It goes without saying Howie Roseman's personnel decisions were to blame for many of the issues the Eagles encountered in 2019. His recent drafts, however, were not at the root of the team's problems.
Roseman counted on aging, oft-injured players, made poor calls in free agency and handed out one particularly detrimental contract extension (Alshon Jeffery). And, as in this case with any GM, there have been bad draft picks along the way too.
But put Roseman's drafts under the microscope, and the Eagles have not made out poorly overall. A bust here, a bad class there, sure; many more hits than misses though.
Roseman reclaimed his place art the top of the Eagles' front office in '16, and right out of the gate, he didn't have a second-round pick — Chip Kelly traded it and Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Let's get started!
Round 1, Pick 2: QB Carson Wentz
Round 3, Pick 79: LG Isaac Seumalo
Round 5, Pick 153: RB Wendell Smallwood
Round 5, Pick 164: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Round 6, Pick 196: S Blake Countess
Round 7, Pick 233: CB Jalen Mills
Round 7, Pick 240: DE Alex McCalister
Round 7, Pick 251: LB Joe Walker
Under the circumstances, it's hard to have a better draft than this. Roseman pulled off an incredible trade for a franchise quarterback (Wentz), jumping from No. 13 to No. 8 to No. 2 — and recouping much of the cost by later flipping Bradford to Minnesota. He also identified a long-term solution on the offensive line (Seumalo), Super Bowl starters at cornerback (Mills) and left tackle (Vaitai), and a solid-albeit-unspectacular backup running back (Smallwood). Even two of the misses in this class (Countess, Walker) are having viable NFL careers.
The Eagles would've been without a first from the Wentz trade, but instead were on the clock just two picks later thanks to Roseman's Bradford deal.
Round 1, Pick 14: DE Derek Barnett
Round 2, Pick 43: CB Sidney Jones
Round 3, Pick 99: CB Rasul Douglas
Round 4, Pick 118: WR Mack Hollins
Round 4, Pick 132: RB Donnel Pumphrey
Round 5, Pick 166: WR Shelton Gibson
Round 5, Pick 184: LB Nathan Gerry
Round 6, Pick 214: DT Elijah Qualls
Whether people realize it or not, this class is the source of the frustration with Roseman's drafts. Barnett is a quality player, but has dealt with injuries and not yet developed into the Pro Bowl-caliber talent you might expect of a top-15 pick. The only other hit in eight selections came in the sixth (Gerry).
Arguably, the jury is still out on Jones, a top-10 talent who slid due to a torn Achilles, though as of right now, the gamble looks catastrophic. Half of these guys are barely even in the league anymore though! By far, the most egregious is Pumphrey — last seen in the XFL — over any number of backs, most notably Marlon Mack.
The third round is complicated. The Eagles traded down 25 spots and received Tim Jernigan in return from the Ravens, which seemed like a steal at the time. But Douglas is not a good fit in their defense, and in the picks in between were Pro Bowlers Chris Godwin, Shaquill Griffin and Kenny Golladay. Not ideal.
Fresh off a Super Bowl championship, the Eagles went into the draft low on picks. Their second belonged to Cleveland from the Wentz deal, while their third was shipped to Buffalo along with Jordan Matthews for Ronald Darby. Roseman did acquire two extra fourths however, one from the Bradford trade, the other from shipping Eric Rowe to New England.
Round 2, Pick 49: TE Dallas Goedert
Round 4, Pick 125: CB Avonte Maddox
Round 4, Pick 130: DE Josh Sweat
Round 6, Pick 206: OG Matt Pryor
Round 7, Pick 233: OT Jordan Mailata
This looks like a solid class, and three important moves aren't even listed here. Roseman traded out of the first round, moving down 20 spots in exchange for an extra second-round choice in 2019. He sent a fourth to the Dolphins for Jay Ajayi during the season. He also turned Matt Tobin into Michael Bennett in a series of moves with Seattle.
In the draft itself, the Eagles gave a fifth-rounder to move back up in Round 2 — ahead of the Cowboys — for Goedert, who finished among the top 10 tight ends in catches, yards and touchdowns in his second season. Round 4 produced two defensive players (Maddox, Sweat) whose roles are growing, while Rounds 6 and 7 saw the addition of one (Pryor), possibly two reserve O-lineman (Mailata). Tough to argue with anything that was done here.
An ill-advised mid-season trade for Golden Tate left the Eagles without a third-round pick, while Roseman swapped a sixth and a seventh for DeSean Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway, respectively.
Round 1, Pick 22: OT Andre Dillard
Round 2, Pick 53: RB Miles Sanders
Round 2, Pick 57: WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
Round 4, Pick 138: DE Shareef Miller
Round 5, Pick 167: QB Clayton Thorson
Difficult to asses much of this group, as most had limited opportunities as rookies. Not Sanders, of course, who looks like a star in the making. And Dillard is likely set to take over at left tackle in 2020. It will allow the Eagles to move on from Jason Peters, though the move up three spots to get him cost fourth- and sixth-round picks.
It's fair to criticize the Arcega-Whiteside choice when DK Metcalf went seven picks later, and this is a critical year for Miller after not playing at all, but there were minimal expectations for both players' first seasons. That being said, the Thorson pick was brutal, especially with Gardner Minshew coming off the board 11 picks later. Mixed reviews so far, with a reasonably high ceiling should Dillard and one of the other selections pan out.
2017 notwithstanding, two of Roseman's last four drafts were actually fairly strong, and the most recent still has a chance to get there.
There are legitimate criticisms here. The only Pro Bowler these four drafts have produced so far is Wentz — however, Sanders, Goedert, Seumalo and even Barnett, who's only going to be 24, could be on the verge of changing that. And the Eagles have been light on picks the last two years, largely because they've turned those into the likes of Wentz, Ajayi, Jackson, Tate, Dillard and Darby. And, again, there's 2017.
So it's far from an unblemished record, and there is certainly room for improvement. Yet, on the whole, Roseman's drafts aren't exactly killing the Eagles. On the contrary, taking everything into account here, they look pretty good.
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