Over the next few days, I will be reviewing each draft class in the NFC East to get a sense of the future in Philadelphia’s division.
The Eagles had the need, the need for speed. All over their roster, the Eagles had a glaring lack of athleticism. Howie Roseman well aware of this much and used the 2020 NFL Draft to throw the kitchen sink at it.
Jalen Reagor, Wide Receiver, TCU
In the moment, a lot of people were let down by the Jalen Reagor pick. However, that mostly felt like people still reeling from Dallas picking CeeDee Lamb. A few days removed and everyone should be excited about this pick. Reagor came into the 2019 season with a lot of hype. The speedy playmaker just came off his first 1,000 yard season where he set the Big 12 on fire. Unfortunately, TCU’s offensive woes held Reagor back. According to Pro Football Focus, only 33% of Reagor’s targets were catchable; easily the lowest figure among top receivers. For comparison, former Eagles darling Justin Jefferson saw 87% of his targets deemed catchable. Pretty serious disparity.
Once you can see that Reagor was in a uniquely bad situation last year, it becomes a lot easier to be excited about him in Philly. Reagor is a special athlete with easy speed and a surprising ability to play above the rim. With Carson Wentz throwing him the ball, Reagor should produce big plays from day one. He could be a unpolished early on, but the Eagles would be smart to feed him the ball given his propensity to turn any touch into a big play. Needless to say, Reagor is a high upside player who landed in the perfect situation to succeed. A guy with his talent and competitive fire is exactly what the Eagles need at their receiver position.
Jalen Hurts, Quarterback, Oklahoma
At this point, essays have already been written about Jalen Hurts becoming an Eagle. Hurts is no doubt a talented quarterback prospect and I can say plenty about his upside as a future NFL starter. However, it was no doubt head scratching to take a back up quarterback in the second round when there were so many talented prospects available who could contribute on day one.
It is a bit odd to think of drafting a player where the best case scenario is they never play. However it is hard to ignore the reality of Carson Wentz’ and injuries. I am not here to say Wentz is injury prone. However, Wentz could be another serious injury away from early retirement. The Eagles need to account for that and Hurts could be the answer. Hurts is a mobile quarterback which means he could come onto the field in a pinch and create offense without necessarily being comfortable in the passing game. However, Hurts also grew into a very consistent passer at Oklahoma. It is notable when a quarterback prospect improves every year in college and Hurts as a freshman at Alabama to Hurts as a senior at Oklahoma is night and day. The Eagles drafted a gifted, hardworking and high character player who could end up taking meaningful snaps in the future, however hard a reality that is to face.
Davion Taylor, Linebacker, Colorado
I got to be honest, but this was probably my least favorite of the Eagles picks. However, the Eagles had a huge need at linebacker going into the draft and Taylor was the team’s first chance at supplementing it.
Taylor’s upside is obvious as a a six foot, 230 pound linebacker with sub 4.5 speed but he is as raw of a linebacker prospect as there is in this class and there were linebackers on the board who could contribute sooner. Taylor’s short term outlook is immediately contributing as a special teams player and maybe coming on as a sub package linebacker. However, that is a huge reach given his inexperience. The Eagles are betting heavily on developing Taylor into a new-age linebacker, which was understandable until they made their next pick…
K’Von Wallace, Safety, Clemson
The Eagles followed up Taylor by making my favorite pick in the class. K’Von Wallace was a huge contributor over the last two years for the Clemson Tigers and figures to step into the Eagles lineup sooner than later.
The reason picking Wallace retroactively made the Taylor pick a built curious is because ideally they play the same position. Wallace is a true strong safety who can cover the slot or step into the box like a coverage linebacker. The Eagles had been using Malcolm Jenkins in this role for a few years now and Wallace is an obvious choice to take his spot, making Taylor a bit redundant in the defensive lineup. Wallace is pro-ready as a box safety. His combination of smarts and physicality make him a safe player to walk up to the line of scrimmage to defend against the run in sub packages or cover tight ends, slot receivers and running backs. Wallace is going to become a fan favorite very quickly with his hard hitting playing style and consistency as a big role player.
Jack Driscoll, Offensive Lineman, Auburn
Another great pick by the Eagles. Jack Driscoll was a bit undersized to play offensive tackle in the NFL, but he is experienced playing all over the offensive line. The athletic and physical Driscoll has plenty to offer not only as a versatile offensive linemen, but also as a great locker room presence. Driscoll started his college career at UMass where he graduated in three years before transferring to Auburn where he was a key contributor.
Driscoll is a great pick as a developmental player and could step in to start at guard in a season or two.
John Hightower, Wide Receiver, Boise State
The Eagles dipped into the wide receiver class again to get the talented John Hightower. The 6’1” speedster was a phenomenal deep threat at Boise State and now doubt the Eagles hope his speed will translate pretty quickly to the NFL. Hightower is an “on the ground player” who gets open with great quickness and route running while then making big plays after the catch. Hightower is not an overly physical player and he won’t make big catches in traffic; but he is a lightning in a bottle player who the Eagles could develop into a deep threat.
Shaun Bradley, Linebacker, Temple
I kept mocking Temple players to the Eagles but I missed on which one they’d draft.
I love the Bradley pick for the Eagles. Not only does the athletic defender have serious upside as a weak side linebacker in the NFL, he was also a special teams contributor who made a difference on punt fakes and kick coverage teams. Bradley will contribute immediately on special teams and could grow into a defensive difference maker. That is fantastic value for a day three pick.
Quez Watkins, Wide Receiver, Southern Mississippi
Like many anticipated, the Eagles triple dipped into this extremely deep wide receiver class. Quez Watkins flew a bit under the radar due to the class depth, but he can certainly make a difference in an offense.
Watkins has legit speed that can flip a field on any given target. He is a gifted route runner who doesn’t lose speed through cuts and creates separation in an instant. Watkins is not the most physical player and wilted a bit against tougher competition, but he has workable tools to become a role player in an offense.
Prince Tega Wanogho, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
The Eagles made another slam dunk pick here, or as slam dunk a pick as you can get this late in the draft. Prince Tega Wanogho was ranked in my top 75 and the Eagles stole him at the back of the sixth round.
Physically, there is not a single limitation for the raw and talented lineman. Tega Wanogho came to Auburn by way of Nigeria where he played mostly soccer and basketball. He quickly grew into a difference maker on the Auburn line. Well hile he evidently has room to grow as a technician; his athletic ability and flashes of dominance make this an exciting pick for the Eagles.
Casey Toohill, Edge, Stanford
Casey Toohill only started a single season at Stanford, but the 6’4”, 250 pounder made a huge difference posting eight sacks and 11 total tackles for a loss. Toohill is a gifted football player whose athleticism immediately translated in college into pass rushing production. Toohill’s fit in Philadelphia makes sense. He is a gifted pass rusher with lots of room to develop further as an edge defender. He can add muscle to his frame, add pass rushing moves and ideally improve as a run defender.
For a seventh round pick, getting this type of upside is tremendous. The Eagles have proved they can develop raw defensive linemen and Toohill’s tools have to have Jim Schwartz’s staff incredibly excited.