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April 30, 2023

What they're saying: The Eagles' masterclass of a draft

After a defensive (and Georgia) heavy draft, Howie Roseman and the Eagles may have left with a better roster than the one that took them to the Super Bowl.

The Philadelphia Bulldo–I mean Eagles walked away as the talk of the draft. 

They loaded up on defense – by, understandably, pulling heavily from a historically talented Georgia one – made a splash of a Day 3 trade with the Lions to bring in running back and St. Joe's Prep product D'Andre Swift, and – somehow, some way, and accounting for everything so far across the draft and free agency  – may have left with an arguably better roster than the NFC Championship one that was originally expected to lose so much talent in the offseason. 

Turns out Howie Roseman had a reverse UNO card to play, and it had a red and black "G" on it. 

Here's what they're saying about the Eagles after what many are calling a masterclass of a draft:

Rave reviews

Let's just jump right into some of the post-draft reactions, thoughts, and grades for the Eagles, all of which are glowing. 

Wrote Danny Kelly over at The Ringer:

What I wrote about the Nolan Smith pick on Thursday night —”They can’t keep getting away with this”—now applies to the Eagles’ entire draft. I loved what Philly did basically from start to finish, and after grabbing both Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith in Round 1, they cleaned up the rest of the way: The Eagles added a solid tackle/guard prospect in Alabama’s Tyler Steen and a hard-hitting safety in Illinois’s Sydney Brown on day two, before taking yet another Georgia star in cornerback Kelee Ringo to open day three. Add in the trade with Detroit for running back D’Andre Swift (yes, he also went to Georgia) on Saturday, and the defending NFC champs look like one of the biggest winners of draft weekend.

Grade: A+ [The Ringer]

The Pro Football Focus staff's thoughts on the Eagles' Day 3 and an overall grade:

The Eagles continue in their quest to recreate the back-to-back National Champion Georgia Bulldogs defense, trading up for a straight-line athlete in a very young cornerback that showed inconsistency after a breakout 2021 season. Ringo is a bit stiff moving laterally, which may have caused his drop here, but at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds he could line up out wide or perhaps transition to safety.

McKee isn't a great athlete and won't create much outside of structure, but his size and accuracy give him potential as a developmental backup who can win from the pocket. The scheme and supporting cast did him few favors, which contributed to his underwhelming production at Stanford.

The rich get richer in Philly. Ojomo is ranked 93rd on the PFF big board. He is an excellent run defender (91.4 in 2022) who can fill two gaps up front. An improvement to his pass-rush arsenal could make him a seventh-round gem.


Mike Jones' summary over at The Athletic:

GM Howie Roseman appears to have delivered once again, raking in one quality pick after another. Roseman devoted much of his team’s draft resources to retooling a defense that lost a number of key contributors in free agency. Georgia teammates Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith should help fortify an already formidable defensive front while another Bulldog (Kelee Ringo) and Illinois product Sydney Brown should help shore up a revamped secondary. And to top it off, he swung a trade for D’Andre Swift at a low cost to help improve the depth of the rushing attack. [The Athletic, $]

ESPN host and perennially tortured Jets fan Mike Greenberg:

And the city's Hall of Fame scribe Ray Didinger (via WIP host Glen Macnow):

The pivotal pick

Todd McShay | ESPN+ ($)

If there's one pick that set the tone for where Howie Roseman and co. were going with this draft, it was the very first one, when the Eagles slid from 10 down to 9 to get Jalen Carter.

Wrote Todd McShay of that selection in a recap of all 32 teams' best picks from the draft:

I mean, right off the bat, this is arguably the most talented player in this draft class, and the Eagles got him at No. 9 overall. He has outstanding first-step explosion, powerful hands and flexibility as an interior pass-rusher. The toolbox is full in that area, even if the production hasn't come just yet (six sacks over the past two seasons). And Carter is strong against the run, too. He rarely gets neutralized in one-on-ones, and he has some range once disengaged. Even while playing on one of the most loaded defenses in college football history, he stood out often.

Now, there's of course the off-field aspect of it all, part of the reason he was No. 6 on my final board. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a fatal January crash and was out of shape at his pro day. He needed to land in the right situation, and he couldn't have asked for a better one. Veterans such as Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox will help him adjust to the NFL, and it's convenient that a chunk of the Georgia defense is in Philly with him. The Eagles already had Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, and they drafted two more Bulldogs this week (Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo). In fact, Philadelphia tied for the most defensive players drafted from the same school in the common draft era, per ESPN Stats & Information research. That's a great support system that will help hold Carter accountable.

Cox is 32 years old and back for just one year, and given how much emphasis general manager Howie Roseman puts in building from the trenches, this selection sets the Eagles up with a solid duo up the middle going forward. Davis is a massive run-stopper, while Carter can get after the QB from the inside. It's a solid fit no matter how you look at it. [ESPN+, $]

How(ie) is he doing this?

Greenlight Podcast

By nearly all accounts, Howie Roseman made smart decisions on every selection the Eagles had then topped it all off with a value-friendly trade for Swift to give the team a suddenly pretty deep running back room. 

Coming off the 2017 Super Bowl title and efforts to try and keep pushing that roster forward, Roseman made some massive missteps that all came to a head with a disastrous 2020 season. But he learned, he adapted, and every move since has built the Eagles back up and has arguably made him the best GM going right now throughout the entire NFL. 

But how on earth is Howie doing this? How has he been so consistently making great moves and seemingly finding value everywhere he looks?

Former Raiders GM Mike Mayock had some light to shed while talking to former Eagles Chris Long:

He's always out there.

Fran Brown's front-row seat

EJ Smith | The Philadelphia Inquirer ($)

Fran Brown is a Camden native, Eagles fan, and a coach who has seen firsthand how good the Eagles' Georgia picks from the past two years can really be. 

A star quarterback at Camden High School, a recruiter and then defensive backs coach at Temple, and now the DBs coach for the Bulldogs, he's seen up close what Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo have all brought to a historically dominant college defense and exactly what they'll be bringing to the Eagles for the foreseeable future. 

“They’re getting guys that know how to win,” Brown told the Inquirer's EJ Smith. “Guys that know how to practice and want to practice hard so that they can make the game easier.”

And on Ringo more specifically, the fourth-round corner who Brown worked the closest with, wrote Smith:

Brown spent the last year working closely with Ringo, a 20-year-old athletic cornerback with limited experience playing at the position. Ringo played running back in high school and his transition to corner was delayed until his redshirt freshman season because of a shoulder injury that sidelined him for an entire year.

Ringo, 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, slid to the fourth round despite two years of starting experience and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. The major knock on him, aside from potential questions following his shoulder injury, is his hip fluidity in and out of his breaks.

It’s something Brown and Ringo have worked on the last year, with Ringo showing enough progress for Brown to believe he can take the necessary strides at the next level.

“The change of direction,” Brown said. “All the things that you have to keep working, but when you play running back in high school, you ain’t thinking about all that. Then you go to college and you mess your shoulder up and have to deal with that for a year, you still can’t run and do stuff. … I believe that his best football should be ahead of him as long as he keeps that mindset of wanting to learn. He works really hard.

“I think he’s going to the perfect team. Because he can learn a lot from [Darius] Slay and [James Bradberry], he can learn a lot from them and not have to be rushed on right away. That way he’ll constantly get better. I mean, the kid’s only 20 years old.” [The Inquirer, $]

And, with time, could very well become a crucial part of the Eagles' secondary. 

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