The Philadelphia Eagles made five selections in the 2022 NFL Draft. Each prospect is bringing something different to the organization and we here at The Philly Blitz have you covered.
In part 1 of our two part series, our Eagles staff writers profile each selection and what each player is bringing to the City of Brotherly Love.
Pierrot Baptiste Jr. – Round 1 – Pick 13: Jordan Davis (DT)
Jordan Davis is bringing more than just his 6-foot-6 340 pound frame to Philadelphia. The run stuffing defensive tackle was asked to stop the run and control gaps and space for the University of Georgia.
He wasn’t the most productive player during his time at Georgia, but in this case it’s more a case of what he displayed on tape. And what he displayed was pure dominance.
Davis’ out of this world athletic profile helped him become the first player since Aaron Donald to win both the Bednarik and Outland awards for the best defender and best interior lineman (on either side of the ball).
Jordan Davis is an anomaly plain and simple. A player at his size shouldn’t be able to move as quickly and explosively as he does. His combination of power, size, and speed is uncanny. The guy has all the tools in the world. His ability to disengage from blockers in the run game is one of his best traits. You cannot block him one-on-one. You cannot run at him, and if you try to cut it outside, Davis’ pursuit ability isn’t too shabby either.
Davis has the chance to be a special player (even more special than he already is).
While his primary ability is eating up blocks, controlling gaps and blowing up the running game, Davis’ has all the potential to become a high level pass rusher as well. He’s an immovable object once he locks his hands on you. His sheer size gives him a natural advantage against any lineman he matches up with.
With the Eagles, Davis couldn’t be walking into a more perfect situation. While he develops his pass rush acumen and figures out his conditioning/play weight he’ll likely slot in behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave in his first season.
As the Eagles (and the NFL) shift to heavy two high coverage shells, teams need players who can win up front and win in a hurry against the run game. Jordan Davis is as good a fit as you’ll find. His ability to control two gaps at one time, clear space for linebackers to scrape and play much more decisively in run support, and sheer potential makes him the best possible fit for Philadelphia.
Parth Shukla – Round 1 – Pick 18 (TRADE): Eagles acquire WR A.J. Brown
After making a headline breaking trade with the Houston Texans to move up and draft Jordan Davis, the Eagles made another headline grabbing deal. Philadelphia would trade the 18th pick and the 101st pick in the 2022 NFL draft for former Titans start receiver A.J. Brown.
With one blockbuster move, the Eagles added a sure fire star to create a fearsome receiver trio with DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins.
Brown will finally bring some much needed size to the receiver room. While he is only an inch taller than Smith, he weighs nearly 60 pounds more than him at 226 pounds. However, don’t just peg Brown for some “big, strong, jump ball specialist.” While he has this ability, the 6-foot-1 star’s game is levels beyond that.
Brown brings an explosiveness at all three levels of the field. This will add an entirely new element to the offense. Brown has the ability to beat you over the top, the toughness to make catches over the middle of the field, as well as the quickness and simply the will to put the team on his back and take a screen or 5 yard slant to the house. A.J. Brown can do it all.
This can be showcased through the 2020 Pro Bowler’s career stats of 185 catches for 2995 yards and 24 touchdowns. A great game to watch for a feeling of his ability is his 142 yard game against the eventual Super Bowl losing Bengals as well as his 155 yard game against the Colts this yea
While the move has some risk due to Brown’s injury history, which was originally part of the reason he dropped to the second round (the Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but alas, we move (sidenote: JJAW TE2 agenda is coming in hot)), he has only missed six games in his three years in the league.
As Smith is a legit number one receiver in his own right, the pairing with Brown has the makings of a dynamic duo. Watkins will also benefit from having less attention and being able to play out of the slot more often.
Look for the receivers to rotate regularly throughout the 3 main receiver positions (X, Y, and slot) as they all have incredibly diverse repertoires and Nick Sirianni loves creating mismatches within the offense.
While they could have waited and selected a player in the draft, adding a proven commodity gives the team a young star in his prime, who also happens to have an incredibly close relationship with QB1, Jalen Hurts.
Speaking of Hurts, this move absolutely shows a level of trust that the organization has in his development. The converse of this, however, is that the leash on Jalen will be that much shorter.
If Hurts’ growth is not encouraging with the influx of talent, the organization may be motivated to look in other directions such as a trade for a quarterback such as Kyler Murray or drafting someone in what looks to be a strong quarterback class in 2023.
Mar’Quell Fripp-Owens: Round 2 – Pick 51: Cam Jergens (C)
The Eagles continue to load up to dominate within the trenches. Now, we had to know this time would come at some point or another. It’s been multiple years now that center Jason Kelce has flirted with retirement and while Nick Sirianni and his beer kegs may have certainly helped, this off-season actually felt like the first real time losing Kelce was an actual possibility.
