We've spoken a lot about Howie Roseman's track record when it comes to the draft, in particular 1st-round picks.
Danny Watkins at No. 23 in 2011, Marcus Smith No. 26 in 2014, Derek Barnett No. 14 in 2017, Andre Dillard No. 22 in 2019 and Jalen Reagor No. 21 in 2020.
And it's indeed shocking to see a general manager miss so spectacularly on five 1st-round picks in a 10-year span.
But there is a flip side.
And actually ... Roseman has had a very good year in his 11th season as Eagles general manager (2010-2014 and 2016-2021).
The Eagles appear to be trending in the right direction, thanks to an encouraging draft, some smart trades, a couple of important contract extensions and a few other decisions that at least so far look like positive ones.
Does all of this make up for drafting Watkins and Smith, who quickly drifted out of the league? For drafting Barnett, who has earned $23 million for averaging 4½ sacks per season? For drafting Dillard, who has no future here? And for drafting Reagor, who has by far the fewest yards of any regular starting WR in the NFL?
That's a fair question, but it's a question for another day. Because today we're going to focus on 10 moves in 2021 that Roseman got right.
1. The Dolphins trade and DeVonta: The 2021 draft overall is looking like possibly Roseman's best, and the centerpiece is DeVonta Smith, who despite just 37 yards the last two weeks is enjoying an outstanding rookie year. Smith has 50 catches for 701 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games, which puts him on pace for an Eagles rookie record 917 yards. But more than the numbers is just that Smith gives the Eagles a true WR1 for the first time in a decade. Of course, the Eagles wouldn't have needed Smith if Roseman had drafted Justin Jefferson instead of Reagor or Terry McLaurin instead of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. But at least he finally got a WR right. And he snagged a 2022 1st-round pick from the Dolphins along the way.
2. Dickerson: This is the first year the Eagles' 1st- and 2nd-round picks will start 10 games as rookies since 1995, when Mike Mamula and Barrett Brooks did it. The biggest question about Landon Dickerson was his ability to stay healthy, but he's played 735 of a possible 751 snaps since entering the lineup in Week 2, and he's played at an increasingly high level, especially as a run blocker. Honestly, he looks like a stud. Roseman took a risk drafting a player in the second round with a daunting injury history, but so far Dickerson hasn't just been healthy, he's been dominating.
3. Gainwell: Milton Williams and Zech McPhearson (3rd-and 4th-round picks) have gotten playing time and shown some flashes, but for a 5th-round pick like Kenny Gainwell to produce the way he has -- 447 scrimmage yards in 12 games -- is huge. The Eagles have landed some really good players in the 5th round -- Trent Cole, Ike Reese, Brent Celek, Big V, even Hall of Famer Pete Pihos back in 1945 -- but Gainwell is the first player the Eagles have ever drafted in the 5th round or later with 200 yards both rushing and receiving as a rookie. His five TDs rank 5th among all NFL rookies this year. Looks like a steal in the 5th round.
4. Minshew: When it was apparent Nick Mullens wasn't going to pan out as the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback, Roseman sent a conditional 6th-round pick to the Jaguars for Minshew, who is really one of the better backups in the league, as we saw Sunday against the Jets. If Minshew plays more than 50 percent of the snaps in two more games that 6 becomes a 5, but either way, it was a small price to pay for an upgraded backup and possible starter with 39 career TDs and 11 INTs who is under contract through next year.
5. Mailata contract: Roseman deserves credit not only for using a 7th-round draft pick in 2018 to select a rugby player who had never played organized football but also extending him before he could hit free agency, even though at that point he had started only 10 games in his career. It was crucial for the Eagles to keep Jordan Mailata, and although four years, $64 million seems like a lot for a relative newcomer to the game, Mailata sure looks like a future Pro Bowler. His deal makes him the 13th-highest-paid offensive tackle in the league, and by the time he gets a year or two into it, it'll seem like a bargain.
6. Ertz trade/Goedert contract: There was no way the Eagles could keep both tight ends, but after Roseman got a pick and a player for Zach Ertz, the pressure was on to get a deal done for Goedert after contract talks had broken off or face losing both tight ends. That deal got done last month -- four years, $57 million -- and it was a little bit of a leap of faith considering Goedert had never been TE1, but in seven games since the Ertz trade, Goedert has 26 catches for 380 yards, tied with Travis Kelce for most yards in the league during that span. Goedert is a true TE1 and he isn't going anywhere.
7. The Wentz trade: We've broken this one down every way imaginable, but the bottom line is that once it was clear Carson Wentz did not want to be here, Roseman did the best he could considering there weren't a bunch of teams bidding for Wentz. The Eagles landed a 2nd-round pick (that's on the verge of becoming a 1st-round pick) and a 3rd-round pick, and even though there was a huge dead-money hit this year, Wentz is totally off the books in 2022 while the Eagles will most likely have a quarterback on a rookie contract.
8. Sirianni: It was Roseman who really pushed for the Eagles to hire Nick Sirianni, who was a relatively unknown offensive coordinator who had never been a head coach on any level. Ten months later, it sure looks like a solid hire. Sirianni has done a marvelous job keeping this team together through some really hard times and it's starting to pay off with an encouraging second half of the season. The Eagles are 4-2 since Week 8, and only the Chiefs, Patriots and Dolphins have more wins during that span. So the Eagles are tied for the most wins by an NFC team over the past six weeks. The jury is still out on Sirianni, but he's already shown the kind of leadership and growth you want from your head coach.
9. Flacco trade: It's not too often you can get a 6th-round pick for someone who never played a snap for you. But Roseman not only upgraded backup QB when he shipped Flacco to the Jets, he got back a 6th-round pick that could become a 5th-round pick, although that likely won't happen. Still, the only cost to unload Flacco was about $900,000 in dead money.
10. Steve Nelson: Most of the veterans Roseman signed this offseason didn't pan out. Eric Wilson didn't last halfway through the season. Ryan Kerrigan has played 266 snaps and has three tackles and no sacks. Anthony Harris has been disappointing. But Nelson has been solid as the Eagles' CB2 opposite Darius Slay. He probably won't be here next year. He's playing this year on a one-year, $3 million deal, he turns 29 next month, he'll probably want more money and the Eagles will likely want someone younger and cheaper. There's a reason they keep bringing in young cornerbacks to get a look at. And they may draft one in the first couple of rounds. But if Nelson was a one-year rental, he was a decent one.