Roundtable: Grading Philly’s 2020 NFL Draft

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The Eagles completed their draft weekend after making 10 picks through seven rounds.

Opinions on their draft varied widely, with some thinking it was a poorly thought out plan and some thinking they ran among the best drafts in the league.

With that in mind, we asked our staff to give their grading and analysis of the draft. Note that some writers chose to provide an in-depth analysis that will be below the summaries in this article.

Paul Bowman, Managing Editor

I’m shocked to find out that I am the optimist of the bunch here. The Eagles had a pretty good draft and came away with steals in Prince Tega Wanogho and K’Von Wallace as well as a player that fills a huge whole in Jalen Reagor. Adding Dante Olson in undrafted free agency was also big. The Eagles prioritized cultural fit and physical athleticism in this draft over direct football skill and there’s nothing wrong with that, but coming away with just two players that figure to start and eight who could be classified as projects is not ideal in an offseason that figures to be online and lack team practices.

The Eagles heavily addressed positions of need, but outside Reagor the team wound up with no sure-fire prospects at the receiver or linebacker positions. They got players with lots of upside, no doubt, but they may not pan out and there’s no way of knowing how long it will take them to do so.

Grade: B

Click here to read Paul’s in-depth analysis.

Michael Lipinski, Section 247 Podcast

Howie said they were looking to add speed and they did just that. Along with top-level track speed he drafted guys that bring football speed. Despite living up to his word, day two was a misstep. Going quarterback in the second round makes zero sense for a team with a young franchise quarterback and other needs.

That said, the Birds had an excellent day three. The team managed to grab K’Von Wallace, Jack Driscoll, and Shaun Bradley to play at three different positions with needs. The trio stands out as some of the best picks of the day and went a long way to saving the team’s overall draft.

Grade: B-

Click here to read Michael’s in-depth analysis.

Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Howie certainly took us on a rollercoaster ride throughout the draft. From the idea of trading up for CeeDee Lamb to the near guarantee we were taking Justin Jefferson to the crazy unexpected drafting of a backup QB in Jalen Hurts at 53. Although it won’t go down as one of my favorite drafts by the Eagles or one that will grade out well, Howie did what he promised and that was weapons for Wentz and speed, speed, speed!

When considering the entire draft process, Darius Slay for a third and fifth has to be included, which was the A+ move of the offseason finally getting us that shutdown corner we need. Stealing K’Von Wallace and Prince Tega Wanogho, both with day two grades who landed as day three picks, were nice plays by Howie. Trading back 20 spots and acquiring Marquise Goodwin, not to mention the $1.35 million contract, is a low risk, high reward move for Wentz and the offense.

Despite the positives, the Hurts pick at 53 continues to cause heads to roll and leaves a lot of heads heavily scratched. Sudfeld is still on the roster, there is a bounty of needs still to be addressed across the roster and not to mention the draft capital invested. I will chalk this up to Howie knows best and trust that his heart is in the right place with this move. The trade with Dallas to help them secure their potential replacement for Travis Frederick was tough to swallow despite the additional fifth in return, that’s a move for somebody else to make, not one for us to make with a division rival.

The LB position remains up in the air with limited experience and tons of athleticism. The addition of a couple athletic sideline to sideline guys like Taylor and Bradley makes too much sense for Schwartz scheme. The Eagles as a whole got better, enough to compete in the division and potentially for a wild card spot, but in a hyper aggressive NFC, pick 53 not used to address more of a need may be something we look back on.

Grade: B

Russell Tillman, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Overall I would grade this draft as a B, that’s more of a belief in the process and practice than the actual selections we made. The old adage is that if you’re not growing, you’re dying and that would apply for me here. I’m not completely sold on some of methodology that the team used in making their selections but I am happy to see them pushing the envelope and attempting to get ahead of the curve in their player scouting and development techniques. If they’re on to something, it could usher in a new golden era of Eagle football.

Grade: B

Click here to read Russell’s in-depth analysis.

Michael Lipinski’s In-Depth Analysis

Grade: B-

Howie Roseman mentioned that the Eagles were looking to add speed in the NFL Draft and they did just that on days one and two. First round pick WR Jalen Reagor is 4.24 40-yard dash guy with the ability to get open quickly and make plays in space. Third round pick LB Davion Taylor ran a 4.4 40-yard dash, is a former state champion sprinter, with tremendous closing speed, pursuit angles and a nose for the football.

They are fast in shorts and a t-shirt and fast on the football field but both of are projects.

Speaking of projects, let’s talk about the Eagles first pick in the second round.

Selecting QB Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick just does not make sense and do not use the Taysom Hill argument. Hill was an undrafted free agent that was cut by the Green Bay Packers before catching on with the New Orleans Saints. If Hurts were an UDFA or a later round selection it would make perfect sense. It makes ZERO sense in the second round.

First and second round picks are expected to be contributors immediately or in the case of some quarterbacks a few seasons from now. The Packers selecting Jordan Love to eventually replace a 36-year old Aaron Rodgers is a perfect example of the later. The Eagles just paid 27-year old Carson Wentz to be the “franchise” quarterback. This move signals that Eagles ownership, despite what is being said in the media, does not have faith in their signal caller.

Day Three Picks:

The Eagles had a very good day three and it helped save what would have been a disastrous draft for Howie Roseman. S K’Von Wallace, OL Jack Driscoll, and LB Shaun Bradley standout as the best picks of the day.

S K’Von Wallace is the perfect safety for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s system. He can play the hybrid LB/S role that Malcom Jenkins has played the past few seasons. There’s still some elements of his game that need fine tuning but that should come with time in the Eagles system.

OL Jack Driscoll can play multiple roles for the Eagles essentially becoming the “swing” offensive lineman. He was a four-year starter at Virginia playing mostly tackle but his game projects to guard in the NFL. He’s unpolished which makes him the perfect type of player to learn from offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

LB Shaun Bradley is the kind of player the city of Philadelphia will fall in love with. The Westampton, NJ native and former Temple Owl is undersized to be an every down linebacker in the NFL. Bradley has a nose for the football and should turn into a special teams standout for the Eagles.

Paul Bowman’s In-Depth Analysis

Overall Grade: B

Day One:

The Eagles started this draft off really well by drafting Jalen Reagor out of TCU. It would not be a surprise if Reagor were to become the best receiver in the class, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Reagor could be first on some teams’ draft boards.

Reagor was among the most explosive players in college football, despite being the only major talent on the TCU offense. His production (2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns over three seasons) may not show it, but that is to be expected from an offense that lacks top-end talents. In fact, in the last four drafts, only three other offensive players have been selected out of the school and all were offensive tackles (one this year and two in 2018, including Eagles OL Matt Pryor).

Reagor has also had four different quarterbacks throwing to him over the past three seasons, with just 61% of his targets over the past two seasons being deemed catchable targets by Pro Football Focus. In essence, while players like Justin Jefferson and Henry Ruggs are coming from a background of thriving with all the talent in the world around them, Reagor comes from thriving with much less of it and that gives him both a higher floor and a higher ceiling.

Fans demanded the Eagles go get their guy and they did just that without expending extra resources.

Day One Grade: A+

Day Two:

Taking Jalen Hurts at 53 with what was on the board was just a plain terrible decision. There were so many other players that could have helped the team at that point and it really doesn’t make sense to take a quarterback with essentially no teams looking for any. If the team had their sights set on Hurts, the play should have been to trade back for a later second and third or two thirds and hope that one of those impact players is available at the earlier pick and then take Hurts with the later one.

For example, if the Eagles had worked out a deal with a team like the Ravens, for two third-round picks, Zack Baun still would have been available at their first pick, adding one of the top talents in this draft at a position of need. Even if they only got one third-round pick and an extra fourth/fifth or a 2021 pick, the team would be in better shape.

