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NFL Draft Grades: Eagles earn the third-highest GPA

Let’s take a look at the report cards.

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The 2022 NFL Draft is over and now it’s time for people to talk about draft grades are dumb. And that means it’s time for me to talk about how it’s dumb to say draft grades are dumb.

For starters, they can be fun to discuss and that’s part of being a fan. Just relax, it’s not that serious.

It also seems pretty fair to evaluate the process behind these selections based on the information we have at the time. In what world do we only ever wait to see how things fully play out years down the line in order to make judgments on them?

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at how various experts around the interwebs are grading the Philadelphia Eagles’ class.

Consensus

The Eagles finished with the third-highest GPA. Not a bad place to be! No one gave them a grade below a “B.” There’s no thought anywhere that the draft was bad.

The Ringer (A+)

Danny Kelly really loved what the Eagles did.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman wheeled and dealed his way to a wild weekend haul. He moved up to get in front of the Ravens in the first round to select Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a mammoth of a man who brings extraordinary speed and quickness for a 341-pound frame. He then turned his second of two first-round picks into superstar Titans receiver A.J. Brown, securing a big, YAC-creating pass-catcher to pair with DeVonta Smith. He grabbed a hyper-athletic center prospect and potential future Jason Kelce successor in Nebraska’s Cam Jurgens in the second round, then stopped Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean’s shocking fall later in the round. It didn’t matter what they did on day three because that series of events secures Philly an A+ draft.

An A+ ignores some of the fair things to quibble about, the way I see it. But a case for an A+ is not unreasonable, especially if we’re factoring in the trade to pick up the Saints’ 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick. A seemingly strong UDFA class also somewhat offsets the lack of volume on Day 3.

SB Nation (A)

Best pick: Nakobe Dean, LB (83). Worst pick: Grant Calcaterra, TE (198)

This was a huge haul for the Eagles, especially when you factor in that they managed to trade for, and extend A.J. Brown. Philadelphia got better on both sides of the offensive line, picked up mega value in Nakobe Dean, who is going to be a difference maker despite his size, and really maximized their picks to improve in major ways. Great draft.

Well said.

Pro Football Focus (A)

Day 1: The Eagles came into the draft with multiple first-round picks and used one of them on a veteran player, trading with Tennessee for superstar wide receiver A.J. Brown and giving him the contract extension the Titans wouldn’t.

Their other pick was spent on monster defensive tackle Jordan Davis. There have been concerns about Davis’ ability to play a high volume of snaps, but there are so many things to love about what the 341-pounder can bring to Philadelphia’s defense. He can single-handedly change the way a defense operates against the run, allowing the Eagles to devote more resources to coverage and creating more third-and-long situations. And Davis’ rare athleticism at his size points to the idea that he’s not just an early-down run-stuffer. He represents the future at the position, with Fletcher Cox trending in the wrong direction the past few years.

Day 2: Cam Jurgens is a prospect that PFF is lower on than the consensus, as he was barely a top-100 player on the big board. The Nebraska Cornhusker is an uber-athlete, but he has to do a much better job playing with better balance. Jurgens was a poor performer during his first two years at the position in 2019 and 2020 with 44.1 and 42.7 PFF grades, but he showed some modest growth in 2021 with a 71.4 overall mark. Still, there’s a long road ahead to refinement for the center, but the Eagles are in a position to get him there.

Nakobe Dean was the best player on the best defense college football has ever seen. He slid in the draft largely because of injuries, but even if he has to redshirt an entire season, Dean will be a steal at this spot in the draft. Few linebackers have ever had the kind of play recognition that Dean possesses, and his tape is full of elite playmaking. This is one of the steals of the draft.

Day 3: An above-average athlete, Kryon Johnson will likely make his mark on special teams as he fights for a roster spot in Philadelphia. A four-year starter with the Kansas Jayhawks, Johnson produced at a number of different positions and should provide some depth and versatility for the Eagles.

PFF really loves A.J. Brown. He was their fourth-best graded WR in 2021, their fourth-best in 2020, and 13th-best in 2019.

It’s cool that Jason Kelce really likes Jurgens. But his approval should hardly erase all doubts about the prospect’s outlook. PFF clearly isn’t totally sold on Jurgens being a good player.

More and more reason to be excited about Dean.

NFL.com (A)

Analysis: The Eagles pulled off an excellent draft, making great trades with the Colts (last year’s Carson Wentz deal) and Saints (acquiring future picks) before the event even started. They secured a beast on the defensive line in Davis to improve their run defense, acquired veteran A.J. Brown from the Titans to bolster the receiver group, secured a future starting center in Jurgens and put aside Dean’s medical issues to bring in the top-50 talent in the third round.

Adding another linebacker in Johnson was a bit of a surprise; it was at a good spot in the draft and he could be a good Sam. Calcaterra temporarily gave up football due to concussions while at Oklahoma but proved his pass-catching skills again at SMU; he’ll be a valuable backup or better in the NFL.

Another high mark for the Birds.

BGN Radio (A-)

Spoiler alert: I gave the Eagles an A- while Jimmy Kempski gave them a B+. Listen to our thorough post-draft podcast for more analysis:

Bleeding Green Nation readers (A-)

A slight majority of BGN readers voted for the top option.

DraftKings Nation (A-)

This draft was incredible for the Eagles. They picked up AJ Brown from the Titans to address their wide receiver need and Jordan Davis should be an instant starter on the defensive line. Due to some injuries, one of the best linebackers in the entire draft, Nakobe Dean, fell right into their laps in the third round and is expected to be ready for training camp. The only knock is that they could’ve looked at safety, but this draft went well for the Birds.

Pretty accurate assessment.

TouchdownWire (A-)

The extent to which you’re all in on this draft has a lot to do with your view of Jordan Davis’ NFL potential. If you think he’s stuck as a two-down run-plugger, you’re likely put off by a 13th overall pick here. But if, like me, you have studied what Davis was asked to do in Georgia’s defense (hold the point more than pressure), and you aren’t worried about weight and effort stuff, and you see the flashes of total disruption against the best the NCAA has to offer, you might think the Eagles got Vita Vea with even more pass-rushing potential. I’m in the latter camp, so there you go.

As to Jurgens, the athletic Nebraska center, Jason Kelce has already taken the rookie under his wing, and even suggested to the Eagles that they select his eventual replacement. Jurgens will lose strength battles (like Kelce), but also like Kelce, he’s a tough, smart blocker who can run any kind of zone you want, and can also beat people up at the second and that levels.

And to get Nakobe Dean, Davis’ past and future teammate, where they did? Well, Dean had first-round tape and third-round medicals. It’s a bit of a risk, but if healthy, Dean can solve most of the Eagles’ linebacker problems in a hurry. Grant Calcaterra is a sneaky-good tight end who can excel in this offense.

Given the future draft capital they got from the Saints pre-draft, it’s hard to dislike where the Eagles went, especially if Dean pans out.

As if you didn’t already know, I’m also on the same side when it comes to Davis.

Football Outsiders (B+)

The Eagles four-pronged master plan for 2022: remain playoff competitive; find successors for Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce; accurately appraise Jalen Hurts; and maintain enough draft capital to either replace or further support Hurts in 2022. Such a complex agenda is only feasible because other general managers get drunk and rain extra draft picks on Howie Roseman in criminally lopsided trades once or twice per year. Still, it’s a delicate juggling act. Jordan Davis could be Cox Redux, Cam Jurgens is a low-risk Kelce replacement, A.J. Brown provides a veteran go-to receiver while eliminating potential excuses, and Nakobe Dean could be an all-time draft steal if those turn out to be the radiologist’s thumbprints on his X-rays. But a lot can go wrong with a plan that has this many moving parts, and adding $100 million to the payroll while all-but punting on Day 3 comes with its own parcel of risks. Also, the Eagles added Carson Strong, the human embodiment of the Nick Foles statue outside of Lincoln Financial Field, as a UDFA, and I already have a migraine from anticipating what the local sports talk station will think of him.

Really like Mike Tanier but don’t totally agree with Jurgens being considered “low-risk.” He offers worthwhile potential but he was hardly the consensus best player available. Burning a year of his rookie contract only for him to maybe take over for Kelce in 2023 isn’t great. And if he only turns out to be an average(ish) center who can’t even play guard, well, using No. 51 on him was not a good use of resources. Jurgens might very well work out but the risk level is higher than portrayed here.

The Athletic (B+)

Their draft is tough to evaluate. I loved the A.J. Brown trade. The big reason why? He’s going to be just 25 going into next season. The Eagles get him for his age 25, 26, 27 and 28 seasons. He has an All-Pro ceiling and ranks fourth in yards per route run over the past three seasons. He’s also getting less guaranteed money than Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams. If you’re the Eagles, you make that trade every time. The rest of the draft is tricky. Davis has the upside to be a game-wrecker. He’s 6-foot-6, 341 and one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen come into the league. Having said that, he never had more than 2.5 sacks in a season in college. Last year, he averaged just 25.2 snaps per game and came off the field in pass-rushing situations. If the Eagles can unlock Davis’ pass rush, this move is a home run. But look at the rest of the top-20 picks. Other than maybe Travon Walker, the focus for pretty much every player picked in that range is on affecting the passing game. I have no issue with the Eagles taking a swing on Davis, but it’s fair to wonder whether they would have been better off drafting Kyle Hamilton — either after the trade up or by sitting at 16. Jurgens is an excellent prospect, but he figures to be blocked from playing time by Jason Kelce for at least 2022. Dean feels like one of the draft’s biggest steals. Even if he’s just an average starting linebacker, that’s good value at 83. According to Next Gen Stats, the Eagles drafted the NFL’s most athletic class. The Eagles’ draft volume (five) is misleading when you consider they also added Brown and a 2023 first and a 2024 second from the Saints. Earlier this offseason, I wrote about employing the armpit test when making decisions. The idea is that you want opposing coaches to feel a little perspiration when thinking about having to game plan for your team. I don’t know if all of the Eagles’ moves will work out, but with Howie Roseman’s additions of Brown and Davis, they became harder to play.

Brown was such a no-brainer addition at the cost. It’s a big deal that he’s currently only 24 years old. Any criticism of him not posting bigger volume numbers is silly because it doesn’t account for how he played in one of the run heaviest offenses due to the presence of Derrick Henry.

I totally understand the arguments against Davis. I don’t agree that he doesn’t affect the passing game. First of all, he figures to be allowed to attack upfield more often in Philly than he was in Georgia’s two-gapping system. Also, there’s value in Davis creating third-and-long situations with his run-stopping ability.

The last point here about the Eagles being a more intimidating team is worthwhile. At their best, Brown and Davis are bullies on the field.

In addition to Sheil Kapadia giving the Eagles a B+, draft guru Dane Brugler ranked his favorite classes and had Philly fifth.

Favorite pick: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia. The Eagles drafted only five players, but they also used one of their first-rounders to trade for veteran receiver A.J. Brown, which is why they belong in the top five. In the second round, they were torn between Jurgens and Dean, and they went with the interior blocker, who was my No. 49 overall player and a good value there. But to their surprise, Dean was still available in the mid-third round, and general manager Howie Roseman seized the opportunity. I was told by multiple teams that they dinged Dean for “minor knee and pectoral” issues, but neither were considered long-term problems. With his play speed and diagnose skills, Dean was more than worth the risk at that point in the draft.

Day 3 pick who could surprise: Kyron Johnson, Edge, Kansas. A surprising combine snub, Johnson lit up his pro day (4.40 40-yard dash, 6.98 three-cone, 39.5-inch vertical) and continued to build upon the momentum he created at the Senior Bowl. Yes, he is undersized, but he will be a star on special teams while defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon figures out the best way to utilize his speed in the Eagles’ front seven.

Brugler was higher on Jurgens than most.

Good to see Dean’s medical issues aren’t considered long-term problems.

ESPN (B+)

At the beginning of April, the Eagles owned pick Nos. 15, 16 and 19 as a result of trades with Miami and Indianapolis. They were set up to be the key team in the middle of Round 1. Then they made a deal with the Saints, who wanted to add another first-round pick in this class. To do so, New Orleans gave up a ton of future capital, sending Philadelphia a 2023 first-round selection and 2024 second-rounder, while the Eagles still had two premium picks at Nos. 15 and 18 in this draft.

So how did Philly fare on Day 1? Well, it packaged the first pick to move up a couple of spots for massive defensive tackle Jordan Davis (13), who plugs a hole in the middle of the D. Then it traded the No. 18 pick and a late third-rounder to Tennessee for 24-year-old wide receiver A.J. Brown, who had 24 touchdown catches in three seasons for the Titans. That’s a solid Day 1, as Brown — who is younger than a few prospects in this class — makes a lot of sense on the other side of DeVonta Smith and gives Jalen Hurts a proven playmaker.

I also liked the Eagles’ picks on Day 2, in particular middle linebacker Naboke Dean (83), who is the steal of the draft based on my board. He went a full two rounds after I would have taken him, because teams flagged his medical reports. Philadelphia believes he’ll be ready for training camp, though, and so I’m excited to see him quickly become a leader of the defense (and play with his former Georgia teammate Davis). Cam Jurgens (51) is my second-ranked center, and he will likely replace Jason Kelce when Kelce calls it quits.

Philadelphia had just two picks on Day 3, but the Dean pick, the addition of Brown and the extra premium capital in 2023 and 2024 means general manager Howie Roseman put together one of the best drafts of the year.

No shortage of Dean as the “steal of the draft” talk.

CBS Sports (B+)

Best Pick: It’s first-round defensive tackle Jordan Davis. He is a good run player, but he will be much more. He’s a massive man who can anchor in for the run, but will improve as a pass rusher.

Worst Pick: Third-round linebacker Nakobe Dean was rumored to be a first-round pick, but he had some injury questions and he isn’t big. That’s why he dropped to the third.

The Skinny: General manager Howie Roseman had a good weekend. He traded to get receiver receiver A.J. Brown and then took Davis in the first. Second-round center Cam Jurgens will take over as the starter when Jason Kelce retires. Counting Brown, it’s a good haul.

When Dean at No. 83 is your worst pick, you’re doing OK. (It really should have been Jurgens or one of the Day 3 selections. Definitely not Davis or Dean.)

NBC Sports Edge (B)

I had zero problems with the Jordan Davis pick. Multiple teams in front of Philadelphia at least gave passing thoughts to taking him, and Davis almost assuredly would have been taken by Baltimore had the Eagles not pounced. Nakobe Dean was one of the draft’s biggest steals. The Eagles didn’t so much in the draft on Day 3, but spoiler alert: They were busy in the UDFA sweepstakes and came out with a haul. More on that in my upcoming UDFA class rankings.

Interested to see Thor Nystrom’s UDFA rankings because he always does a good job with those.