The Five Winners and Losers of the Eagles’ Draft
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles have added eight new faces since Thursday night and more will join that list in the form of undrafted free agents in the coming days.
In the most competitive of industries, new faces in the revolving door ultimately means some older faces will become like ships passing in the night.
Howie Roseman explained his philosophy at during his post-draft press conference on Saturday night.
"First, we're trying to build competition," the Eagles executive vice president of football operations said. "That's going to make everyone better. We're not looking at numbers. We're not worried about what's going to happen in August. A lot is going to happen between now and August. The best situation we could have is have a lot of good players at a particular position."
Iron sharpens iron is a cliche in the NFL and certain Eagles were put on notice by what went on in front of 200K at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
With that in mind here are the five winners and losers from the draft:
5. - Center Jason Kelce - Kelce remains on the roster and is ostensibly the starter but those numbers Roseman spoke of get untenable at some point and the foreshadowing of "a lot is going to happen between now and August" could have implications for a veteran with at least some value like Kelce.
Philadelphia re-signed Stefen Wisniewski in the offseason and also believes Isaac Seumalo's best position long-term will be at the pivot. Then, after the draft ended, the Eagles agreed to terms with West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky. Normally an undrafted free-agent signing isn't going to create many waves but some rated Orlosky as the third-best center prospect in this draft behind only Ohio State's Pat Elflein and LSU's Ethan Pocic. The Eagles now have so many bodies inside that the thought of going to a younger and cheaper alternative is certainly being mulled.
4. - Defensive end Vinny Curry - Curry disappointed after signing a big-money five-year deal last offseason and now the Eagles used the 14th pick to identify the starter opposite Brandon Graham on the edge, Tennessee rookie Derek Barnett. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to use a four-man rotation if possible so Curry still has a place on this team for now but the move toward Barnett was
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to use a four-man rotation if possible so Curry still has a place on this team for now but the move toward Barnett was certainly an indication that Philadelphia no longer believes Curry will become the difference-making pass rusher some were hoping for.
Barnett's arrival also brings us to No. 3:
3. - Defensive end Marcus Smith - The much-maligned 2014 first-round pick showed some improvement last season with the move from outside linebacker to defensive end but that four-man rotation we were speaking of looks like Graham, Barnett, Chris Long and Curry. That means Smith will be trying to hold off Steven Means and Alex McCalister for a roster spot which is assuredly not secure.
2. - Cornerback Ron Brooks - Brooks took a pay cut to return and already has an uphill climb due to the ruptured right quad tendon suffered against Minnesota last season. Even if the Eagles use 2017 as a redshirt year for the ultra-talented Sidney Jones, fellow rookie Rasul Douglas figures to be in the mix with Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills for the starting jobs at CB, making special teams the key to Brooks' future employment.
1. - Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham - DGB was already on notice after receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were added in free agency because a fifth WR generally has to earn his keep on special teams as either a returner or coverage guy to earn a roster spot and Green-Beckham can't fit into either of those roles. Now, with two more options added to the mix in the form of Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, DGB might not even make it to August.
5. - Tight end Brent Celek - At 32 Celek is a descending player who keeps taking pay cuts to stick around and he will likely get another season after the Eagles failed to add a tight end in the draft. Billy Brown of Shepherd is a fairly high-profile undrafted free agent that will be coming in but he was a jumbo WR in college so like Zach Ertz and Trey Burton, he projects as a pass catcher who isn't helping much when it comes to the blocking aspect of the position. And that makes Celek a valuable commodity yet again.
4. - Offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai - Because Jason Peters is 35 there was some talk the Eagles would be looking for an heir apparent but the status quo remains in place and that's Lane Johnson flipping over to the left side when Peters moves on and Vaitai settling in at RT. There is still time for that to change because Peters is still chugging along but, for now at least, the Eagles saw enough out of Vaitai during his rookie season to feel comfortable with him as a game-day reserve.
3. - Linebacker Joe Walker - The Eagles liked Walker a lot as a seventh-round pick last season until a torn ACL shut him down. The only addition at linebacker in the draft was king-sized Nebraska safety Nate Gerry, who will be making the position change at the pro level and that means, if healthy, Walker is looking strong as Jordan Hicks' backup in the middle as well as a core piece of the team's special teams coverage units.
2. - Cornerback Jalen Mills - Mills had a baptism by far last season and Jim Schwartz loves his attitude but the second-year player is limited by a lack of recovery speed. If Jones were healthy, he would assuredly be Philadelphia's top corner but a potential redshirt year means Mills will again likely be in line for significant snaps, along with free-agent signee Robinson and rookie third-round pick Douglas.
1. - Running back Wendell Smallwood - Coach Doug Pederson hardly gave Smallwood a ringing endorsement as a potential bell-cow back at the post-draft press conference but the Eagles really have no other options. No matter how many times Philadelphia denies it Ryan Mathews will not be back next season and sorry, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound back who managed five reps at 225 at the scouting combines (the worst of the 27 who lifted) like Donnel Pumphrey, isn't getting 20 touches in NFL no matter how productive he was at the college level. With Darren Sproles already announcing this will be his last season, the guess here is Pederson rides him until the veteran drops and then it will be Smallwood's job to lose.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen