Philadelphia is “The City of Brotherly Love.” What people who haven’t been a part of a brotherhood either by blood or by bond don’t understand is that a brotherhood isn’t your normal type of love. In a brotherhood we can give each other crap all day and it’s no big deal. Being a fan of a team is a brotherhood, and in that brotherhood we can trash on our team. If someone else does it, STFU, but we can do what we want, it’s our team.
I am not a "fan" of the Eagles. That's inaccurate. I hate them very much but just want them to win more than anything. It's different.— joe м (@dr_pizza_MD) May 23, 2017
In that spirit, some of your questions for this mailbag were of the talk crap about our own team variety. I like that. Everyone is always so optimistic this time of year, post-draft analysis is full of roses. That guy drafted in the 5th round you’ve never heard of? Stud. Guy that everyone thinks the team reached for? They know something everyone else doesn’t! Maybe, but probably not. There will be a whole summer to have those dreams.
But not today. Today, let’s Negadelphia it bit. There were a few questions that I want to go more in depth on tomorrow. Today let’s rain all over our own parade of getting excited about a great draft.
Bressticle: We’ve heard over and over how this draft is so spectacular. The chance all the drafted players stick on the roster and produce is near zero. What’s the over/under on how many of this class are average or better as starters/regular rotation during their rookie contracts?
You are correct, the chances that every draft pick hits are near zero. For a team with average draft capital (three top 100-ish picks, 8 or 9 total selections) two starters and a couple of contributors is par.
The Eagles’ 2018 draft was excellent: Dallas Goedert, Jordan Mailata, Josh Sweat, and Avonte Maddox. One draft, four starters. But they also took Matt Pryor, who to his credit is still in the league but is now on his third team (SF) in four years. Great draft and still didn’t hit on every pick.
I mentioned this before but the 2012 draft class initially looked like an all timer for the Eagles. It was in fact an excellent one, but not quite as we first imagined. Five years later it had produced two starters (Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks), two high tier backups/low tier starters (Nick Foles and Vinny Curry), and a quality backup (Dennis Kelly). Two of those players had left the team by then, though obviously Foles had returned. To get five NFLers in a draft is extremely good.
Considering the Eagles had seven picks, but two were 1sts and four total were in the top 100 (and a fifth at 105), I put the over/under on starters at 1.5 and rotation/situational players at 0.5.
DoubleplusUngood: Sydney Brown has me excited! But I always get excited about safeties we draft, then they end up breaking my heart. Tell me it will be different with Sydney!
I can’t. I just can’t get excited about another safety draft pick. I won’t go down that road again. And I’d be a little concerned that he played in the secondary with two top 50 picks. But a lot of people liked him, if Brown doesn’t work out it won’t be because the Eagles galaxy brained it. Sometimes good prospects just don’t pan out.
Kephas: From a talent perspective, drafting all these Georgia players makes a ton of sense. From a locker room perspective, is there any risk in bringing in too many players from a single school? As in, with so many players who already know each other from (and had extreme success at) their college, could you unintentionally create a Georgia “clique”? (FWIW, Carter aside, most of these guys seem to be pretty high character guys, so maybe a non-issue, but can’t recall another time a team took so many players from one place within 2 years).
This one I’m not worried about. You’re right that it runs the risk of creating a clique, but I think that risk is minimal. In the past three years the Eagles have brought in eight players from the 2020-2022 college football champions: Devonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, Josh Jobe, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, and Kelee Ringo. Except for Jordan Davis, who was a 3 star prospect (lol) they were all 4 or 5 star prospects who went to programs where not winning the national championship was considered a failure. Being successful is in their DNA, and drafting top players from those programs will benefit a locker room. These guys generally–but not always–come with a baked in high floor of professionalism, maturity, and mindset. Alabama and Georgia are as close to NFL teams as we’ve ever seen in college, the learning curve for their players is relatively shallow.
And the Eagles are in a really strong position to take on the risk of a clique forming. This team is of course the defending NFC Champions, the vocal leader of the defense is a Super Bowl champion, and obviously there is a core of veterans on both sides of the ball who have walked the walk in the NFL and won the Super Bowl. Good luck to any rookie who thinks he can walk into the locker room and thinks he knows better. It helps that Nolan Smith was a leader at UGA, as long as he’s right–and there’s little reason to think he isn’t–the rest should be good. It also helps that Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean had a year up on them; and to a lesser extent D’Andre Swift adds another familiar face to help them navigate the locker room, he overlapped with Smith, Dean, and Davis in Athens.
Familiar faces, high caliber veteran leaders, a team that just accomplished a lot without them... nothing is certain but the Eagles are well positioned.
Jeffrp: Fast forward a year: Tanner McKee ends up the best player from this draft. Fire Howie? Or Fire Sirianni?
If one year from now Tanner McKee is the best player the Eagles drafted then something has gone horribly wrong with this team but that would probably also mean that McKee is a diamond in the rough if he’s the best of them. So extensions for both?
Cwel87: What coach out there is both more incompetent and more easy to despise than Jonathan Gannon? The utter predictability of his downfall will make it no less glorious.
Eagles senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia.
Redburb: Should the Eagles at least consider signing Kenny Golladay? AJ Brown isn’t exactly a paragon of health and the Eagles could use some size in their depth.
“We have too many WRs” is not something teams complain about, so yeah, another signing there wouldn’t hurt. Brown missed two games in 2020 and had “cleanup” surgery on both his knees that offseason, and then missed four games with a chest injury in 2021, but didn’t miss any games in 2022. However, Dallas Goedert missed five games in 2022, two in 2021, and five 2020. The Eagles are able to survive one of Brown/DeVonta Smith/Goedert being out for a few games, but what if two of them are out? A little insurance would be nice.
But I wouldn’t sign Golladay, who seems like a vibes killer, and if I were his agent I wouldn’t steer him to the Eagles anyway, he has no shot at a starting job and is unlikely to get a lot of playing time. If I was Howie Roseman I would look to bring in someone who accepts that they’d be a role player, and if they have special teams value that’s a bonus. The only player who fits that description is Byron Pringle, who played less than half of snaps in half of his games with the Bears last year and in 2021 returned 25 kickoffs for the Chiefs.
TraugDog: What position still needs to be addressed? Off the top of my head, I think of ILB and punter.
They reportedly signed P/K Ty Zetner from Kansas State as an UDFA, so cross that off the list. I’d like to see another body at ILB, slot corner, and as mentioned above WR, and they did sign UDFAs at those positions. There will be more moves when veterans get cut (last year James Bradberry was cut on May 9) and you know that Howie Roseman will be working the phones in August.
There’s another position that has been overlooked: left tackle. The team hasn’t actually replaced Andre Dillard’s spot on the depth chart. Tyler Steen played LT in college at Vanderbilt and Alabama, but the Eagles were quick to announce he’d be in competition for RG. At the moment the contenders for backups are Jack Driscoll, who has one career start at LT and has mostly played on the right side when he’s played either tackle or guard; Brett Toth, who was injured all of last year and has 150 career snaps on offense; Fred Johnson, who has been on four teams since entering the league in 2019; Roderick Johnson, who hasn’t appeared in a game since 2020; Jarrid Williams, who was released off the practice squad last year; and Julian Good-Jones, who spent the previous two seasons in Canada.
Not feeling good about those options.
Godzilla: Based on what we saw last year, what does Nakobe Dean need to show the coaches to start this year, and also earn the green dot? If it’s not Dean, who’s got the dot?
Nicholas Morrow wore the dot for the Bears last year, I think giving him the dot and letting Dean, who is basically a redshirt freshman, just worry about playing would be the best move.
Kroons518: Do we break tradition next year and draft a linebacker in the 1st round??? Jeremiah Trotter Jr would get a road-warrior pop
Trotter is one of my favorite Eagles, so the idea of having Trotter Jr.–who is a good prospect–on the team is extremely enticing to me. But there’s just no way the Eagles take any LB in the 1st.
Staggs066: You can have one do-over from either of these busted draft pick scenarios, while keeping everything else on the roster the same (rank them in order of preference):
* Take Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor (2020)
* Take Montez Sweat over Andre Dillard (2019)
* Take Budda Baker over Derek Barnett (2017)
* Take Joe Mixon over Sidney Jones (2017)
This would be considerably easier if any of them went to Georgia. Oh well.
Justin Jefferson is great, but is a 3rd great WR the best use of this resource? Going for immediate need doesn’t help much though. Joe Mixon is in legal trouble again. Budda Baker would give the Eagles a bonafide starting safety right now, but they’re not going to give him the contract he wants so he’d be gone in a year. And does taking him retroactively take away Derek Barnett’s fumble recovery in the Super Bowl?
