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April 27, 2020

Eagles 2020 draft grade roundup

The Philadelphia Eagles probably had the most polarizing draft haul in the NFL. Thank you to Howie Roseman for giving us all stuff to debate for the next few months.

Below is a roundup of their draft grades, which range from A- to D-, lol.

As you can see, the Eagles had a "GPA" of 2.35, which was 28th in the NFL. Of course, last year they had a GPA of 3.37, and that draft isn't looking so great after one year.

Let's go ahead and see what each draft analyst had to say about the Eagles' picks.

Chad Reuter, (A-)

The Eagles had to find a quarterback they trusted in case Carson Wentz was injured again, they did in Hurts. The team added explosiveness to their receiving corps on Day 1 (Reagor) and speed at linebacker on Day 2 (Taylor). GM Howie Roseman got a steal with his fourth-round pick in Wallace -- a guy who I thought could've gone as high as the second round. Great value at an area of need. Driscoll could line up at guard or tackle and maybe even serve as the team's backup center. Hightower was another great value pick by Roseman, as the receiver's ability to run past corners and run-after-catch made him a potential third- or fourth-rounder in my eyes. The Eagles added even more speed out wide on Day 3 when they traded for veteran Marquise Goodwin and selected Watkins. I don't know why Bradley and Toohill were still available so late, but kudos to Roseman for grabbing those two guys at a bargain. If Wanogho is healthy, he will be a valuable swing tackle. Look for the Eagles to sign a couple of top available running backs after the draft.

#JimmySays: They didn't "have to" draft a quarterback in Round 2. I do agree with Reuter's praise of Roseman's Day 3 picks.

Vinnie Iyer, SportingNews (C)

Howie Roseman was able to recover from the back-to-back weird reaches on the Jalens, but the haul was very disappointing for a contender, despite the volume. Hurts made no sense for them as costly insurance behind Carson Wentz. Taylor, Bradley and Toohill doesn’t inspire in helping their one big defensive weakness. The three best picks were Driscoll, Hightower and Wanogho, who all should have gone earlier. There wasn’t much diversity in the positions, filled with flyers more than real short-term contributors beyond Reagor.

#JimmySays: I didn't have Reagor rated super highly either, and yet, I wouldn't call it a reach. There were plenty of draft analysts who believed that Reagor was a top receiver in this draft, and he fits the Eagles' biggest need (speed).

PFF (A-)

Day 1: Wide receiver was priority number one for Philadelphia entering the draft, and it was a mission accomplished by picking up Jalen Reagor in Round 1. Reagor is an explosive athlete by nature, and that becomes clear when he has the ball in his hands. Over the past two years, Reagor generated an explosive play of 15-plus yards on 51.6% of his catches — the second-highest rate in college football and nearly 20 percentage points above the FBS average. With that athleticism, Reagor constantly gets behind defenses. Look beyond Reagor’s collegiate production for a reason to worry about his future in the NFL – his situation at TCU could not have been much worse, as he saw a catchable target just 61.4% of the time, which ranked 118th among 120 wideouts. We love this pick for the Eagles.

Day 2: Philly threw everyone for a loop by taking Jalen Hurts 53rd overall, but we actually like the pick despite Carson Wentz manning the helm. It’s no secret that Wentz has had his fair share of injuries in the NFL, and the Eagles need a reliable backup as a result of that. Hurts improved drastically over the course of his collegiate career and has the rushing ability, athleticism, accuracy, decision-making and collegiate production that gives us reason to believe he can succeed at the next level. If he can just make quicker decisions (3.08 second average time to throw in 2019 was slowest in FBS), this pick could be an absolute steal down the long run.

 “I like this pick. … Jalen Hurts gives you a high-floor backup in terms of you just run a few option plays, you have a few passing concepts off that. It’s going to be vastly different — teams are going to have to prepare for something entirely different.” – PFF Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner

Davion Taylor didn’t crack the top 100 on the PFF Big Board due to being relatively undersized and having little experience playing between the tackles, but our data scientists love Taylor as a prospect. In PFF’s analytics mock by George Chahrouri and Eric Eager, they had Taylor among the top-32 prospects, as he projects very well to the NFL. He’s an incredible athlete who you invest in — as Philly did at pick No. 103.

Day 3: K’Von Wallace, who was 60th on the PFF Big Board, is a physical, quick and instinctive player. He’s really just the ideal slot cornerback in the NFL. Manning the slot for the Clemson Tigers over the past three years, Wallace posted a great 87.1 coverage grade. 

“In today’s NFL, you need slot cornerbacks who can stick with some of the top receivers in the NFL, come up and make plays on screens, not be afraid to fill gaps in the run game and get home on the occasional blitz. Wallace is one of my favorites in the class, and he is someone I think can take on those responsibilities well.” – PFF Analyst Ben Linsey

#JimmySays: Wait, they don't actually call themselves "Data scientists," do they? I do respect that they gave some actual analysis, unlike some others here.

Luke Easterling (B)

No analysis given.

#JimmySays: Oh, a B? Cool.

Andy Benoit (C)

In critical pass situations last season, the Eagles often went to 12 personnel—two receivers and two tight ends. Yes, they have a pair of quality tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but this personnel decision said more about what they had—or didn’t have—at wide receiver.

Jalen Reagor fills a gargantuan void. He was an explosive outside weapon at TCU who showed he can also move into the slot. While maybe not quite a pure burner through and through, he can still get vertical—a notable trait given that Carson Wentz is innately aggressive when it comes to pushing the ball downfield. Reagor also impressed scouts with some of his route running nuance—another notable trait given that Doug Pederson’s offense, when it’s functioning comfortably, is built on detailed route combinations.

Knowing that a lack of receiving speed was their downfall in 2019, the Eagles compensated very thoroughly by also drafting burner John Hightower in Round 5. With the two rookies aboard and veteran DeSean Jackson (hopefully) back healthy this year, Philly’s offense has simply gone from slow to fast.

It might also go from static to multiple if second-round quarterback Jalen Hurts was brought in to be a dynamic gadget weapon. And almost certainly, that’s the case. Carson Wentz has obviously been injury prone, but it’s highly unlikely that Philadelphia would spend a second-round pick on an insurance policy here, and it is inconceivable that they’d even contemplate replacing a 27-year-old QB who has superstar traits.

But even if Hurts’s gadgetry role is clearly defined, don’t make any Taysom Hill comparisons; Hurts is a dual-threat QB but not a blocker or receiver on top of that.

Defensively, Davion Taylor is perceived to be a raw but potentially explosive prospect. Such a project is probably not what linebacker-hungry Eagles fans want for 2020, but as we highlighted in Philadelphia’s “team needs” before the draft, the defensive staff has good reason to be comfortable with young incumbents T.J. Edwards and Nathan Gerry as their starting nickel options. And if they take the long view, the fans have plenty to look forward to given the upside that comes with having 4.39 speed. Worth noting: Taylor is the first linebacker GM Howie Roseman has drafted in the first three rounds since Mychal Kendricks in 2012. (Jordan Hicks in 2015 was a Chip Kelly pick.)

#JimmySays: Hey, looky here, I agree with Benoit on something. I do not see a "Taysom Hill role" for Hurts, at all. In fact, I think it's a lot more likely that he's inactive on game day as a rookie than it is that they take Carson Wentz off the field and he gets meaningful snaps in some kind of oddball role.

Darryl Slater, (D+)

Rough draft for Howie Roseman. Let’s start with the obvious terrible pick — quarterback Jalen Hurts in Round 2. So bad. Roseman completely mishandled the receiver situation in this draft, too. Maybe Jalen Reagor somehow redeems him.

#JimmySays: I can respect the opinion on the backup QB in Round 2, but I'd have been interested in an explanation on how the Eagles mishandled the receiver situation.

Doug Farrar (D)

Philly took TCU receiver Jalen Reagor with their first-round pick, and Reagor fits perfectly in Doug Pederson’s West Coast passing offense. All good there. Then, the Eagles went YOLO with the second-round selection of Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. The reasoning for this was that Carson Wentz’s injury history is always a factor, and general manager Howie Roseman has said that he’d like his team to be a quarterback factory, but that’s like saying you’re going to open a square peg factory in a round hole world. Yes, Hurts is a quarterback with potential, but as was true of the Packers taking Jordan Love, there were more pertinent positional decisions to be made to help the quarterback in charge. Perhaps Hurts can be another Nick Foles over time, but it’s hard to expect another “Philly Philly” in a Super Bowl with a relatively unspectacular draft outside of the Reagor pick.

#JImmySays: I've warmed slightly to the idea of Hurts in Round 2 (I still think it's a very bad pick), but Farrar points out the best argument against it -- How does it help Carson Wentz? The reality is that they gave him more adversity to deal with.

Dan Kadar (C-)

Arguably the biggest draft need in the entire NFL was the Eagles and a wide receiver. That was satisfied with the selection of TCU’s Jalen Reagor at No. 21. That was a little high for Reagor, but the Eagles had to get a receiver early.

Philadelphia then shocked everyone by drafting quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round. Head coach Doug Pederson will be able to fit Hurts in somehow, and maybe he’ll be their Taysom Hill. But is that a player you take with the 53rd pick in the draft?

Linebacker Davion Taylor is still raw, as he only played two games of high school football, but he’s a solid hybrid linebacker/safety with great athleticism. Getting receiver John Hightower was a good pickup on Day 3 of the draft.

It’s a big head scratcher why Philadelphia didn’t target a cornerback at any point, though.

#JimmySays: There was always going to be a position that didn't get addressed, and this year it's corner, though K'Von Wallace is sort of like a safety / slot corner, and the team thinks UDFA CB Grayland Arnold was a draftable player, per a source. Obviously, taking a quarterback in Round 2 didn't help from the "addressing needs" angle.

Mark Maske (B-)

Using a second-round pick on Jalen Hurts was a bit curious given young franchise QB Carson Wentz is already in place. Yes, Wentz has had injury issues. But there are other quarterbacks the Eagles could have taken later in the draft to serve as a backup. At least they used their first-round pick on WR Jalen Reagor to give Wentz some playmaking help. The Eagles added more speed at wide receiver with their Day 3 selections and the trade for the 49ers’ Marquise Goodwin.

#JimmySays: The move for Goodwin made no sense to me initially because of his almost $4 million salary. As it turns out, the Eagles re-worked that, and he's on a far more team-friendly deal.

Ryan Dunleavy (C+)

Not the best draft for one of the usual winners. Reagor over Justin Jefferson was surprising — even if he can be DeSean Jackson 2.0 — and Hurts as a backup/threat to Carson Wentz is either arrogant or overthought.

#JimmySays: Wait. The Eagles are "usual winners" in the draft?

Mel Kiper (B-)

So what do you want to talk about with this Eagles class? The Day 3 guys? OK, fine, let's talk through the Jalen Hurts (53) pick some more. I wrote about it on Friday night, including it among my head-scratching picks, and I want to give a couple of more stats to back that up, with some help from my friends at ESPN Stats & Information. The first:

The Eagles have made the playoffs three consecutive seasons. Carson Wentz has thrown a total of four passes in the playoffs.

Health is a big issue for Wentz. He hasn't been able to stay on the field, and the Eagles are covering their bases in taking a quarterback in Round 2. Hurts could legitimately get a start or two in 2020. At the same time, though ...

According to NFL Next Gen Stats data, the Saints ran 206 plays last season with at least two quarterbacks on the field. The rest of the NFL ran 10 combined.

That's why it's not realistic to think that Hurts is going be used as some sort of Taysom Hill-type weapon on offense, at least on a consistent basis. Hurts isn't the same kind of athlete. He's a quarterback with running skills, but he's not going to play receiver. He's not going to cover kicks.

Ultimately that's why I can like the range in which Hurts was selected but not like the fit in Philadelphia, which just gave Wentz a huge contract extension. This isn't even close to the same as what the Packers did in drafting Jordan Love to learn from Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is 36 and declining; Wentz is 27 and should be ascending. And yes, the Eagles are a contender in the NFC East, but they're not without roster holes. There were defensive backs on the board who could have helped right away. I would love to see Doug Pederson get Hurts involved on run-pass options a few snaps per game, and he's creative enough to do it, but Wentz is still the guy.

#JimmySays: Well-reasoned take from Mel.

Nate Davis, USA Today (D)

GM Howie Roseman built a champion, so difficult to question his (often sage) moves. But the visceral reaction to this draft ... not very good. WR Jalen Reagor in Round 1 when Justin Jefferson was sitting there (and when sixth-rounder Quez Watkins can provide the speed aspect Reagor does)? Second-round QB Jalen Hurts is tantalizing, but can he execute game plans built for Carson Wentz? And when you could've taken, say, Fromm later and used that second-rounder on a better defensive player? Finally, assuming the remainder of Goodwin's contract seems like another dubious decision.

#JimmySays: I'll forgive the wrongness of the Goodwin point, as Davis may have written this before it was revealed that Goodwin's pay was reduced substantially, but "The Eagles shouldn't have drafted Jalen Reagor because they drafted Quez Watkins two days later" is hilariously ridiculous.

Thor Nystrom (A-)

Really strong stuff. Reagor is a fun pick, Hurts was a fine value where he was taken, K’Von is a bonanza of a sleeper, and some very real value may have been unearthed late on Day 3 with John Hightower, Prince Tega Wanogho, Casey Toohill and crew, depending on Prince’s knee and the translation of the other two athlete’s games.

#JimmySays: I think the one aspect that is overlooked about Reagor is that he will indeed be "fun." That gets lost in analysis at times, but are we not watching to be entertained?

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