Did the Eagles Miss a Draft Opportunity to Bolster the Defense?

Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be real –

Revisionist draft history is generally a pointless exercise.

Why did the Eagles take player X when player Y was on the board!?!?

Stuff like that, you know? Nobody gets every draft correct. No team hits on 100% of their picks. People in this city bitched about Brandon Graham over Earl Thomas for YEARS on talk radio, then Graham went out and won a Super Bowl ring by making the biggest defensive play in franchise history. Thomas also won a ring, so I guess both guys ended up being pretty good, ultimately relegating that popular sports radio topic to the Pottstown landfill where it always belonged.

So this article is less about individual picks and more about the theme of the Eagles’ draft, which I have to say confused me a bit. I was honestly shocked that they picked three offensive players with their first three picks. That’s not to say they picked poor players, because I don’t think they did, I just wonder if they did enough to address the defensive side of the ball this past weekend.

Let’s do an exercise.

Here’s the Eagles’ starting offensive unit BEFORE the draft, with each guy’s age in parentheses:

  • left tackle: Jason Peters (37)
  • left guard: Isaac Seumalo (25)
  • center: Jason Kelce (31)
  • right guard: Brandon Brooks (29)
  • right tackle: Lane Johnson (28)
  • running back: Jordan Howard (24)
  • quarterback: Carson Wentz (26)
  • tight end: Zach Ertz (28)
  • WR1: Alshon Jeffery (29)
  • WR2: DeSean Jackson (32)
  • slot: Nelson Agholor (25)

Looks pretty damn good, right? That unit, pre-draft, was among the best offenses in the NFL, at an average age of 28.5.

Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas went ahead and picked up their tackle of the future in Washington State’s Andre Dillard. Good. Great. Russ said on the podcast that he would have gone OT in the draft and that’s exactly what the Eagles did. Dillard could be Jason Peters’ replacement before the seasons’ end, considering the fact that JP can’t stay on the field.

Then they snagged Penn State running back Miles Sanders, who is a very good complement to Jordan Howard, a shifty-three down back who ran behind a poor offensive line in Happy Valley. Sanders needs to get his fumble issues under control, but the depth behind Howard was Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams, so running back is no longer an Eagle liability moving forward. I just wonder if Sanders had to be the second running back off the board when guys like Devin Singletary and David Montgomery and Justice Hill probably would have been there a little bit later. The Birds made it clear they were really high on Sanders, so whatever. We can’t sit here and bitch about the team never drafting a decent running back, then complain when they do, or else we’re just being hypocrites.

The JJ Arcega-Whitesite selection does bother me a bit. Great player, but slow. He’s a monster red zone threat on a team that… already has Ertz, Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert as well. Mack Hollins returns. This pick doesn’t do anything for me unless the Birds move Nelson Agholor, because they really did not need another receiver with a redundant skill set. Remember how well Mike Groh integrated Golden Tate last year? Yeah. Exactly. Everybody keeps saying “don’t worry, it’ll all work out,” but that ended up being a crock of shit in 2018.

The Clayton Thorson pick was a waste. I understand you need a backup with Nick Foles out of the picture, and the Eagles like this body type in a quarterback, but Thorson did nothing for me at Northwestern and I think he’s a developmental project at best. D’Andre Walker and David Long and Emeke Egbule were all on the board, and the Eagles passed on all three for a player that will log zero snaps this year.

Go back to that list I wrote above, the Eagles offensive unit –

Are any of the first three draft picks getting more snaps than the players I listed? Dillard is the heir apparent to Peters. Howard is still my 1st and 2nd down back. And I don’t want Arcega-Whiteside on the field over any of those four pass catchers I listed.

The needs were on the defensive side of the ball, in my mind, and Howie Roseman was asked this weekend about taking three offensive players in a draft that was historically deep on the defensive line:

Q. You guys drafted four out of five picks are offensive players. Was that how the board played out or was that a concerted thing, you wanted to address the offense in this draft? (Zack Rosenblatt)

HOWIE ROSEMAN: No, it definitely wasn’t a concerted thought process. We went into this draft trying to stick to our board and we did the same thing even after the draft. We went through our front board and tried to get as many guys as we could after the draft and recruit them.

But we also, we did say and I regretted it right after saying it, about the historic defensive line class. Thankfully all of you have reminded me countless times over the weekend, you guys are so forgiving [jokingly],but I think really when you look at it and where guys went, it was.

What it did for us is it pushed some guys down to us that maybe in a normal year on the offensive side of the ball, wouldn’t be able to get to our pick. We tried to take advantage of those opportunities. And then also when you look at today, a guy like [DE] Shareef [Miller], we think in a normal draft, that guy goes yesterday. Because so many teams took defensive linemen, we had an opportunity to get a young pass rusher we think we can work with and develop and has some tools in his body.

I think it’s kind of the Catch 22 in those situations; that it pushed some offensive players to us but the flipside is today we had an opportunity to get a guy that we liked.

I understand that. The run on good defensive players left solid offensive players for selection in the second round. They drafted their best players available instead of doing the “position of need” thing. Fine.

Let’s do the exercise for the defense now:

  • defensive end: Brandon Graham (31)
  • defensive tackle: Fletcher Cox (28)
  • defensive tackle: Malik Jackson (29)
  • defensive end: Derek Barnett (22)
  • linebacker: Nigel Bradham (29)
  • linebacker: Kamu Grugier-Hill (24)
  • strong safety: Malcolm Jenkins (31)
  • free safety: Rodney McLeod (28)
  • corner: Jalen Mills (25)
  • corner: Ronald Darby (25)
  • slot corner: Avonte Maddox (23)

That’s how I’d write it out, I guess, depending on how you feel about Sidney Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc and others. The Birds rarely play their base defense, and about 70% of the time they sit in nickel with two linebackers and five defensive backs.

Still, the Eagles could have used a linebacker coming out of this draft, yet they don’t seem too concerned with that position. They could have used another defensive end and another tackle behind Tim Jernigan, and instead of using their first three picks on one of those positions, they instead took two offensive skill position guys and a Jason Peters replacement, a replacement who should have been ready to take over two years ago. Only after their offensive pluckings did they address the defense by selecting projected 5th-rounder Shareef Miller in the 4th round before trading for Hassan Ridgeway, an average player deemed surplus by Indianapolis.

When you look down both lists, I just think the defense needed more help than the offense, needs I guess the Eagles feel like they addressed in free agency with Malik Jackson, L.J. Fort, Andrew Sendejo, and Vinny Curry. Only one of those four, however, is on the good side of age 30.  Maybe you feel differently, but I also see question marks in the health department, with several guys coming off injuries and a few older dudes coming back to the fold. Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Rodney McLeod, Ronald Darby, and Jalen Mills didn’t play the full year. Fletcher Cox had offseason surgery. Graham, Curry, and Malcolm Jenkins are now in their thirties. Chris Long doesn’t know if he wants to play football. Guys like Josh Sweat and Treyvon Hester and Daeshon Hall are still relatively unknown quantities.

More Howie on that:

Q. Even if you didn’t think this class ended up being that historic — are you regretting saying it? If I would have told you before the draft that you wouldn’t have gotten a defensive lineman in those first three picks, would you have been surprised? (Jeff McLane)

HOWIE ROSEMAN: I would have been more surprised if you told me we didn’t get a lineman in the first three picks. I think that there’s that distinction. As we went through the scenarios over the last couple weeks, we did go through scenarios where it wasn’t a defensive lineman, but at some point in the first couple rounds, an offensive lineman would fall to us.

Both sides of the ball are important to us and we’re going to make sure that that happened. But I don’t think that we thought that Miles Sanders would be there at pick 53, right or wrong. The receivers kind of fell in a different order than we thought, and then again, coming to today and being at the end of the fourth round and sitting there and all of us, it was hard to sit there. It’s hard to sit there at the beginning of days and wait for all those picks, and to be able to get a pass rusher that we think has tools in his body to develop, we’re excited about that.

“tools in his body to develop”

So this was a draft for the future. Sanders will contribute this year. Maybe Dillard gets in there. Arcega-Whiteside is behind three other receivers right now, depending on what their usage plan is. Thorson will be inactive unless Wentz gets hurt, then he’s your clipboard holder.

I dunno. Something just felt weird about this draft. It felt “off,” if that makes sense. I like Sanders, and I think some people underrated him a bit because inevitably everything he did was going to look like a letdown compared to what Saquon Barkley achieved at Penn State in prior years. Arcega-Whiteside looks like a young Alshon Jeffery and Dillard is a tackle of the future.

But we kept hearing about how deep of a defensive draft this was, yet the only guy the Eagles came home with was a 4th round defensive end prospect.

Revisionist draft history is indeed corny, but I think the word I’d use to describe the Birds’ 2019 process is “curious.” They got some good players, and while I feel great about the offense moving forward, I feel like they missed an opportunity to add to the defensive side of the ball.

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24 Comments

  • KYW-TV does not tolerate discrimination. The freelance employee no longer works at our station April 30, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Any news? I asked Fanatics apparel if they were away for any of this. They are “looking into the incident and take these matters very seriously”

    Does Kyle have a statement prepared?

    Reply
    • King of all blacks April 30, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Yo Yo Yo Howard, I gots Moen faucets!

      Reply
    • Eagles Shirley fan April 30, 2019 at 11:36 am

      This dude finds an angle and sticks with it

      Reply
      • Kind of sad to watch April 30, 2019 at 11:44 am

        Poor guy has wasted a good week and a half just repeating himself and hitting refresh.

        He is so angry his racist posts get removed that he is losing his mind and his life. Pretty sad really.

        I bet he is a FOX News guy. Triggered!

        Smokes. Calf tattoo. Has an “old lady” that could use some dental work.

        Reply
        • Backliner April 30, 2019 at 4:46 pm

          Fox news guys have nothing to be upset about for the last years. More likely a CNN viewer

          Reply
    • An Inquiring Mind April 30, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Just curious, at what point do you realize your act is tired? You have written the same nonsense on almost every post for several days now. No laughs from it other than from other accounts you made yourself. Get a hobby or get laid already! Loser.

      Reply
      • pop Pop in the am April 30, 2019 at 11:42 am

        Good question.

        Reply
    • Feminist sjw empowered e-thot who just got shit on by 6 saudis in bahrain April 30, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      I can’t in good conscience support Kyle’s head in the sand approach. Gender assigner. R@c!st. You can drink all the soy you want but you should be removed from this job. I’m triggered just seeing your name and the double Ks. Still waiting to hear about the sponsors.

      Reply
      • KOO KOO April 30, 2019 at 12:51 pm

        Tiny guy is unhinged. Little fella disease.

        Reply
  • Thomas Fox April 30, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Nobody they drafted made this team any better now
    They have two guys on the defense that are bonafide players, one of which is 31.
    Graham was not last year and at 31 I dont see how they expect him to bounce back.
    They keep denying they are dehydrated and instead of picking up a water they keep drinking “champagne” because it fell to them.

    Lets also not brush off the fact they gave up two picks to move up FOUR spots for a guy who hasnt proven he can run block

    Reply
  • Carson Wentz's Gimpy Leg...and bad Back April 30, 2019 at 11:45 am

    The Eagles don’t care about defense. Every move they make is to prop up their “franchise QB” .

    Reply
    • Free Agency April 30, 2019 at 12:13 pm

      They addressed some defense in free agency and will have more opportunity. I kind of think they have an idea how to build a team.

      You wouldn’t understand…..You thought they couldn’t sign anyone because they had no cap space.

      You should talk about stuff you have a clue about. It may be less embarrassing for you.

      Reply
      • Tom Brady's deflated balls...and NAMBLA membership April 30, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        I’m convinced that this and “Ben Simmons Future Laker” guy are the same bitter troll. Low effort trolling via smooth brain takes

        Reply
      • Carson Wentz's Gimpy Leg...and Bad Back April 30, 2019 at 9:08 pm

        What exactly did they gain in free agency?

        And I know how the cap works. They signed retreads and cast offs. None of which made either side of the ball better. And their cap situation is going to be even worse next year.

        You’re embarrassing yourself, sir.

        Reply
        • CARSON WENTZ'S GIMPY LEG...AND BAD BACK AND INFLAMED TESTICLE SACK May 1, 2019 at 2:05 am

          Obviously you’re a fucking idiot.
          How you can type and jerk off at the same time is beyond me.

          Reply
          • Carson Wentz's Gimpy Leg...and bad Back May 1, 2019 at 12:55 pm

            DeSean Jackson – Retread
            Vinnie Curry – Retread
            Malik Jackson – washed out of Jacksonville

            Jordan Howard is the only significant move they made to better the team..

            They lost Bennett, their second best defensive player last year and did not upgrade with a replacement. They lost Foles, who probably won’t do anything in Jacksonville but for whatever reason he fit in well here and the offense worked better under him than The Chosen One. So, when Wentz does go down with….what is it this year? A concussion? Broken collarbone? Broken ribs? You got Nate Sudfeld riding in to the rescue.

            And the great thing is they’re going to sign Mr. Glass who can’t beat playoff caliber teams or engineer a game winning drive a 10 year 350 million dollar contract soon because Howie wants to throw good money after bad instead of admitting the biggest move he’s ever made as GM was an unnecessary mistake.

  • The Dude April 30, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I mean say what you will about the quality of the players, but you mentioned the average age of the offense at 28.5 as if it’s a good measure that they’re all “young” guys so drafting wasn’t needed…. but the average age of the defensemen you listed is only 26.8. The 2 oldest are just 31. If anything they probably need more vets and locker room guys on defense and I trust Howie to go out and get them via trade or the waiver wire. Just my $.02

    Reply
    • Kevin Kinkead April 30, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      I think it’s more about the defensive line, honestly. Because looking through it again, Kamu and the secondary is where the age comes down. Barnett is the only guy on the line who is younger than age 28, with Jackson, Cox, Curry, and Graham right up there in the 28-31 range. Jernigan is only 26 but has the injury history.

      I dunno. Something just feels off to me.

      Reply
      • CARSON WENTZ'S GIMPY LEG...AND BAD BACK AND INFLAMED TESTICLE SACK May 1, 2019 at 2:06 am

        Kinkhead,
        Whats up with those racist tweets?
        Care to explain?

        Reply
  • NFL hofer Ray d April 30, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Eagles draft grade A-, any questions DM me on Twitter.

    Reply
  • Kevin Kinkead - uninformed mouthbreather April 30, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    If you believe that Alshon, Desean, Agholor, and for argument sake Mack Hollins all stay healthy… then the JJ pick was bad.

    But lets not forget the tampa bay game last year. Agholor, Aiken and Gibson were your WRs. That is a L every week against every team. Even with two TE sets.

    Not to mention history tells us that Desean won’t play all 16 games….Alshon has been injury plagued his entire career…. and the eagles clearly know something about Mack Hollins groin they aren’t saying… so you are left with Agholor and JJ as your depth guys? Then the pick looks a hell of a lot better. I don’t understand how we can use this logic for peters / dillard, but ppl quickly forget how banged up our WRs were last year and just assume everyone will play healthy.

    When you use REALITY to base your draft strategy, then WR was a great pick. Also, JJ isn’t slow. He ran a 4.49 on pro day, and yea, it wasn’t the combine, but it’s not like pro-day stats are rigged LOL

    Reply
  • 97.5 is unlistenable April 30, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    I think JJ will be a beast in the red zone this year. You throw him, Alshon, Ertz and Goedert in the red zone, that is going to be a lot of touchdowns. I think the game plan this year will be to outscore everyone and address the defense next year when they have a good amount of picks.

    Reply
    • Wip April 30, 2019 at 12:56 pm

      I’m unlistenable too.

      Reply
  • Huh May 1, 2019 at 3:41 am

    JJ ran a 4.4 40

    Slow??!

    Reply
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