The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and Philly was rocking. It was awesome to see so many fans show up to the draft this year; the city should be proud. Now is the time to look at whom the Eagles selected and to criticize like we do every year! Let’s get started.
Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
At first glance, I was disappointed with the selection of Barnett, as a lot of fans seemed to be because he wasn’t the flashy name, but when I got the chance to sit down and look at the tape, I got excited. Barnett does not have the top speed as Myles Garrett possesses, but he is very technically sound. He has been a sack machine ever since he arrived at Tennessee and broke Reggie White’s sack record. Some sources have even said that Barnett has the chance to be better than Garrett who went #1 overall. He should thrive coming off the edge with Fletcher Cox’s inside presence and Brandon Graham providing pressure from the other end spot. Vinny Curry’s time as an Eagle could be coming to an end as early as next offseason after signing a huge 5 year contract with $23 million guaranteed two winters ago.
Sidney Jones CB Washington
If Sidney Jones didn’t tear his Achilles during his pro day, he would have been arguably the best corner in the draft. However, due to the injury, he may miss his entire rookie season. So there is considerable risk with this selection. It is possible that Jones may never return to the form he showed before the injury. If he does get healthy, he could be a steal looking back. Jones is the ultimate boom or bust prospect. He does everything solidly. He can cover, has good ball skills, decent speed, and is a solid tackler. I have heard that he compares to former Washington CB and current Kansas City Chiefs stud Marcus Peters. Time will tell ultimately with this selection.
Rasul Douglas CB West Virginia
One thing that stands out when you look back at Douglas’ career at WVU, is his interception totals. He collected 8 interceptions last year for the Mountaineers. That is impressive. Douglas has good size at 6’2” and great ball skills. He counteracts his lack of top corner speed with good instincts and the ability to read the QB’s eyes and jump routes. The Eagles are hoping that when all said and done that Douglas and Jones can be another Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown draft.
Mack Hollins WR North Carolina
Hollins was one of Mitch Trubisky’s big targets at UNC. He is 6’4” and has made a name for himself on special teams. Being a really good special teamer will always give you a better chance to make an NFL roster. Hollins does also have the ability to catch the ball downfield and has pretty solid speed to go with his height. He was also a 3-year captain for the Tar Heels, so his leadership will be beneficial for the Eagles as well. Hollins broke his collarbone last year and missed more than half the season. In 7 games last season, he recorded 16 receptions for 309 yards and 4 touchdowns, which results in a 19.3 average. If Dorial Green-Beckham does not get his act together, Hollins could take his spot on the roster.
Donnel Pumphrey RB San Diego State
Tiny. That’s the word that best describes Pumphrey. Yet despite his diminutive size (5’8”), he had a prolific college career. So prolific that he broke the all time FBS rushing career record with 6,405 rushing yards. Last season, Pumphrey had 349 (!) rushes for 2, 133 yards. Those numbers are almost unbelievable. The Eagles are hoping that Pumphrey could take the Darren Sproles’ place when he retires after this season. They are differences in their game however. Pumphrey does not have the thick lower half that Sproles has which concerns a lot of people. But, it is hard to compare to Darren Sproles. He is not an every down back, which means that in next year’s draft, the Eagles will look to draft a guy who could be an every down back, preferably with a larger stature than Pumphrey.
Shelton Gibson WR West Virginia
Something I did not expect in this years draft is that the Eagles would draft 2 wideouts. This will provide tremendous pressure on guys like Nelson Agholor, DGB, and even Torrey Smith to produce. Gibson has been compared to Torrey Smith in that he is a burner who could be a homerun target down the field. In his final season at WVU, Gibson caught 43 balls for 951 yards, a 22.1 average. It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do with the now loaded wide receiver spot.
Nate Gerry LB Nebraska
Gerry played safety at Nebraska, but the Eagles have already made it clear that he will be moving to linebacker in the NFL. Gerry lacked good coverage skills, but has decent speed and good tackling capabilities to transition to linebacker. I can see Gerry being used as a Malcolm Jenkins type. In which I mean that he could play in the box and guard tight ends, as well as protect against the run or go after the quarterback. This could allow Jenkins to stay back as a safety in coverage. First, he will have to make the team.
Elijah Qualls DT Washington
With their final selection, the Eagles drafted Qualls who had a 3-4 round value. Qualls is big guy, fat even. At 6’1” 313 lbs, Qualls is an effective run stopper with a good lower center of gravity to plug running lanes. He is expected to be a rotational piece for running downs. If Beau Allen is not ready by the start of the season, Qualls could take his role as a run stopper.
Overall, the Eagles had a solid draft collecting some value picks in Jones (if it works out) and Qualls. However, I expected the Eagles to draft more than just 1 healthy corner. I expect them to be pretty active the undrafted free agent pool by picking up some corners. It will also be interesting to see if Hollins and Gibson make the team over DGB and if they keep 6 receivers or not. Otherwise, the selection of Barnett really fills out the defensive line, which should be strength for the Eagles this season and beyond.
Image Source: Philadelphiaeagles.comAuthor: Alex Whitney (Twitter Handle: @awhitney23 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)