, the guy finished second in Heisman Trophy voting. He threw for 32 touchdowns (to just eight interceptions) in addition to notching 21 combined rushing and receiving scores. Hurts finished his entire collegiate career with 123 total touchdowns.
Of course, that production isn’t guaranteed to translate. Former Eagles legend Tim Tebow — whomst Hurts has drawn comparison to — logged 145 total touchdowns in college before ultimately failing to pan out in the NFL.
But the Hurts evaluation isn’t even the biggest focus when it comes to this pick. It’s impossible to not think about the situational context. It just raises so many questions. Why are the Eagles investing so heavily in a backup for Carson Wentz, especially at a time when there’s an unprecedented abundance of veteran quarterback talent available in free agency? Is Hurts really even a good bet to be a quality backup in 2020, if ever? Are the Eagles really concerned about Wentz getting hurt again and/or retiring early in Andrew Luck fashion? Are the Eagles really going to be able to flip Hurts at some point down the road for more value than they used to get him? Why are the Eagles potentially undermining Wentz after he really put the team on his back down the stretch en route to an NFC East title clinch late last season? Are the Eagles really going to develop a Taysom Hill package for Hurts? Are they suddenly going to revolutionize the sport with two quarterback packages?
The Eagles had a real opportunity to get an instant contributor at No. 53. Instead, they used it on a player who will ideally never log a meaningful snap for them.
I think the Eagles outsmarted themselves here. Howie Roseman’s line about the Eagles viewing themselves as a “quarterback factory” is frustrating. Who has this current regime really even successfully developed at that position? Wentz, sure, but he was also an uber talent to begin with as a No. 2 overall pick. Nick Foles had already shown he was capable of playing at a high level before returning to Philly in 2017.
More specifically, are the Eagles really right to put a lot of stock into passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor as a great quarterback developer? Wentz was at his best working with John DeFilippo in 2017 and hasn’t been quite as elite since then. The Hurts pick shows Nate Sudfeld hasn’t developed into a sure-fire No. 2. Clayton Thorson couldn’t even make the practice squad as a rookie.
Hurts is obviously a better prospect than the likes of Sudfeld and Thorson. I do think he has worthwhile potential. But I just don’t like the overall process here. Assuming packaging No. 21 and No. 53 could’ve allowed the Eagles to move up to No. 16, the Eagles really watched a lot of Oklahoma game tape and decided they wanted Hurts instead of Lamb.
My grade: F+
Linebacker was the Eagles’ biggest second need (behind receiver, obviously) heading into the draft. They needed to address the position at some point on Day 2 or very early Day 3. Kudos to them for doing just that.
But I don’t think Taylor gives the Eagles the immediate impact they needed to add. He profiles as a developmental prospect given his inexperience playing football. Maybe he can catch on quicker than expected ... but that’s a rather large assumption.
Taylor is very fast and athletic, so that’s good. I also came away with a good first impression after watching his conference call with Philly media. He seems like a nice kid who’s eager to improve.
I just don’t expect him to be ready for much of a defensive role in Year 1. And that’s troubling when only Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards are the primary two starting linebackers.
Another factor that must be considered is that Roseman confirmed the Eagles turned down a similar offer containing a bevy of picks (No. 130, No. 169, No. 203, No. 244) at No. 103 that the Minnesota Vikings ultimately received for the Saints in exchange for No. 105. Taylor still might’ve been on the board at No. 130 given how he’s so raw. Or they could’ve gotten a different linebacker in the same tier.
My grade: C+
Safety was another one of Eagles’ biggest needs heading into this year’s drafts. They finally added some young talent at the position by drafting Wallace.
Or, did they? Wallace is just the latest “positionless defender” to join the Eagles this offseason. It’ll be interesting to see where Jim Schwartz lines him up. There’s thought Wallace could be used in a Malcolm Jenkins-type role.
Wallace has previously said he likes to play nickel corner, though, and that’s where Clemson used him for over 50% of their defensive snaps in 2019.