Hurts himself is a developmental player that could greatly impact the team eventually, but without that immediate impact, the pick makes little sense at this point for a team that has no secondary players signed beyond 2021 and huge holes at linebacker and receiver.

The Davion Taylor pick isn’t intrinsically a bad one. He has potential and a lot of it, but he is a lottery ticket. He is fast and has potential, but is inexperienced and it wouldn’t be a surprise for it to take two seasons for the team to see any return on investment outside special teams.

Taylor could become an impact defender sooner than that, but the fact that there’s a decent chance that neither player sees significant snaps makes the picks appear poorly for the team. The upside is there, but there’s also the chance that they come away with nothing for some time.

Day Two Grade: D+

Day Three:

K’Von Wallace was an absolute steal in round four and breathed some life into a lackluster day two that lacked immediate impact. Wallace is great in coverage and with tackling. He should be able to play defense as a rookie and have room to grow. The only question at this point would be what role would best allow him to utilize his abilities.

Prince Tega Wanogho was the next best pick of day three for the birds. While still a project, he has the raw talents similar to Jordan Mailata just with far more playing experience and familiarity with the game. He’s got the size and the mindset to succeed. At the very least, Wanogho should be a solid backup, but he certainly has the potential to be better than that and was a steal in round six, especially as someone who could have been a first or second-round pick had it not been for injuries.

John Hightower provides speed at the receiver position that, unlike Jackson and Goodwin, would allow the Eagles to grow the receiver with Carson Wentz, just as they wanted. If it works out, he could provide that extra deep threat, but he has also shown the willingness to be physical and an ability to follow the ball throughout the play. A major concern that come with him would be his ability to create space against defenders that are far more physical at the line of scrimmage. He clearly has the ability to make plays in space, but if defenders can jam him at the line and keep him out of plays early on, his contributions may be limited to returns, screens and gadget plays. Overall a high-upside player which was a good selection late in the draft.

Jack Driscoll was a decent pick and hopefully he makes me eat my words, but the reason I am not a big fan of the Driscoll pick is not his play. He has the potential to be a good backup for the tackle and guard positions. He should be a pretty safe pick as someone who has a strong base, but it’s hard to justify taking him to play inside over the corn-fed Wisconsin product Tyler Biadasz, who was a pretty good fit for the Eagles system and would be a great player to develop behind Jason Kelce. Handing that prospect to Dallas, who needs a center, didn’t make the move seem any better.

Shaun Bradley is a project as a linebacker, but should be able to help on special teams immediately. He’s the kind of hard-hitting thumper that Philadelphia fans love and the Eagles could use behind the defensive line.

Quez Watkins was just an odd pick. The Eagles had already drafted Reagor and Hightower. They had added Marquise Goodwin. They added speed but, with the Watkins pick, failed to add a receiver with a different skill set than running fast. Watkins is very fast, but the reason it wasn’t an ideal pick is that the best scenario is likely that the Eagles keep him on the practice squad. Alshon and DeSean are all but guaranteed spots if their healthy and Reagor absolutely is. Greg Ward is the only receiver who has grown with Wentz so far and his only truly reliable target as of last season. The Eagles are unlikely to give up on second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside. That leaves John Hightower, Marquise Goodwin, Watkins and any other receivers (Khalil Tate, Robert Davis, Deontay Burnett, etc) competing for one, maybe two receiver positions if Jeffery starts the season on the PUP list. Maybe it’ll work out a few years from now, but it’s hard to see him cracking the roster and plenty of fast players have burnt out quickly.

So late into the draft, it’s hard to find major impact players, but Casey Toohill seems to be the latest in the Eagles red-shirters. Two seasons ago, Josh Sweat red-shirted. Last season, Shareef Miller red-shirted. This season, Toohill seems to be in line to red-shirt. The problem is the number of players. The Eagles have four defensive tackles locked in with impressive 2019 UDFA Anthony rush behind them and the trio of Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller and Daeshon Hall competing with Genard Avery for rotational reps. Any kind of move to add a defensive lineman would all but assure Toohill is out of a spot and it seems likely he won’t have one unless the Eagles trade someone away. Nothing wrong with the pick at this point in the draft, but it’s just odd that the team didn’t use the pick on a high-upside player at a thinner position like running back or even linebacker.

