NFL Draft: Why the Eagles will feel bolder than ever about picking injured players

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 05: Philadelphia Eagles guard Landon Dickerson (69) during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 5, 2021 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Fans rarely agree on anything – but a mutual feeling of sympathy rises when young players get injured before the NFL Draft. Nobody likes to see a gifted prospect sliding down the board because of bad luck with health. But the Eagles have enjoyed some recent success when giving wounded players a chance to shine. Now, this could influence how Philly defines the best player available when they’re on the clock.

The Landonus Phenomenon

April 30, 2021 was a rough day for Eagles-branded couch cushions. The previous two seasons of Philly football had been defined by injuries, particularly on the offensive line. Even worse, the team’s roster had big holes at almost every position. So when the Eagles selected Landon Dickerson with the 37th overall pick, heavy blows pounded soft furnishings in Philly – before they got hurled at the TV in disgust.

Dickerson limped into the City of Brotherly Love following four major injuries in five years, including a torn ACL that still needed fixing. Howie Roseman promised that a red-shirt season wasn’t part of his divine plan. But nobody was listening to the Eagles’ General Manager anymore.

By some miracle, Landonus rose from the dead to spend the season merrily bulldozing defensive linemen after Isaac Seumalo’s foot got crunched in Week 3. Dickerson played 925 total snaps, allowing just two sacks and eight hits. PFF graded him 22nd in the league among interior offensive linemen. In fact, #69 missed just one game, which was due to COVID-19.

Howie was forgiven. And if a dinged-up player with stand-out talent drops into his lap during the upcoming draft, the GM may attempt to repeat the trick.

Physician, heal thyself

Of course, Dickerson’s recovery had nothing to do with Howie’s healing hands. The Eagles’ medical staff has chopped and changed in recent seasons, and the franchise has finally put together a group of physicians and sports scientists who have cured the chronic injury bug in Philly. During preseason last year, practice was cut short and the 22 projected starters played only 325 snaps. At the end of the season, the Man Games Lost (MGL) metric rated the Eagles as one of the three least-injured teams.

“I think we have really detailed doctors, trainers and strength staff,” Nick Sirianni told reporters in December, per Crossing broad.. “We have great people in the building helping these guys take care of their bodies. That’s what’s been cool. I know how much detail and knowledge this medical staff has.”

The success of the medical team is another reason why the Eagles may feel bold about their chances of getting more bang for their buck from banged-up draftees. If the coaches and front office share that confidence, another young player could hobble into the NovaCare Complex to begin his career on May 2.

No pain, no gain

NFL franchises will not approach the draft with the specific aim of selecting injured players. But if talented prospects are still waiting for their name to be called after Day One, teams will conduct a risk/benefit assessment before announcing their pick. That calculation may be more generous in Philly because of their success with rehabilitating Landon Dickerson – and keeping the dreaded blue tent zipped up in 2021. Young bodies heal faster. And Philadelphia loves an underdog. Fans may not agree with another nicked-up pick. But fans rarely agree on anything. Right?

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire