Stars, sleepers and surprises: Grading the Eagles 2018 Draft

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And just like that, the NFL Draft is over. The Eagles entered the weekend without much in the way of draft capital, but that didn’t mean they were going to be silent assassins. Some big trades and a class of five new rookies leave with Howie Roseman and company back to the City of Brotherly Love. Did the Eagles GM hit yet another home run? Let’s take a look:

 

2nd – No. 49:  Dallas Goedert | TE | South Dakota State
Tight end was among the team’s biggest needs coming into this weekend and it was treated as such. The Eagles traded back into the second round on day one, but would move up just ahead of their most bitter rivals in order to snatch a player who was more than likely their target in that situation.

The smarts is one thing, but the prospect himself is something else. At 6’5, 260 lbs, Goedert’s back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons are hard to miss. With 13 100-yard receiving games during that same span, Goedert ended his SDSU career fourth in school history when it comes to receiving yards (2,988).

A small-school sleeper in every sense of the word, Goedert’s route-running is simply exceptional and he launches off the line with tremendous burst. Soft hands and an impressive pro-day round out a skillset that is only lacking blocking fundamentals…something that can easily be coached later.

The Eagles needed to grab a replacement for Trey Burton. They invested in a TE2 with exceptional upside and an incredible amount of versatility. It’s hard to find anything negative about this pick.

Grade: A-

 

4th – No. 125: Avonte Maddox | CB | Pittsburgh
(The following is a scout report from our FREE NFL Draft guide on cornerbacks)

Maddox is everything you could want in a nickel cornerback. Speedy, willing and as reactive as a nuclear weapon. His small frame is misleading, with the Panther packing quite a rapid punch after posting a 4.39 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine.

Currently projected to go in the heart of the NFL Draft, Maddox is a very well-rounded corner who is fluid in his movement and aggressive when it comes to tackling. Someone who wants to be in the heart of the action, Maddox was still able to end his career with 51 passes defensed despite being undersized, which says a lot about his desire and drive to outwork whoever stands in front of him.

Injury concerns do shroud his stock however, with Maddox missing five games over the last two years and like several other corners in his class, his aggressive mindset can often sting him when all chips are placed on a bursting toward a route that then breaks the other way. Oddly, Maddox doesn’t initiate a lot of contact when in press coverage. He is smooth in his back-pedal, but he keeps his arms compact and his frame ready to pounce (like a Panther?) as opposed to trying to stake his claim and make his presence felt.

His short-area quickness is astounding, but with patience being something that has evaded his play for a while now, Maddox is a 0-100 cornerback who may not have the size to get away with it at the next level. As an athlete, he’s the complete package and you’ll find it difficult to find anything other than applause when people discuss his personality in other reports.

But with a potential rebalance of technique, Maddox would be best suited to a team who play cover-3 or frequently roll out an extra DB, just to give him that breathing room needed to find his feet, knowing that if he does begin to make mistakes at the line due to being urged to punch a little more often, he will have a safety blanket behind him. Maddox is everything you want in a nickel corner, he just may take a little longer to blossom.

Another need for the Eagles was nickel corner. Patrick Robinson was one of the team’s biggest standouts win 2017 and his move to New Orleans leaves a very talented Eagles secondary in a strange spot. Do any of the current starters have the skillset to move directly inside? It’s debatable, but this shorter 5’9, 180 lbs defensive back could ‘slot’ in perfectly.

Maddox fills a large nickel hole for the Eagles, although he does have the upside and the competitive nature to play outside. At the very least, he will throw the Cat among the Pigeons during Training Camp and provide fans with a thoroughly entertaining practice as he seeks to carve his niche in a somewhat crowded secondary. There is also the potential to see him play roles over the top. (But more on that in a different article).

The Eagles tick one (and maybe more) boxes with this pick and add some extra bulk in the secondary by bringing in a player who notably plays with his heart on his sleeve and a lot of passion. A dream fit in Philadelphia.

Grade: B

 

 

4th – No. 130: Josh Sweat | DE | Florida State
Their second fourth rounder was spent on one of the top pass-rushers in this year’s class. Sweat’s high school injury concerns have evaporated int he eyes of the Eagles and 14.5 sacks, 29 tackles for a loss are enough hard evidence for a team who cherish electric defensive ends. At 6’5, 251 lbs, his rangy frame and huge first step will be another first step for the Eagles.

DE wasn’t a massive need for the Birds, but in the long-term it could be. Graham’s future is uncertain and Chris Long won’t be around forever…not to mention the Michael Bennett saga. Adding a premier pass-rusher this year instead in order to jump the gun seems like the smart move.

Grade: B

 

6th – No. 206 – Matt Pryor, OT, TCU
A former linemate of Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Pryor spent time at both RG and RT during his time at TCU. With a 6’7, 338 lbs frame, this strong pass-protector has a thick base and a lot of drive when pushing defensive linemen back downfield. He won’t be required to start right away, but this pick is debatably the most impressive of the draft.

The Eagles lack depth and long-term stability at left guard, with Wisniewski winning the starting role by default after a 3-month long battle at the position and on the right side, depth is even more worrying with that in mind. Behind Lane Johnson at tackle, there isn’t a lot of strong tackle prospects or talent either. With Pryor’s versatility for Stoutland to groom, the Eagles now have a player who fills two major holes in the best offensive front in football.

 

Grade: A

 

7th – No. 233 – Jordan Mailata, OT, Australian rugby player
I think this grade is really difficult to grade, but if we take the player out of the equation, the Eagles did have needs on the board. No linebacker drafted, no running back, no safety. Instead, they doubled down on the offensive line with a true project player. Not only that, but they traded up for him too. The Eagles either feel really confident that their roster is fine as is, or feel that this was simply the best pick to make.

With that said, Mailata is a raw and rare type of athleteAt 6’8, 346 lbs, the South Sydney Rabbitohs star has an incredibly rare physical skillset, as well as impressive size. 35.5 inch arms, a 5.12 40-yard dash and a 4.67 yard short shuttle headline a phenomenal list of tangibles for an offensive lineman. Oh, and did I mention he’s just 20 yearsold? The ceiling is incredibly high.

His story is just as exciting. A player who was met with a life-changing decision, to give up a rugby career that wasn’t paying him full-time wages, fly across the world and work out in Los Angeles. That decision has led to him being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. As an offensive lineman, he will need to be taught patience and technique. If the Eagles can be patient enough to teach him that, he will be an intriguing name to watch…but you can’t help but feel this was an exciting shot int he dark.

Grade: C

 

Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

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