The Philadelphia Eagles 2020 draft class emphasized three things: speed and high upside and athleticism. This is a far cry from the past couple of draft classes which placed a ton of value on college production. Howie Roseman, in his end of the year press conference, talked about the need to possibly, “go back and look at that” in terms of the value the organization placed on college production vs. athleticism, upside, and specific traits. The 2020 class put Roseman’s words into action.
The three wide receivers selected, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins all have one thing in common: speed. Each, however, presents a different type of athletic trait to go along with that speed. For Hightower, it’s his smooth route running, YAC ability and body control. The next receiver selected was Quez Watkins, who brings his 4.3 speed, which was second among all receivers at the NFL combine, to Philadelphia. Watkins offers ability in the return game and legitimate track style speed in the open field after the catch. Watkins is a very raw prospect outside of his speed/YAC ability but going to the Eagles offers him the opportunity to unlock his full potential. One because he’ll be catching passes from Carson Wentz and two, being around so many great offensive minds, will do wonders for not only Watkins but every receiver drafted will benefit. These three picks speak to Roseman’s comments about re-evaluating the production vs. athleticism and potential philosophy as all three wide receivers offer skill-sets that can improve greatly at the next level which speaks to the value of this draft placed on individual skill-sets and upside over that of college-level production.
The two offensive linemen selected, former Auburn teammates Jack Driscoll and Prince Tega Wanogoh both offer great athleticism and versatility. Tega Wanogoh has even been referred to as the steal of the draft due to both his talent level and the value at which the Eagles selected him. Driscoll ranked in the 96th percentile of the broad jump with 114 inches which ranked fifth among all offensive linemen. He also ranked fourth among all offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash. Driscoll is again one of the players who’s athleticism and potential speaks more than his ability right now. Driscoll is a very versatile and mobile O-lineman who can play all five positions on the offensive line. As mentioned, Prince Tega Wanogoh is regarded by some as the steal of the draft. He is what the Eagles value in offensive lineman, an athletic mauler type who has no trouble pulling and getting up into the second level on screens or run plays. Tega Wanogoh has all the tools to be a possible future starter in the NFL and he is gonna learn from the best offensive line coach in the NFL, Jeff Stoutland.
Addressing the elephant in the room, the Jalen Hurts selection is something I can write an entire article on (I am) but it is no different from the other selections in this draft, Hurts provides a dual-threat skillset but is very raw as a player and will need time to develop as a passer at the NFL level. No doubt about it Hurts has all the intangibles you’d want in a QB, but he’ll need time to improve and develop as a passer, but the athletic traits are there. He has the ability to extend plays and is always a threat to move the chains with the ball in his hands. This is part of the reason the Eagles drafted him (other than just the insurance policy), they can use him in a variety of ways, other than just as a QB.
The defensive selections of Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley, K’Von Wallace, and Casey Toohill are no different than the offensive picks. There are the raw but high upside and athleticism picks in Taylor, Bradley, and Toohill and there is the most pro-ready player outside of Jalen Reagor, in the versatile and extremely talented, K’Von Wallace. Altogether, the draft picks of this class outline a philosophy that is different from that of past drafts which valued college-level production over legitimate skills/athleticism, potential, or just great football players.
Production has fueled many picks the Eagles have made throughout the last few drafts. However, does that production allow the front office to pass up a player with a higher upside or a player who’s talent may override the value placed on production/numbers? In my opinion, no it shouldn’t. In doing that, you could end up with a Donnel Pumphrey over someone like Marlon Mack or you can end up with a Clayton Thorson over someone like Darius Slayton. In this draft, the front office took players that were high up on the athletic skill side and high upside spectrum of things, rather than production fueled picks. Each pick from this draft has three skills main skills: Speed, Upside, and Athleticism.
Altogether, if these picks pan out, and I have reason to believe they will not only because of the upside and athleticism they all offer but because of the versatility each offers as well. The receivers selected all have the size and speed to move around the offensive formation and present different skill-sets for Doug Pederson to use. The linebackers each all have the speed to play in coverage as well as rush the passer and wrap up and secure tackles. The offensive linemen drafted have the versatility to move around on the line. K’Von Wallace can play in the box, in the nickel, has great coverage ability and is a willing tackler. Jalen Hurts’ athleticism will allow the Eagles to use him as a passer (if need be), a runner that can line up at receiver and even out of the backfield. If these picks prove to be solid investments, this draft will definitely affect how Roseman and VP of player personnel, Andy Weidl address drafts from a philosophy and value standpoint in the future.