More Sports:

May 11, 2021

Mailbag: Our Eagles 'hindsight' draft, and the best steals/worst reaches of 2021

In our Eagles chat last Thursday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow, as well as some commonly asked questions on Twitter and via email.

Question from Jon Lewis: Are you going to do your hindsight draft again this year?

Yes. Here's who I would have taken at each spot where the Eagles picked.

Pick 10: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: The Eagles obviously did not like Fields enough to take him with their first-round pick. And that's fine. If you don't love a quarterback, don't take him. Personally, I think he's a very talented player and there's a lot to work with. Obviously, I did not have a chance to get to know him as a person the same way scouts and front office folks do, but from what info was available to me, I'd have taken him.

Pick 37: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama: I had him going 25th overall in my first-round mock, and think he'd have been great value at pick 37.

Pick 73: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina: Very intriguing quarterback-turned-linebacker with good size/athleticism who was very productive despite being new to the defensive side of the ball. I love his upside.

Pick 123: Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis: This would have been 27 draft slots earlier than where the Eagles got him.

Pick 150: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S/LB, Florida State: As noted below in our "steals" picks.

Pick 189: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC: I'm fine with the Eagles making the value pick here, even after they (and I) took at DT earlier.

Pick 191: Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston: Small, speedy slot guy with bigtime RAC ability, and return game upside.

Pick 224: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee: No idea how this guy was still available this late in a draft that was not very deep.

Pick 234: Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss: "Move TE" complement to Dallas Goedert.

Of course, I'd be answering questions in my post-draft presser why I didn't take any cornerbacks, and the reason would be simple. It's a multi-year rebuild and I was more interested in adding good players than reaching for needs. (To be clear, this is not to be taken as a slight to Zech McPhearson, who I thought was a perfectly fine pick, and not a reach.) 

Question from Dan: Any guesses at which positions will be loaded in the 2022 draft (like RB in '17, WR in '20 & 21)?

I intend on taking a deeper look at this in the coming weeks, but an initial look at some of the draft guys' 2022 top 50 lists would indicate that cornerback looks like it might be a strong position next year. A short list of the guys projected to be drafted highly next year:

  1. Derek Stingley, LSU
  2. Kaiir Elam, Florida
  3. Sevyn Banks, Ohio State
  4. Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
  5. Josh Jobe, Alabama
  6. Derion Kendrick, Clemson
  7. Andrew Booth, Clemson

Question from GoBirds: Best value pick of the draft in your opinion?

I'll give you my top 5 value picks, and my top five reaches.

Top five value picks:

  1. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, pick No. 52, Browns: Apparently he fell because teams weren't sure if he's a linebacker or a safety. My rebuttal: He's a linebacker. Play him there and watch how good he'll be.
  2. Trevon Moehrig, S, pick No. 43, Raiders: If the Raiders had taken Moehrig at 17 and Alex Leatherwood (from our reach list below), nobody would have had a problem with it. (This should not be read as an excuse for taking Leatherwood in Round 1.)
  3. Daviyon Nixon, DT, pick No. 158, Panthers: Apparently Nixon has some off-the-field concerns, but from a talent perspective, there's no way he should have been available in the fifth round of a weak DT draft.
  4. Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, pick No. 186, Jets: Some injury history, but a great player at FSU when healthy.
  5. Trey Smith, OG, pick No. 226, Chiefs: There are health concerns, but he was a great college player, and he got picked after two long snappers.
  6. (Bonus value pick) Pressley Harvin III, P, pick No. 254, Steelers: 😭.

Top five reaches:

  1. Mac Jones, QB, pick No. 15, Patriots: Even the Patriots' brass couldn't have been less excited to make this pick, lol.
  2. Alex Leatherwood, OL, pick No. 17, Raiders: And I actually like Leatherwood. But at 17? Yuck.
  3. Tyson Campbell, CB, pick No. 33, Jaguars: Opposing college offenses never shied away from testing Campbell, and they had success against him. Traits prospect who in my opinion got over-drafted at 33. 
  4. Tutu Atwell, WR, pick No. 57, Rams: The Rams only made one top 100 pick, and they used it on a guy who weighs 149 pounds. If you're taking a guy that small, he better have extreme athletic measurables, but, meh.
  5. Nahshon Wright, CB, pick No. 99, Cowboys: Most draft analysts had Wright graded as a seventh rounder, or an undrafted free agent.

Question from SPQR13: Jimmy, do you think Howie knew he would have had the opportunity to trade back again with a team like the Bears to pick up another 1st round pick, and if so, are you surprised he didn't do that instead of trading up to get Smith?

Mike Sando of The Athletic (who I should note I think is great) put together a piece in which he got feedback from team executives about each teams' drafts. In the Eagles' section, it said the following:

In an alternate universe, the Eagles would have resisted trading up two spots to select DeVonta Smith, who some see as the best receiver in this draft. Philly instead would have traded the 12th pick to Chicago for the Bears’ 2022 first-rounder, plus a couple mid-round picks. The Eagles in this alternate universe would enter next offseason with their own first-round selection, one from Chicago, another acquired from Miami for moving back from six to 12 and one from Indy, contingent on Carson Wentz meeting playing time thresholds.

“They would have had four first-round picks next year and could have gotten Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson,” an exec said. “I mean, I can’t think of a team that has ever had four first-round picks in one year. They literally would be in the driver’s seat to get the first overall pick if a quarterback is there or get one of these veterans who will be available next year. Who could offer something better than four ones?”

I reject that as a legitimate, logical criticism.

But before we explain why, let's first take a trip in the Wayback Machine to 2014, when the Eagles infamously had six main targets in that draft. They were:

  1. Anthony Barr
  2. Odell Beckham
  3. Kyle Fuller
  4. C.J. Mosley
  5. Brandin Cooks
  6. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Eagles were picking 22nd in that draft, and the first four guys above all went in the first 17 picks. When they got to pick No. 20, Cooks and Clinton-Dix were still available, and the Eagles felt good about their chances of getting Cooks, since the Cardinals (pick 20) and Packers (pick 21) were not thought to be targeting a WR.

And then, oh crap, the Saints traded up to 20 and took Cooks, and then, oh crap, the Packers got Clinton-Dix, and then, yada yada yada the Eagles ended up with Marcus Smith.

In the 2021 draft, with the top two cornerbacks (Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain) as well as two of the top three receivers (Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle) all gone, the Eagles aggressively traded up with the Cowboys to pick No. 10 and made sure that they got the lone remaining top prospect at CB or WR, paying a little bit of a premium to do so. The Giants subsequently traded back from pick No. 11 to pick No. 20 with the Bears, landing a 2022 first-round pick in the process.

The idea that the Eagles could have made the same trade with the Bears that the Giants did assumes that the Cowboys wouldn't have traded back with the Bears first at pick No. 10. That is an assumption that the Eagles would have been unwise to make, especially considering the following:

  1. The Cowboys were widely thought to be targeting one of the top 2 cornerbacks, who were no longer available. A move back to pick No. 20 by the Cowboys would have landed them in an area to still get one of the CBs in the next tier (like Greg Newsome, Caleb Farley, etc.).
  2. The Eagles knew the Cowboys were looking to move back, seeing as they were already in active talks with them to do just that!

In the event the Cowboys traded with the Bears, that move back would have no longer been available to the Eagles (duh), the Giants would have taken Smith, and the Eagles would have been left holding their metaphorical weiners like they were in 2014.

So respectfully, anonymous team exec, your logic isn't well thought out, and there's a reasonable chance that if you were running the Eagles' draft, the Cowboys would have the extra 1 in 2022, the Giants' would have the Eagles' last primary target in Smith, and the Eagles would have had to settle for someone like Kwity Paye.

Question from Kephas: How would you rank the list of "disgruntled/movable QBs" as QBs you'd want to add to this Eagles team, assuming expected cost, age, etc.? DeShaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins.

With the disclaimer that the facts of his case aren't fully known and I reserve the right to change my opinion on this in the future, from a pure age/cost/talent perspective, Watson is way out in front of everyone. Then I'd say Wilson, followed by Rodgers.

Cousins is better than Garoppolo, but I wouldn't want either of them to be the starting quarterback of my team, so they don't even make the cut. And before anyone points out Cousins' stats, let me take a moment to interrupt you by saying that I don't care and I'm not interested.

Question from Pragmatic: I hear a decent amount of positivity at this point of the season and that is great, and it isn't indigenous to just the Eagles' fans, but I look at our back 7 and it's pretty frightful?

