Grading Eagles 2021 Draft Haul

2021 Class

The Eagles once again completed a draft in which they made more picks than any single team starts with. In 2021, they made nine selections even after moving up in the first round and trading into the 2022 draft.

Opinions on their draft actually seem very positive from a national outlook, though many fans in Philadelphia are not happy.

With that in mind, a few of our writers decided to put together their grades.

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Eagles add Quarterback Depth

By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

Former 49ers Quarterback Nick Mullens and the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to terms on a one year contract. The deal comes four days after the Eagles waived undrafted free agent quarterback Jamie Newman after an underwhelming camp.

 

Adam Caplan of Fox Sports/Sirus XM had reported the Eagles were interested in bringing in a third quarterback after the Newman release and mentioned Nick Mullens as a name to watch. The Eagles were looking for a west-coast style quarterback in their search.

 

Nick Mullens comes over from San Francisco where he was acquired as an undrafted quarterback in 2018. He went on to start 16 games and appeared in 19 total, mostly in relief of oft-injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

 

In 19 games he ended up completing 64.5% of passes for 4714 yards and a 25:22 touchdown to interception ratio. He averaged 248.1 yards per game. 

 

Last season, he led the 49ers to a 2-6 record as injuries plagued their roster on both sides of the ball including starting quarterback Jimmy Garroppolo. He finished the year with a 64.7% completion percentage for 2437 passing yards and a 12:12 touchdown to interception ratio before injuring his elbow on December 20 against the Dallas Cowboys and requiring surgery.

 

Mullens joins as the third quarterback behind presumptive starter Jalen Hurts and veteran backup Joe Flacco. He will likely be a camp body, unless the Eagles opt to keep three quarterbacks on roster, which wouldn't be surprising given the state of the quarterback room in prior seasons.


Welcome to Philly: Getting to Know the Defensive 2021 Picks

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By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

Part one of the Welcome to Philly series took a dive into the offensive draft picks of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles made a commitment to Jalen Hurts in the 2021 draft giving him his alpha wide receiver, a true weapon of a RB2 and, should he prove his franchise QB worth in 2021, his future center.

In part two, I will dive into the defensive portion of the Eagles draft, which was unique and characterized by a few specific words. Character. Athletic. Undersized. Versatile. All draft picks possess at least three of these traits and some are already on the Eagles depth chart at different positions than they were listed as pre-draft. The Eagles spent the majority of their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball for new defensive coordinator Jon Gannon. 

Jim Schwartz’s 2020 defense struggled mightily, ranking 23rd in takeaways, including 29th in interceptions. They gave up the 18th most passing yards and the 10th most rushing yards. The defense also ranked number one in the whole league for penalty yards that they committed. Overall, a middling defense that was partially addressed through free agency with the signings of Ryan Kerrigan, Eric Wilson and Anthony Harris. Now for the draft class.

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Schedule Release and Draft Reaction

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LJ (@ljharrell54) and Connor (@connorten) are back to react to the the schedule release and how the Eagles fared in the 2021 draft. They talk very early record projections, favorite matchups, favorite draft picks and answer some of the viewers questions!

Make sure to rate and review the show wherever you listen. And check out our written content and all the Philadelphia Sports news and content over with our partners at Sports Talk Philly. You can find them on Twitter, @sportstalkphl or on the web, sportstalkphilly.com!

 


Welcome to Philly: Getting to know the Offensive 2021 Picks

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By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

The rollercoaster ride that we call the Philadelphia Eagles offseason continued with the 2021 NFL Draft. The offseason of turmoil has seen head coach drama, the trade of Carson Wentz, a free agent period filled with Howie Roseman dealing with the ghost of prior re-structures and trading back and trading up in the 2021 NFL Draft.

With part one of my post-draft series, I plan on taking a look at the offensive players drafted by Howie and the Eagles while looking at their fit in the offense. So without further adieu, lets dive in. 

1 (10): Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Howie traded back from six with the feeling Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts would be gone and it turns out, despite the ridicule post-trade, he was right. So the Eagles picked up an additional 2022 first to add to the stockpile and then turned around and traded up with the Dallas Cowboys at 10 to sneak ahead of the New York Giants and grab their future alpha wide receiver, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, Devonta Smith. Sorry, not sorry, angry Giants fans.

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What will Howie do at 12?

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By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles have been fairly quiet in the early stages of the NFL league year beyond restructures and releases to get the Eagles cap complaint. Howie has since added a backup quarterback in Joe Flacco, a new starting safety in Anthony Harris and safety depth and special teamer Andrew Adams.

On the Friday morning of BYU quarterback Zack Wilson's pro day, the Eagles were considering moving up to the third pick in a deal with the Dolphins, but would only do so if Zach Wilson was there. Obviously, no guarantee can be made on this with the Jets at the second pick, figuring out what to do with Sam Darnold and their quarterback situation. The San Francisco 49ers, also dealing with uncertainty at the quarterback position and what to do with Jimmy Garoppolo, ended up dealing for the third pick in the 2021 NFL draft with the Dolphins in exchange for the 12th pick, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick and a third-round pick.

Sitting pat at six clearly wasn’t the optimal spot for Howie now that Zach Wilson was likely out of reach and among the other quarterbacks, like Lawerance, Fields and Lance, in question to make it out of the top five. Seemingly not intrigued by adding weapons for the offense like Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase, Howie dealt the 6th pick in the 2021 draft with pick 156 to the Miami Dolphins for picks 12, 123 and the Miami Dolphins' 2022 first-round pick.

Eagles fans are in complete disarray wondering whether to be happy with the move or not. Now add in the recent report by Rob Maadi about there being no consensus within the Eagles organization about Jalen Hurts and here we stand with another self-induced mess courtesy of Howie Roseman. Another big question arises: what do we do with the 12th pick in the draft?

WR Devonta Smith

Pitts, Chase and the main quarterbacks likely will be off the board at 12, but Alabama standout wide receiver Devonta Smith drops to 12 in a lot of recent mock drafts. With the releases of wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson as cap casualties, the Eagles wide receivers are now headlined by Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham. Not exactly a WR corps that strikes fear into any secondary or screams support and weapons to build around Hurts.

Devonta Smith can be an offense altering move; Smith is coming off a 117-reception, 1,856-yard and 23-touchdown showing in 2020. Although people are concerned about his 170-180 pound frame, Smith is an absolute baller! He produced the most yards after the catch (953) in college this season, over 300 yards more than the next best mark. He was fifth in quarterback rating when targeted and, along with 23 touchdowns, he produced a college leading 84 first downs! Let's also not ignore the reunion with Jalen Hurts, who Smith worked with and caught balls from for two years at ‘Bama.

LB Micah Parsons

Jim Schwartz’s heavy focus on the front four has led year over year to a massive hole in the middle of the defense at linebacker. It has been abused year over year by offenses due to the near inability to do anything in coverage. Alex Singleton and TJ Edwards, who were standouts in the middle of the defense last season, will return however, they were not particularly great in coverage. With new defensive coordinator Jon Gannon, perhaps his defense will call for a renewed focus at the linebacker position.

What better spot to look then from within our own state of Pennsylvania with standout LB Micah Parsons, who absolutely lit up his Penn State pro-day. His 6'3 and 246 lb frame ranked in the 80th+ percentile for a LB plus his 4.39 (99th percentile) 40-yard and 100th percentile hand size at 11 inches are an intriguing combination. Sadly, we did not get to watch Parsons play in 2020 and some would argue the investment in linebacker this early is not in the Eagles best interest with other more pressing needs. With a pretty good linebacker class for the Eagles to pick from, they could wait until later, but Parsons has the athleticism, football IQ, solid coverage and has a record of being strong in executing in pass rush.

CB Jaycee Horn

Another position of strength in this year’s draft class is the cornerback position. Jaycee Horn has been in the top three discussion, but after an incredible pro day he has, for many, cemented himself as the CB2 ahead of Farley and some even have him as the CB1. The Eagles went out and got Darius Slay last season to solidify the CB1 position in Philadelphia, but he isn’t getting any younger and the Eagles have yet to find a true CB2 to support the other side. 

Some would blame the Schwartz-ian system for this as the Eagles drafted CB after CB and watched them struggle, including Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, who found new homes and some degree of success last season. New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, if following in Indianapolis Colts DC Matt Eberflus' steps, could look to add lengthy, man-press corners with a preference at getting physical off the line of scrimmage. This would definitely be something we haven’t seen from an Eagles defense, who played well off the line of scrimmage and relied on front four pressure, in quite some time.

Horn was 85th percentile or better across the board at his pro day, except his 75th percentile height. He ran a sub 4.4 40 at 205 pounds to pair with 33-inch arms and a 42-inch vertical. In 2020, he allowed a reception every 27 coverage snaps, good for 2nd in college, and he was only targeted 24 times on 239 coverage snaps. He has progressively improved since his first year in South Carolina and his game matches the lengthy, physical corner the Eagles are desperately in need of across from Slay. Whether it be Horn or Surtain, the top two corners in the class, the Eagles can land a stud at a major position of need and, in a pass-heavy NFL, having a solid secondary with multiple shutdown options at cornerback is becoming a priority.

Trade Back… Again

An anonymous NFL executive recently spoke in regards to the Eagles making a deal for Russell Wilson and stated that the Eagles are stockpiling picks in 2022 to either provide Jalen Hurts with more weapons, move into the top couple picks for a quarterback or trade for Wilson if the Seahawks are willing to move him. This tells you all you need to know; a trade back could realistically be in the cards for the Eagles if a significant offer presents itself. The most intriguing situation likely coming from the New England Patriots moving from 15 for a chance to get their pick of the remaining quarterbacks.

What could a return look like based on the history of deals around pick 12? They could get a 2022 first in return, but the return in the 2021 draft may not be significant. In 2006, the Browns traded pick 12 to the Ravens to move back to pick 13 and also received pick 81. The Broncos dealt pick 11 in 2010 to the 49ers for pick 13 in 2010 and a 4th rounder in 2013. That 13th pick would turn into Brandon Graham for the Eagles when they in-turn moved their 24th pick, 70th pick and 87th pick for the 13th. A third example came in 2007, the Jaguars dealt pick 17 for pick 21, 86 and 198.

As you can see, history paints an interesting picture of what a return in a deal could look like. If the right player is there for a team, Howie would likely look to have a 2022 or 2023 first in return and potentially lesser value in the 2021 draft to keep building future value. The idea of moving back down from twelve and getting multiple firsts like the move back from six is unlikely. However, getting a 1st plus a two and five or three and five sounds achievable for Howie should he find more value in moving further back instead of drafting at 12.

If you thought Howie with the sixth overall pick was interesting and had you biting your nails, get ready for Howie with pick twelve. The propensity to trade down, the rumored report of what this NFL executive said and just Howie Roseman himself makes the 2021 NFL draft all that more intriguing, albeit stressful, for Eagles fans. There were options at six. There are certainly going to be some real ballers at twelve, but we could also be getting our first look at Howie Roseman heavily considering a rebuild. Buckle up!