While the fit remains to be figured out, I do like Wallace’s potential. He has a good athletic profile and he was productive for one of the nation’s best college football programs. Wallace was voted captain by his Tigers teammates and he seems to be a high energy guy. He was flapping his arms at the end of his Philly media conference call and he’s already been very actively embracing Eagles fans on Twitter.
Wallace has a chance to immediately contribute on defense as a role player but that might not be as likely as some think. There are a number of veterans ahead of him in Jalen Mills, Will Parks, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Cre’Von LeBlanc. But all of those guys are also only signed through 2020 so Wallace could easily see a bigger role in 2021.
My grade: B+
Driscoll has experience playing at left guard and right tackle so he brings some versatility to the table. He also told Philly reporters that he was training at center during the pre-draft process.
The Eagles are officially listing Driscoll at tackle but there’s thought that his lacking size and arm length could necessitate a move to the interior offensive line.
Watching a little film on our pick Driscoll. He could possibly be a solid depth piece. He doesn’t create much movement at the point of contact in the run game and likes to lead with his outside hand in protection a little too much for my liking but we’ll see.— Tra Thomas (@72TraThomas) April 25, 2020
Driscoll boasts good athleticism so maybe Jeff Stoutland can mold him into a starting guard one day. Or at least a solid backup. Offensive line depth is always a nice thing to have.
My grade: B-
The Eagles needed to leave this year’s draft with more than just one receiver. Preferably, they would’ve addressed the position with at least two of their three top picks. But at least they did add some more talent on Day 3, starting with Hightower.
Hightower’s 4.43 speed doesn’t qualify him as an elite burner but he’s still plenty fast. His 17.6 yards per reception mark at Boise State shows he’s a big play threat. Hightower also logged 24 rushing attempts for 317 yards (13.2 average) and two scores. Encouraging to see more emphasis on speed and big play ability.
As an added bonus:
John Hightower, the best WR that not enough people talk about.— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) February 28, 2020
The scouting report on Hightower is that he needs to get stronger and he’s not the best at tacking the ball or winning at the catch point. He’s also on the older side for a prospect as he turns 24 in a few weeks. To put that into perspective, 2017 undrafted rookie free agent signing Greg Ward is currently 24.
My grade: B-
(Not to be confused with former 76ers bust Shawn Bradley.)
Bradley has the potential to be an early fan favorite given that he’s a Southr Jersey native who attended Temple. BGN’s Michael Kist and BGN emeritus Dan Klausner are both already on the Bradley train and not because of the local angle.
Bradley is undersized but he’s very fast and athletic (you seeing a trend here?). He might be more of an ideal backup and special teams contibutor than a starter.
The Eagles didn’t just enter the draft thin at linebacker in the short-term. They also had a long-term need at the position with Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, and Jatavis Brown all scheduled to be free agents after the 2020 season. There was sense to double-dipping at linebacker with Taylor and Bradley.
My grade: B-
BGN grades the pick:
As if acquiring Reagor and Hightower and Goodwin wasn’t enough, the Eagles added EVEN MORE SPEED by drafting Watkins. This is a guy with 4.35 speed.
He’s on the smaller side at 6-0, 185 pounds but Watkins does hav long arms and he tested as an above average leaper.
Realistically, Watkins might just be another Shelton Gibson. He’s going to have to earn his spot on the roster. He likely won’t see the field in 2020.
My grade: B-
PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO
PTW has an interesting background. Do read this story about his journey from Nigeria to the United States.
PTW was projected to go higher than he was selected. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, for example, had the Auburn left tackle as a third- or fourth-round pick. He likely fell due to the combination of his lack of extensive football experience and a lingering knee injury. Perhaps his medicals didn’t turn up so great.
But at this late in the draft, it was worth taking a chance on PTW. This pick reminds me of the Jordan Mailata selection, although PTW is obviously more advanced than the Australian was.
It’ll be a big win if PTW can develop into a swing tackle behind Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson. He potentially serves as Dillard bust insurance as well.
My grade: A-
Toohill is a tweener who doesn’t seem likely to ever make much of an impact for the Eagles. He clearly needs to add more strength; just look at his body (or his 14 percentile bench press).
I guess the Eagles view him in the Joe Ostman/Genard Avery mold as a situational stand up pass rusher in the Joker role. It’s a win if he at least becomes a nice special teams contributor.
My grade: C
BGN grades the pick:
- The Eagles aren’t likely going to see much immediate impact out of this year’s rookies. Reagor is the only sure bet to contribute from Day 1.
- Howie Roseman referred to Day 3 as a “difference-making day for our organization.” I do think the process behind the Day 3 picks were smart and analytical-friendly. But while it’s okay to want to look on the bright side with those picks, the reality is a lot of them won’t work out. Expectations must be tempered, especially when it comes to the receiver position.
Day 3 all about taking fliers, but should also have realistic expectations.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) April 25, 2020
In last 5 years, average rookie *season* for a WR taken in Rounds 4-7:
9.8 receptions for 112 yards
Then again, that’s why it’s good the Eagles traded back to take more bites the apple. Making 10 picks this year was important after only making 10 in the past two years combined. Gotta actually, you know, draft young players if you truly want to get younger.
- I’m glad that Roseman clearly reads BGN and got sick of me whining about how the Eagles too often devalued speed in the past. The Eagles made a real effort to get faster in this draft ... and not just at receiver. The emphasis on athleticism in general is appreciated.
- Did the Eagles really do enough to help Wentz? Drafting Reagor was good in that regard. There’s a decent chance Goodwin and the Day 3 receivers might not pan out into anything, though. The Hurts pick doesn’t help Wentz. Failing to draft a second receiver earlier on might come back to bite the Birds.
- The Eagles have currently have 14 wide receivers: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Reagor, Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Goodwin, Hightower, Watkins, Deontay Burnett, Shelton Gibson, Robert Davis, Marken Michel, Marcus Green, and River Cracraft. Yes, the last one is a real guy. Who sticks on the roster? Are you still convinced Jeffery is staying?
Howie Roseman did later say:— Brandon Lee Gowton: Quarterback Factory (@BrandonGowton) April 26, 2020
“We’ve added DeSean [Jackson] back, Alshon [Jeffery] back. We need to get him healthy, get him right.”
That’s been a consistent point of emphasis by Howie. But are they hoping he can get healthy so they can play him? Or so they can trade him?
- I think not addressing cornerback is not ideal but I do think it’s somewhat defensible You can at least try to talk yourself into Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones starting opposite of Slay. They’re both still young and have shown flashes of upside. The reality is it wasn’t going to be easy to adequately address every need through the draft. Then again, they could’ve gone corner (Kristian Fulton?) instead of backup quarterback at No. 53.
- Also okay with not using a draft pick on a running back. The Eagles have previously gotten good value out of low cost investments there. See: Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Boston Scott. The Eagles signed a couple of interesting undrated rookie free agent backs in Michael Warren (bruiser type) and Adrian Killins (speed type). They could also still re-sign Clement with the open roster spot they have.
- Failing to seriously add defensive line talent is a fair knock against this class. Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson are both going to be 30 by the end of this season. Brandon Graham turns 33 next year and there isn’t much proven depth behind him and Derek Barnett.
- Grades are relative. It’s hard not to look at at other classes around the league — like the Minnesota Vikings and the stinkin’ Cowboys — and feel not as great about what the Eagles accomplished.
- The rumors about the Eagles dangling Dillard on the trade market leading up to Day 1 of the draft got swept under the rug during such a busy news cycle. But, uh, it’s pretty concerning we continue to hear there’s less than 100% confidence in Dillard taking over at left tackle.
I’ll give this class a straight C. I think there’s a lot of potential here but I’m not so sure how much of it is likely to pan out. The Hurts pick is a major negative.