Entering the NFL draft, the Eagles possessed 10 total selections.
All told, the Eagles made just five picks, while they conducted a handful of trades and shipped away their other selections.
“I think it is all about opportunities and when you talk about some of the guys that we’ve added,” general manager Howie Roseman said Saturday evening. “It’s because of the opportunities that were put in front of us and based on talent level. ... There’s no doubt we sit up here knowing that we still have other things that we want to do going forward. But we feel good about our process and feel good about the talent that we added.
“We’re a better football team than we were when we last took the field, and I say that with all due respect to where we were at that time, but I think we’ve gotten better. We can still continue to get better and add pieces, and we’ll do that.”
Let’s hand out superlatives to this year’s draft class. Keep in mind, this list doesn’t include the team’s acquisition of star wide receiver A.J. Brown on Day 1. Here’s a recap of all five selections:
First round, No. 13: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Second round, No. 51: Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska
Third round, No. 83: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Sixth round, No. 181: Kyron Johnson, LB, Kansas
Sixth round, No. 198: Grant Calcaterra, TE, Southern Methodist
Favorite pick: Considering the value, Dean could wind up being a home run selection. His medical background (shoulder problems) caused a seismic slip out of the first and second rounds, but the Eagles pounced on him in the third. Roseman said he quadruple-checked with the team’s doctors before the Eagles sent the front office the slip with Dean’s inscription. Dean was a team captain on the national champs, and he served as a pivotal piece to the best defense in the country. He’s a dynamic linebacker who plays with tremendous instincts and anticipation. The Eagles have longed for a prospect of his caliber at the position.
Most questionable pick: Even after moving J.J. Arcega-Whiteside from wide receiver to tight end, the team added more depth when it selected Calcaterra on Day 3. Calcaterra joins a TE room that’s headlined by starter Dallas Goedert along with Tyree Jackson, Jack Stoll, Richard Rodgers, Noah Togiai, and Arcega-Whiteside. Jackson suffered a torn ACL during the regular-season finale, and his timetable to return remains unclear. With Jackson currently sidelined, there will be additional opportunities for others. Stoll emerged as an undrafted free agent last season and made his niche as a willing blocker.
So exactly where does Calcaterra fit in? He’ll have an opportunity to battle for the TE2 role, and could be unleashed in 12 and 13 personnel packages. During his lone season at SMU, Calcaterra caught 38 passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns. Calcaterra previously attended Oklahoma, where he was teammates with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Calcaterra might’ve been the top player on the team’s board at the time, but the Eagles concluded the draft without addressing the secondary.
Most likely to play special teams: Johnson is a SAM (strong-side linebacker) candidate, but he’ll likely find an immediate fit on special teams. He performed exceptionally well during pre-draft testing, most notably recording a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash. During a meeting with a Jets assistant coach at the Senior Bowl, the coach told Johnson he reminded him of an Eagles player because of his similar frame and playing style. When asked about the moment, Johnson couldn’t recall the player involved, but according to a league source, the coach compared Johnson to Eagles linebacker Shaun Bradley, a key special-teams contributor.
Johnson also had one of the best moments of Senior Bowl week, when he embarrassingly bull-rushed Saints first-round pick Trevor Penning during an individual drill. Roseman went out of his way to interrupt vice president Andy Weidl while the pair of executives discussed Johnson, pointing out that Johnson was a team captain and finished with 17 special-teams tackles.
Pick requiring most patience: There appears to be a mutual understanding between Jurgens and the team that the rookie might need to sit his first season behind four-time All-Pro center Jason Kelce, who is returning on a one-year deal after he contemplated retirement earlier in the offseason. Coach Nick Sirianni alluded to the possibility that Jurgens could be in the mix at right guard, but Jurgens was a center-only prospect at Nebraska.
Positional versatility is key among offensive linemen, and Jurgens’ willingness to learn another spot might lead to him hitting the field sooner. But as a true center, it’s clear Jurgens will be waiting in Kelce’s shadow.
Highest ceiling: Considering the havoc Davis caused as one of the SEC’s best run stoppers, imagine the possibilities if the Eagles are able to tap into his abilities as a pass rusher. He’s already proved he can hit top speeds with his massive frame at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds; if his explosion translates to the NFL, he could be bulldozing opposing centers and guards in the near future. He’ll also have the opportunity to learn from one of the most important players in franchise history in 11-year veteran Fletcher Cox, whom Davis said he grew up emulating.
What’s next: As we have mentioned, the Eagles did not spend a single pick on a defensive back. Immediately following the conclusion of the draft, the team did reportedly add at least four defensive backs as undrafted free agents: Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich, Alabama cornerback Josh Jobe, Duke cornerback Josh Blackwell, and Middle Tennessee State safety Reed Blankenship. The new wave of young defensive backs will hope to fight for a back-end roster spot, but the team is still left with lingering needs at safety and outside cornerback on the opposite side of Darius Slay.
The Eagles lost team captain and veteran safety Rodney McLeod in free agency, but they re-signed Anthony Harris to a one-year deal. Depth options behind Harris include Marcus Epps, K’Von Wallace, and Jared Mayden. When asked about the team’s reported interest in pursuing free agent Tyrann Mathieu, Roseman said “nothing is imminent” and the Eagles will “continue to look at that position.” It’s worth noting that last year the team didn’t address the hole at outside cornerback until the last possible moment when it added Steve Nelson during training camp.