I think I’ll go in the same order these were presented. 1: Jefferson, an elite player at a premium position; 2: Sweat, a good player at a premium position (a Sweat/Sweat double team sack-no relation-would be fun); 3 Baker, a good player at a position of need that they wouldn’t keep; and 4 Mixon, who makes my skin crawl.
Hotcakes33: If you could change any one of the Eagles’ draft picks for a player chosen after that pick, who and why would you have chosen them instead?
Drew Sanders. BUT WATCH HIM PLAY FOLKS
YouWantPhillyPhilly: What do you think the breakdown will be of our RB room in term of carries/utilization? Do you believe that Swift will have a great contract year?
I don’t think Swift will have a great contract year because I don’t see him getting enough playing time. Swift has played the majority of snaps in just 23 of his 40 games, and I don’t see that really changing this season. Kenneth Gainwell had overtaken Miles Sanders in playing time in the playoffs, playing only two fewer snaps against the Giants and then more snaps than Sanders in the NFCCG and Super Bowl. It seems unlikely that he would not get more playing time in 2023 than he had in 2022.
Add in Rashaad Penny to the mix along with Boston Scott and you’ve got a bunch of mouths to feed. Swift and Gainwell can be on the field in any situation, while Penny isn’t a three down back, had double digit touches just 16 times in his 42 games, and played 20+ snaps just 18 times, and has just 27 career receptions, while Gainwell had more than that in 2021 alone, and Swift has caught at least 46 passes every year. Scott also isn’t a three down back unless he’s playing the Giants.
Last season Miles Sanders and Gainwell combined for 85% of snaps and 85% of touches by RBs, they also both played in every game. I think the Eagles want to spread that out a little bit to lighten the load. If everyone stays reasonably healthy I imagine that Swift and Gainwell will combine for ~70% of snaps and touches and splitting the “games started” stat. Penny will pick up ~20% of snaps and touches, and Boston Scott the rest, ~10%. Of course we know that isn’t going to happen, running back is a fragile position, which is one reason why the Eagles have stocked up this year. Penny has played 42 games and missed 40; Swift has missed at least three games every season. Which is one reason why they added Swift, you can never have enough depth.
StoneColdKiller58: I’m tired of hearing the rosiest possible outcomes for our draft picks. Please give me some ‘median outcome’ and ‘worst case’ comps for our draft picks. I’m ready to be hurt!
I love this one so I saved it for last. I’ll do it in reverse order of selection.
Median outcome: Practice squad for 2023, cut at the end of the preseason in 2024.
Worst case: USFL backup a year from now.
Median outcome: Practice squad/USFL/XFL journeyman.
Worst case: Clayton Thorson.
Median outcome: Flashes of brilliance but nothing more. Rasul Douglas, Brandon Boykin.
Worst case: Totally forgettable. Trevard Lindley, Curtis Marsh.
Median outcome: Sticks around because they can’t find anyone better. K’Von Wallace, Jaylen Watkins. (Before you say Nate Allen, that would be an above average result, at least he got on the field.)
Worst case: Another failed safety draft pick. Earl Wolff, Macho Harris.
Median outcome: Backup who holds his own in limited playing time as an injury fill in, gets a chance to compete for a starting job with another team after his rookie contract through a combination of a team loving his draft profile and talking themselves into a player not being able to start on the Eagles offensive line doesn’t mean you’re bad (they wouldn’t be wrong). Benched by the end of year two and out of the league shortly thereafter.
Worst case: Andre Dillard, but without the comp pick.
Median outcome: 5-ish sacks a year starter, maybe a fluke double digit season season, plays for 2 or 3 teams in a 10 year career, sticking because of his athleticism (we can get the best out of him says every team that signs him) and positive off the field reputation but never hitting his ceiling. Takkarist McKinley, Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson.
Worst case: Barely sees the field because he can’t win at the line of scrimmage due to his size/strength, someone picks him up to see what they can do because he was a 1st round pick and it doesn’t work out. Marcus Smith’s career on paper, but for different reasons.
Median outcome: Solid but unspectacular starter, maybe a Pro Bowl or two early in his career, but done by the time he’s 31. BJ Raji was the 9th overall pick in 2009 and went to a Pro Bowl and was done after seven seasons at age 29; see also Dontari Poe, who was taken one pick before Fletcher Cox at 11th overall and done at age 30.
Worst case: Cut before his rookie contract is up for off the field reasons. Malik McDowell is probably why the Seahawks passed on him.