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April 25, 2023

Eagles mailbag: Ranking the NFC's quarterbacks after the Aaron Rodgers trade

Jimmy answers fan questions ahead of the NFL Draft.

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042523JalenHurtsPatrickMahomes Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports

Sal Pal, and couple of other guys.

On Monday, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This will be Part I of a two-part mailbag.

Question from bula412: After the Aaron Rodgers trade, who are the best quarterbacks remaining in the NFC?

I'll do a top 8 in each conference:

Jalen Hurts, PHI Patrick Mahomes, KC 
Dak Prescott, DAL Joe Burrow, CIN 
Geno Smith, SEA Josh Allen, BUF 
Jared Goff, DET Aaron Rodgers, NYJ 
Derek Carr, NO Justin Herbert, LAC 
Justin Fields, CHI Trevor Lawrence, JAX 
Matthew Stafford, LAR Lamar Jackson, BAL 
Kirk Cousins, MIN Tua Tagovailoa, MIA 

One of those columns is WAY better than the other.

As a disclaimer, the list above is who is probably better right now, and does not reflect which quarterbacks I would rather have. For example, I would take guys like Bryce Young (Panthers, presumably) and Jordan Love (Packers) over Matthew Stafford all day. If I were to round out the rest of the starters in the NFC, it would look like so:

9) Kyler Murray, ARZ
10) Daniel Jones, NYG
11) Jordan Love, GB
12) Brock Purdy, SF
13) Andy Dalton (until this weekend), CAR
14) Baker Mayfield, TB
15) Sam Howell, WAS
16) Desmond Ridder, ATL

Question from @Manu_99U: All time Eagles draft bust team!

Let's just do since the start of the Andy Reid era:

QB: Kevin Kolb
RB: Donnel Pumphrey
WR: Jalen Reagor
WR: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
WR: Freddie Mitchell
TE: L.J. Smith
OT: Andre Dillard
OG: Danny Watkins
C: Scott Peters
OG: Trey Darilek
OT: Winston Justice

EDGE: Marcus Smith
DT: Trevor Laws
DT: Elijah Qualls
EDGE: Jerome McDougle
LB: Davion Taylor
LB: Matt McCoy
LB: Quinton Caver
CB: Sidney Jones
S: Jaiquawn Jarrett
S: Jack Ikegwuonu*
CB: Curtis Marsh

K: Alex Henery

MVB: Danny Watkins

*Also, yeah, Ikegwuonu was more of a CB, but shut up.

Question from @clemsonfan200: How much sense does taking a WR at 10 make to you?

As my podcast partner Brandon Gowton has said on this topic, "This isn't Madden." The only receiver worthy of the 10th overall pick is Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a high volume slot receiver who led OSU with 95 catches for 1606 yards and 9 TDs in 2021, despite the presence of two other first-round picks in 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

In a video game, you can line up A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Smith-Njigba, and create an unstoppable passing attack. The TV pixels that make up Brown won't get pissed if he only gets a target or two in a game. Human A.J. Brown most certainly will. It's a challenge as it is to feed the big three.

Smith-Njigba is really good so I understand the impulse, but it's just not worth the potential fallout that could ensue at the expense of drafting a player at another position who can be a foundational piece for the next decade. 

Question from FMackaw4841: Isn't it disingenuous to say, "Money is nice, championships are better" when you just insisted on being the highest paid player in the league?

Hurts is going to be the highest paid player in the NFL until Joe Burrow gets his new deal this offseason. The idea that he "insisted on being the highest paid player in the league" frankly is unsubstantiated nonsense. The Eagles were well aware that Hurts deserved a monster deal because of his play on the field and his work ethic off of it, and they got one done just three months after he became eligible for one it was was seemingly a very smooth process. Hurts has done nothing but prove that he badly wants to win Super Bowls, and to doubt his sincerity on that front is weird to me.

Question from @killakow: Which projected first round pick is most likely to sign with the Eagles on a one year minimum deal in the 2028 offseason?

Oooh, love this question, and it's tougher than I thought it would be when I starting looking at these players. I think that players at devalued positions like RB, LB, or S, are the most likely, and there just aren't many guys at those positions that are going Round 1. Bijan, Brian Branch... that might be it. Maybe a cornerback? I think Kelee Ringo goes late first round because he's 6'2, 207, he's tough, and he runs a 4.36. Maybe him?

Question from @cocoeagles88: Having two picks in the first round, one is almost a "bonus pick." Do you think they can throw convention away for number 10 and do something unexpected?

This reminds of a Seinfeld episode where George learns that a bank account that he hasn't monitored since the sixth grade has accumulated interest over the years and is now worth $1,900. Instead of putting his "found money" in the bank, he wants to parlay it into a big score. He ponders betting it on a horse at the track, but eventually opts to buy paintings (of triangles) from an artist who has failing health, believing his art will be more valuable if he dies. During the artist's surgery, a Junior Mint finds its way into his body cavity, which miraculously cures him, and George's paintings are worthless.

The Eagles are not George Costanza, and I can say with certainty that they do not view either of their first round picks as "bonus picks" to be spent frivolously. They are going to use their draft capital in a way that they feel is best for the team, balancing the short-term with the long-term. 

Question from @Footba11Joe: Should the Eagles be hoping for a bunch of QBs going early thus sending good prospects down to 10, or hope for a lot of the early teams to skip on QBs thus inflating a trade market at 10?

My sense is that the Eagles want to come away from this draft with a top prospect (as opposed to prospects in bulk), and their best chance of doing that is if one either falls to them at 10, or far enough down that they can make a modest trade up to secure one. The more quarterbacks that get picked early the better it is for that pursuit. 

Question from @nickdevir: Is Bijan the “safest” pick out of the players likely to be available at 10? Just in terms of projecting how the prospect will perform in the NFL when healthy?

I think there's a perception that Bijan is a "can't miss sure thing." But let's first be clear that they can all bust. That said, yep, I think that Bijan and Peter Skoronski (assuming he plays guard) are the two prospects likely available at pick 10 who are the best equipped to start immediately and play well for whoever drafts them. To a slightly lesser degree, I'll throw Jaxon Smith-Njigba into that conversation as well.

Question from MarkShapco14767: Why did Nolan Smith rise up the draft board so quickly recently? He was between 23-29 in most mocks, but now around 15.

The late 20's was always too low, in my opinion, but his draft stock no doubt got a boost after he absolutely tore up the Combine. He ran a sub-4.4 40 at 238 pounds and vertical jumped 41 1/2" at 238 pounds. 

I think the phrase "elite athlete" gets tossed around pretty lightly sometimes, but Nolan Smith is an elite athlete.

Question from @IslandCAGuy: I would like a researched example of any modern instances in which a team traded back twice in the first round and whether or not the move paid off.

My time is a little short this week, so I can't do full-on deep-dive research on this, but I remember the Seahawks trading back repeatedly in 2019, including two trades back in the first round.

  1. They traded their first-round selection (21st) to the Packers in exchange for Green Bay's first- and two fourth-round selections (30th, 114th and 118th). 
  2. They then traded the 30th overall pick to the Giants in exchange for second-, fourth- and fifth-round selections (37th, 132nd and 142nd). 
  3. Then they traded the 37th overall pick to the Panthers in exchange for second- and third-round selections (47th and 77th), lol. 
  4. And finally, they traded the 114th overall pick to the Vikings in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round selections (120th and 204th).

So basically they turned the 21st overall pick into the following picks: 47, 77, 118, 120, 132, 142, and 204.

  1. They used the 47th pick on S Marquise Blair.
  2. They used the 77th and and 118th picks to move up to 64 and selected WR DK Metcalf.
  3. They used the 120th pick on WR Gary Jennings Jr.
  4. They used the 132nd pick on S Ugo Amadi.
  5. They used the 142nd pick on LB Ben Burr-Kirven.
  6. They used the 204th pick on RB Travis Homer.

I don't see the Eagles attempting allllll that, and if they were to trade back that's not necessarily a great thing (barring a crazy return), because it means that they did not like the options that were available to them.

They actually almost traded back twice in the 2014 draft. The short version is that they were picking 22nd, and after the Saints jumped them for Brandin Cooks, they traded back to 26th with the Browns, who took Johnny Manziel at 22. My understanding is that they had at least one offer for the 26th pick from the Vikings, who wanted Teddy Bridgewater. The Eagles turned them down and took Marcus Smith, and the Vikings would end up landing Bridgewater with a trade up to 32 instead.

Question from Phillyhoops1: With the deep TE class and a need for a TE2, who are the Eagles' most likely TE targets?

This is indeed a good tight end class and I agree to some degree that the Eagles could use an upgrade at TE2. I'm not so sure the Eagles agree. They seem to really like what they have in Jack Stoll, and I think they'd like to see what Grant Calcaterrra can do with a year under his belt in the NFL. I think it's pretty unlikely that they'll spend a valuable pick on a tight end. 

Comment from @brandonjramsay: There's one every year, surprise top 10 pick.

I think that C.J. Henderson was a surprise at pick No. 9 to the Jaguars in 2020. In 2019, Clelin Ferrell at pick No. 4 was absurd, and to a lesser degree so was Daniel Jones at pick No. 6. If you go back from there, yeah, there's a surprise pick in the top 10 most years.

However, there weren't any big surprises in 2021 or 2022. Maybe teams are getting smarter? (Probably not.)

Question from @OBTheMailman: As an NFL beat writer, how do you handle being used to promote misinformation by a GM/front office when you realize AFTER the draft that they very obviously used you and fed you a bunch of malarkey?

Draft information is generally unreliable, at least in comparison to other information the rest of the year. I don't report anything unless I'm certain I have the nut flush, which means that I pretty much don't report on anything I hear during the draft process. Will I throw out some strong opinions based on what I hear? Sure. But in my opinion, if you allow yourself to get used during the draft process you probably haven't been an NFL reporter for very long or you're not that worried about having something close to a 1.000 batting average on your reporting.

Question from @_Philly_Talk: Will this be the year that they finally draft a punter?

I think this is the year they sign an undrafted rookie free agent punter. 

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