After months of anticipation, the NFL Draft has come and gone. The draft was full of surprise, excitement, and even a little controversy. In the end, however, eight incredible prospects were drafted by the Eagles in front of their new city of employment- Philadelphia.
I decided to share my thoughts on the Eagles’ selections in the form of awards because the school-style letter grading of picks has been overdone and doesn’t accurately highlight my full thoughts on the selections. Not everyone will agree with my opinions of the Eagles’ draft, so feel free to debate in the comment section.
Safest Pick- DE Derek Barnett
Barnett may not have been the sexiest pick in the draft, but I absolutely love the move. The team needed to get younger and more productive at defensive end after releasing Connor Barwin, and Barnett kills two birds with one stone. The Tennessee product has a relentless motor and dominated arguably the toughest conference at the collegiate level. He will be heavily featured in the defensive line rotation and I expect him to prove his worth quickly.
Biggest Steal- WR Shelton Gibson
Drafted in the 5th round (166th overall), Gibson was an absolute steal for the Birds. He is an absolute burner and reminds me a ton of DeSean Jackson with how he effortlessly blows by defenders. Gibson not only possesses elite speed, but also does a great job of tracking the ball when it is in the air.
Wentz didn’t get to show off his stellar arm strength much last season due to a lack of a true deep threat, but will get the chance to let it fly with Gibson streaking down the field. I am trying my hardest not to say he’ll be the next D-Jax, but there is little doubt in my mind that he won’t severely outperform his draft slot and provide the Eagles with a reliable deep threat for years to come.
Worst Pick- RB Donnel Pumphrey
This is not to discredit Pumphrey and all of his many accomplishments, but I am honestly not a fan of this pick at all. There are two things I dislike most about this selection.
1. The Eagles desperately needed to find a three-down back to take some pressure off of Wentz, and were primed to do so with such a deep running back class. Unfortunately the team did not adequately address the need, and drafted a gadget player instead. The team passed on physical backs Brian Hill and Jamaal Williams, who could have served as the bruising back that wears defenses down, in favor of Pumphrey. He is simply too small to be to even consider as the lead back Philly needs, and will likely to limited to a third down back/punt returner.
“But Jalyn, claims the voice of public opinion, “He was drafted to be a Sproles replacement, not a lead back.”
Which leads me to my next point.
2. There was already an heir to Sproles on the roster. Byron Marshall had a 1,000 plus yard rushing season and a 1,000 plus yard receiving season during his time at Oregon. His performance is even more impressive considering he did it in the Pac-12- a much more competitive conference than the Mountain West that Pumphrey played in. It’s reasonable to assume that Marshall would progress this upcoming season going into year two in Doug Pederson’s offense and another year under Sproles’ tutelage. I think all of these variables more than qualifies Marshall to be the pass catching back for the team, but the team drafted Pumphrey instead.
I’m not saying that Pumphrey will be a bad player by any means. He’s simply the worst pick we made because of the odds of him being successful at his size and the fact we already had two players manning his projected role. Hopefully Pumphrey proves me wrong and is a valuable asset to the team.
Diamond in the Rough- WR Mack Hollins
The decision to draft Hollins was a very under the radar move that has since been praised by college football junkies. He is a big body receiver with top-notch speed and a special teams ace.
On Mack Hollins (6-4, 221 at combine), had he not had season cut short due to broken collarbone, he would have been drafted on 2nd day.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) April 29, 2017
I think this pick has Joe Douglas’ fingertips all over it and it’s encouraging to see us finding value in the middle rounds because of his supreme talent evaluation.
Biggest Project- LB Nathan Gerry
I really like the team’s idea to move Gerry from safety to linebacker in the pros. He didn’t have ideal athleticism for a safety and should be a better fit at linebacker from an athletic standpoint. What I like most about this pick, however, is the potential impact it has. Gerry was excellent in coverage at Wisconsin and could actually be an upgrade over Mychal Kendricks in that department with the right coaching.
Underrated Pick- CB Rasul Douglas
Douglas is an incredibly talented, ball hawking cornerback with length and I am ecstatic to have him in Midnight Green. Not only can he hold down the fort on the outside while Jones heals, but I believe he is talented enough to even remain there once he does. This would give the Eagles three cornerbacks worthy of starting consideration for the first time in years and would give them much needed depth.
Best Value- CB Sidney Jones
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but, guys, if Sidney Jones fully recovers from injury then the Eagles committed highway robbery in the second round. Jones is excellent at press man coverage, has great ball skills, and simply does not allow touchdowns. I think he has a shot at being a legitimate lockdown cornerback in the NFL when healthy and love that the team took the risk on him in the second round.
All in all I would say the Eagles had a tremendous weekend in Philadelphia and added a lot of youth and talent to the roster. It feels a lot like last year when they found value in every round we picked. Although I’m a little disappointed we didn’t come away with a workhorse running back, I would call Joe Douglas’ first draft a success from a “way too soon to tell” perspective.
Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports