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Philadelphia Eagles 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Hello city of brotherly love,

Weapons for Wentz has been the motto for Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles this off-season. It showed seeing how Howie was able to finagle the limited money situation to bring in talented players on both sides of the ball such as Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Lagarrette Blount, Chris Long and Timmy Jernigan to name a few. Despite their lack of offensive play-makers, the ball club somehow went 7-9 last season, but that was largely in part by their stout defense. The mysterious marvels of Jim Schwartz may never be solved, but one thing is for certain, the man knows how to coach up a defense. Will the Eagles’ newly added talent on offense rise to the occasion or will the defense continue to keep this team in games? Let’s discuss the draft selections and find out.

-1st Round, Pick #14: Derek Barnett – Defensive End (Tennessee)

  • Why draft a pass rusher when you have Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Vinny Curry on the roster? Well, the answer is simple. You can never have too many pass rushers, especially in this division. When you play against Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott twice a year, a team needs to have fast, big and physical guys to get around the edge to suffocate the quarterback in the pocket in disabling them to make a play. Breaking down the four players; Chris Long is a veteran player that can still get after the quarterback, but he has at most three years left. Vinny Curry was supposed to be a dynamic player opposite of Brandon, but showed last year that he is better in a rotational role. Brandon Graham is the “star” that the team relies on to make a game changing play in big moment, although he needs a sidekick to relief some of that pressure. Derek is a guy that can come in and not be pressured to be the next Reggie White right away. He’ll rotate between the quadrant of pass rushers and when he’s on the field his presence will be felt. When Derek is ready for the full time starter on the other side of Brandon, they’ll be one of the best dynamic duos to rush the quarterback.

-2nd Round, Pick #43: Sidney Jones – Cornerback (Washington)

  • Sidney was generally considered the best corner prospect in this year’s draft class, but an achilles injury sidelined him for the remaining pre-draft process. A week leading up to the draft Sidney and his doctor had sent out a letter to all 32 NFL teams stating that the surgery went well, his therapy was moving smoothly and that Sidney would be game ready by October. It is to be determined on how well he performs following his injury, but as of right now the Eagles got a top five talent mid-way through the second round. The Eagles desperately needed a true number one corner to shadow the likes of Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham and Terrelle Pryor within the division. If Sidney is able to come back from his injury strong and play at a high level like he did at Washington, the gamble and investment Philadelphia made will be well worth it.

-3rd Round, Pick #99: Rasul Douglas – Cornerback (West Virginia)

  • The last time the Eagles drafted back-to-back corners within the first three rounds was back in 2002 draft where they selected Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. The two formed a good duo in the secondary and was the last home-grown corners to really excel with the organization. Hopefully Rasul and Sidney can build chemistry like Sheldon and Lito did and become the next corner duo for years to come for the birds. They’ll both be thrown into the lineup early seeing how the Eagles parted ways with both their starting corners last season in Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll. Jalen Mills is currently the number one corner, but he is young and still has a lot to learn before truly making the jump to shut down corner. Although the corners may be young, they have a lot of promise. Rasul is a Jim Schwartz kind of corner. He’s a big corner at 6’2″ that fights for the ball and tries to intercept or deflect the ball rather than make contact to tackle the receiver. Rasul may or may not start right away, but by years end he’ll be on the field in critical situations making plays for this defense.

-4th Round, Pick #118: Mack Hollins – Wide Receiver (North Carolina)

  • Mack on paper is a freak of an athlete. 6’4″ size and a shy over a 4.5 40-yard dash sprint. Mack is also a special team’s threat making plays in the return game as well as gunning down the seam to make a tackle. When I look at the roster and break it down Mack is virtually competing with Dorial Green-Beckham for a roster spot. They’re both a bigger receiver with raw talent able to attack and retrieve the 50-50 jump balls, but the difference between the two is Dorial has shown little progress in his development while Mack is a rookie than is expected to grow as a player. Oh and it helps that he’ll contribute on special teams. Dorial better have a great pre-season because he will be fighting for his job.

-4th Round, Pick #132: Donnel Pumphrey – Running Back (San Diego State)

  • Before the draft the Eagles had glaring needs all over the roster, one of them being at the running back position. The Eagles passed on Dalvin Cook in the first round, so it’s not like they never had an opportunity to get one of the top three or four running backs in the draft. When Donnel was selected it sent a shock wave through the fan base because he wasn’t your prototypical every down back the fans were demanding, in fact he is more of a gimmicky role player. The pick makes sense though. The Eagles have Darren Sproles on the roster and they both are very similar. Both are smaller backs that can catch the ball with ankle breaking abilities and have the superpower to get lost in traffic squeezing out of the hole for a big gain. Donnel might not see the field a lot this season, but given that Darren has limited time left in the NFL, he is the perfect mentor for the young kid from San Diego State. Oh and how could I forget to mention that Donnel was the leading rusher in college last year with 2,133 yards?

-5th Round, Pick #166: Shelton Gibson – Wide Receiver (West Virginia)

  • The Eagles wide receiver core was arguably the worst in the NFL last year and now it’s a crowded group. Alshon, Torrey and Jordan Matthews are expected to make the team. Stated earlier that Dorial and Mack are more than likely battling for one spot and Nelson Agholor is a wildcard. Shelton has a steep mountain to climb, but with some comparisons to former Eagles DeSean Jackson he has a fighting chance to make a case for himself. Outside of Torrey Smith, the team doesn’t have a defined “speed” guy to take the top of the secondary and stretch the field. Feel like this was more of a selection to push the receiver from last year to improve their play, but if Shelton makes the team it’ll be because of his speed and to develop into the next DeSean for the offense.

-5th Round, Pick #184: Nate Gerry – Safety (Nebraska)

  • Nate was a safety in college, but shortly after being drafted the Eagles wanted to convert him to linebacker, which quite honestly has a better chance to make the team that way. The safety group is crowded with starting pair of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod locks to make the team, then they have Terrance Brooks, Jaylen Watkins and special teams star Chris Maragos to round out the three battling for a spot. Looking at the linebackers, Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks are really the only two guaranteed players to make the team from that position. Mychal Kendricks has been rumored to be traded for months and the remaining players are nothing more than guys that have played special teams for the past few years. Nate tends to initiate the contact first and has the safety background to be good in coverage. This could be a good selection in the fifth round to add a starting player in the base 4-3 defense.

-6th Round, Pick #214: Elijah Qualls – Defensive Tackle (Washington)

  • Projected to go in the third to fourth rounds, it was shocking to see Elijah fall this far seeing how Washington’s defense was one the best last year and he was smack dab in the middle of it making plays upfront. With Beau Allen sustaining an injury before the draft and not expected to return until mid-September and not much depth behind Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan (tweaked his ankle in OTA’s, but nothing major), this was a great pick-up and a low risk, high reward. Elijah knows what it takes to be a good defensive player and with injuries piling up for this mid-front line he could see more playing time than expected. When Beau gets back from injury and Elijah with a couple games under his belt, plus the duo of Fletcher and Timmy, this middle section will be a deep group that’ll be hard to contain.

Free agency they were offensively hungry for play-makers, while through the draft they used five of their eight selections to add pieces to the defense. Weapons for Wentz was more than just getting help in the passing and running game, it was to put Carson in the best possible situation he could ask for. Offensively and defensively this team improved from last season and they’ll be fighting for a playoff berth. Of course, it all comes back to Carson and how he performs in year two. Will Carson show the world that it was on the bad supporting cast last year or will he be the latest victim to be booed by Philly fans? Well, we have a few months until we all find out. Until next time, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas


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