Howie Roseman deserves a lot of credit for how well the Philadelphia Eagles draft unfolded. The Eagles entered the draft with a bunch of draft capital -- starting with two first-round picks -- giving them the ability to move up deeper into the top 15 and acquire one of the talented defensive players in this draft or land one of the top wide receivers.
Philadelphia was able to get both, albeit in a different way. The Eagles traded up from No. 15 overall (their first first-round pick) and drafted Jordan Davis at No. 13. They traded the No. 18 pick (their second first-round pick) and acquired A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans. Both players paved the way for a successful draft, even though the Eagles ended up with only five picks (they originally had 10).
Philadelphia wasn't going to fill all their needs in this draft, yet Roseman and the front office achieved the most they could with their draft capital. The Eagles are much closer to the Dallas Cowboys in claiming division supremacy than they were at the conclusion of last season.
Here's a look at the Eagles' 2022 draft class, along with the move that changed their entire draft and what they really missed out on over the weekend.
Eagles 2022 draft class
Where's the secondary help?
Given how the secondary position was addressed in free agency, it's very surprising the Eagles didn't end up selecting one cornerback or safety in this draft. Philadelphia did trade up two spots to No. 15 to No. 13 in the first round -- putting themselves in position to land Kyle Hamilton at that spot, which would've addressed a major need in the secondary with a long-term starter next to Anthony Harris -- but went with Davis instead.
The Eagles had so many needs on the defensive side of the ball to begin with, it made sense to select a player who was going to significantly help their defensive line in Davis -- a player they coveted throughout the draft process. Davis provides significant depth at defensive tackle as he'll rotate with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave and shore up a run defense that gave up a lot of yards up the A-gap in 2021 (even though the Eagles finished ninth in rush yards allowed per game at 107.9).
Davis will also help the pass rush (the Eagles finished with 29 sacks, second-fewest in the NFL) as his ability to clog up the A-gap and put pressure up the middle frees the edge for Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat on the edge. The Eagles' defensive line is now a major strength of the unit, even with a secondary that has Darius Slay and not much else.
Philadelphia could have addressed the secondary later in the draft, but cornerbacks and safeties were taken in the slots before the Eagles were set to make their pick. The Eagles also didn't have enough draft capital to reach for a need when they had other areas to address on the roster, while also having good players like Cam Jurgens and Nakobe Dean fall into their lap.
The Eagles appear content with a lot of the cornerbacks that are in their building already, taking a shot on Zech McPhearson, Kary Vincent, and Tay Gowan -- players they drafted or acquired last year.
"Those are all guys that we had good grades on," Roseman said. "They are young, talented guys that will have the first time going through our off-season program, and we look at them almost as part of this draft class in terms of adding guys who, for the first time, go through our off-season and get a chance to be with our coaches.
"Those guys are all talented guys. That doesn't mean if there was an opportunity we wouldn't have added a guy. There weren't many opportunities from where we were picking to do that. ...So it's hard for all of us to be patient there but we thought it was the right thing to do."
Philadelphia also missed out on signing Tyrann Mathieu, but they feel comfortable with Anthony Harris (who they re-signed) and Marcus Epps as the starters -- for now. They also have K'Von Wallace (2020 fourth-round pick) in the mix.
"Where we are at the safety position, we'll continue to look at that position," Roseman said. "You know, nothing imminent, but again, we probably have a higher vision of that room than maybe is perceived."
The Eagles could use a starter at cornerback and safety -- and there are some solid free agents available. For now, the plan is to develop the "in-house" talent.
Home run trade for A.J. Brown
The best move of the Eagles' draft wasn't even for a draft pick, it was using that extra first-round pick and acquiring A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the No. 18 and No. 101 overall picks. All the Eagles used was a first and third-round pick to land one of the best young receivers in football -- a No. 1 wide receiver for Jalen Hurts.
Philly certainly landed a playmaker in Brown, who has 24 touchdown catches since the start of 2019. (DK Metcalf is the only player from his draft class to have more after his first three years.) His 185 catches and 2,995 receiving yards are the second most for a player after three seasons in Titans' franchise history. Brown is averaging 16.19 yards per catch since the start of the 2019 season, only trailing Mike Williams (16.78) for the best mark of the NFL (minimum 150 receptions).
Brown will pair with DeVonta Smith to form one of the youngest wide receiver tandems in the NFL (Brown turns 25 this year and Smith is 23). Quez Watkins (23) will line up in the slot, with Hurts (23) having a young receiver trio to build with. The Eagles had just 1,993 receiving yards from the WRs in 2021, third-fewest in the NFL.
All of the sudden the Eagles offense has Brown, Smith, and Watkins at wide receiver with Dallas Goedert (27) at tight end and Miles Sanders (25) at running back. The combination of these skill players along with one of the best offensive lines in football is an excellent offense for a young quarterback in Jalen Hurts (23), who has an opportunity to solidify himself as the Eagles' franchise quarterback.
The Eagles did for Hurts what they failed to do for Donovan McNabb 20 years ago, give him an elite wide receiver to throw to in the first five years of his career (when McNabb was at his best as a dual-threat quarterback). They didn't pay much in draft capital for Brown and signed him to a massive contract extension to keep him in Philadelphia.
Brown can be a star for the Eagles for a long time.
A lot of picks to move up two spots
The Eagles gave up a lot of draft picks to get to move up and get Jordan Davis, parting ways with the No. 15 pick (first-round), No. 124 (fourth-round), No. 152 and No. 156 (fifth-round). This is a move Philadelphia had to make in order to jump ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, who were likely to select Davis at No. 14 overall.
Parting ways with a lot of Day 3 draft capital to move up two spots was costly, but Davis filled a gigantic hole for the Eagles in the middle of the defensive line. When it goes by the Eagles' philosophy of building in the trenches, this was a no-brainer to give up three Day 3 draft picks to land an impact player like Davis.
"Jordan was a Top-10 player on our board," Roseman said. "For us, O-Line, D-Line. We wanted the best O-Line in the league, and we think we are on our way with the players we have on our roster and hopefully continue to add to that. And we wanted the best D-Line in the league. The combinations we can have with the players on our roster, it's exciting.
"You saw the lateral quickness, you saw the range, you saw the ability to get down on the line of scrimmage and run down running backs and hawk down quarterbacks. So, we think he has it in his body, the explosion in his body. We're excited to get him in here and get him in our program."
The Nakobe Dean effect
Roseman said the Eagles got "lucky" Dean fell to them at No. 83 overall -- and he's right. The Eagles got a first-round talent and the leader of Georgia's defense in the third-round. All Dean did was find the ball and produce at the college level, and projects to do the same in the NFL.
The Eagles have found a starting linebacker with Kyzir White. All of a sudden that position is now a strength.
"We are looking for high character guys. We are looking for guys that love football," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. "We are looking for guys that are tough. We are looking for guys that have high football IQ. And competitive, that's the last one. He checks every one of those boxes. He's a leader on the field for Georgia. His football IQ is so high. His instincts are so high.
"That's just been my experience with players, too, that guys that are highly instinctive they just find a way to make plays over and over and over and over again. It's just so hard not to get excited about it."
"It's exciting. This guy, he loves ball. You can't get around guys like that."
There aren't many things to complain about in this draft. Despite ending up with only five picks, the Eagles are clearly emerging as a team that can challenge for the NFC East and win a playoff game next season.
Year Two of the transition period looks to be an exciting one -- and the Eagles have two first-round picks in 2023 along with two second-round picks in 2024 to get even better. Philadelphia is taking the right steps toward emerging as a Super Bowl contender, even if the Eagles aren't primed to be one in 2022.