Day Three Grade: B

Undrafted Free Agency:

There’s almost nothing to lose in free agency, but the Eagles would seem to have done very well. They did so well that I would be shocked if not a single of those players made the roster.

Grayland Arnold and Raequan Williams provide a paid of defenders who have the skills and ability, but may just need a bit of time to hone those skills for NFL competition, something that a spot on the practice squad may provide them.

Running backs Michael Warren II and Adrian Killins provide complimentary skill sets and at least one of the two should make the practice squad if they don’t find their way onto the initial 53-man roster. Warren II has a particularly good chance as one of the best runners the team has for going right up the middle as long as the skill translates to the NFL.

The most important UDFA should be Dante Olson. The linebacker was absolutely dominant and it is a crime that the unanimous All-American wasn’t drafted. His value was certainly lower as an FCS player, but that shouldn’t matter too much. It was universally accepted that Kyle Dugger was a second-round talent coming out of the division below FCS and Olson should have been held in at least the same esteem as Dugger. His not getting drafted is a really bad break for him, but the Eagles linebacking corp should be better for it. He may not have the raw physical talents that others do, but he has perhaps the best mindset for the position with an ability to diagnose plays quickly and hit violently in gaps or the backfield or jump routes in coverage.

Undrafted Free Agency Grade: A

Russell Tillman’s In-Depth Analysis

Grade: B

Round One:

It didn’t take very long for Howie Roseman to make it known which data he placed precedence in by standing pat in the first round and selecting Jalen Reagor at number 21. Clearly the organization thinks that Reagor has elite speed. They trusted their player tracking numbers, which had him as the second fastest receiver in this draft class, over his verified forty times which, frankly, did not paint that same picture.

CBS Sports, working in conjunction with the Slants corporation, tracked Reagor reaching 20.8 mph when carrying the football. That’s behind only Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, who clocked in at a jaw-dropping 21.94. The organization’s hope is that Reagor is able to find a way to become consistently productive as a receiver, creating separation while the ball is in the air and making explosive plays after the catch.

While Reagor only ran the ball 35 times in his collegiate career, he averaged a healthy 9.3 YPC on those carries and will likely get a few chances as a runner when Doug decides to get creative, which plays into his strengths as de facto offensive coordinator.

The quarterback play at TCU during his tenure was certainly less than stellar. It was, at times, awful and many people in the Eagles community have used that as an argument for why he wasn’t more productive. I still find it hard to not question how a guy with so much talent and NFL potential was only able to crack 611 receiving yards once in three college seasons and seemingly took a step backwards statistically as a Junior when contrasted against his breakout sophomore campaign, which was by far his most productive season in the NCAA. The Birds are betting that the total player skill set in conjunction with his youth and potential for explosive plays end up being a more accurate barometer for his pro potential than his raw production and combine numbers might indicate.

Round One Grade: C

I really would have liked to see more production and less projection from a first round skill player. I understand and empathize with the fact that many of his targets were uncatchable passes, which not only limited his numbers but also seemingly affected his focus. Drops were a persistent problem for him during his TCU career and the blame for that has to lie in his hands, literally. Many observers are seduced by the speed potential he possesses and it is easy to see why; the modern NFL is about getting explosive players out in space and letting them make plays and he certainly has the potential to do that.

I see the upside but question the value we’re getting here with this selection at number 21. I myself would have went with Justin Jefferson in this spot. While I do think that Reagor has the potential to be a better NFL player, I also see his corresponding floor as much lower. With the Eagles not only needing help in their receiver room, but immediate help, I saw Jefferson as a guy who was more likely to be productive in the first year or two of his rookie contract and be a solid, if unspectular, pro. That’s something that a team who was giving meaningful playoff snaps to Greg Ward the last time we saw them take the field might have been wise to value over prioritizing who might be more likely to make a pro bowl in 2023.

Round Two:

I’ve followed the NFL draft for over 20 years now. I can remember doing Eagles fantasy drafts on Madden N64, trying to see how great of a team I could construct in my quest to bring a super bowl starved city a title, even if just virtually. Memories of Donovan McNabb being booed at the podium after the Eagles selected him with the number two pick in ’99 still resonate with me, maybe it’s because I know that Donovan is still bitter about that reception; the entire situation is a bit sad for all parties involved, a city in a cold war with arguably the best quarterback to ever represent them on the field. Maybe it was because that’s when I realized that I wanted to write about sports as a hobby and professionally, if possible. Even as a fairly athletic kid, I knew that college sports were not in my future. That was the last time I’ve seen the city this polarized about a drafted player, the way we are now in the aftermath of selecting Jalen Hurts with pick number 52 in the second round.

There were certainly some raised eyebrows over choosing firefighter Danny Watkins over literally hundreds of better available players in the #23 spot in 2011 and I remember most of the media reaction to drafting Marcus Smith at #26 in 2014 was rightfully negative, even if comparatively he’s been an All-Pro, considering he actually still plays football. My point being that more than once in the last decade we’ve literally thrown our first-round pick in the trash. Those were frankly awful selections, they really had little chance to be good selections, just total, abject failures in scouting and asset management. I was frankly mystified to see that the Hurts pick was generating more negative reaction than I recalled in the aftermath of either of those two selections.

Being that Hurts started at Alabama for two full seasons plus before losing his job to Tua Tagovailoa, he’s been in the spotlight for years now, even casual fans have likely seen him play a ton. He certainly raised his profile during a senior year at Oklahoma that saw him have by far his most successful season statistically. But the BIG12 is not the SEC and it’s hard to imagine a capable passer rushing over 230 times in a conference most famous for air raid style shootouts. He did have an impressive season throwing the football, that’s undeniable, but I’m not sure I view it as more impressive than his freshman year at Alabama, in context, which was surprisingly his best statistical season in Tuscaloosa.

I tend to be data driven in my analysis but I think it’s also very important to trust your eyes, when the numbers stop synchronizing with what you’re seeing in game, that’s when you do some digging and attempt to figure out why and where your interpretation is potentially flawed.

Many Eagles fans are worried about Carson Wentz and his potential for injury or even early retirement. I think those fears are misguided and show a clear bias: certain small sample size data over a larger whole. People are very quick to point out that our season ended with Carson injured for three consecutive years, but I’m not sure that proves anything except a penchant for bad timing. The reality is that Carson has been able to make 56/64 scheduled regular season starts in his career and, while that’s not exactly in Eli Manning territory, it shows that the claims he can’t be counted on are demonstrably false. I have not seen one piece of empirical data that shows he is more likely to be injured in a given game.

Round Two Grade: C

I don’t love Hurts as a prospect or the value here at 52. That makes it impossible for me to grade this any higher than a C. I do see the vast upside potential and it could be a worthy gamble as QB’s are currency.

Round Three:

Round three brought us to back to the defensive side of the ball with the selection of Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor at pick number 103. He is the prototypical high upside, but low floor type of player. He is raw but possesses plus athleticism, ranking in the top ten at his position for every event held at the scouting combine.

He only played two years of high-level college ball and that certainly shows up on tape at times. Taylor finished his collegiate career in the Pac-12, but before his two years with the Buffaloes he played two years at Coahoma junior college. I don’t follow much football at that level and anyone who does is certainly to be commended on their commitment to eating tape.

Taylor was a four-star juco recruit going into his tenure at Colorado which, if nothing else, shows that his vast potential has been evident for a while and he did nothing to dampen that enthusiasm about his pro potential when he stepped up into a major conference. Taylor doesn’t have the read and react instincts that you’d expect from a linebacker after four college seasons of development and his eventual NFL ceiling will depend on how quickly he can progress and make those adjustments. He should be able to help on kick coverage units immediately while also providing depth behind a linebacker core that has plenty to prove this coming season. If nothing else, his physical gifts should allow him to excel in a special teams role even if he never develops into a consistent contributor in the base defense.

Round Three Grade: C+

These are the types of chances you need to take if you are ever going to hit big on mid to late round picks, guys with this type of athletic upside don’t last into the third round if they’re polished football players and polished football players don’t last into the third round with this type of athletic upside. This pick is a gamble on Taylor’s potential and it could very well end up a smart one.

Many fans argue that it’s traditionally safer going for high floor depth players at this point in the draft but I’m not so sure. I would be shocked if Taylor can’t be counted on to compete with the current guys on the roster. If he can’t, that it will say more about him than it does about TJ Edwards, Jatavious Brown, Alex Singleton and Duke Riley, none of whom have shown much that would lead you to believe that they should be able to beat out a third-round pick on the depth chart. The Eagles have not had much luck drafting linebackers in the past few decades. Mychal Kendricks is clearly the best LB that we’ve drafted in the last twenty years. While he was a decent player in his Philadelphia tenure, that’s just not good enough. Taylor is likely going to be a boom or bust type player, if he’s good enough to stick around, he will likely get some opportunities to play, the question becomes if he’s developed enough to earn those opportunities.

Round Four:

Round four saw the birds again opt to add a defensive player with the selection of Clemson safety K’Von Wallace at pick number 127. He’s experienced with 59 collegiate games under his belt, including 36 starts. Clemson is an elite football program right now and really has been for most of his tenure there. You would have to think having that much experience playing in the national spotlight can only help his transition into the pro game.

He was used in a variety of different ways in the Tiger’s defensive backfield, doing a fair amount of blitzing while also being counted on to cover slot receivers. I think he is more likely to outperform his draft position than any of the three players the team selected before him, not that he’s an exceptional fourth round prospect, there are real questions about if he has the coverage abilities to play defensive snaps at the NFL level or the size to excel in a more specialized utility role, but he certainly has intriguing potential and if he shows he can perform either task effectively, he’ll stick in the league and find a role somewhere. If he proves capable of doing both, he might be a dark horse candidate for starting reps in a year or two. Certainly, he’s trending up after playing his best football during an impressive senior season.

With our second selection in round four, at pick number 145, the birds chose Auburn offensive lineman Jack Driscoll. While he played mostly at right tackle during his stalwart college career, he also played some guard, which is likely where he will line up as a pro. It wouldn’t shock me to see them try him out at center as well.

The scouting report on him has some Jason Kelce in it if you squint hard enough and it will be good for him to have a mentor with a similar playing style on the roster for him to emulate. Of course, the likelihood of him ever becoming that level of player is minimal but at worst he should provide the type of depth that every team needs on the interior of their offensive line and he certainly has the potential to be a low-end starter if everything clicks. Driscoll started out at UMASS, making 20 starts before graduating in three years, showing that he has the smarts and work ethic he will need to make it in the NFL as an interior lineman as long as the rest of his profile develops.

From there, he went to Auburn as a graduate transfer and played his fourth and fifth years of eligibility in the SEC, making 25 starts on the Tiger’s offensive line and lining up against more than a handful of guys who will be playing on Sundays along with him.

Round Four Grade: B (Both selections)

The Eagles did well for themselves in round four. They took two quality football players who provided decent value at their draft positions and both have a real path to becoming contributors on the roster in the coming years. I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine both guys getting the opportunity to start at some point in the future, be it as injury replacements or perhaps even winning starting jobs outright if they reach their ceilings. How they develop their skills en route to ensuring such opportunity arises and what they do with that opportunity if it does present itself will eventually tell the story on how much of this early promise ends up as realized potential. Getting players in the fourth round that have this type of upside is a testament to our scouting department and will hopefully provide some future dividends and give the team some developmental depth to work with.

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