MATT SANTOLERI GRADES THE EAGLES 2020 DRAFT...WHY NOT?
By MATT SANTOLERI
Executive VP and GM of the Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman, VP of Player Personnel, Andy Weidl, and Head Coach, Doug Pederson, entered the draft with a common goal in mind.
This was presented by Howie Roseman when he recounted the story of him walking into Coach Pederson’s office on the back of the first-round loss to Seattle the year prior. His note he held had three questions on it. “Can he run? Is he healthy? Does he love to play?”
Time will tell if these three questions helped shape the run of continued success the team is looking for, but in the world of draft evaluations, we still must dissect how well the team did in the short term. Here is how I think Philadelphia handled the 2020 NFL Draft:
Eagles Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick No. 21 Jalen Reagor, WR TCU
He may have a limited route tree from watching what TCU asked of him but their poor QB play (only 31% of passes thrown his way were deemed catchable) was a huge component of that. His blend of big play ability down field and in the screen game makes me excited to see how Pederson and the Eagles deploy him. This could address Philly’s biggest needs of offensive weapons and speed in one complete package.
Round 2, Pick No. 53 Jalen Hurts, QB Oklahoma/Alabama
Jalen Hurts is a fine prospect and one that has shown great character and resilience throughout his journey to the NFL so it is no knock on him individually but drafting a QB in the second Rd after agreeing to a four-year, $128 million dollar extension with Carson Wentz last season, is puzzling. Using him in a role similar to what the Saints do with Taysom Hill will expose him to more hits, using him as your developmental backup is a rich value for a second round pick, and he still needs polish to be counted on for number 2 duties sooner rather than later. Time will tell with this one, but as of right now I think they passed on too much talent still on the board.
Round 3, Pick No. 103: Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
Linebacker was surely an area of need for the Eagles going into 2020 and here they grabbed one of the most boom or bust prospects at the position. He’s lightning quick, has incredible athleticism, and a high motor but is extremely raw and is no way a pro ready prospect. Hopefully, the Eagles can get solid Special Teams value out of him while they try to mold him into the starting Weakside LB of the future.
Round 4, Pick No. 127: K'Von Wallace, S, Clemson.
The Eagles have had some luck with Safeties coming out of Clemson in the past (2018 HOF inductee Brian Dawkins) so hopefully they strike gold twice. While I would never compare him one for one with one of the best to ever lace them up, Wallace is a “positionless” defender in the hybrid mold of how they used Malcom Jenkins the past 6 seasons. Love his upside to be a starter by next season and think his fit with the Eagles is seamless.
Round 4, Pick No. 145: Jack Driscoll, OT/G, Auburn
The Eagles have been a team who prioritizes winning in the trenches and this pick is one that continued that tradition. He played Offensive Tackle in college but is more suited to probably kick inside to Guard in the NFL. His experience playing both positions and outstanding athleticism should allow him to compete with OT Matt Pryor for that coveted swing lineman position in 2020 now that OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai is in Detroit.
Round 5, Pick No. 168: John Hightower, WR, Boise State
The Eagles needed to get faster at WR, and they now invested multiple picks at doing just that. Hightower has 4.4 speed and his production at Boise State with 17.45 yards per reception over the past two years brings another downfield weapon for Wentz. Concerns are his lack of physical strength in betting press coverage and fitting for balls downfield but for a fifth round pick you can’t knock the value.
Round 6, Pick No. 196: Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple
Another LB prospect who at the very least should give the Eagles some special teams value and has high upside in the athleticism category to be more than that with development. Bradley will continue to play his home games at Lincoln Financial Field and in the 6th Rd, the Temple product was a solid pick.
Round 6, Pick No. 200: Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss.
Howie wasn’t kidding about “can he run” was he? The Eagles threw another dart at the speed receiver role (in between this pick and John Hightower, they also traded for San Francisco WR Marquise Goodwin, who is another fast receiving weapon) and drafted the guy who ran the third fastest overall 40 yd time at the combine. He’s not quite as polished as some others in this class but he had great production in college and adds to the toys the Eagles are bringing into 2020.
Round 6, Pick No. 210: Prince Tega-Wanogho, OT, Auburn
This was one of my favorite value picks in the entire draft let alone on the Eagles board. He’s got some health concerns which is why he dropped so far but if healthy was a top 75 prospect. With experience playing both Left and Right tackle, the Nigerian native was a fantastic pick this late in the draft and was well worth the gamble on the medical red flags.
Round 7, Pick No. 233: Casey Toohill, OLB, Stanford
Playing the OLB position in college he was drafted to fit the Defensive End position in this 4-3 Wide 9 formation. He needs some work in the run game but has plus moves as a developmental pass rusher going forward. He’s by no means a finished product but his testing was through the roof so for a seventh round pick, it’s worth the shot.
Overall Draft Grade - B
If you were grading the picks Philadelphia made based off of their draft strategy that Howie Roseman eluded to, then you would say it was an obvious home run. They grabbed guys all over their board who showed versatile athleticism and raw speed at pretty much every position they drafted. Even the Jalen Hurts and Davion Taylor picks which I have been the most outwardly critical of, are guys who love to play the game of football and are athletic warriors.
The team may have opportunities to get better pro ready prospects for this 2020 campaign, but the darts they threw were at high upside, high character prospects who fit the culture of what Howie and Doug have been building going into year five of their partnership. The Eagles got better this offseason in a lot of areas, only time will tell if it was enough to keep their hated rivals in the NFC East of their tails for years to come. *