The Eagles used day three of the draft to add depth to their Super Bowl winning roster. The team added two defensive prospects in round four that could both work their way into playing time over the course of the 2018 season, and two offensive line prospects with high ceilings but uncertain floors.
Without further adieu, here are the newest members of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Round 4 – (125th overall)
Avonte Maddox | Cornerback | Pittsburgh
In Avonte Maddox the Eagles are getting a superb athlete who also emerged as a player with strong character at Pittsburgh where he served as a team captain.
Two things stand out immediately with Maddox, his meager height, and his stellar speed. Maddox stands at five-feet-nine-inches tall but silences the criticisms of his size with a 4.39s 40 yard dash time. When the Eagles made the selection NFL Networks Mike Mayock referred to Maddox as a player who competes and is "one of the quickest footed change of direction players in this draft."
Maddox became known for a strong work ethic at Pittsburgh, and if his comments after being selected by the Eagles in the fourth round are any indication, he will carry that same mentality to the NFL. "“When you are playing corner, you always have to be willing to compete," said Maddox. "Being small, you have to compete much harder. They think since you are small, you won’t win.”
Maddox figures to step in and compete for the starting nickel corner job once training camp opens in a few months. One of Maddox's best traits is his ability to tackle. The Eagles secondary was one of the best in the league in terms of tackling last season, and the sure tackling became a trademark of the team's elite run defense. Maddox's ability as a tackler makes him a good fit for the Eagles defensive philosophy.
Joe Douglas, the Eagles VP or Player Personnel, expressed how much the team was interested by Maddox's competitiveness and ability to tackle. “This is a guy that fits in with our DB room. It’s a group of highly competitive guys, and he will blend in perfectly, even standout to a degree. Even though he is not the biggest guy, he will come up and support against the run."
In addition to competing for the nickel job, the Eagles will also give Maddox the chance to earn a role as a kick and punt returner.
Round 4 (130th overall)
Josh Sweat | Defensive End | Florida State
If not for a severe injury in high school Josh Sweat would have been long gone when the Eagles went on the clock at 130th overall. Instead, the Eagles decided to bring in the former top recruit although the rest of the league let his talent slip to the fourth round.
While nobody else felt confident enough to select Sweat, the Eagles are confident that Sweat's past injury will not stop him from becoming a regular contributor for the team. "We spoke to our doctors, our training staff, and they cleared him for us, so we’re very excited to get this guy," said Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman on Saturday afternoon. "Obviously, we love our defensive linemen here in Philadelphia, but we try to balance the draft with what we need short term and what we need long-term and we felt this guy going forward has a chance to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Obviously, it’s not a big need for us at this time with the players we have.”
The Eagles should feel good about their risk considering that Sweat only missed one game during his tenure at Florida State.
If the health is indeed not an issue, then the Eagles may have found a steal in the fourth round. Sweat is a freak of nature standing at six-feet-five-inches tall and weighing 251 pounds. With his Goliath size he is able to run a 4.53s 40 yard dash.
Sweat's production at Florida State left some wanting more with 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons. The investment is in Sweat's measurable and his immense potential. Roseman referred to the Eagles glut of defensive linemen as "rich man problems," but that group of established veterans will give Sweat an invaluable resource to reach his limitless ceiling.
Round 6 (206th overall)
Matt Pryor | Offensive Tackle | TCU
The Eagles entered last season with just eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster. They addressed their offensive line depth issue with their sixth round selection.
Matt Pryor gives the Eagles a versatile chess piece on the right side of the line. The 6-foot-7-inch 332 pounder played 23 games at right guard, eight at right tackle, and one at left guard. Many project him as a tackle prospect but his familiarity playing on the interior makes him a player that the Eagles will be able to develop behind their strong stable of starters on the offensive line, while he offers them the ability to play multiple positions in the even of an injury.
Pryor's hulking size is coupled with equally monstrous hands and exceptionally long arms that will aid in driving defenders away. Pryor landed in the sixth round because of concerns about his weight and work ethic. One NFC scout said that Pryor is "talented but he's got the reputation for being a little bit lazy. If you knew he would keep his weight down and take the preparation seriously, I think you would have a pretty good player. You just don't know if he has that kind of football character."
If the Eagles can keep Pryor on track then they may have made one of their strengths even stronger with this pick.
Round 7 (233rd overall)
Jordan Mailata | Offensive Tackle | South Sydney Rabbitohs
With their seventh round selection the Eagles made a bit of a surprise selection by taking a 20-year old Australian rugby player.
Yes, you read that correctly.
At first glance it feels like a curious pick but after a little bit of research it is easy to see why the Eagles decided to take a gamble on a kid who has never played organized football in his life.
Mailata decided to make the leap to the NFL and test the waters in the draft. The six-foot-eight-inch behemoth is explosive, evident by his dominance on the rugby pitch.
He is a physical specimen says one NFC executive – "Big dude, athletic. Someone will draft him late and he's a project, but very much a freak athlete for his size."
The Eagles will likely not see any results from this selection for a few years, but the insane mix of size, strength, and explosiveness makes this the perfect low-risk high-reward selection in the seventh round.