Why does a corner at 12 and a skill guy at 37 make sense?
History. Lots and lots of overwhelming history.
Let's start with DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Zach Ertz? What do they all have in common?
They’re three of the greatest skill players in franchise history and all were 2nd-round picks.
And we don’t have to tell you about the Eagles’ history drafting non-QB skill players in the first round. It’s not good.
Now, this is a limited sample size, but check out these numbers.
• The last 10 Eagles’ 1st-round skill players - not including Jalen Reagor, drafted last year - averaged just under 3,500 scrimmage yards during their years in an Eagles uniform. The 10 of them averaged 596 yards per season during their Eagles career.
• The last 10 Eagles’ 2nd-round skill guys - not including Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who are all still early in their careers - averaged 4,909 yards in an Eagles uniform. Nearly 1,500 more per person than the 1st-round picks. And the 10 of them have averaged 819 yards per season, 27 percent more than the 1st-round guys.
Jeremy Maclin was very good, but his 63.6 yards-per-game average was 24th-best in the NFL during his six year with the Eagles. The last truly elite 1st-round skill guy the Eagles drafted was tight end Keith Jackson in 1988 and Mike Quick before that in 1982.
And fair to say that Michael Haddix, Freddie Mitchell and Nelson Agholor were all huge disappointments considering where they were drafted. Even Keith Byars was a disappointment as the 10th player taken, although he did grow into a terrific receiver. Too early to say with Reagor.
The last disastrous second-round skill player - and we’ll leave J.J. Arcega-Whiteside out of the conversation for now, even though the early returns aren’t good - was probably tight end Jason Dunn back in 1996. Even guys like Todd Pinkston, L.J. Smith and Reggie Brown were functional starters who had mediocre but not disastrous Eagles careers.
Of the 21 running backs, receivers and tight ends drafted by the Eagles since 1990 who netted at least 2,000 scrimmage yards, only three were 1st-round picks - Maclin, Byars and Agholor.
But nine were 2nd-round picks (McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Ertz, Jordan Matthews, Charlie Garner, Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith and Miles Sanders).
Among the nine others are three 3rd-round picks (Duce Staley Brian Westbrook, Fred Barnett), two 4th-round picks (Jason Avant, Correll Buckhalter), three 5th-round picks (Calvin Williams, Brent Celek and Riley Cooper) and one 6th-round pick (Heath Sherman).
So over the last 30 years, as many Eagles 5th-round picks have netted 2,500 scrimmage yards as 1st-round picks.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find a star skill guy in the first round. A lot of teams have done it.
But even league-wide, this theory holds up:
• Among 146 active non-quarterbacks with at least 2,500 career scrimmage yards, 28 were drafted in the first round and 29 in the second round. Even the 3rd round has produced 27, just one fewer than the 1st.
You can find skill guys outside the 1st round.
It’s a different story.
There are 32 active cornerbacks who’ve made at least one Pro Bowl and more than half of them - 18 of 32 - were 1st-rounders. And 13 of those 18 were selected in the top half of the 1st round.
Only five were drafted in the 2nd round, five more in the 3rd through 7th rounds and four were undrafted.
None of this means you can’t get a star wide out at 12 or that you can’t get a star cornerback at 37.
In 1988, the Eagles drafted Jackson with the 13th pick and Eric Allen early in the second round at No. 30. Both are all-timers, although Jackson was only here four years.
But the trends are clear.
Historically, the first round is where you get your cornerbacks and the second round is where you get your skill guys.
And it would make an awful lot of sense if the Eagles do just that later this month.
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