Howie Roseman has quietly begun to make some moves heading into the trade deadline. Photo by Wayne Terry, TPL.

Every year about this time, Twitter is set ablaze with conversations about Howie Roseman’s ability to draft talented players. This year is no different. But, after the events of the first 2 days of the NFL draft it is more prevalent than ever. Today we are going to dive into the Eagles draft classes since Howie took back over in 2016 and ask the all-important question: is Howie Roseman bad at drafting?

The 2016 Draft

  • 1×2 QB Carson Wentz
  • 3×79 OG Isaac Seumalo
  • 5×153 RB Wendell Smallwood
  • 5×164 OT Halapoulavaati Vaitai
  • 6×196 CB Blake Countess
  • 7×233 CB/S Jalen Mills
  • 7×240 DE Alex McCalister
  • 7×251 ILB Joe Walker

Review

This draft is the crown jewel of Howie’s draft classes. The magic that he worked to get up to #2 to select Carson Wentz is still astounding. If that is all that the draft class was, it would be considered a success. But when you add on a long term starter at OG, a backup swing tackle who played significant snaps in a Super Bowl run, and what may be one of the best 7th rounds picks of the decade in Jalen Mills, you have a very good draft class. To be clear, I’m no Jalen Mills defender, but a consistent starter with a 7th round pick is a huge win.

The 2017 Draft

  • 1×14 DE Derek Barnett
  • 2×43 Sidney Jones
  • 3×99 CB Rasul Douglas
  • 4×118 WR Mack Hollins
  • 4×132 RB Donnel Pumphrey
  • 5×166 WR Shelton Gibson
  • 5×184 S/LB Nathan Gerry
  • 6×214 DT Elijah Qualls

Review

Howie followed up a stellar 2016 draft class with a wholly disappointing 2017 draft class. Who in this class are you hanging your hat on?  Derek Barnett? When I look at the 14th overall pick in a draft I expect more production than 14 sacks in 3 years. Barnett was extremely young at the time of his selection (21 years old) and had a lot of room to grow. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really grown in his time in Philadelphia and is well on his way to being considered a bust. Don’t get me wrong, he is a replacement-level starter in the NFL, but a replacement-level starter isn’t the goal when you are picking in the top half of the first round.

It’s popular to kill Howie over the Sidney Jones pick, but that’s ridiculous. As the rest of this article will lay out, there is plenty of ammunition to use to prove Howie is bad at drafting but Sidney Jones isn’t one of those data points. Jones was always a risky pick.  Jones was deemed a league-wide top 10 talent who dropped into the 2nd round after an Achilles injury at his pro day. Drafting Jones was a calculated risk, and one well worth taking at pick 43. He didn’t work out, but that was always a possibility.  

Rasul Douglas never made sense as a pick for the Eagles. He is a slow corner who can only play press coverage, a scheme the Eagles never even run. Mack Hollins was drafted because he was supposed to be good at special teams or something. Donnel Pumphrey was the only RB that the Eagles came out of what Howie deemed a “historic running back class” with and he never even made the roster.  Shelton Gibson and Elijah Qualls didn’t amount to anything. I guess you can point to Nathan Gerry as a good pick with him slated to start at LB this year after being a 5th round selection, but that says more about the Eagles neglect of the LB position than it does about Gerry, who is actually a very poor linebacker.

Overall this draft is a terrible stain on Howie’s draft pedigree, and it isn’t even the worst one.

The 2018 Draft Class

  • 2×49 TE Dallas Goedert
  • 4×125 CB Avonte Maddox
  • 4×130 DE Josh Sweat
  • 6×206 OT Matt Pryor
  • 7×233 OT Jordan Mailata

Review

In a year where the Eagles had very few draft picks due to the Carson Wentz trade, they spent their first pick in the draft on a position where they already had a top 3 talent in the league. I love Dallas Goedert, but was it really the best use of resources?  

Avonte Maddox turned out to be a great pick in the 4th round and has contributed in a variety of positions during his 2 seasons in Philly. Josh Sweat has shown some upside in the defensive rotation. Matt Pryor has filled in some at RG and may play OT this year. Jordan Mailata was a longshot pick but in the 7th round it never hurts to take a shot. 

Overall this draft saw some good talent added to the team, but the Dallas Goedert pick is still a questionable use of resources. 

The 2019 Draft

  • 1×22 OT Andre Dillard
  • 2×53 RB Miles Sanders
  • 2×57 WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
  • 4×138 DE Shareef Miller
  • 5×167 QB Clayton Thorson

Review

If 2016 was the crown jewel of Howie’s draft classes, 2019 is the class he wishes he could forget about. It all started with the trade up to take Andre Dillard, a “top 10 player” on their draft board. You could argue if it is wise to trade up to take a player in the 1st round who won’t even play as a rookie, but we won’t go that route. Instead, we will say that when Andre Dillard was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, he was a disaster. The Eagles toyed with the idea of trading him this offseason, they resigned Jason Peters to be a safety net at LT, and now Dillard will miss the entire season due to an injury. All of which forcing us to play the guessing game at LT again next season. Dillard could very well go down as the most disastrous 1st round pick in the second Howie Roseman Era.

Miles Sanders was a great pick in the 2nd round, there is no arguing that. Unfortunately, he is the only hit in this draft and plays a position that isn’t highly valued in the NFL. I was a fan of the JJAW pick as a replacement for Alshon Jeffery until Howie turned right around and extended Jeffery, thus making that draft pick make no sense.  

Shareef Miller was a terrible pick who is unlikely to make the roster one year after being drafted. Finally, that brings us to Clayton Thorson. In the Eagles second straight draft with only 5 picks (the least amount of picks in the entire league over that 2-year span), the Eagles chose to spend one of those precious picks on a 3rd string QB.  

The intelligence of that decision aside, the actual selection of Thorson made no sense for one very key reason: Clayton Thorson wasn’t even a remotely good player. He never managed to throw for 3,200 yards in a season, never completed more than 62% of his passes, and his average yards per attempt was a paltry 6.3, all of which despite playing in the weak Big 10 Conference. Combine that with his 17:15 TD:INT ratio as a senior, and what you have is a player that wasn’t even good in a weak conference at the NCAA level. Predictably, Thorson was cut in training camp.

Overall Results

I won’t dig into the 2020 draft because we haven’t seen any of those players in actual games, but if you have followed my work you know I pounded Howie mercilessly for this year’s draft process. Setting those grievances aside, it is hard to find fault with the 2016 draft class. However, it has been all downhill from there. The 2017 draft was bad, 2018 was okay if you discount the positional value in making a backup TE your first pick, 2019 was a disaster, and while the jury is still out on the 2020 draft, the thought process behind making a lot of the picks made no sense whatsoever.  

Looking at the 2017-2019 drafts, Howie has managed to land a very underwhelming DE starter (Derek Barnett), a LB who starts only because the Eagles don’t care about LB play at all (Nate Gerry), a Stud #2 TE (Dallas Goedert), a jack of all trades defensive back (Avonte Maddox), and a potentially great running back (Miles Sanders).

That’s it. Everyone else has been a massive disappointment or a rotational player. In three years Howie Roseman has managed only 5 staring players (if you count a #2 TE as a starter), and 1 of those 5 couldn’t start for almost any other team in the league.  

That type of drafting simply doesn’t cut it in the NFL and is a large reason that the Eagles are one of the oldest and most oft-injured teams in the league.