GETTING it right. That’s always the most important part. I could have put out a Draft Report on Sunday, but I wanted to make sure I got it right. So I took my time, and I went over every pick again. Repeatedly.
Often times, people base Draft grades on whether or not an NFL team got good college players, instead of if those players stand a chance of helping the team that drafted them. After all, addressing weakness really is the point, right?
Weaknesses. We headed into the Draft needing a starting Cornerback to help our pass rush, or a bell-cow Running Back to loosen things up for QB Carson Wentz. We could have also used an Outside Linebacker who isn’t a liability in coverage, even against Running Backs. Yet we got none of those things.
So what DID we get?
1st round/ DE – Derek Barnett.
Barnett sets the edge and generally doesn’t end up on the ground vs the run. That’s basically what you want from a DE, but he wasn’t brought here to just play DE, he’s here to be a dominant pass rusher. However, when I look at this game vs Alabama, I don’t see a quick get-off. I don’t see great change of direction. I don’t see him using an array of moves to win early against offensive linemen. Name one great pass rusher in the NFL who lacks all of those tools. You can’t, because there aren’t any.
I’ve read that his hands keep him from being blocked long, but I couldn’t find any game tape (games, not highlight reels) that show him doing it consistently. So far I see a guy who will have an NFL career, but I don’t see 10-12 sacks per year from him at this level. If he proves me wrong, AT THIS LEVEL, great. But until then… Grade: C
2nd round/ CB – Sidney Jones.
We needed a CB immediately. Taking one this high was the right move to make. Totally made sense. What would have made more sense, would have been selecting a player who isn’t already sidelined for 2017. Word around the Training Room is that next year, after he rehabs his torn ACL (CORRECTION: An alert reader (thank you Bobby) pointed out that it’s Jone’s Achilles, not ACL that tore. My apologies for the error), Jones will be as good as he ever was. Might even be a steal. That’s the talk.
On tape here, you see a CB who even from a cushion will begin to concede a lot of real estate before the snap. College will allow DB’s that flaw, but in the NFL it’ll quickly earn you a target on your back. Also his man-press doesn’t seem to lead to significant redirection of his assignment. Luckily, these are things which can be corrected with coaching. Provided (as hoped) that he didn’t leave any of his athleticism in the operating room. Grade: C
3rd round/ CB – Rasul Douglas.
Douglas has good size at 6’2, but his near 4.6 speed causes me to question if he can play on the outside at this level. Also on tape you see he can be beaten badly on quick routes inside. That’s alarming because for a 209 pound CB, his press at the line is lacking. (There were two videos I could have chosen to show, but the other one was played in snow. That’s not a fair condition to assess players.)
The plan may be to move him to Free Safety as an insurance policy behind Rod McLeod. However, right now it seems like the Eagles spent an early pick on a guy without a true role. Grade: C
4th round/ WR – Mack Hollins.
I flat out hate this pick. The Eagles went out and drafted a Special Teams coverage player, in the fourth round. Drafted him! Smart teams wait until after the Draft to get those guys. On top of that, as a WR he shuffles his feet at the snap and doesn’t attack his blocking assignments. Grade: F
4th round/ RB – Donnel Pumphrey.
We supposedly got him to replace Darren Sproles at some point. Then again we were sold the same bill of goods last year, regarding Byron Marshall, remember? To his credit, Pumphrey catches the ball pretty well, and is very nimble. If he can get the ball in open space, he can be an asset. Then again that statement likely would be true for most RB’s. Grade: C
5th round/ WR – Shelton Gibson.
I like this WR far more than the first one we selected. Although Gibson is also a drafted Special Teamer coverage guy, aspects of his game that say he may actually be able to contribute as a WR. He doesn’t hesitate at the snap and he aggressively gets into his blocks. (Which could help Pumphrey.) I think you add ST coverage guys after a Draft, but if Gibson can contribute as a WR and help return kicks, then this was a really nice place to take him. Grade: B
5th round/ SS – Nathan Gerry.
This is another horrible pick. Too often he slows down to a jog before the play is even dead. He misses tackles. (Did you see that last part where the QB ran him over?) He can be seen being “extra” after plays, instead of being adequate during them. Grade: F
6th round/ DT – Elijah Qualls.
No penetration. No ability to win one-on-one. Ends up on the ground in a number of ways. Maybe if we tape a cheeseburger to the QB or cover him in BBQ sauce, Qualls might not end up being redirected so easily. I have no idea how this guy got drafted by anyone. I doubt he even makes the practice squad. Grade: F
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Last year we finished in the middle of the league with 34 sacks, which was 14 sacks behind the leader who had 48. DE Brandon Graham led the NFL with 40 hurries, more of which could have been sacks if we had CB’s who could cover last year. The problem wasn’t our Defensive Line’s ability to get to the QB, it was that they weren’t given the time to do so. So of course we went out and got a starting CB, right? Wrong. We got a DE.
Our CB play was so bad last year, that we got rid of both Starters. While Sidney Jones may or may not become a perennial All-Pro after 2018, that still leaves us with questions about CB in 2017.
We needed to upgrade at WR, so we added two Free Agents, after Howie Roseman said no more “band-aids”. Then we waited until the 4th and 5th rounds to draft Special Teamers.
We needed a bell-cow RB and instead we drafted a player to someday replace a situational player.
Considering that we ended 2016 with a few needs (OLB, OT, RB) that we didn’t address during Free Agency, it’s hard to call this a good Draft, when we continued to ignore those needs.
The question isn’t about whether or not we drafted guys who can play. That really isn’t the question. It really isn’t the issue. The real issue is whether or not we fixed the holes that teams exploited against us in 9 losses out of 16 games last year. The answer is that we didn’t fix those holes. We didn’t utilize this Draft properly. So the truth is, while this was an amazing Draft for Philadelphia, it was a wasted Draft for the Eagles. The Front Office didn’t get it right.
So where do I apply to run the Eagles 2018 Draft?