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February 12, 2023

Mailbag: Maybe the Eagles aren't so bad at the draft after all?

Eagles NFL
040422HowieRoseman Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Howie Roseman

In our Eagles chat on Wednesday, there were a crap ton of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, we're publishing a triple mailbag leading up to game day to make sure we get to all the good questions. Part I was Thursday. Part II was Saturday. Part III is below, and I have a lot to do this morning and not a lot of time to do it so it'll be a short one.

Question from Tony: Which was better — the Eagles' 2018 draft (big hits on virtually every pick) or their 2020 draft (buncha major flops and misses, but they ultimately got a franchise QB out of it)?

I would probably say the 2018 draft was more impressive, but I think I'd rather take a bigger picture look at the roster in terms of hitting on draft picks.

Ten of the Eagles' 11 starters on offense were drafted by the team:

  1. QB Jalen Hurts: 2nd round, 2020
  2. RB Miles Sanders: 2nd round, 2019
  3. WR DeVonta Smith: 1st round, 2021
  4. WR A.J. Brown: Acquired via trade
  5. WR Quez Watkins: 6th round, 2020
  6. TE Dallas Goedert: 2nd round, 2018
  7. LT Jordan Mailata: 7th round, 2018
  8. LG Landon Dickerson: 2nd round, 2021
  9. C Jason Kelce: 6th round, 2011
  10. RG Isaac Seumalo: 3rd round, 2016
  11. RT Lane Johnson: 1st round, 2013

And then on defense, the Eagles drafted Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Avonte Maddox, and they signed T.J. Edwards as an undrafted free agent. 

The two positions where they missed were at wide receiver (Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside) and cornerback (Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas). As a result of those misses, they were forced to spend heavy draft/financial resources at each position (A.J. Brown and Darius Slay), but at least they were able to hit big on both players.

This team was mostly built through the draft.

Question from Justin: This Eagles team has good vibes all around, but I think a lot of that stems from the deep friendships on this team. How would rank these best friend duos? Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown. DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. Dallas Goedert and Avonte Maddox. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson... Honestly, you could keep going on and on. I think my favorite is Goedert and Maddox, but I don't know that I could rank them. Those individual friendships are great and all, but it should be noted that these aren't cliques, as in, it's not like the defensive backs don't much associate with the offensive line, or the linebackers don't hang with the wide receivers. Or the specialists aren't treated like something less than equals as football players. Kelce was "Fat Batman." DeVonta Smith was "Skinny Batman." As a team they seem to feed off of each other.

Like the 2017 team, this group has outstanding chemistry. It's a great mix of older veteran leadership, youth, and across the board... talent. They're just a really likeable group.

Question from Scojos: If Travis Kelce is held in check, who will we be praising the most post-game: Jonathan Gannon, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, or someone/something else?

It won't just be one thing that keeps Kelce in check, if the Eagles are going to be successful in slowing him down. I imagine that Gannon will show an assortment of looks, and shade coverage his way wherever he lines up. I think there's a decent argument to be made that Kelce is the second most dangerous skill position player the Eagles will have faced this season, behind Justin Jefferson.

Question from Rob M: Jimmy, how critical is the play of the Eagles linebackers Sunday? I think its safe to assume Andy is going to attack the defense with quick passing/screens to neutralize the pass rush.

It's going to be a huge linebacker game. They're going to have their hands full with Kelce, which is difficult enough, but it is also absolutely paramount that they make plays against the Chiefs' screens. 

If the defense is getting gashed by the screen game, that is going to take some of the sting out of the Eagles' pass rush, and in my opinion, the pass rush is going to have to win this game.

Question from DB: The Cardinals and Colts are holding off on naming coaches. Is Shane Steichen destined for the Indy?

It does feel like Steichen is going to be poached, yes.

Question from nceagles: I think it's really dumb that the league penalizes good teams by handing them a "first-place schedule" for the following year. I understand that there's no guarantee a team will be good from year to year, and that it might create more exciting matchups for the league, but it seems like an artificial and punitive way of creating parity.

I think I'm OK with it. The best thing about the current scheduling system is that it is predetermined. There are no decisions to be made in terms of who plays whom. And really, the three floating games that the Eagles have to play as a result of their first place finish aren't that daunting. Here's who they'll face, compared with the rest of the teams in the NFC East:

 EaglesCowboys Giants Commanders 
Buccaneers Panthers Saints Falcons 
Vikings Lions Packers Bears 
Chiefs Chargers Raiders Broncos 

The Eagles will have that one really difficult game against the Chiefs, but otherwise there's an argument to be made that the Cowboys' and Giants' two floating NFC games could be harder.

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