What’s with the Eagles’ Aversion to Drafting Alabama Players?

Common knowledge would say that if you want your NFL team to be good, you should draft players from the best college program.

That would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who have won six titles in the 14 seasons that Nick Saban has been in charge. Current alumni in the NFL include Derrick Henry, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ryan Kelly, Marlon Humphrey, and so many more. We’d need five paragraphs to list them all.

The Philadelphia Eagles, for whatever reason, have been averse to selecting ‘Bama players, and at the Birds’ Reddit page, user “eaglesnation11” put a great chart together showing how many players each team has drafted out of Tuscaloosa since Saban took over back in 2007..

Here’s a portion of that graphic:

The author notes that Alabama has had 96 players drafted since 2007, and that the Eagles are the only team to select zero of those guys. And no, Jalen Hurts doesn’t count, since he transferred to Oklahoma for his senior season.

To continue the exercise, let’s go through the Eagles’ last five drafts, go through the top three picks, and break it out by conference. This is what we get:

  • Big 10: Miles Sanders (1)
  • Big 12: Jalen Reagor, Jalen Hurts, Rasul Douglas (3)
  • SEC: Derek Barnett (1)
  • Pac 12: Davion Taylor, Andre Dillard, JJAW, Sidney Jones, Isaac Seumalo (5)
  • ACC: (0)
  • non “power five” conferences: Dallas Goedert, Carson Wentz (2)

That’s crazy. In the last five seasons, the Eagles have taken a grand total of one SEC player with their top three picks. One Big 10 player and zero ACC guys. They’ve gone heavy on the PAC 12 and Big 12, which haven’t produced elite title contenders outside of a handful of Oklahoma teams, 2019 Oregon, and 2016 Washington. The Birds have been very hesitant to draft from the best programs, taking one Clemson player and one Ohio State player going back to 2010. That’s K’Von Wallace and Brian Rolle.

The question then becomes this –

Does conference and team really matter? Or are the Eagles just getting their picks wrong in general?

It’s probably a little bit of both. If you look at the 2017 Super Bowl squad, here’s the breakdown of starters and where they went to school:

  • QB: Carson Wentz/Nick Foles – NDSU and Arizona
  • RB: LeGarrette Blount – Oregon
  • WR: Nelson Agholor – USC
  • WR: Alshon Jeffery – South Carolina
  • WR: Torrey Smith – Maryland
  • TE: Zach Ertz – Stanford
  • LT: Jason Peters/Big V – Arkansas/TCU
  • LG: Stefen Wisniewski – Penn State
  • C: Jason Kelce – Cincy
  • RG: Brandon Brooks – Miami Ohio
  • RT: Lane Johnson – Oklahoma
  • DE: Vinny Curry – Marshall
  • DE: Brandon Graham – Michigan
  • DT: Tim Jernigan – Florida State
  • DT: Fletcher Cox – Mississippi State
  • LB: Nigel Bradham – Florida State
  • LB: Jordan Hicks – Texas
  • LB: Mychal Kendricks – Cal
  • CB: Jalen Mills – LSU
  • CB: Ronald Darby – Florida State
  • S: Malcolm Jenkins – Ohio State
  • S: Rodney McLeod – UVA

A mixed bag there, but that’s kind of the point. They had a blend of guys. SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, etc. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, you look down the list and see traditional powers like LSU, Ohio State, FSU, and Michigan. And a lot of those guys were free agent pickups, and not drafted by Howie Roseman.

So I guess the moral of the story is this:

Draft players from good schools. Bama is damn good! Why would you not look to them for talent? What about Clemson and Ohio State and LSU? We’ve got Howie out here with this Big 12/Pac 12 skew in recent years, and it’s not producing very much for him. Play it safe. Do the easy thing. Draft guys from the SEC and Big 10 and you’re likely to get it right. Too often the Eagles overthink these situations and we end up with guys who just aren’t cutting it.

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