- Matt Santoleri
GRADING EAGLES 2022 DRAFT – AND MY PICKS
Over on Footballstories.com, I dropped a three round mock draft detailing a mix of what I thought was going to happen and what I would have done in some situations a week prior to the draft.
This exercise was kind of like my top 105 big board of sorts trying to find ways to shine a light on prospects who I was high on and would have been worthy of a premium day 1 or 2 pick in my eyes.
So, while I was always going to grade how GM Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles did throughout the entire NFL Draft, this has given me an opportunity to either learn from mistakes in my own scouting or maybe even take a victory lap or two. Let’s start with Philly and the impressive haul they walked away this year:
First overall (No. 13 - Acquired via trade with the Houston Texans)
Jordan Davis – Defensive Tackle - Georgia
Davis is a unicorn of sorts as he has the athletic testing numbers that resemble more like a defensive end instead of the massive 6’6 340 lb. frame he carries with him.
An elite run stopper at Georgia he was used mostly on early downs clogging up running lanes and causing havoc at the line of scrimmage to allow their speedy ends and backers the opportunity to clean things up.
His tape and testing numbers show he has so much more versatility than the pure Nose Tackle tag he had carried with him for most of the process to not only contribute early but be a successor to Fletcher Cox who is on the last year of his deal.
For Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s scheme to be effective he needs a way to win the numbers game up front with less bodies and Davis’s ability to eat up multiple gaps could be the chess piece they were desperately missing.
Grade – A
First round (18 Overall - Traded along with No.103 in the 3rd Round to the Tennessee Titans)
AJ Brown – Wide Receiver – Ole Miss (Drafted in 2019)
Last season and the upcoming 2022 season can all be boiled down to is Quarterback Jalen Hurts the future of the franchise or not? No better way to get some answers to this pivotal question then moving assets to trade for and lock up one of the best young WR’s in the game in AJ Brown who just so happens to be good friends with Hurts.
Brown is not only a dynamic playmaker who can turn simple slants into house calls for your offense but at only 24 years old, his youth lineups exactly with the timeline of the franchise getting back into championship contention.
Eclipsing 1,000 yds receiving in two of his three years in the league, something no Eagles WR has done since Jeremy Maclin in 2014, dealing for extending Brown with a 4 year/$100-million-dollar contract has all the makings of a Howie home run swing.
Grade – A+
Second round (51 Overall)
Cam Jurgens – Center – Nebraska
While Center Jason Kelce is the heart and soul of the Philadelphia Eagles locker room currently, he knows he won’t be around forever so when he has some recommendations for who his heir apparent should be, you listen. In steps Cam Jurgens the incredibly athletic center out of Nebraska who reminds me, a lot of others, including Kelce himself, as a meatier version of the Philly captain when he was coming out of Cincinnati.
Jurgens picked up Center while at Nebraska and has started 31 of 32 games for the Cornhuskers at that position starting as a freshman, something that no Center at Nebraska has done since 1972. With a year to learn the nuances of the NFL game behind Kelce like how to reign in his aggressiveness that can get him in some trouble, Jurgens has a direct path to being a serious contributor in 2023.
Grade – B+
Third round (83 overall)
Nakobe Dean – Linebacker – Georgia
After double dipping into the National Champion well last year with WR Devonta Smith and Offensive Lineman Landon Dickerson from Alabama, Howie does the same with this year’s champions nabbing a sliding Nakobe Dean, who was once projected as a 1st round pick. Dean fell down draft boards as news of existing injuries and potential necessary surgeries floated around league circles, but the Eagles saw through these rumors that were swirling around and got themselves an absolute steal in process.
Dean may be a bit undersized as an every down NFL LB at 5’11 230 lbs., but when you fire up the tape of the 2021 Butkus Award Winer (given to the nations best LB) he looks like he was shot out of a cannon playing sideline to sideline with elite click and close ability.
While playing downhill diagnosing the run and rushing the passer are more developed than his coverage ability, he is not a slouch here either giving the Eagles the potential gamechanger at this position they have lacked for so long.
Grade – A+
Sixth round (181 overall)
Kyron Johnson – Linebacker – Kansas
After trading picks in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds to move up for Jordan Davis and acquire AJ Brown, the Eagles had over 100 picks separating selection until they partnered No. 188 and 237 to move up 7 spots for LB Kyron Johnson.
Johnson is a bit of tweener playing both off-ball linebacker and edge rusher over his career in Kansas where they took advantage of his blazing 4.4 40 yd dash speed to punish opposing quarterbacks and running backs in the back field.
His athletic profile and build is eerily similar to LB/DE Haason Reddick who the Eagles signed to a big free agent contract and who’s role as the starting SAM Linebacker in Gannon’s defense Johnson will be eying a chance to back up. Expect immediate special teams contributions from Johnson until the Eagles find the best way to deploy his intriguing skillset after some development and refining is needed.
Grade – B
Sixth round (198 Overall)
Grant Calcaterra – Tight End – SMU
After the Eagles dealt longtime fan favorite Tight Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals, it became apparent that Tight End Dallas Goedert was the future of the position for the team. Injuries to guys down the depth chart and limitations in the room from a playmaking standpoint led Howie to draft a player in Calcaterra who made a return to the game at SMU after stepping away with concussion issues back in 2019 while at Oklahoma.
While he surely is an older prospect, caught touchdown passes from Baker Mayfield while still at Oklahoma, he fills a specific need for a pass catching threat opposite of Goedert when the Eagles want to go 12 personnel. Clean route running ability and quickness put him in that “F Tight End” mold as someone who has the ability to move around in the slot and even as a full back, but he is an above average pass blocker too, so finding time on the field is really only a question of the health concerns that saw him step away last time.
Grade – B-
Overall Grade – A
MY MOCK DRAFT: It’s clear that Howie Roseman and the Eagles absolutely nailed the draft in my eyes and so let’s turn the attention over to my third-Round Mock Draft I published to see how well I did in the armchair GM role.
When rating a Mock like I did where you don’t have the knowledge of trade ups, trade backs, or medical results that can cause prospects to slip down boards the way you have to approach grading them is in the aggregate.
How many players did you project to go in the First round actually went there? How many of the 105 prospects I drafted between rounds 1-3 all went before the end of day two?
And most importantly, how did my mock analysis match up with some of the perceived experts in the field? Let’s break it down:
When it came to this year’s draft, I accurately projected 27 of the 32 players who had their names called on night one of the draft. Big misses included Quarterbacks Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, and Matt Corral.
All went way later than most anticipated in the third round. Surprising picks like the Patriots taking Guard Cole Strange who I had with a third round grade and multiple Safeties in Dax Hill and Lewis Cine who I saw as the first two picks off the board in the second round, sneaking into the last two picks of the first rounded out a few of my missteps.
After dissecting the final mock drafts, the experts who all work for NFL.com put out the day before the draft started, I feel really good about where I landed. Daniel Jerimiah 26/32, Peter Schrager 28/32, Lance Zierlein 28/32, Charles Davis 26/32, Bucky Brooks 25/32. Rhett Lewis 25/32. This puts me comfortably in the mix with those who have lightyears better information and resources then me and even better than all but two.
While my first round picks went just about as good as I could have anticipated, its how well I drafted on day two that really got me excited as this was my first year trying to go this deep on a draft class. Of the total 105 selections by the end of the third round, I correctly projected 89 of the prospects taken giving me just about a 85 percent hit rate.
On the surface alone I am really proud of this result but when I was able to take the experts at ESPN with Todd McShay and Mel Kiper’s dueling third-round Mock results they published around the same time as me and stack it up, I feel even more confident.
As a tandem working off of their big boards, they hit 87 of the 105 picks taken between rounds 1 and 3. Can’t wait to see how 2023 goes! *