The 2017 NFL Draft for the Philadelphia Eagles was not good. It produced one replacement level starter, two backups that are still clinging to their roster spots, and nothing else of note beyond that. What if we could turn back time and do it all over? What if I am, right now, turning back time and doing it all over?
First, the rules of engagement... All trades before the draft and during the draft are final. I tried to keep the players I selected in the same range that they were selected in the actual draft. For example I wouldn’t consider replacing a second round pick with a fourth round selection and I typically tried to stay within 10-20 selections with it being less strict in later rounds. I can assure you that I played fast and loose with that rule, so try not to think too hard about it.
Enough qualifying (you aren’t reading this anyway), TO THE WAR ROOM!
1.14 MARLON HUMPHREY - Cornerback, Alabama
(Original Pick: Tennessee EDGE Derek Barnett)
In a draft where the Eagles needed to heavily address their cornerback situation, this is a no brainer.
Barnett has yet to live up to the hype, including a 2019 season where PFF graded him as the 4th best edge rusher on the Eagles. Barnett’s pedestrian pass rush productivity ranked tied for 3rd on the team with Josh Sweat, lagging behind Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. The “he’s only [age]” excuse is running on it’s last jiu legs entering 2020.
Humphrey on the other hand has been a plus starter on one of the most consistent defenses in the league. His career high QB Rating allowed in a season is just 81.4, he’s grabbed 7 career interceptions, 29 pass break-ups, and has allowed only four 100-yard games in his three years in the league.
Note: No, I don’t care that Barnett recovered a fumble in the Super Bowl after being put on his face by Nate Solder or that the Vikings tried to block him with a tight end working across the formation. That was three seasons ago, let it go.
Another Darn Note: Tre’Davious White fell out of range of my arbitrary rules at 27th overall, but yes, he obviously would’ve also been a much better selection than Barnett.
2.43 JOE MIXON - Running Back, Oklahoma
(Original Pick: Washington CB Sidney Jones)
With this pick, perhaps the term “historic class” wouldn’t become taboo in Philadelphia. Mixon was a first round talent with major concerns, so his slide was understandable, but the Eagles really missed the boat here.
Many wrote off Mixon after his rookie campaign netted only 3.5 yards per carry. What the filmed showed us was a rookie losing patience and trust with an offensive line than was continually dumped into his lap.
Since then he’s strung together two 1,000+ rushing seasons while contributing well in the passing game. Mixon’s yards after contact average has risen every year, landing him in the same company for that metric as Ezekiel Elliot, Saquon Barkley, and Mark Ingram in 2019.
With Mixon on board you likely don’t have have to ship a fourth round selection for Jay Ajayi or draft Miles Sanders in the second round in 2019. On second thought, perhaps the Eagles still draft Sanders as an insurance policy for an eventual contract situation with Mixon. With the Eagles reportedly having interest in JK Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, you never know.
Either way, with Mixon you get a very productive player, whereas Sidney Jones has struggled to stay on the field for a multitude of reasons.
3.99 EDDIE JACKSON - Safety, Alabama
(Original Pick: West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas)
Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins are on the roster, but nearing the 100th pick you aren’t looking for an immediate starter and Jackson is far too good to pass up here.
Jackson had first round film at Alabama, but his draft process was derailed after he broke his leg before coming out. Still, the league must’ve been smoking what Laremy Tunsil was on to let a two-time Pro Bowler fall this far.
Jackson’s knack for making big plays (10 interceptions, 5 touchdowns) may not have shown up right away in Philadelphia due to the depth at the position, but boy he would’ve saved a lot of headaches at the third safety spot.
4.118 SAMSON EBUKAM - Linebacker/EDGE, Eastern Washington
(Original Pick: North Carolina WR Mack Hollins)
In the fourth round you’re obviously looking for a guy that will align right and assign right. Despite what Carson Walch says, Hollins did neither.
It’s super slim pickings between this pick and the next, so there wasn’t a whole lot with which to work here. Ebukam is weird fit in the Eagles defense as he’s likely best at his current position of 3-4 outside linebacker. Regardless, he’s just flat out a better football player than the others selected in this range and his athletic testing suggested that he could project to different roles.
4.132 GEORGE KITTLE - Tight End, Iowa
(Original Pick: San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey)
Wow, what a steal! I’m so smart.
We all love Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but George Kittle has turned into the best tight end in the NFL (no, Travis Kelce did not die and I’m not reading the comments). Plus, Goedert wasn’t even in the picture yet and Brent Celek was nearing his twilight. For a team that utilizes 12 personnel as much as the Eagles, Kittle would’ve been an easy sell as a Celek replacement.
Teams viewed Kittle as a blocking tight end and lacked the imagination to project his 48 career college catches to the next level despite possessing 4.52 speed and crushing the broad jump (98th percentile). Personally, I blame Iowa.
5.166 DAVON GODCHAUX - Defensive Tackle, LSU
(Original Pick: West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson)
Here’s the sell... Gibson, bad. Godchaux, not so bad. Gibson, 81 career snaps. Godchaux, 1,893 career snaps. Boom, upgrade!
It wouldn’t be an Eagles draft without addressing the trenches, and Godchaux has at least had one solid year (2018) and is a perfectly cromulent run defender. He’s also much better than Elijah Qualls, who the Eagles would select a round later.
5.184 NATHAN GERRY - Linebacker, Nebraska
(Original Pick: See Above)
Again, slim pickings as you get into these later rounds and at least with Gerry you’ve got a quality backu- oh crap.
6.214 BRAD KAAYA - Quarterback, Miami
(Original Pick: Washington DT Elijah Qualls)
BECAUSE WE’RE A QB FACTORY BABY!