What They’re Saying About the Eagles’ Draft
Did Howie Roseman seize an opportunity or put his job in jeopardy three years from now? Here’s what people across the country think about the Eagles’ draft.
Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar doles out a B to the Eagles.
Other notable picks: Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia (153); Blake Countess, CB, Auburn (196); Jalen Mills, S, LSU (233)
The Eagles traded a king’s ransom to move up and select Carson Wentz as the future of their franchise. It’s a good pick in that Wentz is the most pro-ready of all the elite quarterbacks in this class, but with so much money already tied up in Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, Howie Roseman will be filling a lot of holes with lesser picks for a while. Philly’s strategy after Wentz in this draft was… interesting.
Oregon State interior lineman Isaac Seumalo could be a guard or center at the next level. West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood is a decent player with pass-blocking ability. TCU offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai is a powerful player with limited athleticism who will probably have to kick inside to guard. The steals came in the later rounds: sixth-round cornerback Blake Countess is an efficient and underrated defender, and LSU cornerback/safety Jalen Mills should have gone a lot higher than the seventh round. It was most likely Mills’s injury history that scared teams off.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gives Philadelphia a B-.
Best pick: Third-round pick Isaac Seumalo will come in and push for a starting job right away. He’s a tough kid who will fight.
Questionable move: Trading all the picks they did to move up and take Carson Wentz will be questioned by a lot of people. I like the aggressive approach to fill a need, but if Wentz doesn’t pan out, it will set the franchise back.
Third-day gem: Seventh-round corner Jalen Mills of LSU had much better talent than where he was picked. He could end up being a steal.
Analysis: Their entire draft will be defined by what Wentz becomes. If he’s a star, it’s a great draft. If not, it’s a bad one. They love him. I don’t. So time will tell. I do like the aggressive approach to make the move to get him.
Prisco’s colleague, Will Brinson, goes the other way and puts the Birds in the “losers” category.
The Eagles are trying to win next year, right? If so, they didn’t do a lot to improve their roster immediately in this draft. Look, everything comes down to Carson Wentz. If he ends up being an “elite franchise quarterback” then Philly had a good draft. Define those nebulous terms however you want, but it just shouldn’t be a debate whether he was worth it. If it he was, then it was a good move.
But here’s my biggest issue with Philly’s decision to sacrifice lots of picks and get Wentz: he won’t play next year! Best case is Sam Bradford’s willing to play ball for his $22 million guaranteed, the Eagles are better than anyone expects and are a playoff contender. Worst case is Bradford holds out/is traded/gets hurt and then Chase Daniel/Wentz have to carry the load for Philly. If that happens and things go south, then they’ve got to worry about giving up a high pick in next year’s first-round pick to the Browns.
From this draft, Jalen Mills is a nice addition in the seventh round (long corner from LSU). Halapoulivaati Vaitai is a stupendous pick just because it’s going to make the Philadelphia media write his name and Philadelphia fans say it out loud. Getting Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round means the Philly running backs are Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner and Smallwood. What could go wrong? (Hint: a lot!)
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter hands the Eagles a C+ overall grade.
Day 1 grade: C
Day 2 grade: C
Day 3 grade: B
The skinny: The Eagles are gambling big (gave up CB Byron Maxwell, LB Kiko Alonso, 2017 first-round pick, two top-100 picks this year, 2018 second-rounder) on the ability of Carson Wentz to become a legitimate top-tier starter. We’ll see.
Howie Roseman had just one pick in the third round after the trade for Wentz. Seumalo is an athletic guard prospect who should play well for them.
I like Smallwood as a complement to Ryan Mathews, and Countess was a solid pick for depth in the secondary. Countess, Mills, and McCalister will make a difference.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper ($) gives the Birds a C.
Top needs: QB, OT, RB, CB
It’s hard to give the Eagles an above-average grade just based on the draft value they gave away to get up to No. 2, where they are drafting a player I really like in Carson Wentz, but a real mystery in terms of when he’ll be ready to handle the starting job in an NFL offense. The problem is, even though I like Wentz, I wasn’t a fan of the value elsewhere on the board as well.
I had Isaac Seumalo as a reach in the third, and I had a number of other running backs ahead of Wendell Smallwood when he came off the board in Round 5. I think they were smart to target the O-line a couple of times, including Halapoulivaati Vaitai in the fifth, but I’m surprised they didn’t add a wide receiver at any point, or a cornerback earlier than Jalen Mills in Round 7, though he could be a good value. Hey, they got the QB they wanted, so the grade going forward is all wrapped in him, but they definitely paid for it.
ESPN’s Todd McShay ($) says the Eagles’ best pick was Carson Wentz.
This was a slam-dunk pick. Wentz is an absolute stud, and now he goes to Philadelphia, where he’ll learn from quarterback guru Doug Pederson. Wentz has the football intelligence to quickly absorb the playbook and the intricacies of the position at the NFL level. On tape, he shows the best anticipatory accuracy of any quarterback in this class. Plus, he has ideal measurables for the position (6-foot-5, 237 pounds, 10-inch hands). Assuming the Eagles don’t trade QB Sam Bradford, Wentz will have the luxury of being developed properly.
Rotoworld’s Evan Silva gives the Birds a C.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman made a YOLO aggressive pre-draft move to land Wentz, sending Cleveland third- (77) and fourth-round picks (100), Philly’s 2017 first-rounder, and its 2018 second-round pick in exchange for just a six-spot jump in round one. That left the Eagles with two selections inside the top 150, and prevented Roseman from acquiring a starting-caliber cornerback, which was very much needed.
Seumalo could get an early look for snaps at left guard, while fifth-round sleeper Smallwood combines 4.47 speed with an above-average running back build (5’11/208). Vaitai, McCalister, and Walker are day-three long shots. Countess is a 184-pound slot corner, while Mills is a ‘tweener safety/corner. Like the Rams, the Eagles’ draft is tough to grade because the results are so heavily tied to Wentz’s development. This could be a franchise-changing draft, or it could be a killer.
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News hands the Birds a C-.
Moving up and selecting Wentz was a bold move. I’m just not sure whether it was a smart or necessary one. Six of the Eagles’ draft picks were in the bottom 101 selections. And the bottom of the draft hasn’t been one of Howie Roseman’s strengths. Which is probably why they took so many shots at sliders with character questions.
USA Today’s Lindsay Jones says the Eagles are tied for the worst draft.
Analysis: The Eagles got the quarterback they wanted in North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz, but how much better are the Eagles now? Starter Sam Bradford reportedly is unhappy after the team traded up so that it could draft Wentz, who doesn’t arrive in the NFL without questions.
Marcus Hayes of the Daily News projects what the Eagles’ draft could’ve looked like if they didn’t trade up.
First round, 13th overall: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. At 6-7 and 244 pounds, Lynch has the size, the arm, the athleticism and the pocket presence to play in the NFL. He might lack Wentz’s “intangibles” and he needs a year or two of understudy work to refine his mechanics, but so does Wentz; so do most college QBs. Also, Bradford might still be at work if the Eagles had stood pat and drafted Lynch.
Third round, 77th overall: Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State. The Eagles wound up taking Seumalo with the 79th pick but they would not have waited two more picks.
Third round, 79th overall: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State. He gained national attention with his successful conversion from star quarterback to promising wide receiver, but despite his ragged route-running and questionable hands, a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 6-1 and 201 pounds makes him an excellent gamble in the third round.