McMullen: Eagles Draft Haul Isn’t Impressive Until You Add the Context
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - After a grueling three days, the Eagles' football brain trust of Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, and Doug Pederson emerged from the team's war room to speak with the media about the 2018 draft class one final time and Roseman had something to get off his chest.
"I think we don't want to be in the position where we have this few picks again," the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations admitted.
Taken out of context that would seem to indicate the Super Bowl LII champions weren't exactly thrilled with their haul, which included only five picks over three days after bookending the thing by trading out of the first round and then moving back up into the second to select South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, and then jumping up 17 spots in the seventh to get a raw, developmental prospect in Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata.
Arguably, almost this entire draft could be described as a "luxury" one for the Eagles as even Goedert looks like a bit of a redundancy and will have trouble getting on the field early unless he or Zach Ertz can quickly improve their blocking skills.
The middle rounds also saw "pipeline" prospects selected: Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the fourth, and TCU offensive lineman Matt Pryor in the sixth.
On paper, only undersized Pitt corner Avonte Maddox, another fourth-round pick, has an opportunity to garner significant playing time because the Eagles need a new slot cornerback after losing Patrick Robinson in free agency to New Orleans.
The draft doesn't take place in a vacuum, however, and before Roseman admitted he and his lieutenants want more opportunities for the future he was sure to run down the impact of what trading picks had done for this Eagles roster, one that ultimately allowed the franchise to put the Lombardi Trophy on the table in the war room when finally making its first pick on Friday, the lengthy Goedert.
"We came in, we didn’t have a lot of picks, but we kind of looked at it a little differently," Roseman explained. "... When we made the trade for Carson Wentz a couple years ago, one of the sticking points was not giving up our first- and second-round pick last year. Obviously, we got the first back with Sam [Bradford] and the trade [to the Vikings], but being able to get Sidney Jones last year and basically redshirting him and having him right now. We view that as a big part of our draft. In fact, in our draft room, on our draft board we view Sidney Jones as part of this.
"In the third round, [Ronald] Darby – getting a starter, a guy who played for us, played in big games, had big moments, under contract this year in the third round. So, before we even started, we felt like we had some things out of the first couple of rounds.
"In the fourth round, Jay [Ajayi], and then addressing a couple of important positions with the corner [Avonte Maddox] and the defensive lineman [Josh Sweat]. The fifth round, we used to move up, but by the same token, using that pick to get Michael Bennett. Coming back in the sixth round and getting an offensive lineman [Matt Pryor] that we're really excited to get, and then in the seventh round, again, an interesting guy [Jordan Mailata] that we had a lot of discussions about and all of us are really excited to work with."
Roseman wasn't done there as he had one last surprise for Eagles fans, the confirmation that trading back out of the first round and eschewing the accompanying contract that comes with it enabled the salary cap-strapped Eagles were able to bring back veteran running back/returner Darren Sproles, something that made Pederson very happy.
"Being able to trade back also allowed us to get some cap room, and we've agreed to terms to bring Darren Sproles back to Philly," Roseman announced. "We're really excited about that. So, Darren's going to come back this year. I think some of the things about trading back, when you're able to get some cap room and free up some money, it allows you to do things like this."
In the coming days, you'll hear about many teams adding so much unproven talent in the 2018 draft and the Eagles won't be on any of those lists.
Rest assured, though, that the result of the Eagles' roster moves over the past two years that left them with so little on three days in April of 2018 were already validated back in February in Minneapolis.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen