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April 29, 2018

Unlike last year, Eagles (mostly) drafted highly athletic players in 2018

Eagles NFL
042918AvonteMaddox Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles fourth round pick Avonte Maddox tested well at the 2018 NFL Combine.

If you check out the Philadelphia Eagles' haul in the 2017 NFL Draft, you'll find that none of the Birds' selections fared particularly well at the NFL Combine. First round pick Derek Barnett, for example, was not a favorite among some fans at the time for his lack of elite athletic measurables.

He did not have a good 40 time, vertical jump, or shuttle time. The NFL Combine is not the end-all, be-all, obviously, as Barnett clearly looks like a legitimate starter in the NFL, because he's a good football player, as you all saw in his rookie season.

Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Donnel Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson, Nate Gerry, and Elijah Qualls all had disappointing Combines a season ago, and they all ended up on the Eagles' roster. As a result, it was easy to infer that Joe Douglas appeared not to care all that much about the "underwear Olympics."

In 2018, four of the five players the Eagles drafted had very good athletic measurables, which differed from the players they drafted in 2017.

To show the difference, we'll take a look at "SPARQ" (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness), which is a sport-specific assessment of athleticism. In the world of football, 3sigmathlete.com measures the overall athleticism of NFL players. If you're interested in learning more about the mathematical nuts and bolts of it, by all means go check out their work, which is fantastic.

For the purposes of this post, we'll take a more dumbed-down look. In the chart below, the "NFL%" shows how each drafted Eagles player compares athletically with other players at their position in the NFL, in terms of percentile. As described by 3sigmathlete:

Note that the “NFL%” column refers to the NFL positional averages and not to the draft positional averages. This means that a 50.0 percentile would represent a player who rates as a league-average NFL athlete at the position. The average NFL player is pretty athletic, so this designation is not at all a poor result.

The results:

Player Position NFL% 
 Dallas GoedertTE 78.4 
 Avonte MaddoxCB 93.5 
 Josh SweatEdge 95.4 
 Matt PryorOL 2.7 
 Jordan MailataOL N/A 


To note, Mailata's score is not available on 3sigmathlete.com, as his full pro day numbers are not known. Mailata reportedly had an impressive pro day, though only the highlights of it were noted, via NFL.com.

Mailata measured just shy of 6-foot-8 and weighed 346 pounds. His arms measured a massive 35.5 inches. He was timed at 5.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which would have been good for seventh among tackle participants at the NFL Combine in February. He also excelled in the short shuttle with a time (4.67 seconds) that would have been among the top 10 at his position. Mailata put up 22 reps on the bench press.

Surely, Mailata would have a high SPARQ score based on the above.

The 2017 Eagles draft class, as noted above, was not nearly as athletic. Here is how they fared on 3sigmathlete.com:

 PlayerPosition NFL% 
 Derek BarnettDE 26.0 
 Sidney JonesCB 27.3 
 Rasul DouglasCB 38.5 
 Mack HollinsWR N/A (injured during testing season)  
 Donnel PumphreyRB 14.7 
 Shelton GibsonWR 22.6 
 Nate Gerry*S (now a LB) 40.1 
 Elijah QuallsDL 45.4 


As you can see, all of the Eagles' 2017 draft picks (Hollins excluded) were below average athletically compared to the rest of the league.

Are the Eagles' drafting philosophies different this year than they were last year? Meh, probably not. I'm not sure I really even have any major points to make in regard to the above. Just thought the athleticism of this year's crop of players was an observation worth noting.


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