April 18, 2021
There's still plenty of work to do this offseason for Howie Roseman and Co., and while the Eagles can certainly still add some players in free agency — we took a look at some options at cornerback, wide receiver and defensive end recently — the majority of the focus now shifts to the NFL Draft, which is less than two weeks away.
After trading back from the sixth spot to the twelfth spot in the first round, there are now reports that the Eagles could actually considering moving back up into the top 10 should the right prospect be available to them. If they're able to do so and still keep the extra first rounder acquired in the trade back, that might be enough to sell the fanbase. But right now, the idea of a flip-flop only further plays into the idea that the Eagles have no idea what they're doing in the NFL Draft.
And that's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying, with a look at one national writer (and he almost certainly isn't alone) who ranks Roseman as one of the worst drafting general managers in all of football, which shouldn't inspire a lot of confidence that he'll be able to put those league-high 11 draft picks to good use.
Let's dive in, shall we?
Over at NFL.com, Gregg Rosenthal took a look at the drafting ability of the current crop of NFL general managers, but it included some caveats, like the fact that not every current GM was eligible to be on the list (there were only 23 that were). Before we get to the list, here's the rationale from Rosenthal:
Drafting is hard. Ranking teams based on how they draft is easy. Instead of evaluating general managers this year based on the totality of their job, I thought it'd be fun to only focus on how they used their draft capital. It's a self-selecting group, because the names that would be at the bottom of this list ultimately lost their jobs. For the purposes of this column, I only went back to 2015 and I did not include the nine GMs who have run one draft or less." [nfl.com]
So, where did the Eagles GM rank? Perhaps it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who follows the team closely to know that Roseman was way down near the bottom, ranked 21st of the 23 to make the cut. Only Dave Gettleman of the Giants and the Raiders' combo of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock were lower.
21) Howie Roseman, Eagles
Best pick: Dallas Goedert | Round 2 (No. 49), 2018
Worst pick: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside | Round 2 (No. 57), 2019
Roseman's first pick back in charge after the Chip Kelly era was Carson Wentz. Signing Wentz to a massive second contract has proven far more costly (the Eagles have a $33.8 million dead-money hit in 2021, per Over The Cap) than moving up to select him second overall, as Wentz contributed significantly to a Super Bowl title and two other playoff teams. The picks Philadelphia traded away for Wentz, however, left the team with a smaller margin for error that Roseman didn't sufficiently compensate for with quality selections. The next-best picks since 2016 include Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Avonte Maddox and Derek Barnett. Roseman deserves credit for an Eagles roster that was loaded from 2017 to '19, but it wasn't because of recent drafts. [nfl.com]
The Eagles were extremely quiet in free agency, where Roseman's had much more success overall, and seem poised to attempt to make the biggest upgrades with their 11 picks in the draft after already trading back from a spot with a higher hit-rate to one where it'll be even harder to make the right pick.
This should go well...
We mentioned in the intro that report about the Eagles possibly trading back up into the Top 10. That report on Friday came from Ben Standig at The Athletic, but it turns out he wasn't the first to suggest the move, as this nugget from ESPN's Tim McManus came two days earlier.
Let's say they're interested in landing Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, believing he can be a critical piece in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon's secondary-centric scheme. If they stand pat at No. 12, there's a good chance he is scooped up before then -- perhaps by the rival Dallas Cowboys at No. 10. That would sting. And there's no guarantee South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn will make it to them, either.
The Eagles have the most picks in this year's draft with 11, including No. 37 overall and a pair of third-rounders. There's virtually no shot they use them all. They have the resources to move up a few slots -- say, to the Carolina Panthers' spot at No. 8 or the Denver Broncos' at No. 9 -- and grab a player they covet while still holding on to the three first-round picks next year.
If it's a receiver they're after, the same logic applies. Sure, they could sit and hope one of the Alabama wideouts -- DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle -- slides to them, but hope is not a strategy. If they want one of them, go get 'em. [espn.com]
While Standig's report was sourced and McManus' was not, that doesn't necessarily mean McManus wasn't working with some inside information — or, perhaps, just using what he knows of Roseman's way of thinking around the draft to speculate on something he believes could happen.
Either way, it suddenly doesn't seem like such a long shot that the Eagles trade back up, and while we also mentioned that Eagles fans might not love that idea, leapfrogging the Cowboys to steal a potential pick from them would make the idea a lot more palatable to the fanbase.
We'll get back to the draft in a moment, but first let's take a look at a few nuggets from Peter King, who was a recent guest on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Eagles Eye Podcast with Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro and discussed, among many other things, the departure of Carson Wentz and how it relates to Jalen Hurts.
I highly recommend listening to the full interview, but a few nuggets stood out, particularly this part about King being "mind-boggled" by how Wentz handled himself once the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts. Here's more:
“I’m honestly mind-boggled by the reaction of Carson Wentz,” King said. “This is the big-boy league. You’ve got to understand that the best part of ability is availability, and if you’re not there or might not be there, that team has to buy insurance for if you’re not there. I believe – and one of the reasons why I thought Jalen Hurts was a good pick – that the backup quarterback is one of the most important people on your team. Because you better be sure that if your starting quarterback gets hurt, your season isn’t over. [...]
“I’m probably the only person in the media who loved the pick, because in my opinion, if you can’t be sure that Carson Wentz is going to play the full year, you don’t want to have to rely on Nate Sudfeld to play six or eight games for you to get you into the playoffs. You want a good backup quarterback who can play and win games for you.” [...]
“He obviously responded very negatively to Jalen Hurts being drafted,” King said. “Like, ‘Oh my God, they’re bringing in somebody to take my place or to put pressure on me or to play mind games,’ whatever it is he’s thinking. He’s probably never going to say it, but we know that he’s got to be ticked off about this. [nbcsports.com]
But that wasn't all we got from King in that interview. He also talked about the guy who replaced Wentz.
While the team might not be sold on Hurts as "the guy" going forward, that doesn't mean he can't prove them wrong this season. And him doing so would greatly benefit the team on multiple levels, including saving them from overpaying for a quarterback next offseason.
“I think that for those who think that Jalen Hurts can’t win this job, I think the Eagles desperately want him to win this job,” King said on the Eagle Eye podcast this week.
“Because then they will be able to spend draft choices to build a great team in 2022. Instead of having to package a bunch of picks to be able to move up to get the next quarterback. They don’t want to do that. They want Jalen Hurts to play great.” [nbcsports.com]
Unfortunately, the cards are somewhat stacked against Hurts this season, as he'll be playing with some questionable talent at the skill positions — not to mention a new coaching staff and a new system to learn. The Eagles can obviously help him in the upcoming draft, but their trade back almost certainly made it more difficult to do so.
“He has a chance,” King said, “But obviously he has to play great with some thin talent on that offense, particularly what is his protection going to be like? Are they finally going to be able to get enough out of receivers who just never seem to be, no matter how much draft capital they spend on them, just never seem to be enough at that position for the Eagles. …. But I think he definitely has a chance and if he were to win this job and play really well this year, if I am Nick Sirianni, Howie Roseman, Jeff Lurie, what’s going through my mind is, ‘Man, imagine when he gets some real thorough talent in positions that right now we’re kind of Scotch-taping together.’” [nbcsports.com]
Again, you can listen to the full interview, here.
Right now, it doesn't seem like the Eagles are going to take a QB high in the draft — that will likely come next year if Hurts doesn't impress in Year 2. Mike Kaye of NJ.com recently chatted with DraftWire's Luke Easterling, and he offered up a new name of a guy they could take in the later rounds of the draft...
The Eagles only have two QBs on their roster, but they aren’t likely to spend a first-or second-round pick on one. Who is a promising mid-to-late-round option to consider?
Easterling: “My favorite guy in that range is Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman. If you’re spending a Day 3 pick on a quarterback, it’s all about traits and potential, and Newman has plenty of both. He had some consistency issues in college, but he’s an extremely talented guy who could easily be the steal of this year’s QB class if he lands in the right place. Newman had transferred to Georgia for the 2020 season, but opted out due to COVID-19.” [nj.com]
The good news is if they do draft a quarterback — they'll have to add a QB one way or another as there are currently only two on the roster — we'll get yet another updated version of this...
Eagles QB Factory, updated. pic.twitter.com/C67xwBvuid— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) April 14, 2021
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