The NFL Draft has already closed its curtains after a weekend of non-stop excitement. Eight new players will put on a midnight green jersey in just a few weeks time for rookie minicamp, while the anticipation over Training camp battles build. So, what did we learn from the Eagles 2017 NFL Draft class?
Sticking to the plan:
It may not have been glamorous, but the Eagles ensured that they continued down the direction that they had previously prepared for in free agency. It would have been very easy to trade up for Christian McCaffrey, take a shot on Gareon Conley, or draft players considered “reaches” later in the draft..but the Eagles have been there before. This year had to be different..and it was.
From Derek Barnett, to Donell Pumphrey, the Eagles were absolutely meticulous in their search for talent. No character red flags, no controversial off-the-field incidents, and a slew of talent with youth on its side.
The year after drafting a franchise quarterback is often considered the most important. It’s the year in which you surround that quarterback with talent. The year where you aim to build a sustainable offensive force for years to come. This can go one of two ways. The Eagles could have came into the offseason and Draft with the best of intentions, but walk away like Indianapolis have done in the season’s following the drafting of Andrew Luck..or, they could build around their star just as Seattle did with Russell Wilson. The Eagles, have begun the process of achieving the latter.
Checking off the boxes:
Whether it was in the order that fans had hoped for or not, the Eagles checked off all their major needs heading into the Draft. A new cornerback tandem that could be solidified for the next few years, two new wideouts to compete at training camp who bring the specific skill set that the Eagles require, a complimentary running back, and of course, a premier edge rusher to start alongside Brandon Graham. Interestingly, the Eagles bought in a Safety who is likely moving to linebacker as well..which if you ask me, leaves no stone unturned.
The Eagles NEEDED corners..they walked away with arguably the top talent in the draft prior to his injury, and a long DB in Douglas who compliments the skill set of Jones Well. Wide receivers? Check. Linebacker? Check. Running back? Check..oh, and they signed Corey Clement as a UDFA.
If you ask me, the Eagles decided to load the bases as opposed to going all in on a home run single..and that may be the biggest takeaway from this draft.
Best player available:
It was echoed with the Derek Barnett signing and continued to be seen throughout the draft, from Sidney Jones, to DJ Pumphrey. The Eagles never wavered in their pick selection. As aforementioned, there was no reaching involved..no big risks, no all-or-nothing picks, just the best talent on their board by the time they were on the clock..and if the player they sought wasn’t there, they traded back. The handprint of Joe Douglas is firmly imprinted on this year’s draft class..and that is a great thing when it comes to our next point..
The long-term vision:
The picks may not necessarily give the Eagles the best chance to win right away, period. Sidney Jones may not play at all in 2017 and Derek Barnett, like Jones, is just 20-years old. But with growth such a key aspect of building this roster, the Eagles wanted to ensure that they bring in a group of guys with similar character traits, who can become key parts of the offense toward the latter stages of this five-year window, when a Super Bowl could potentially become a realistic possibility.
The Eagles aren’t a win-now team. Sure, they added some top talents in free agency, but the focus is still building for the longer-term vision..and that was prominent in all selections made over the last few days.
If there’s one thing we can takeaway from this year’s draft class, it’s that Pederson’s value of competition has become more prominent than ever. Last year, Pederson stated he wanted competition at each position. One year later, the Eagles Head Coach got his wish.
I think it’s great. I think when I stood up here last year and said, “competition at every position” — again, the gentlemen up here with me helped us create that. Pederson told the media yesterday. I’m excited to see these guys work. I’m excited to see who’s going to rise to the top and who’s going to be there at the end. It’s just going to make us better down the stretch.”
From cornerback, to running back and wide receiver..Training camp is going to be a thrilling spectacle for fans, who get to see their favorite players leave it all out on the turf day in and day out to earn a roster spot, while the potential of seeing the next Paul Turner, Rasheed Bailey, Jalen Mills, or Aaron Grymes is higher than ever. Competition is the name of the game moving forward..and that alone is integral in building a roster in the right way.
Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports