1st Round: Derek Barnett DE Tennessee, Grade: B+
Derek Barnett is a pass rushing specialist who gets after the QB and has a very quick first step. Barnett was one of the players I did a pre-draft evaluation on and I loved his motor and physicality he displayed as a Volunteer. Barnett is now going to be included in the mix of Vinny Curry, Chris Long, and Marcus Smith for the starting DE spot across from Brandon Graham. Barnett is most known for breaking Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee with 33 sacks. Barnett was not a flashy pick by any means but the Eagles found a guy that can get to the QB which will take pressure off of their CB’s. I do hope however that the Eagles have a plan in place to start Barnett right away so he can learn and develop alongside one of the best D-Lines in football.
2nd Round: Sidney Jones CB Washington, Grade: A
Howie Roseman after Day 2 of the NFL draft said that Sidney Jones before the devastating Achilles injury was a target at the Eagles 1st round pick. Unfortunately for Jones, he collapsed mid-drill at his pro day with an achilles injury that took him out of the first round. Jones was in the discussion of possibly the best CB in the draft before the injury and was a sure top-15 pick. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas decided to take a risk on the injured CB. Jones will definitely start the season on the PUP list and may not see any action this upcoming season which is fairly disappointing. However, the Eagles managed to take a player in Jones who can be a shutdown CB for the birds after this injury situation is resolved.
3rd Round: Rasul Douglas CB West Virginia, Grade: B-
Rasul Douglas is an interesting pick by the Eagles because coming out of West Virginia, Douglas is not used to playing press man which is almost all that Schwartz plays. Douglas came out of a defense that played Cover 2. However, in this Cover 2 defense he was able to snag 8 interceptions his senior year and really make a name for himself. Douglas is a gamer who loves to stick people in the run. At the senior bowl he was asked to try press man where he definitely struggled a bit but with good coaching he can be taught. Douglas slipped because of his underwhelming 40 time of 4.59 which is part of the reason that Douglas struggles in press man coverage. Douglas will compete with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson to be the starting CB for the Eagles this season.
4th Round: Mack Hollins WR North Carolina, Grade: B-
Mack Hollins saw his senior season cut short with a collarbone injury but before that, he was an explosive deep ball playmaker his junior season. Hollins caught 30 balls for 745 yards and 8 touchdowns during that Junior campaign. Hollins is also an attractive pick for Dave Fipp because Hollins loves to be a gunner on punt coverage and can contribute right away for the special teams unit. Hollins is not a very attractive pick compared to a Dede Westbrook or North Carolina teammate Ryan Switzer, but Hollins is a guy who plays extremely hard and can be used in a number of different ways in Philly. The question however is how valuable of a receiver can he be for the Eagles. Hopefully more reliable than Dorial Green-Beckham.
4th Round: Donnel Pumphrey RB San Diego State, Grade: C+
The Eagles needed to find themselves an every-down RB in this draft with the expected release of Ryan Mathews, the rundown Darren Sproles, and the unproven youngster in Wendell Smallwood. The Eagles instead decided to replace Sproles (when he retires after 2017) with a similar back named Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey has been compared to Sproles his entire collegiate career and rightly so standing at just 5’8″ and only 176 pounds. Pumphrey is an explosive runner and broke the record for most rushing yards in FBS history. Pumphrey is just too small to be a 3 down RB in the NFL, but as a complementary back used similar to Darren Sproles, Pumphrey could be a vital piece to the Eagles roster.
5th Round: Shelton Gibson WR West Virginia, Grade: A
Shelton Gibson was a player that Eagles Twitter was very fond of because of his dynamic ability to get open deep. Gibson has a very similar style to DeSean Jackson as he loves to just try to outrun people and catch long deep ball passes. The number one problem with the Eagles last year was their receiving core, more specifically the receivers inability to get open down the field and Gibson proves he can get open catching the deep ball. Gibson can take the top off the defense and let Carson Wentz really air it out. Gibson was probably my favorite pick of the draft because of the value in the 5th round and the help for our franchise QB.
5th Round: Nate Gerry LB Nebraska, Grade: B-
There may not be a harder hitter coming into the NFL Draft than Nate Gerry. Gerry was most known for getting ejected for targeting penalties a ton at his college of Nebraska. Gerry was a hard-hitting free safety in college but the Eagles see him as a LB in the NFL. Gerry played LB his freshman year at Nebraska and said that the move back to that position should not be too hard. Gerry was great at stopping the run as a FS in college so hopefully that transitions to the NFL for the Eagles. The only thing that scares me is when teams draft a player and try to switch his position, but hopefully the transition is comfortable for Gerry who could be a possible replacement for Mychal Kendricks if Kendricks gets traded or released.
6th Round: Elijah Qualls DT Washington, Grade: A+
Eagles DT Beau Allen suffered an injury to his pectoral while working out weeks before the draft which suddenly made the Eagles thin at the DT position. So to counter this thinness the Eagles went out and took run stuffing DT Elijah Qualls. Qualls played DE and DT at Washington and was very versatile on that defensive front. Qualls was a projected 5th round pick but slipped all the way to the 7th round where the Eagles simply took the true Best Player Available in Elijah Qualls who also fills a need at DT. I love the pick because the Eagles finished out there strong draft with a player who can get plugged into the rotation right away and contribute this upcoming season.
Eagles Final Draft Grade: B
The Eagles had a very solid three days of drafting and they did a good job of balancing out their needs on defense and offense. Roseman and Douglas were able to find some spectacular talent that may not be much involved this year like Pumphrey and Jones, but they are two pieces that can absolutely contribute to the Eagles for years to come. The main decider of if this draft is looked back on as successful or not is CB Sidney Jones and if he is able to return from his Achilles injury and be the same shutdown corner he was in college.