April 30, 2017
Now that we've all digested the Philadelphia Eagles' 2017 draft haul, let's take a look around nationally and see how much (or how little) the draft experts viewed Howie's and Joe's picks.
In order from best grades to worst:
There should be few boobirds in Philadelphia after the draft when it comes to the home team. Every need was checked off with no reaches, and both Barnett and Jones are ideal defensive scheme fits. They padded the re-made wideout corps for Carson Wentz, too, and found their new change-up speed back in Pumphrey.
Even though the Eagles gave up their 2017 first-rounder for quarterback Carson Wentz, they were a beneficiary of Minnesota's need for a quarterback, as they got back into the first round by trading Sam Bradford last year. The way Wentz played this year showed they didn't really miss Bradford. They got the second-best pure edge rusher in the draft in Barnett at No. 14. In the second round, Philly got a first-round value in Sidney Jones, who might have to half-redshirt the year as he recovers from injury but will be a good corner down the road. Rasul Douglas is another long corner who will be on the field right away.
Mack Hollins is very good downfield receiver, and a very good special-teamer as well. That's the prototypical fourth-round pick. He and Shelton Gibson (fifth round) add receiver depth. Pumphrey's electric with the ball, not unlike veteran Darren Sproles (though not as thick and powerful). Elijah Qualls was a fine selection in the seventh (sic) round.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox led the Eagles in sacks last season with 6.5, and there was a clear directive to get an edge rusher for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in the first two days of the draft. Derek Barnett fits that bill as the first-rounder Philly got in the Sam Bradford trade with Minnesota. Barnett, who had 33.0 career sacks at Tennessee, will join the rotation with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and free-agent signing Chris Long.
Philadelphia had issues in the secondary last season, too, and one of the best things for a porous pass defense is a stellar pass rush. The Eagles took a step toward that on Day 1, then boosted the back end on Day 2. Sidney Jones could be a steal if he recovers fully from the torn Achilles he suffered at his pro day in March. Though he's optimistic about returning in 2017, he might be better served by a redshirt year. If healthy, he's a top-15 talent with good ball skills and the ability to handle big wideouts. Rasul Douglas was a ballhawk in 2016 with eight interceptions, but he doesn't have high-end speed (4.59 40).
Mack Hollins is a special-teams demon and former walk-on with some big-play ability. Donnel Pumphrey set the FBS career rushing record with 6,405 yards and is probably a part-time back. Elijah Qualls has a load of talent and ability but inconsistent tape.
Philly needed to shore up its defense and it did that pretty well. It's not a home run class, but the Eagles got better.
On the “needs” list for Philly headed into Thursday were a pass rusher and cornerback. Check and check. The Eagles nabbed DE Derek Barnett in Round 1, a safe and steady option off the edge, then doubled down on Day 2 with CB Sidney Jones (who’s rehabbing an Achilles tear) and Rasul Douglas. If Jones gets back to 100% at any point, he has Pro Bowl potential. The offensive run in Rounds 4 and 5 was intriguing. WRs Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both can stretch the field, which QB Carson Wentz would like to do more; RB Donnell Pumphrey essentially could be Darren Sproles 2.0.
The Derek Barnett pick was solid, if not spectacular — he'll help right away. Sidney Jones won't, but he has first-round talent. Rasul Douglas is a boom-or-bust player, but I like him in that system, and Mack Hollins has a chance to be special. Donnel Pumphrey projects as Darren Sproles' replacement, and Shelton Gibson and Elijah Qualls are great third-day values.
I really like the choice of pass rusher Derek Barnett in the first round. He might be the best pass rusher in this class. They took a risk with Washington corner Sidney Jones in the second, but it could be a big-time payoff if he comes off a torn Achilles tendon healthy. They added some young weapons for Carson Wentz in the later rounds. Fifth-round receiver Shelton Gibson can fly.
One of the most obvious needs for any team in this year’s draft was the Eagles need for a cornerback. The Eagles waited to target the position, taking defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round. It was something of a surprise to see him available with the 14th pick. He’ll help the team’s rush up front.
The Eagles waited until the second day to get corners, Sidney Jones in the second round and Rasul Douglas in the third round. Had Jones been healthy, he would’ve been a first-round pick. Douglas is a good physical cornerback with measurables.
Mack Hollins in the fourth round was a sound choice. The third day of the draft can be about finding special teams help, and Hollins is an ace specialist. Running back Donnel Pumphrey could move to wide receiver where he can take advantage of his agility in space.
If pass defense was their primary concern entering the weekend, they made strides. DE Derek Barnett (Round 1) is relentless, if not twitchy. CB Sidney Jones might represent highway robbery at No. 43 if his pro day Achilles injury heals quickly. CB Rasul Douglas (3) picked off passes left and right for West Virginia. Fourth-round RB Donnel Pumphrey, the all-time leading rusher in FBS history, may be another nice weapon for QB Carson Wentz on passing downs but must confirm his slender frame (5-8, 176) can withstand the NFL's rigors.
All in all, the national guys seem to dig the Eagles' draft. How would you rate it?
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