Here are the early comments and grades on the entire Eagles draft. So far, most analysis has been very positive.
Draft Grade: B+
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox led the Eagles in sacks last season with 6.5, and there was a clear directive to get an edge rusher for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in the first two days of the draft. Derek Barnett fits that bill as the first-rounder Philly got in the Sam Bradford trade with Minnesota. Barnett, who had 33.0 career sacks at Tennessee, will join the rotation with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and free-agent signing Chris Long.
Philadelphia had issues in the secondary last season, too, and one of the best things for a porous pass defense is a stellar pass rush. The Eagles took a step toward that on Day 1, then boosted the back end on Day 2. Sidney Jones could be a steal if he recovers fully from the torn Achilles he suffered at his pro day in March. Though he’s optimistic about returning in 2017, he might be better served by a redshirt year. If healthy, he’s a top-15 talent with good ball skills and the ability to handle big wideouts. Rasul Douglas was a ballhawk in 2016 with eight interceptions, but he doesn’t have high-end speed (4.59 40).
Mack Hollins is a special-teams demon and former walk-on with some big-play ability. Donnel Pumphrey set the FBS career rushing record with 6,405 yards and is probably a part-time back. Elijah Qualls has a load of talent and ability but inconsistent tape.
Philly needed to shore up its defense and it did that pretty well. It’s not a home run class, but the Eagles got better.
In Joe Douglas’ and Andy Weidl’s first draft, it was very important for them to find building-block players. Their first two picks — DE Derek Barnett and CB Sidney Jones — fit that mold. They both have outstanding football character. Hollis, a former walk-on, also embodies the type of players the Eagles are looking for, and he was a great value. Yes, he has some durability concerns, but at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with big-play ability, Hollis was a late-second/early-third-round talent and the Eagles got him at No. 118 overall. Hollis plays like an absolute maniac on special teams coverage and will at the very least by a good red zone threat.
Best move: Drafting Tennessee DE Derek Barnett with the 14th overall pick. The Eagles landed a player that they’ve been high on for months, choosing to trust the tape rather than be scared off by less-than-desirable combine numbers. Jim Schwartz’s defense doesn’t work without an organic pass rush, and Barnett knows how to get to the quarterback.
Riskiest move: Selecting the injured Sidney Jones in the second round. This has the potential to be a great pick. If Jones fully recovers from his Achilles injury, the Eagles will have gotten one of the best cornerbacks in the class at a bargain price. The flip side is Jones never recaptures his form. It’s boom or bust with this selection.
Draft Grade: B+
I really like the choice of pass rusher Derek Barnett in the first round. He might be the best pass rusher in this class. They took a risk with Washington corner Sidney Jonesin the second, but it could be a big-time payoff if he comes off a torn Achilles tendon healthy. They added some young weapons for Carson Wentz in the later rounds. Fifth-round receiver Shelton Gibson can fly.
Eleven running backs went before him, but none was more productive than Donnel Pumphery, the all-time FBS rushing leader.
Donnel Pumphrey is the only player in FBS history with at least 5,000 career rush yards and 1,000 career receiving yards. pic.twitter.com/9VpDtjWEfo
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 29, 2017
Draft Grade: A-
Day 1 grade: A
Day 2 grade: B+
Day 3 grade: A
Overall grade: A-
The skinny: Even though the Eagles gave up their 2017 first-rounder for quarterback Carson Wentz, they were a beneficiary of Minnesota’s need for a quarterback, as they got back into the first round by trading Sam Bradford last eyar. The way Wentz played this year showed they didn’t really miss Bradford. They got the second-best pure edge rusher in the draft in Barnett at No. 14. In the second round, Philly got a first-round value in Sidney Jones, who might have to half-redshirt the year as he recovers from injury but will be a good corner down the road. Rasul Douglas is another long corner who will be on the field right away.
Mack Hollins is very good downfield receiver, and a very good special-teamer as well. That’s the prototypical fourth-round pick. He and Shelton Gibson (fifth round) add receiver depth. Pumphrey’s electric with the ball, not unlike veteran Darren Sproles (though not as thick and powerful). Elijah Quallswas a fine selection in the seventh round.
Matt Lombardo via NJ.com
Draft Grade A-
While it is unfair to fully evaluate a draft class for at least three NFL seasons, the initial reaction to the Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft is that the first joint-effort with Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas was a resounding success.
It became apparent immediately from the selection of Derek Barnett that the Eagles would stick to the value they placed on prospects on their board, and managed to navigate the weekend both simultaneously filling needs and maximizing value.
Barnett, Douglas, Gibson and Pumphrey have the potential to play a significant amount of snaps as a rookie, and filled significant roster voids. Additionally, Jones is a top-15 talent at the most glaring weakness on the roster, who was chosen at No. 43 overall. If Jones can return to pre-injury form, he could be an absolute game-changer long-term in the secondary while representing a building block for Jim Schwartz’s defense.
Draft Grade B+
On the “needs” list for Philly headed into Thursday were a pass rusher and cornerback. Check and check. The Eagles nabbed DE Derek Barnett in Round 1, a safe and steady option off the edge, then doubled down on Day 2 with CB Sidney Jones (who’s rehabbing an Achilles tear) and Rasul Douglas. If Jones gets back to 100% at any point, he has Pro Bowl potential. The offensive run in Rounds 4 and 5 was intriguing. WRs Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both can stretch the field, which QB Carson Wentz would like to do more; RB Donnell Pumphrey essentially could be Darren Sproles 2.0.
Draft Grade C+
If pass defense was their primary concern entering the weekend, they made strides. DE Derek Barnett (Round 1) is relentless, if not twitchy. CB Sidney Jones might represent highway robbery at No. 43 if his pro day Achilles injury heals quickly. CB Rasul Douglas (3) picked off passes left and right for West Virginia. Fourth-round RB Donnel Pumphrey, the all-time leading rusher in FBS history, may be another nice weapon for QB Carson Wentz on passing downs but must confirm his slender frame (5-8, 176) can withstand the NFL’s rigors.
Dan Kadar via SB Nation
Draft Grade B-
One of the most obvious needs for any team in this year’s draft was the Eagles need for a cornerback. The Eagles waited to target the position, taking defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round. It was something of a surprise to see him available with the 14th pick. He’ll help the team’s rush up front.
The Eagles waited until the second day to get corners, Sidney Jones in the second round and Rasul Douglas in the third round. Had Jones been healthy, he would’ve been a first-round pick. Douglas is a good physical cornerback with measurables.
Mack Hollins in the fourth round was a sound choice. The third day of the draft can be about finding special teams help, and Hollins is an ace specialist. Running back Donnel Pumphrey could move to wide receiver where he can take advantage of his agility in space.
Draft Grade: B+
Eagles drafted a few guys who look good on game film (Derek Barnett, Donnel Pumphrey, Sidney Jones) but have question marks, either because of injury or physical measurables. When in doubt, always go back to the game film.