top of page
  • Matt Santoleri

FOOTBALLSTORIES GRADES THE DRAFT - MATT SANTOLERI STYLE


Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell proved at the Senior Bowl that he can dominate at the game's top level. Photo by Ted Gangi (CollegePressBox)

Another draft in the books for Philadelphia Eagles Executive Vice President and GM Howie Roseman, another weekend of 31 other fanbases collectively sharing the GIF of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad screaming “He can’t keep getting away with this!”.


Roseman has taken some flak over the years missing, or at least underwhelming, in key spots during the draft, but over the past few seasons it’s like a flip has been switched. Suddenly, big time athletes and contributors at the college level were finding their way to Philly and


Roseman started to garner praise from the draft media as well as the fans.


That isn’t to say he hasn’t had his fair share of hits (Josh Sweat in the 4th Rd, Jordan Malaita in the 7th Rd, and the at the time controversial, 2nd Rd pick on Jalen Hurts) but lackluster picks at the top of the draft were setting the franchise back.


While some of the early picks they have received heaps of praise for like Jordan Davis in 2022 and Nolan Smith in 2023 still have to prove they were worth 1st Rd selections, they were universally loved swings at high upside players that could always be justified.


The 2024 draft presented us with a zig, to Roseman’s zag of addressing trench play first and foremost but mirrored his most recent drafts of stockpiling consensus talent. The Eagles are hoping they get to reap the benefits of a few of these selections early to keep that championship window wide open.

Round 1, Pick 22 - Quinyon Mitchell, CB Toledo

Howie Roseman has executed a trade up in 4 of the last 5 drafts during the first round and so many expected him to be his usual aggressive self in attacking their target with pick 22. An NFL record 6 QB’s going off the board with the first 12 picks set up a chain reaction of talent that found itself falling way further than anyone predicted it would and the Eagles were one of the many benefactors in this scenario.


Quinyon Mitchell, 6’0, 195, is a gold star athlete that seemed like a lock to be a top 15 pick all draft process long. He ran a 4.33 40 yd dash at the combine, 2nd fastest for CB’s only to Nate Wiggins who Mitchell outweighs by nearly 20 pounds, along with the most bench press reps with 20 for CBs too.


These drills show up in the tape as he is quick to close windows of opportunity and showcases incredible play strength leading to his 37 pass break ups and 6 interceptions over the past 2 seasons.


The knock-on Mitchell has been his level of competition he faced at Toledo compared to that of Alabama’s Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry, along with Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, who he was jockeying with for top CB in the class.


I think for most, including myself, those questions were answered emphatically as he shut down every receiver at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and being recognized as the best player at the event.


Lack of man coverage reps compared to others in the class come off a red flag, but he graded out excellent in man the times he was asked and in new DC Vic Fangio’s defense, he most likely wouldn’t be asked to do a bunch of it at the NFL level anyway.


Mitchell was my highest graded defensive player in this class, and it fits an immediate need for this roster. I think this would have been a home run pick even with a slight trade up, the fact that it didn’t cost the Eagles anything more than their pick makes it a grand slam in my eyes.

Grade – A+


Round 2, Pick 40 - Cooper DeJean, CB/S, Iowa

After taking Mitchell in the 1st Rd many thought Roseman would target one of the other pressing needs like Offensive and Defensive Line but an opportunity to trade up to get another player the team has a 1st Rd grade on in Cooper DeJean seemed like a no-brainer.


The fact that immediately after selecting DeJean the next 3 picks, and 6 of the next 10 picks were all defensive backs, speaks to Roseman’s expertise in reading the way the board is breaking.


DeJean’s fall into the 2nd Rd seemed inexplicable given his tape and versatility as both an outside corner and safety/nickel along with return specialist and gunner capabilities.


Sometimes players who can do a little bit of everything go sooner than projected and sometimes they go later as teams struggle to pin down a specific role for them and DeJean seemingly fit into that second category.


Missing most of the pre-draft process recovering from a season-ending fracture in his fibula didn’t help his slide either, but this isn’t an injury likely to be a cause for concern going forward.


DeJean is a perfect Swiss-army knife for Fangio to play around with who brings legit ball skills tallying 7 interceptions, 3 of which were pick-sixes, who should be able to carve out an immediate role in 2024.

Grade – A+




Baldy thinks it will take a year for Houston Christian linebacker/edge rusher Jalyx Hunt to come around. Photo courtesy of HCU Athletics.

Round 3, Pick 94 – Jalyx Hunt, EDGE/LB, Houston Christian

After trading back twice in the 3rd Rd the Eagles decided to stick and pick one of the most intriguing small school prospects in the entire 2024 Draft in EDGE/LB Jalyx Hunt.


Hunt presents the Eagles with a raw developmental prospect that if maximized could blossom into a legitimate weapon to punish opposing teams QB’s.


That ceiling is going to take some time to reach for Hunt though and while I always respect betting on high end traits, I was surprised with after losing Fletcher Cox to retirement and trading away Haason Reddick they didn’t bring someone in on day 2 with more immediate impact.


The Eagles already have a player in EDGE Nolan Smith who represents a similar role of the dice which highlights the risk even more.


The uber athletic and explosive Hunt has what Roseman dubbed “freaky tools in his body” that show up during his best reps on film.


The fact he is so new to the position, transferred from Cornell where he played safety two years ago, and still racked up 13.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles at Houston Christian make him such an interesting lottery ticket.


With NFL coaching and training to add more weight on to his frame he could end up a steal for Philly or it could just not pan out like LB Davion Taylor, who represented a similar high ceiling bet on athleticism back in 2020.

Grade – B-

Round 4, Pick 127 – Will Shipley, RB, Clemson

Will Shipley represents the same kind of versatility the Eagles are getting with DeJean but on the offensive side of the ball. Shipley brings both solid rushing and pass catching abilities to the table along with additional value as returner with sub 4.4 speed.


His 2023 was a bit disappointing when compared to his 2022 stats of over 1,300 yds combined rushing and receiving to go with 15 TDs but that was mainly due to Clemson as a program taking major steps backwards.


He has averaged 5.0 yards per carry or more in each of his three NCAA seasons and last year saw him average 7.9 yards per reception, while tallying 2 extra scores through the air.


Shipley should slot in that RB3 role behind Saquon Barkley and Kenny Gainwell immediately with enough juice and promise to maybe play into that direct backup role in this rotation. At this stage in the draft, you should be playing for upside and Shipley certainly brings that.

Grade – B


Round 5, Pick 152 - Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M

Hope you aren’t sick of the word versatile yet because 5’9, 190-pound WR Ainias Smith certainly brings that as one of his calling cards too. Smith should give new OC Kellen Moore a weapon to use on gadget plays and screens to get the shifty player out in space against opposing defenses.


Smith was also a standout at Senior Bowl practices showcasing more the abilities he had that didn’t consistently pop on game film.


He lacks a bit of the explosion that his more notable comp of ex-Eagles great DeSean Jackson once possessed, but offering returner abilities on special teams in addition to being able to survive inside or outside should bring the Eagles solid value.

Grade – B-


Round 5, Pick 155 - Jeremiah Trotter Jr, LB, Clemson

One of the biggest feel-good stories and fan service moments of the draft took place when the Eagles who just picked Smith 3 picks earlier, traded up to draft Jeremiah Trotter Jr, 26 years after his father Jeremiah Trotter Sr was drafted by Philadelphia.


While this caused some teary eyes and excitement, make no mistake this was also a very solid pick at a position of need.


Trotter Jr lacks a bit of the size and athleticism you want at the position, but he brings a supernatural level of instincts and toughness that saw him play above his weight throughout his time at Clemson.


Trotter Jr finishes his 3 years at Clemson with 13 sacks, 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles which speaks to his ability to impact the game in proven ways.


This may seem a bit redundant with LB Nakobe Dean on the roster posing similar limitations but given how underserved the linebacker position has been in Philly, you’ll take all the help you can get.

Grade – B+


Round 5, Pick 172 – Trevor Keegan, OG, Michigan

It took 172 picks to go by but finally Howie Roseman addresses the trenches and does so by bringing in an aggressive mauler in guard and National Champion, Trevor Keegan.


While it took a lot longer than many expected for the Eagles to bring in someone to compete with Tyler Steen for the starting RG spot, they landed on someone who I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it.


Keegan is a people mover in the run game who harnesses the exact kind of mean streak necessary to play this position next to RT Lane Johnson. Whether he wins the gig or acts as the team’s main backup at guard this was an excellent use of a day 3 pick.

Grade – A-


Round 6, Pick 185 – Johhny Wilson, WR, Florida St.

At 6’6, 231 pounds, Johnny Wilson is a mammoth target for quarterbacks to rely on in all areas of the field, but especially within the red zone. Some thought potential suitors would have Wilson move to tight end given the size and frame, but the Eagles seem set on allowing him to compete at WR.


With size like this Wilson can certainly hold up on the outside as a low volume, high ceiling, big play threat but I love the idea of moving him inside as a “big slot” to take advantage of the typically smaller defensive players he would be matchup up against.


However the Eagles use Wilson, the defense will have to adapt to someone so primed to win 50/50 balls with his 84-inch wingspan.

Grade – B-


Round 6, Pick 190 – Dylan McMahon, OG/C, NC State

McMahon brings experience playing both guard spots and center over his time at NC State but comes in undersized which given the Eagles typical threshold for their guards, would likely relegate him to a center only prospect.


When taking guys this late they usually come with some type of limitations so while his size hurts him, he does bring a higher level of athletic ability than most interior guys coming off the board in this area.


Between projected starting center Cam Jurgens stepping in for the retired Jason Kelce and veteran swing interior lineman and Temple alum Matt Hennesey who the Eagles brought in this off-season, McMahon has time to bulk up before getting his named called for gamedays at the pro level.

Grade – B-

 

Overall Draft Grade – A

21 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page