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April 29, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles 2018 draft grades

The 2018 NFL Draft is complete, and the Philadelphia Eagles' draft haul is much smaller than usual. They entered the draft with six picks, and exited it with just five players, even after trading out of the first round.

Of course, the reason the Eagles had so few picks was because they were included in deals to acquire players like Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and uh, you know... Carson Wentz. Here we'll grade each move they made during draft weekend.

Eagles trade out of the first round

When they were on the clock at pick No. 32, the Eagles traded out of the first round, dropping to the 52nd pick of the second round. The details of the trade:

Eagles got Ravens got 
 Ravens 2nd round pick (52nd overall)Eagles 1st round pick (32nd overall), used to select QB Lamar Jackson 
 Ravens 2nd round pick in 2019 Eagles 4th round pick (132nd overall)
 Ravens 4th round pick (125th overall) 

Adding an extra second round pick next year gave the Eagles a projected eleven picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Many fans were upset that the Eagles received a second round pick in 2019 instead of, say, a third round pick in 2018. That is 100 percent the wrong take. Had the Eagles instead accepted a third round pick to move back in the second round, the pick in the third round would have been pick No. 83.

The second round pick next year, at worst, will be pick no. 64. Obviously, it can be as high as pick No. 33 (or if the Patriots get caught cheating and lose their first round pick again, maybe pick No. 32). That all depends on how good you think the Ravens will be in 2018. In 2017, the Ravens' wins came against teams with a combined record of 43-101 (.299), and they were 0-5 against teams that went to the playoffs. In 2018, Baltimore will play eight games against teams that went to the playoffs in 2017.

In making this kind of trade, Howie Roseman was able to exploit a market inefficiency. The idea that future picks should be worth significantly less than picks in the current year is crazy to me. General managers in the NFL tend to have short shelf lives. It's win now, or hit the road. As such, logic would dictate that many of them do not want to trade current picks for future ones because they need immediate results. Coming off a Super Bowl win after just a two-year rebuild, Roseman has no such job security concerns.

Meanwhile, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has already announced that he is retiring after the 2018 season. What does he care if the Ravens don't have a second round pick in 2019? He was able to land perhaps the team's franchise quarterback in Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick on his way out, off into the sunset, while keeping all of his team's other picks in his final draft. If he weren't retiring, I wonder if Newsome would have still made this trade. I'm betting he wouldn't.

While it may not seem so because there is no instant gratification, this trade was an absolute steal, in my view.

Grade: A+

Eagles draft South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert with the 49th overall pick

With the Eagles sitting at pick No. 52, and a pair of teams in the Cowboys at pick No. 50 and the Patriots at pick No. 51 both in need of a tight end, the Eagles got aggressive and moved up to pick No. 49 to draft South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert. The cost to move up was the Eagles' fifth round pick (169th overall). 

This offseason, at the tight end position, the Eagles lost Trey Burton in free agency and released Brent Celek to save $4 million in cap space. Obviously, Burton and Celek are survived by one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL in Zach Ertz. 

At a lower level of college football, Goedert dominated, which is what you would expect of a legitimate NFL prospect. In 2016, Geodert caught 92 passes for 1293 yards and 11 TDs. In 2017, he had 72 catches for 1111 yards and 7 TDs. You'll see in his highlight reel that Goedert has the ability to make outstanding catches: 

In a video the Eagles put out after they made the pick, Doug Pederson tells Goedert at the 0:52 mark, "Our red zone just got a lot better."

The most successful teams in the NFL get it done in the red zone. In fact, the top three teams in red zone efficiency last season were the Eagles, Patriots, and Jaguars. I think we can agree all three of those teams had good seasons in 2017. Goedert could be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, who already have to contend with covering bigger targets like Alshon Jeffery and Ertz.

If there's one thing that Doug Pederson has proven he is great at, it's forming his offensive schemes around the personnel he has in place. Goedert will give the Eagles' offense the flexibility to continue to use two-tight end sets, and more likely than not, use more of them.

Grade: B+

Eagles draft Pittsburgh CB Avonte Maddox with the 125th overall pick

Even after the release of Daryl Worley, the Eagles are loaded with outside corners, in Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas. None of the Eagles' corners have extensive experience playing the slot in the NFL, though the team thinks that Mills can handle those responsibilities if need be.

At 5'9, 184, Maddox projects to slot corner in the NFL. Despite his smaller size, Maddox is feisty and confident, which no doubt appeals to Jim Schwartz. 

In the NFC East, there are a number of small, shifty, talented slot receivers in the Giants' Sterling Shepard, the Redskins' Jamison Crowder, and the Cowboys' Cole Beasley (if you think he's still good, that is). As such, grabbing a slot corner in the fourth round to match up with shifty slot receivers makes sense.

At the 2018 NFL Combine, Maddox ran a 4.39 40, and landed in the 99th percentile in the 60-yard shuttle. He has the athleticism to cover fast slot receivers, and could be a good matchup piece against certain offenses.

Grade: B

Eagles draft Florida State DE Josh Sweat with the 132nd overall pick

Sweat was projected by many as a Day 2 pick. He is a 6-foot-5, size-speed freak with 4.52 speed, and other extremely impressive measurables:

I believe that this was the best value of all the Eagles' picks, though it may be a while until Sweat sees the field, as he is more potential than production. 

In 2016, he had 41 tackles, 7 sacks, and 1 FF. In 2017, he had 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 0 FF. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but certainly, with an already loaded defensive line, the Eagles can exercise patience with Sweat, and try to develop him into a professional quarterback hunter. 

With so few holes on the roster, drafting an intriguing defensive end with an eye toward the future was a good idea.

Grade: A

Eagles draft TCU OT Matt Pryor with the 206th overall pick

I had never heard of Pryor when the Eagles made this pick, and haven't had the chance to watch him extensively yet, so take whether I have to say about him here with a grain of salt. As a crutch, for now, here's what's scouting report was on Pryor

Pryor is great big, long-armed blocker who falls in the category of prospect rather than project. His size and length traits along with his ability to play guard or tackle will offer immediate appeal as a potential third-day selection. He's better suited as a drive blocker who is allowed to work inside a smaller radius, but he's not a bad athlete in general. Pryor has dropped about twenty pounds since the end of the year which could help his case for staying at right tackle, but he's more than capable of playing guard if needed.

Pryor offers some versatility, which Doug Pederson prioritizes. He can be a developmental prospect, both at tackle and guard. It's perhaps worth noting that Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a successful Eagles fifth round pick, also came from TCU. That could indicate that the Eagles' scouting department has a comfort level in getting valuable information and opinions from TCU's coaching staff.

As for positional need, it's never a bad idea to continue to fill the offensive line pipeline.

Grade: B

Eagles draft rugby dude Jordan Mailata with the 233rd overall pick

Once again, the Eagles made another trade to get their guy. The Eagles moved up from pick No. 250 to No. 233, giving up a 2019 seventh round pick in the process to grab this athletic freak of nature.

After playing professional rugby, Mailata is preparing to play offensive tackle in the NFL, and he had an impressive pro day, via

Mailata measured just shy of 6-foot-8 and weighed 346 pounds. His arms measured a massive 35.5 inches. He was timed at 5.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which would have been good for seventh among tackle participants at the NFL Combine in February. He also excelled in the short shuttle with a time (4.67 seconds) that would have been among the top 10 at his position. Mailata put up 22 reps on the bench press.

Here he is in action, playing rugby:

He basically looks like Christian Okoye in Tecmo Bowl. At a minimum, this guy will be fun to watch in training camp.

And again, why not take a shot in filling that OL pipeline?

Grade: B

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