Being around the NFL, this is a phrase that comes up a ton: It doesn’t matter where players get drafted. Once they’re in the league, there’s a level playing field.
That’s something coaches like to say. It is also, of course, complete crap. It does matter where players are drafted to a certain extent. Teams are amazingly more patient with first-round picks than they are with sixth-rounders, but that’s pretty much understood.
With just over two weeks until the 2019 draft, I wanted to take a closer look at the construction of this current Eagles roster. For this exercise, I looked at all 55 players on the current roster who are not on reserve/futures deals. (Really, it’s 56 because I included Donnel Pumphrey, who is here on a futures deal but is a former Eagles draft pick.) Thirty of the 56 are Eagles draft picks or undrafted free agent signings.
The biggest percentage among this group of 56 belongs to undrafted players at 26.8 percent. Next closest are first-round picks at 14.3 percent.
Here’s a closer look by round:
First round: 8 (14.3 percent)
Eagles: Derek Barnett, Carson Wentz, Nelson Agholor, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham
Other: Malcolm Jenkins (Saints), Chris Long (Rams)
Thoughts: Among all these players, Cox is probably the biggest slam dunk. He’s been a perennial Pro Bowler and one of the Eagles' best players for a long time now. Johnson is 1A. since he’s the best right tackle in the NFL. It might be too early to make a determination on Wentz, but the ceiling here could make him one of the greatest picks in Eagles history, even after trading up to No. 2 to get him. Agholor and Graham have found success after slow starts.
Among the other former first-round picks, Long probably hasn’t lived up to being the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, but who cares? The Eagles didn’t use a first-round pick on him. They brought him in as an aging veteran and he has been a big part of their teams in recent years. As for Jenkins, there’s a reason Sean Payton considers letting Jenkins go one of the biggest missteps during his time in New Orleans.
Second round: 7 (12.5 percent)
Eagles: Dallas Goedert, Sidney Jones, Zach Ertz, *Vinny Curry, *DeSean Jackson
Other: Ronald Darby (Bills), Alshon Jeffery (Bears)
Thoughts: Among the Eagles’ second-rounders on their first stints, Ertz is clearly the best. He has asserted himself as one of the top tight ends in the entire league. Meanwhile, Goedert had a very promising rookie season. Plenty of fans are down on Sidney Jones, but the former No. 43 overall pick just turned 22. It’s too early to make any declarations about his career. Jackson was also a tremendous second-round pick in 2008.
Darby is back for another year, but remember, he just finished his rookie contract and is still just 25.
Third round: 5 (8.9 percent)
Eagles: Rasul Douglas, Isaac Seumalo
Other: Brandon Brooks (Texans), Daeshon Hall (Panthers), Richard Rodgers (Packers)
Thoughts: Seumalo just got a contract extension and figures into the Eagles’ future plans on the offensive line. Figuring out where Douglas fits long-term is tougher. But when called upon in his first two years, Douglas has given the Eagles plenty. For now, Seumalo has been the better pick.
Brooks was taken by Houston in the third round back in 2012, but didn’t fulfill his Pro Bowl potential until he came to the Eagles on his second contract. Hall and Rodgers have had somewhat disappointing careers for third-round picks, but at least Rodgers has found some success in the NFL. Hall made it through just one season in Carolina.
Fourth round: 6 (10.7 percent)
Eagles: Avonte Maddox, Josh Sweat, Mack Hollins, *Donnel Pumphrey
Other: Nigel Bradham (Bills), Deiondre’ Hall (Bears)
Thoughts: Still early here for Maddox, but he looks like he might be a contributor for the Eagles’ secondary for years to come. Hollins missed his entire second season and Sweat couldn’t really get on the field before getting hurt in his 2018 rookie year. Pump is back on the roster, but this is now his second stint.
Bradham has turned himself into an above-average starter at linebacker in this league and has played well since coming back to Jim Schwartz in Philly. Hall is a good special teamer, but the Eagles haven’t used him on defense since trading for him before the start of last season.
Fifth round: 7 (12.5 percent)
Eagles: Shelton Gibson, Nathan Gerry, Wendell Smallwood, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Other: Jake Elliott (Bengals), Jordan Howard (Bears), Malik Jackson (Broncos)
Thoughts: For fifth-round picks, Smallwood and Vaitai have both made significant impacts. Heck, Big V started in the Super Bowl and Smallwood has been a starter here and there during his three NFL seasons. But we haven’t seen much from Gibson or Gerry outside of special teams.
Howard has been third in the league in rushing since the Bears took him in the fifth round back in 2016 and Jackson was a Pro Bowler in 2017. He’s been a good starter for much of his time in the NFL.
Sixth round: 5 (8.9 percent)
Eagles: Matt Pryor, Jason Kelce
Other: Kamu Grugier-Hill (Patriots), Boston Scott (Saints), Nate Sudfeld (Redskins)
Thoughts: We don’t know much about Pryor yet, but Kelce in the sixth round back in 2011 is one of the greatest draft picks in Eagles history. The undersized center is about to enter Year 9 and is still one of the top offensive linemen in the league.
KGH was drafted by New England, but when they cut him in 2016, the Eagles pounced. They also pounced on Sudfeld in the following year after he spent a season with Washington.
Seventh round: 3 (5.4 percent)
Eagles: Jordan Mailata, Jalen Mills
Other: Treyvon Hester (Raiders)
Thoughts: Say what you want about Mills, but he has given the Eagles incredible value, with 25 games started (not including playoffs) for a seventh-rounder. If Mailata works out, he could go down as an all-time great pick.
Undrafted: 15 (26.8 percent)
Eagles: Josh Adams, Corey Clement, Bruce Hector, Cameron Johnston, Tre Sullivan
Other: B.J. Bello (Browns), L.J. Fort (Browns), Josh Hawkins (Packers), Cre’Von LeBlanc (Bears), Rick Lovato (Bears), Rodney McLeod (Rams), Joshua Perkins (Falcons), Jason Peters (Bills), Andrew Sendejo (Cowboys), Paul Worrilow (Falcons)
Thoughts: The Eagles found Clement and Adams in back-to-back seasons, which is pretty impressive. Sullivan played a roll last year too.
Among the other former undrafted guys, the one that obviously stands out is Peters. He has a chance to be the most-recent undrafted player since John Randle (UDFA 1990) inducted into the Hall of Fame. McLeod has also become a career starter.
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