Again lucky for Philadelphia, Kelce has made a return for at least one season, but the apparent writing was on the wall and it was wise for Philadelphia to invest in a potential long term replacement at the position. Now as we know, it is a business and sometimes that’s not the easiest concept to grasp, especially when you’ve given so much to a particular franchise — you almost feel like you’re owed a proper send off.
But in many situations that isn’t the case whereas in Kelce’s situation it’s a foregone conclusion. Still, that didn’t stop the four time All-Pro from being the biggest fan and set out his offerings to show the way to the Eagles 2022 second round selection
In the words of Cris Collinsworth — ‘Now here’s a guy’ who is any and everything Eagles fans could have dreamed of. There was a ‘fan club’ of bit (I was included in that group) who advocated for the Eagles to select Tyler Linderbaum with one of their three first round draft picks. But after much wheeling and dealing and a good dose of #HowieSZN, clearly the Eagles didn’t end up with two first round draft picks, let alone three. Still, if you were a fan of Linderbaum, you are sure to love the Cam Jurgens selection.
The only real difference between the two is that Jurgens comes in about 10 pounds heavier than Linderbaum, which is ideal given size was one of Linderbaum’s key concerns heading into the draft process. As far as similarities, well there is a reason Jason Kelce’s listed Jurgens as his favorite prospect in the entire class.
Jurgens entered Nebraska as a standout prospect; notice I said prospect as he initially landed at the university of Nebraska as a tight end. Leaving Beatrice, NE where he was utilized in more of an H-Back role (318 rush yards, 8 touchdowns — 17 receptions 277 receiving yards) Jurgens garnered enough attention where he was listed as the number one player in all of the state of Nebraska with accolades on the hardware, gridiron, and more.
Jurgens redshirted his freshman year at Nebraska, which was ultimately cut short by a foot injury, during which time he was in the process of cross training positions. Another foot injury during the spring cut into preparations for his second season in ‘19 but from there it’s been full speed ahead.
Despite 31 career starts through three seasons (all at Center), Jurgens is still essentially learning the position. He may not be ready to step in and start immediately but under the tutelage of both Jeff Stoutland and Jason Kelce with the ceiling he possesses — the Eagles may have just struck gold.
A high quality athlete, Jurgens was meant to perform in space and that is exactly how he was utilized as a Cornhusker. Often the lead blocker on rushing attempts and on screen plays, Nebraska even used Jurgens and his notable lateral mobility to put a bandaid over the terrible tackle play the team suffered from.
Despite how great he is in space, the things he does as a run protector are more than enough to get the juices flowing. Easily flows to the second level, excels sealing off defenders has this one rep against Michigan where the DT never stood a chance with the way Jurgens got off the ball and into position. The transition from Kelce will be a seamless one and the future of the top 3 Eagles offensive linemen are clear: (LT) MAILATA – (LG) DICKERSON – (C) JURGENS
Good luck defensive lines.
Parth Shukla: Round 3 – Pick 83: Nakobe Dean (LB)
With who could end being the steal of the draft a few years from now, the Philadelphia Eagles may have finally gotten the bonafide star linebacker that has been missing from the heart of the defense since the days of DeMeco Ryans. Nakobe Dean’s baffling draft weekend free-fall came to an end when Howie Roseman grabbed the potential first-round pick in the third round.
While reports circulated that the 6-foot-2, 225 pound linebacker had a shoulder/pec injury, Howie Roseman consulted with team physicians, to his count four separate times on whether or not Dean would be cleared.
After he was assured by the team’s medical experts that Dean would be fine for the season, the pick was close to a no-brainer. Even for a team that has long had an aversion to drafting star linebacker prospects high in the draft, Dean was too talented to pass up.
Roseman mentioned in his post-draft presser that when they were picking in the second round, the top two players on the board being discussed were Dean and the eventual pick, Jurgens.
As the organizational philosophy is to build from the trenches, the Jurgens pick took precedence. However, when they saw the same player they were discussing in the second round was still available in the third round, they rushed his name to the podium as soon as his medicals were re-cleared.
With Dean, the Eagles likely have the future green dot player for their defense (the green dot signifies the defense’s signal-caller). He will likely fit into the offense next to Kyzir White as the top linebackers with TJ Edwards or Davion Taylor coming in for base sets.
To me, this feels as if the Eagles have gotten the linebacker they realized their sore need for last year, after switching to Jonathan Gannon’s defense. I expect the defense to have even more wrinkles this year, now that the team has linebackers that Gannon can trust in the run game and in pass coverage. Gannon’s not having to account for the middle of the field will allow him more freedom to call more aggressive coverages as well as blitz concepts.
Instinctually, Dean loves to play downhill, rushing the passer or blowing up runs by quickly deciphering them and exploding past offensive linemen to make a play, at his core that’s exactly who Nakobe Dean is: a playmaker.
Although he isn’t the biggest player on the field, the work he puts in in the film room manifests in his ability to quickly diagnose plays and beat players to their spots. Dean plays the game at an extraordinarily instinctual level, so while pass coverage has not been his strongest suit, I fully expect him to continue to evolve with time and improve on this facet of his game.
I truly believe Dean is the star linebacker Eagles fans have yearned for in Philadelphia for years, and by a stroke of pure luck they were able to grab him at such an incredible value. To get the captain of a National Champion defense with his resume and traits in the third round is a STEAL.
Dean is a two-time Butkus Award winner for the nation’s best linebacker (he won the award as a high schooler AND last year with the Georgia Bulldogs). This past college football season he earned AP All-American first team honors as well as All-SEC honors with 72 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, and two interceptions (one of which was returned on my Gators for a touchdown). Add on a 3.55 GPA in Mechanical Engineering and it’s easy to see why some see his potential as sky-high.
While Dean may not have the ideal size for the position, the intelligence, leadership, aggression, and speed with which he plays the game allow him to make up for his limitations. The type of grit he showcases every snap makes him a perfect fit for the Eagles’ culture.
Dean is also exactly the type of leader the team is looking for. Just watch his interaction with Channing Tindall in the National Championship game.
After diagnosing the play Dean realized that Tindall was out of position and was about to give up a touchdown. Without missing a beat Nakobe sprints over and bats the ball out of the receiver’s hands to save a touchdown. What follows next is the type of leader Dean is, though. After the play, Dean gets in Tindall’s face and demands more. While to some this could be seen as too aggressive by some, due to the respect Dean commands in the locker room, Tindall just nodded in agreement.
The very next play, Tindall made a massive TFL, changing the momentum of the game, appearing to be motivated by the animated conversation with Dean.
Nakobe Dean, the kid who grew up thinking he would be a doctor or mechanical engineer, not an NFL linebacker, will be coming in with a chip on his shoulder and I expect him to take over a leading role on the defense expeditiously.
Phillip Daniels: Round 6 – Pick 181: Kyron Johnson (LB)
Kyron Johnson brings a background of track to his play as a linebacker.
Johnson weighed in at the Kansas Pro-Day at 231 pounds and measured a height of 6-foot even. He put his track speed to work by running a 4.4 40-Yard Dash, 1.50 in the 10 Yard Split and 6.98 the three Cone Drill.
During the 2020 season, he led Kansas in sacks and was an Honorable Mention for All-Big 12, bringing in 42 tackles and 4.5 TFLs. However in his 2021 season, Johnson earned a Second Team All-Big 12 and led Kansas in TFLs, Sacks and FFs.
During his career as a Jayhawk, Kyron Johnson has been utilized in multiple positions taking snaps at: inside linebacker, outside linebacker, nickel linebacker, and both standing and down edge rusher.
This versatility will be better and more refined as Johnson joins the Eagles linebacker room with the new additions of Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, and Nakobe Dean. In time, Johnson given his speed, tackling capabilities, and versatility will be a weapon ready to be used in Philadelphia.
Phillip Daniels: Round 6 – Pick 198: Grant Calcaterra (LB)
Grant Calcaterra started his college career at the University of Oklahoma as the number six ranked tight end recruit and the 25th top overall recruit coming out of the state of California.
Calcaterra’s stint in Oklahoma left him with 14 starts in 33 games.
He averaged 16.2 yards per catch in his Freshman Season with two drops and three touchdowns coming off the bench. Calcaterra earned Honorable Mention for All-Big 12 in his Freshman Season. His Sophomore Season was his first season as a starter accruing 396 yards, with an average of 15.2 yards per catch, six touchdowns and two drops.
Calcaterra retired from football in his junior year, yes retired. After multiple concussions Calcaterra decided to call it quits and pursue his dream of firefighting.
After a year separated from the game, Grant Calcaterra was back and named Captain of the SMU Mustangs claiming Second Team All-AAC. Calcaterra brought in 465 yards, four touchdowns and an average of 12.2 yards per catch in his Senior Year; in which he started and played every game.
Grant Calcaterra joins a tight end room consisting of Dallas Goedert, JJAW, Jack Stoll, and Tyree Jackson. Safe to say, outside of Goedert, Calcaterra has the most potentially gifted ceiling. Calcaterra uses his 6’3″ frame to his advantage as strong blocking Tight End with crisp footwork in both blocking and route-running.
Calcaterra should battle Jackson for a roster spot during minicamp and preseason.
Cover Image Credit: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports