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April 29, 2017

Philadelphia Eagles 2017 draft grades

Yeah, yeah, I know... You can't properly evaluate a draft for three years. My rebuttal? You will read my arbitrary grades for each of the Eagles' picks and like it. Let's just get right to it.

First Round: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Way back in January, Barnett was the first round pick in my "Eagles only mock draft 1.0," so obviously I saw good player who I thought fit the Eagles' scheme. Barnett was an extremely productive player for the Volunteers, posting at least 10 sacks in every season going back to his freshman year:

 Derek BarnettTackles Sacks TFL FF 
 201447 10 20.5 
 201544 10 12.5 
 201656 13 19 
 TOTAL147 33 52 

It is extremely rare for an 18-year old to put up 10 sacks and over 20 tackles for loss in a season in any conference, much less the SEC. And there's room to grow, as Barnett is still only 20 years old.

Barnett is also a very good run defender, giving the Eagles two of them when paired with Brandon Graham. Barnett's game isn't flashy. He wins with hand-fighting as opposed to elite burst, but he is battle tested in the best conference in college football, where he faced (and beat) his share of quality offensive tackles.

Grade: B+

Second round: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Jones ruptured his Achilles at his pro day, killing his draft stock. Had that not occurred, he would have been a strong option for the Eagles at pick No. 14 overall. Some players come back from a ruptured Achilles and play at a high level. Some lose their effectiveness to some degree. Clearly, it's a risk. When he's healthy, Jones has outstanding ball skills and confidence. Howie Roseman stated clearly after making the pick that they will take their time in allowing Jones to recover fully from his injury, so this will very likely be a pick for 2018 and beyond.

I personally feel that the 43rd overall pick was too early for Jones. Roseman stated that the Eagles believe Jones can return to 100 percent health after rehabilitation and that they didn't think he would make it to pick 99 in the third round. I'd have just taken one of the many other highly talented healthy corners that were available at pick 43.

Grade: C

Third round: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia

At 6'1, 208, Douglas has ideal size at the corner spot in the NFL, and he led the country in interceptions in 2016, with eight. Those two things alone will make Douglas an attractive prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. Douglas isn't always the most willing tackler in the run game, and he can tend to be a gambler in coverage.

The latter will be viewed by some coaches as a negative but is likely to appeal to Jim Schwartz.

Grade: B

Fourth round: Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina

Hollins has great size at 6'4, 221, and averaged 20.6 yards per catch, scoring on one out of roughly every four receptions in his career at UNC. Unfortunately, he only had 81 career catches, so his overall production left something to be desired.

However, Hollins is an outstanding special teams player, known for his kick and punt coverage skills. In recent years, the Eagles have placed a high priority on their special teams units, a strategy that has served them well. I respect their continued efforts to to bolster those units, which are the best in the NFL.

In Hollins, the Eagles find an immediate contributor on special teams, and an intriguing developmental prospect at wide receiver.

Grade: A-

Fourth round: Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

The easy comparison to make with Pumphrey is Darren Sproles, because Pumphrey is only 5'8, 176 pounds. However, Pumphrey is not the same player as Sproles. To begin, he returned a grand total of five kicks/punts in college, so he does not possess that experience heading into the NFL. He also managed just five reps on the bench press at the Combine. Sproles did 23. Sproles is short, but has some meat on him, while Pumphrey is just really small.

Pumphrey also ran the ball 1059 times in four years at SDSU, an extraordinarily high number. He has some mileage on him and is entering a league that puts a pounding on runners.

On the bright side, Pumphrey led the nation in rushing in 2016 and possesses receiving ability. In four years, he racked up a ridiculous 7444 yards from scrimmage. Pumphrey will be viewed as Sproles eventual replacement, but in the short term, the Eagles have three backs in Wendell Smallwood, Sproles, and Pumphrey, who are all undersized backs. I like the player, but who's going to pick up the hard first downs on 3rd and 1?

Grade: C-

Fifth round: Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Gibson is a big-time deep threat. Here are his numbers over the last two seasons:

 Shelton GibsonRec Yards YPC TD 
 201537 887 24.0 
 201643 951 22.1 8 

Gibson's specialty is taking the top off the defense and using his excellent tracking ability to haul in bombs. He is something of a one-trick pony, but that's a pretty neat trick. Carson Wentz has himself a field-stretching wide receiver. This is great value in the fifth round.

Grade: A-

Fifth round: Nate Gerry, LB, Nebraska

At Nebraska, Gerry was a big safety, at 6'2, 218. In the pros, he'll be an undersized linebacker with some coverage ability. Over the last three seasons, Gerry had 13 interceptions. The Eagles lack depth at linebacker, especially considering they are still very likely to move on from Mychal Kendricks this offseason. Gerry gives them added depth, and a potential special teams contributor.

Grade: B-

Sixth round: Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington

Qualls projects as a run-stuffing defensive tackle, which makes sense for an Eagles' defensive front that has penetrating interior line starters in Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. With Beau Allen having torn his pectoral mucle, the Eagles can use some added depth in the trenches.

Grade: B

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