Yeah, when you look at the depth chart, the most obvious glaring hole is CB2, and personally, I thought Darius Slay (CB1) had a disappointing season in coverage in 2020. But your point that the entire back seven is a potential mess is also well taken. You can look at individual players like Alex Singleton, Eric Wilson, T.J. Edwards, Anthony Harris, etc., and find some nice things to say about each of them, but as a group, there are no slam dunk above average starters, in my opinion.

The defensive line is going to have to carry this defense... again. Easy prediction: There are going to be games in which the D-line can't generate enough consistent pressure, and this back seven gets torched.

Question from Mig: Do you think maybe the Eagles didn't draft a LB because they want to see what Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley can do this year?

Well, they did draft an edge rusher and a safety, and they're calling each of those guys linebackers, so they kinda-sorta did draft linebackers, but I understand your question. I think they maybe identified linebacker and safety as positions to address with competent, low-cost starters in free agency, with the idea of waiting to address that long-term need in 2022.

And along the way, sure, if Taylor or Bradley show something this season, then maybe that guides them in how they address linebacker in 2022.

Question from greenwithenvy: Which Eagle, non-rookie, will be on the shortest leash with the fan-base next year? Like who is going to get booed into oblivion if they don't perform?

I would replace "booed into oblivion" with "endlessly bitched about on Twitter," because I think for a player to get booed he has to actively mess up in games, as opposed to simply being unproductive, which would eliminate some players from this topic. As a disclaimer, I don't necessarily agree that some of these guys should get extreme heat if they falter a bit, but here's my top 6, in no particular order, of who I think will get that heat if they don't produce:

  1. Jalen Reagor: It's not his fault the team drafted him before Justin Jefferson, and it would be a little unfair to crush the kid too early when his profile was that of a developmental prospect, but the reality is that he was a first-round pick, and patience isn't a virtue in Philly.
  2. Derek Barnett: His fifth-year option is expensive.
  3. Jalen Hurts: I mean, he's the quarterback, and everything he does is going to be under a microscope this season.
  4. DeVonta Smith: Expectations will be high, and fair or not, he's going to be expected to produce immediately.
  5. Miles Sanders: While very good as a runner last season, his pass protection and receiving fell off dramatically. It went a little under the radar in 2020 with so much other extremely obvious badness happening around him, but Sanders won't have that same leeway in 2021, especially with a contract year on the horizon.
  6. Jake Elliott: He had his worst season in 2020. A repeat won't be tolerated by the fan base.

Question from Machete: What is your O/U for Eagle wins this season? I'll say 8.

The Eagles have the easiest schedule in the NFL (at least based on 2020 records). But I'll still take the under on 8 wins all day. Most sportsbooks have it at 7, currently.

Question from Kephas: Would Rock/Paper/Scissors be a better alternative to the overtime coin toss?

No. The Patriots would cheat.

Question from Hmm: What are the best and worst days of the year to work in NFL media?

The best day was the Super Bowl. Being able to cover that game and the post-game locker room celebration is something I'll never forget. But if you're talking about a day that happens consistently year after year, I would probably say the night they have the open bar at the NFL owners meetings.

The NFL owners meetings, just generally speaking, is the best event of the year. They're every March, once free agency has died down, and they're always at a posh hotel at some warm location, like Phoenix, Palm Beach, etc., and I get to escape the cold here for a few days. We're pretty much guaranteed to speak with the owner, GM, and head coach down there, so it's worth it from a content perspective, but at the same time, it's really not that much work, and there's plenty of downtime.

There's one night where the NFL holds an outdoor open bar event, with all kinds of great food. Most NFL head coaches, owners, and GMs are there, in addition to national and local media for all 32 teams. The first time I went to that, it was like, "Holy crap, I'm waiting in line in front of John Elway for pudding shooters!"

As for the worst day, I can't really pinpoint one particularly bad day that I know is on the calendar and I dread it as it approaches. But I will that my streak of consecutive days publishing an article is up to 620. I have no mandate to publish something every day, but now that there's a streak, in my mind I can't let it die. There are days in June and July where I'll wake up and I just can't think of anything to write, and I'll just sit there in front of my computer screen for a couple hours before I eventually settle on some crappy idea for a post. I would say that those days are worst, work-wise.

Some links provided in this content are sponsored by Pickswise, a Sports Betting Partner, independently created by PhillyVoice. 21+ Please gamble responsibly. 

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader