Extra Points: Too Soon to Grade Eagles Draft
If various pundits are to be believed, the Eagles did very well in the recently completed draft.
Maybe my judgement was clouded by the "Bahamarita" - layers of fruit and tequila with a side shot of Cactus Juice Schnapps - I downed at Bahama Breeze in Orlando on Thursday night - but I'm not quite ready to declare the Eagles' haul a resounding success.
On paper - does anyone even use paper anymore? - they added quality players such as Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis (first round), Nebraska center Cam Jurgens (second) and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (third). Their best move came via a trade with the Titans for talented wide receiver A.J. Brown, who will team with second-year wide receiver Devonta Smith to provide quarterback Jalen Hurts with a tremendous supporting cast.
I think they made some mistakes, however. Although I predicted the Eagles would take Davis, a 6-foot-6, 340-pound athletic freak, with their first pick, that was assuming Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton would already be off the board. Instead, the Eagles traded up to two spots to 13th in a deal with Texans to draft Davis, leaving the Ravens to grab Hamilton about five seconds later.
It might have been the "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" margarita I downed at Margaritaville on Monday night, but this could be the Eagles' third gaffe in the last four years. In 2019, they picked Stanford wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round, seven picks before the Seahawks took WR D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf has 216 career receptions for 3,170 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons. Arcega-Whiteside is switching to tight end this year after earning 16 receptions for 290 yards and a TD.
And everyone knows the Eagles took Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson in 2020.
By the way, Davis isn't the only plus-sized defensive lineman to join the Eagles this weekend. After the draft, they agreed to terms with Idaho defensive tackle Noah Elliss, a 6-4, 346-pounder who could also find a spot in the interior rotation with Davis, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams. Elliss is reportedly getting a deal that includes $240,000 in guaranteed money, which increases his chances.
Jurgens was drafted in the second round to become Jason Kelce's successor whenever Kelce decides to finally retire. Kelce met with him prior to the draft and called Jurgens his "favorite player."
"That's awesome," Jurgens said Friday. "Seeing a guy that's able to move like he does and play as hard and with as much intensity as he does, that's how I want to play and that's how I want to model my game."
Trouble is, he won't get that opportunity until at least 2023.
In addition to being talented, Kelce is also extremely durable. He enters his 12th NFL season having started 122 consecutive games, which is the NFL's longest streak by a center since Chris Myers started 123 in a row in 2007-14 with Denver and Houston.
The Eagles are neither talented nor deep enough to draft a player in the second round and have him sit for a year. They could have picked an offensive linemen later and used that 51st overall pick to fill a more pressing need like in the secondary.
Dean, Davis' teammate at Georgia, could well wind up being their best pick.
He was viewed as a potential first-rounder before an odd medical concern about a pectoral injury gathered steam and sent him sliding down the draft board.
"That was the thing that was so surprising and mind-boggling," Dean said Friday. "I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody, nobody said I should have surgery. Nobody had told me I had to have surgery. So, for that to come up and for teams to be saying that and waiting until the day of the Draft to say something like that, that was kind of crazy to me."
The Eagles were assigned an A-minus grade by Yahoo Sports, making them one of 11 teams to get an A-minus or better. The Ravens topped the list with an A-plus. In the NFC East, the Giants joined the Eagles at A-minus, the Cowboys received a B-minus and the Commanders ended with a C-plus.
But honestly, it takes roughly three years to determine a draft class' success or failure. For instance, NFL.com gave the Eagles an A in 2019 after they picked tackle Andre Dillard, running back Miles Sanders, Arcega-Whiteside, defensive end Shareef Miller and quarterback Clayton Thorson.
Dillard is Jordan Mailata's backup, Sanders has been hampered by injuries, Arcega-Whiteside has been a huge disappointment and both Miller and Thorson are now playing in the USFL.
This latest crop could well turn out to be outstanding, but let's hold off for just a little while.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to attend my grandson Graham's fourth birthday party. Afterward, there's a Bahamarita with my name on it.