For the second straight year, the Eagles walked away from the draft with just five picks:
1-22: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
2-21-53: Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
2-25-57: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
4-36-138: Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State
5-29-167: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern
The Eagles moved up three spots in the first round and lost a fourth-round pick (127) and a sixth-round pick (167) in the trade. In the fifth round, they moved down four spots to pick up a seventh-rounder but then flipped it for veteran DT Hassan Ridgeway from the Colts.
Since the draft ended, the Eagles have also been very busy signing undrafted players.
Here’s a look back at the Eagles’ 2019 draft weekend from Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro:
What's your biggest takeaway from the weekend?
Roob: Howie Roseman admitted the Eagles were tempted more than once during the draft to address safety and linebacker, two obvious positions of need, but they stuck to their board and went offense with four of their five picks, including the first three. We won’t know for a couple of years whether their board was correct, but philosophically the Eagles didn’t reach for players at positions of need, and that’s always crucial when drafting. The only way to truly build for the future is to take the best football players, not the best safety or linebacker.
DZ: It’s all about Carson Wentz. The Eagles used their first three picks on players to help No. 11. At some point, the Eagles are going to pay Wentz a ton of money and Dillard is their protection of that investment. The Birds hope he’ll protect Wentz’s blindside for the next decade. And then they got their franchise quarterback some weapons he can grow with in Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside. Some of their skill players are aging and this gives Wentz guys who will be with him for at least part of his prime.
What's your favorite pick and least favorite pick?
Roob: My favorite pick is Miles Sanders. I just think this kid really has a chance to carry on that tradition of Duce, B-Dub and Shady. I love the fact that he had so few carries in college and doesn’t have the wear and tear of most draftable RBs. I didn’t hate the Andre Dillard pick, I just look at Tra Thomas and Jason Peters, who’ve held down left tackle for the Eagles for more than 20 years at an all-pro level, and that’s a very high bar. This kid is polished and talented, but does he have that meanness, that toughness, that edge to anchor the offensive line and set the tone for the offense? At No. 22, he better.
DZ: The Eagles made a modest trade up to get a guy who should have been long gone by 22, so Dillard is my favorite. Even if Jason Peters plays this whole season, he’s 37 and the Eagles found his long-term replacement. If Dillard ends up holding down that LT spot for a decade, that’s how this draft will be remembered. My least favorite pick was Arcega-Whiteside at No. 57. That’s not an indictment of him as a player, but I thought there was a strong case to go defense there. Top safeties were available and so were some good defensive linemen in this “historic” class.
Which pick will make the biggest impact in 2019?
Roob: Sanders is the obvious answer, and I fully expect him to be an impact player as a rookie, but I’m going with Dillard simply because everything we’ve seen the last few years points to Jason Peters not being able to get through 16 or more games healthy. You don’t draft a kid No. 22 and then play Jordan Mailata or Big V at left tackle if Peters can’t go. So that means the odds are very good that Dillard will play significant snaps this year. And nobody is going to make a bigger impact — good or bad — than a rookie left tackle.
DZ: This one is easy, so I didn’t overthink it. Miles Sanders will be a part of a rotation in 2019, but I fully expect him to have a productive rookie season. It’s smart to be patient with some positions, but running back isn’t one of them. You gotta start getting something out of them early because the shelf life is limited, even for a guy like Sanders without a ton of mileage on him. Jordan Howard will be the starter at the beginning of the season, but I think Sanders will eventually take a lot of snaps from him.
Who are the biggest winners/losers on the roster?
Roob: As of now, without a linebacker draft pick, Kamu Grugier-Hill remains a projected starter at linebacker. Kamu played better than I expected last year for a guy who’s really mainly a special teamer. I still don’t think he’s the long-term answer as a starting linebacker, but at least for now he is. As for biggest loser, I’m going with Big V, who now looks like the fifth tackle on a roster that will only have four. With J.P. and Lane Johnson starting and Mailata and Dillard the backups, there doesn’t seem to be a roster spot for the starting left tackle in Super Bowl LII.
DZ: The biggest winner is Tre Sullivan, who watched as the Eagles didn’t take a safety, even when there were really good ones available at 57. Now, he’ll have a chance to compete with Andrew Sendejo for the third safety role. Not bad for a former undrafted player who has come a long way. The biggest loser was Jordan Howard, who came to the Eagles in a trade earlier this offseason. The Birds picked a three-down back in Miles Sanders in the second round. So now, entering his first-ever contract year, Howard has to compete for playing time with a rookie he knows is probably going to outlast him in Philly.
One random takeaway:
Roob: It’s really remarkable to think how much the Eagles have re-shaped the defensive line since the 2018 season ended. Michael Bennett, Haloti Ngata and most likely Chris Long are gone and the Eagles have added Malik Jackson, Shareef Miller, Vinny Curry and Hassan Ridgeway, re-signed Brandon Graham and brought back Tim Jernigan at a lower price. These aren’t all slam-dunk moves, and the Eagles will certainly miss Bennett and Long if he retires. It’ll be fascinating to see how this whole group comes together.
DZ: As the third round was happening, I couldn’t help but think about the Golden Tate trade. I won’t kill the Eagles for making the move because when they did it, the offense was stagnant and they wanted to add a playmaker. And Tate did catch a big TD in the playoffs, but the rest of his time in Philly wasn’t great. The Eagles gave up a third-round pick and after getting just five players, they really could have used it. That pick (No. 88) ended up with the Seahawks, who took LB Cody Barton out of Utah. Some other players available then: OG Connor Mcgovern, OT Chuma Edge, DE Oshane Ximines, S Mike Edwards, OT Yodny Cajuste, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DE Anthony Nelson, S Sheldrick Redwine.
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