The Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off of a third consecutive playoff appearance, entered the 2020 NFL draft with only 8 picks, and a huge need for cheap, young talent. After some draft night wheeling and dealing, Howie Roseman ended up with 10 total picks and veteran wide receiver, Marquise Goodwin.
The draft haul was very off-brand. Medium risk, medium reward, productive college prospects were prioritized in previous drafts, while high risk, high reward, raw potential prospects was the theme, this year. The consensus amongst national pundits and fans alike, was that this draft was very “underwhelming” due to those high risk picks made throughout the weekend. A 600 yard receiver in round 1? A backup QB in round 2? A linebacker that played one game in high school in round 3? Without context, you can see why many would think this wasn’t a good draft. However, the sky high potential many of these picks possess, give reason to believe this was an A-level draft.
If the NFL season does play out with no issues, the Eagles could be getting some – badly needed – immediate contributors year 1. Here is what you can expect from our 2020 rookie class.
WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
As star WR CeeDee Lamb continued to fall down the board, many fans pleaded with Howie Roseman via social media, to trade up with any and every team. Howie stayed patient, believed in his board, and selected the 5’11 speedster from TCU. Many try to knock Reagor due to his 600 yard junior year, but they often fail to include the fact that he was playing with a true freshman QB, saw accurate passes only 31% of the time, and played in one of the worst offenses in the country. Reagor is as explosive a receiver as there was in the draft – reaching a top play speed of 22.6 MPH and a 42 inch vertical. He has great body control and the ability to come down with contested catches. Roseman had this to say about his first round pick: “Jalen is a unique guy. He’s so strong with the ball in his hands, you can get it to him on quick screens, on jet sweeps… He can run every route. And, certainly, he can play outside and inside, he can separate vertically.” With that being said, you can expect Reagor to slide right into the starting receiver position, opposite Desean Jackson, as well as spot duty on punt returns. Prediction – 54 catches for 810 yards, 10 rushes for 110 yards, 7 total TDs.
QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
The surprise pick of the entire NFL draft, with the 53rd pick, the eagles selected a quarterback. I know what everyone was thinking – we just signed Wentz longterm, why would they do this? While it still won’t make sense to some, I’ve come to terms with the decision. The Eagles are trying to be a “Quarterback Factory” according to Howie Roseman. The franchise quarterback is Carson Wentz and as long as he remains relatively healthy, he will be here for the next 10 years. Howie, the front office, and the fanbase also understand that Wentz hasn’t finished an entire season for 3 straight years, and it makes sense to have a backup on a rookie deal, rather than playing backup QB roulette. The best case scenario is that Hurts doesn’t play outside of preseason games and a few gadget plays, then in a few years, a team is desperate enough to trade a high pick for him. Until that happens, I can see a nice role for him in the offense. The media brings up Taysom Hill’s role as a comparison, but I see the role Lamar Jackson played while Joe Flacco was the starter. Taysom played on special teams, running back, tight end, receiver, and quarterback. Lamar was strictly a QB and that’s ultimately what Hurts is. Prediction – 25 pass attempts for 150 yards, 70 rushes for 400 yards, 4 total TDs.
LB Davion Taylor, Colorado
We all were patiently waiting for the Eagles first defensive pick, and it came in the 3rd round, with OLB Davion Taylor. To be blunt, Taylor hasn’t played much football and is as raw as they come. He played one game in high school due to his religion, went to junior college and eventually transferred to the University of Colorado. Ken Flajole, the linebackers coach, has a lot on his plate with Taylor’s skill level, but his athleticism is off the charts. A former state champion sprinter, Taylor ran a 4.49 at the combine (95th percentile), had a 127” broad jump (94th percentile), and had a RAS score of 8.54, with great explosion, great agility, and great speed. The Buffaloes used him in a hybrid S/LB role, but he’ll likely be used as a full time OLB in the NFL. Prediction – special teams, starting OLB in base package by week 5
S K’Von Wallace, Clemson
My favorite pick came in the 4th with safety, K’Von Wallace. Seen as a top 50 prospect by many, I was surprised he even made it this far. A few Philly fans might remember another Clemson safety that was drafted about 24 years ago, the Hall of Famer, Brian Dawkins. Funny coincidence, Wallace was roommates at Clemson with Dawkins’ son, Brian Jr. He also sports the nickname “Wolverine”, while Dawkins used Wolverine’s codename “Weapon X.” No pressure though, K’Von. The former national champion is a playmaker that was, unfortunately, overshadowed by top 10 pick, Isaiah Simmons. His role at Clemson will be very similar to how I believe Schwartz will use him. With his 4.5 speed and big hit ability, he was used in the “big nickel” role as a cover guy, a blitzer, and a thumper over the middle. The Eagles brought back Rodney McLeod on a 2 year deal, Jalen Mills and Will Parks on 1 year deals, and not much else so there’s reason to believe Wallace is the present and future at the safety position. Wallace’s versatility is huge and I believe Jim will take full advantage of that in Philly. Prediction – special teams, 3rd safety in nickel and dime packages, starting strong safety by the bye week
OL Jack Driscoll, Auburn
With the first of two 4th round comp picks, the Eagles selected versatile offensive lineman, Jack Driscoll. The Eagles needed offensive line depth with the departure of equally versatile, Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Driscoll played right tackle at Auburn, but it is believed that he will slide inside in the NFL. Jeff Stoutland, arguably the best offensive line coach in the league, will be trusted to continue his elite development and turn Driscoll into a player. Prediction – backup offensive guard
WR John Hightower, Boise State
As mentioned above, Howie used the next two picks in the draft and turned them into 4 picks and Marquise Goodwin. One of those picks became the speedy wide receiver from Boise State. Hightower, another former track star, ran a 4.43 and had a ridiculous 18.5 yards per catch last year (27th in the nation). Similar to Reagor, Hightower can be used in the run game and special teams, combining for over 1100 total yards and 3 total TDs, between the two, in his two years at BSU. Aaron Moorehead, a popular up and coming WR coach, will be very happy with the skill level of this kid, and I believe he will turn Hightower into a star. There are gems in the late rounds in every draft, and I believe Hightower is that gem. Prediction – main kick returner, 35 catches for 550 yards, 4 TDs
LB Shaun Bradley, Temple
In the 6th round, Howie went with the local kid, linebacker, Shaun Bradley. The Temple University product totaled 255 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles in his four year career. Bradley is fairly similar to Taylor, in that he’s more athlete than linebacker. Another test for Flajole is going to be turning this guy into a capable pro. For now, I see him as a special teamer and nothing more. Prediction – special teams, linebacker depth
WR Quez Watkins, Southern Miss
Speed, speed, and more speed. Does anyone else see a trend here? Howie promised Carson that if he could draft Hurts at 53, he would get him weapons that fit his style. He followed through with Reagor, Hightower, Goodwin, and now, Watkins. Watkins posted the fastest 40 in this young WR group at 4.35. He led Conference USA in receiving yards with 1,178 and was second in the conference in yards per catch at 18.4 (a notch below Hightower). Watkins offers special teams ability as a kick/punt returner, however, he is far from a finished product at receiver. Everything he needs to become a good WR is teachable, but you can’t teach that kind of speed. Prediction – will go down with a phantom IR injury to avoid getting picked from the practice squad.
OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
If there was one benefit to this virtual offseason, it’s that Prince Tega Wanogho was able to drop this far. The Nigerian Prince – yes, he’s a real Prince – was red flagged at the senior bowl due to a knee injury. Without proper background information on his knee, he dropped all the way to the 6th round. As it turns out, the knee injury is nothing serious and the Eagles got a huge steal. Widely seen as a mid round pick and future starter, the eagles may have found a replacement for when Lane Johnson retires. Did I mention he is a real Prince? Prediction – swing tackle
DE Casey Toohill, Stanford
With the final pick, the Eagles went with the 6’4 250 pound defensive end from Stanford, Casey Toohill. Toohill is the ideal practice squad candidate. He’s a pretty good athlete and showed signs as a pass rusher, he just needs to add about 10-15 pounds. He projects as a situational pass rusher with more development, but with a 7th round pick, projects are what’s to be expected. Prediction – practice squad
Undrafted free agents to watch: CB Grayland Arnold (Baylor), RB Adrian Killins (UCF), LB Dante Olson (Montana), TE Noah Togiai (Oregon State).
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