Eagles

With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

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With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first round since Keith Byars out of Ohio State way back in 1986, but that isn’t stopping them from bringing in the near-consensus top running back in this year’s draft. 

According to NFL reporter Adam Caplan, Josh Jacobs is expected to be in Philadelphia for a visit next week. 

While this certainly doesn’t mean the Eagles are going to draft Jacobs, they do get just 30 official pre-draft visits and they’re using one on the one running back who might be a first-round pick later this month. Jacobs is considered to be the top running back in this class by most and has been a trendy mock draft selection for the Eagles at No. 25. 

But would the Eagles really take him in the first round? 

It’s not completely out of the question. While the franchise hasn’t traditionally valued the running back position this highly, it’s not like they have a top-15 pick this season. And Jacobs is really good. If Doug Pederson ever really wants a true three-down, never-leave-the-field running back, Jacobs is his guy. Still, it seems more likely the Eagles use their 25th overall pick on a different position and add a running back later. My money, based on recent history, would be on the Eagles’ taking a defensive lineman. 

But with the Jacobs’ visit on the schedule, it’s a good time to look back at the Eagles’ history with running backs in the draft since they took Byars with the No. 10 pick in 1986. Because even if the Eagles don’t use their first-round pick on a running back, they’re likely going to take one at some point this year. 

It’s also worth noting they took four (!) running backs in that 1986 draft. Times have certainly changed since then. 

From 1987 through 2018, the Eagles took 27 running backs from the second to the 12th round. Yes, drafts used to be longer than seven rounds. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

2nd round: 3
3rd round: 5
4th round: 3
5th round: 2
6th round: 3
7th or later: 11

And here’s the complete list and the round in which they were selected: 

2017: Donnel Pumphrey (4th round) 
2016: Wendell Smallwood (5th round) 
2012: Bryce Brown (7th round) 
2011: Dion Lewis (5th round) 
2011: Stanley Havili (7th round) 
2010: Charles Scott (6th round) 
2009: LeSean McCoy (2nd round) 
2007: Tony Hunt (3rd round) 
2007: Nate Ilaoa (7th round) 
2005: Ryan Moats (3rd round) 
2004: Bruce Perry (7th round) 
2002: Brian Westbrook (3rd round) 
2001: Correll Buckhalter (4th round
2000: Thomas Hamner (6th round) 
1997: Duce Staley (3rd round) 
1995: Kevin Bouie (7th round) 
1994: Charlie Garner (2nd round) 
1994: Mark Montgomery (7th round) 
1992: Siran Stacy (2nd round) 
1992: Tony Brooks (4th round) 
1991: Jame Joseph (7th round) 
1991: Chuck Weatherspoon (9th round) 
1990: Judd Garrett (12th round) 
1989: Robert Drummond (3rd round)
1989: Heath Sherman (6th round) 
1988: David Smith (8th round) 
1987: Bobby Morse (12th round) 

There are some hits there and some misses. Of the 27, seven have never played a snap in the NFL. The highest pick among those seven is Pumphrey, whom the Eagles actually moved up to take in the fourth round in 2017. There’s still an outside chance Pumphrey could one day play in the league; he’s still just 24, but things haven’t gone well. 

The five players who got over 3,000 rushing yards in their careers were all drafted in the third round or higher: 

McCoy: 10,606 (and counting)
Garner: 7,097
Westbrook: 6,335
Staley: 5,785
Byars: 3,109

But drafting a player in the top three rounds, certainly doesn’t guarantee success either. The Eagles have had some notable third-round mistakes like Tony Hunt, Robert Drummond and Ryan Moats. 

The most productive players (rushing yards) drafted in the fourth round or later: 

Buckhalter: 2,944
Sherman: 2,130
Lewis: 2,101 (and counting) 
Brown: 1,076
Smallwood: 850 (and counting)

This is all obviously an inexact science, but the Eagles have found differing levels of value throughout the draft. It’s certainly no coincidence that they haven’t drafted a running back in the first round for decades. But if the Eagles think Jacobs is the best player available at 25, maybe they take him. I wouldn’t bet on it, but crazier things have happened. Or maybe they’re preparing for a trade-back scenario; if they want Jacobs and think they could take him somewhere in the second round, that could be on the table too. Or a trade up from 53 if Jacobs makes it into the second round. 

At least they’re taking a closer look and keeping themselves open to the possibility. 

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the Patriots at the Linc. 

After a quick start, the offense disappeared. Receivers are still an issue. And Carson Wentz deserves blame too. 

At least the defense showed up, though. 

• Big takeaways from the loss
• The offense completely collapsed
• Yeah, receivers are still a problem 
• Carson Wentz is not without fault 
• Some wicked good defense  
• Why wait so long to sign Ajayi? 
• Where do the Eagles go from here? 

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Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

With one play, Nelson Agholor could have erased what was an otherwise miserable offensive afternoon for the Eagles at the Linc against the Patriots. 

He couldn’t do it. 

The ball popped out of Agholor’s hands in the back of the end zone on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It was a play that could have tied the game. That pretty much sealed the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs (see Roob's observations).

It was a frustrating end to what was another frustrating performance from the Eagles’ wide receiver group, this time without Alshon Jeffery, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. 

“We gotta be better,” Agholor said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. We just gotta be better.” 

Carson Wentz certainly didn’t have his best performance and he even missed a couple big throws on the penultimate drive that could have tied the game. But with 1:05 left, he was able to get off that fourth-down pass with pressure in his face and hit Agholor in the hands in the back of the end zone. 

Agholor, who has been having an unfortunate contract season, said he tried to track the ball over his shoulder and actually thought he did a good job of tracking it. 

“Yeah, I did,” Agholor answered when asked if he tracked the ball well. “If anything, I kind of hit the ground and that’s when I lost it.”

But it looked like Agholor might have overrun the ball and then had to contort his body in an attempt to haul it in. His knee did hit the ground hard and he grabbed it in pain after the play. 

There might have been some wind too. 

"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL, you gotta find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "And I thought I followed it. On the way down, I kind of hit the ground hard and moved it." 

Once again on Sunday, the Eagles didn’t get nearly enough production from their wide receivers. This time, they were without Jeffery, but the lack of plays from that position has been a trend the entire season, even with him. 

Look at Sunday’s receiving numbers for the Birds: 

Tight ends and running backs: 14 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD 

Receivers: 6 catches, 75 yards  

And until that second-to-last drive, the Eagles’ receivers had just 22 receiving yards. So that group went nearly the entire game without making any significant impact. 

Without Jeffery, you can certainly say this group isn’t talented enough. But Agholor is getting paid $9.4 million, JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick and Jordan Matthews, although he’s been back just a week, has had a relatively productive NFL career. Even Mack Hollins made plays in two games earlier this year. 

Agholor: 4 catches on 9 targets, 40 yards

Arcega-Whiteside: 1 catch on 1 target, 29 yards 

Jordan Matthews: 1 catch on 6 targets, 6 yards 

Mack Hollins: 1 target

“Everybody’s gotta step up, meaning me,” Agholor said. “I only had, what, four catches? I gotta make more plays.”

It would certainly help if the Eagles got some more plays from their receivers, but at this point in the season, it’s unrealistic to expect a switch to get flipped. The Eagles have had most of their success with long drives, dinking and dunking their way down the field. 

For months, the Eagles have said the chunk plays are coming. They’re not. 

Why is Wentz so confident they’ll get more firepower from these players? 

“For me, I get to see all these guys at practice,” Wentz said. “I think everyone in here and in the public doesn’t get to see it. So I have a lot of confidence in the guys that when their number’s called, they’re going to make plays.”

Maybe Wentz has confidence — and maybe he should — but it would be misguided for anyone else to have it. These receivers kind of are what they are at this point. Was anyone really surprised Agholor failed to haul in that catch at the end of the game? 

I didn’t think so. 

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