Why the Philadelphia Eagles were among the biggest winners in round one of the NFL Draft

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If you had to pick one word to sum up the first day of the NFL Draft, it would be ‘rollercoaster’. There were fireworks from the very first pick and with trades reshaping the landscape every few picks, everybody was on the edge of their seat. Everybody except Howie Roseman, who simply let the draft fall into his lap. By the time the Eagles were on the clock, they were in a position of luxury.

Derrius Guice, a running back whom they had been seemingly besotted with this offseason, sat prettily on the draft board, as did a pair of offensive linemen who simply appeared to be safe bets in Connor Williams and Will Hernandez. Cornerbacks, receivers and two injury-prone pass-rushers all acted as the forbidden fruit for the Super Bowl champions, but the motive was always clear.

“…We thought the strengths of the draft next year were different than the strengths of this draft.” Howie Roseman told reporters after the first round. “And where this draft is strong, it continues to be strong until tomorrow. So, it gets us an opportunity to still get a good player, possibly, but more importantly, also continue to build. For us, we want to win this year, but we want to continue to win. We want to win in 2018; we want to win in 2019; in 2020.”

The Eagles have achieved the ultimate success by building through the draft. Signing free agent veterans to prove-it contracts has allowed the team to find developmental talent in the draft and allow those players to develop behind experienced leaders and a strong coaching tree. The Eagles have holes to fill, but that doesn’t mean they’re suddenly unable to tick those boxes.

In every position of need (be it tight end, linebacker, safety, running back) the Eagles already have the pieces in place. Without much draft capital on day two, the Eagles were able to drop back a little, safe in the knowledge that not only can they select one of those players who fit the new Philadelphia mold, but that they also coup a second round pick in 2019.

Many seemed inherently disgruntled that the Eagles didn’t pick up Derrius Guice. The LSU running back almost seemed primed for Philadelphia, especially after Sony Michel landed in New England. But again, the Eagles aren’t a team who draft running backs high.

  • Jay Ajayi was a fifth round pick.
  • Corey Clement was undrafted.
  • The highest running back drafted by the Eagles in the last 10 years is LeSean McCoy, a second round pick.
  • Joe Douglas drafts a running back in round 4.6 on average.

There was no point in deviating from this plan unless that player was filling a hole directly as an impact player. The Eagles want to keep their committee effort, not flip the backfield over to a new feature back.

The Draft may be the world’s most complex stock market and with so many temptations to reach or detour from the original plan, sometimes sticking to your guns is the safer option.

“This is like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle that I’m giving you.” Roseman would go on to say. “The strengths that we felt were there before, are the reasons we made this trade back. Because we felt like what we were going to get at 32 was going to be a strength throughout tomorrow, as well. So let’s go add a second-round pick for next year and still have an opportunity to maybe add to our team.”

The Eagles aren’t trying to build a short-term winner. The desire for an impact player, while high for any team, is marginal here because the team already have a championship winning roster. Aiming for malleable talent that will grow in a span of a season or two is the preferred option here and by doing that, the Eagles have been able to pick up a second round pick in the year that follows.

How many times have we seen a team swipe the table clean, come up with a new masterplan because an unexpected talent has fallen to them and then that blow up in their faces? The Eagles aren’t out to build a dynasty, they’re looking to sustain one…making this seemingly boring move, the smartest that the franchise could’ve possibly made.

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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