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Can Howie Roseman and the Eagles reverse their trend of mid-to-late first round misses?

Should the Eagles trade up inside The Magic 13?

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last year, Howie Roseman and the Eagles worked some real magic at the NFL Draft.

Based on their 4-11-1 record, Philadelphia entered the off-season with the No. 6 overall pick, a pick they traded away to the Miami Dolphins a month before the draft, moving back six spots to No. 12, while also acquiring a first round pick in the 2022 Draft. Then, on draft night, the Birds moved up two spots to No. 10, sending a third round pick to the Dallas Cowboys and jumping in front of the New York Giants to select Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

Howie Roseman arguably got the best wide receiver prospect in the draft while also acquiring a first round pick in this year’s draft, a player who set the franchise rookie receiving record last year (916), establishing himself as a rising star in the league. It was, without a doubt, a terrific pick, a sea change from some previous drafts that were littered with first round misses and galaxy-brain thinking.

Roseman has been in charge of Eagles’ drafts since 2010 (with the exception of Chip Kelly’s ascension to top dog that included the ‘15 Draft), and below are all of his first round selections.

Eagles 1st Round Picks Under Howie Roseman

Year Player Position Pick No.
Year Player Position Pick No.
2010 Brandon Graham EDGE 13
2011 Danny Watkins OG 23
2012 Fletcher Cox DT 12
2013 Lane Johnson OT 4
2014 Marcus Smith EDGE 26
2016 Carson Wentz QB 2
2017 Derek Barnett EDGE 14
2018 No Pick
2019 Andre Dillard OT 22
2020 Jalen Reagor WR 21
2021 DeVonta Smith WR 10

There’s no question Roseman has had some first round winners, including Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Carson Wentz and DeVonta Smith. All are, or were, outstanding players for the Eagles, the first four of whom were integral in their Super Bowl championship in 2017. All were drafted within the first 13 picks of the draft.

The Magic 13.

Watkins, Smith, Barnett, Dillard and Reagor were all drafted at No. 14 or later.

The Tragic 14-and-Under.

Fast forward to this year, with Roseman pulling off a pre-draft trade that moves him down the pecking order a bit while allowing him to pick up another first rounder next season. After his deal with the Saints, the Eagles now sit with their original No. 15, as well as No. 18.

Those two spots are not in The Magic 13, but is there really that big a difference between drafting in the top 13 and picking just a few spots later? Historically, under Howie Roseman, there has been. Given that, should he be looking to move up a few spots and wade into an area where there is a little more certainty?

Before we decide, let’s take a look at the players taken at Nos. 15 and 18 overall over the last 10 drafts.

  • 2021: Mac Jones (QB), Jaelan Phillips (DL)
  • 2020: Jerry Jeudy (WR), Austin Jackson (OT)
  • 2019: Dwayne Haskins (QB), Garrett Bradbury (C)
  • 2018: Kolton Miller (OT), Jaire Alexander (CB)
  • 2017: Malik Hooker (S), Adoree’ Jackson (CB)
  • 2016: Corey Coleman (WR), Ryan Kelly (C)
  • 2015: Melvin Gordon (RB), Marcus Peters (CB)
  • 2014: Ryan Shazier (LB), Calvin Pryor (DB)
  • 2013: Kenny Vaccaro (DB), Eric Reid (DB)
  • 2012: Bruce Irvin (DE), Melvin Ingram (DE)

There are more success stories than not out of those 20 players, including last year’s picks, Mac Jones, who is coming off an outstanding rookie season for the Patriots, and linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who recorded 8.5 sacks as a rookie last season for the Dolphins. Bradbury has been the Vikings’ starting center since his rookie season, Miller has started at left tackle all four seasons he’s been with the Raiders, as has Jaire Alexander with Green Bay.

Ryan Kelly has made the Pro Bowl three straight years with the Colts at center. Gordon, when healthy, has been a productive running back in the NFL, and Peters was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, a three-time Pro Bowl corner and two-time First Team All-Pro in 2016 & ‘17 for the Chiefs.

Shazier was selected to two Pro Bowls before becoming partially paralyzed, unable to move his legs after making a tackle in a game in ‘17. Thankfully he’s recovered his ability to walk, but retired from football in 2020. Vaccaro played 8 years in the league with 10 career INTs and 11.5 sacks in 110 games. Reid went to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season and has 11 career INTs in 99 games for the 49ers and Panthers. Irvin has 52 career sacks in 127 games, while Ingram has 51 sacks in 128 games. Both have had outstanding NFL careers.

Of course, they can’t all be success stories, but that’s as true in the middle of the first round as it is any other spot. The late Dwayne Haskins (RIP), Corey Coleman, and Calvin Pryor were unable to meet lofty first round expectations, while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has shown flashes in his two seasons with the Broncos, but missed seven games last year due to injury, and started only five.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of good talent in the middle of the first round if you are an astute GM with a cohesive plan and solid scouting department, and I would argue there is a big difference between drafting at Nos. 15 and 18 and selecting players in the 20s, an area where a number of Roseman’s misses occurred.

I am by no means confident in Howie Roseman’s ability to draft the right players, but perhaps one can hope that what appears to be a successful 2021 Eagles draft will portend good things for this year. The Birds’ top five picks: Smith, Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams, Zech McPhearson and Kenneth Gainwell, all appear solid-to-great, and if the Eagles stand pat, it certainly would be instructive to see how Roseman and the rest of the staff does. Given the holes the team has and the need for more young, cheap, high-end talent to fill them, the Eagles should stay where they are unless they are blown away with an offer from a GM who has lost sense of his faculties.

Fingers crossed picking outside The Magic 13 doesn’t mean another Watkins or Reagor this time around.