Given the months and months of build-up to the annual NFL draft, the rush to summarize a team’s rookie draft class in a few sentences and stamp a letter grade on it has never quite made much sense to me.
In the past, I’ve compared this process to patrons at a restaurant complimenting (or complaining to) the chef based on the menu, rather than waiting to actually taste the food.
In much this same way, it obviously takes time to properly evaluate a draft. Given all of the complexities of the 2020 NFL draft, specifically, this is especially true.
So, while we cannot skip years ahead to know for certain which players will ultimately exceed or fail to live up to expectations in the NFL, we can provide a much deeper dive into each team’s rookie class.
Therefore, in a 32-part series, NFLDraftScout.com will be providing a detailed breakdown of each of the NFL teams’ rookie hauls, following the original draft order. Each team will be evaluated on the quality, quantity and relative safety of their draft classes (including undrafted free agents), with specific players recognized as Best Player, Best Value and Best Project, culminating in one “final” grade.
Today’s team: Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach: Doug Pederson
General Manager: Howie Roseman
Players selected in 2020:
Round 1, Pick 21 overall: WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Round 2, Pick 53 overall: QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Round 3, Pick 103 overall: OLB Davion Taylor, Colorado
Round 4, Pick 127 overall: S K’Von Wallace, Clemson
Round 4, Pick 145 overall: OT Jack Driscoll, Auburn
Round 5, Pick 168 overall: WR John Hightower, Boise State
Round 6, Pick 196 overall: LB Shaun Bradley, Temple
Round 6, Pick 200 overall: WR Quez Watkins, Southern Miss
Round 6, Pick 210 overall: OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
Round 7, Pick 233 overall: OLB Casey Toohill, Stanford
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
DT Raequan Williams, Michigan State
CB Grayland Arnold, Baylor
LB Dante Olson, Montana
RB Michael Warren, Cincinnati
QB Khalil Tate, Arizona
Overview of the Eagles’ 2020 draft: Two years since soaring to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, the Philadelphia Eagles have slipped to back to back 9-7 seasons and relative brief playoff stays. Injuries at various positions played a significant role in the Eagles’ slippage during this time with issues at wide receiver especially problematic. Some clubs hope to fix issues with one player, putting extraordinary pressure on a newcomer to play a savior role. That was not the strategy that GM Howie Roseman took with this draft, however, taking full advantage of one of the better receiver classes in the past 20 years to land three speedsters, including TCU star Jalen Reagor in the first round. Reagor is both fast and hyper-competitive with the highlight reel to dominate post-draft conversations in Philadelphia and nationally but don’t sleep on Boise State’s John Hightower and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins, each of whom were taken at terrific points of value and have starting potential of their own. Roseman took similar “shotgun” approaches at linebacker and along the offensive line, adding multiple options in the hopes of boosting the club’s depth after losing veterans in free agency. With the possible exception of Colorado’s Davion Taylor, none of these players are likely to see immediate playing time, but this is more of a reflection of the talent already assembled on a legitimate Super Bowl contending roster than poor picks by Roseman and the Eagles. Perhaps the best example of the long-term investment strategy being used was the selection of Jalen Hurts. It came earlier than expected at No. 53 overall, but makes sense given the obvious need for a backup quarterback behind Carson Wentz with Nick Foles peddled to Chicago, as well as the former Oklahoma and Alabama star’s terrific fit as an RPO threat in Doug Pederson’s offense (as is undrafted free agent Khalil Tate). Hurts, in fact, is a similar versatile talent as the New Orleans Saints’ Tayson Hill and so there is no telling what kind of creative roles Pederson may create unleash on the NFC East with Hurts.
Best Player of the Rams’ 2020 Draft: WR Jalen Reagor
Few position groups throughout the entire NFL were more ravaged by injury and inconsistent play than the Eagles’ receivers in 2020. The starting trio of DeSean Jackson (16), Alshon Jeffery (seven) and Nelson Agholor (six) were listed as either questionable or out in a combined 28 games last season. The trio combined for just three less receptions total (91) than what tight end Zach Ertz pulled down, himself, last season. In fact, Ertz, fellow tight end Dallas Goedert and rookie running back Miles Sanders all caught more passes for more yards and scored more touchdowns than any of the Eagles’ wideouts last season. Durability concerns are nothing new for Jeffery or Jackson, each of whom are now on the wrong side of 30-years old, and Agholor fled Philly for the Las Vegas Raiders in the offseason. Desperate for a receiver with the skill-set and competitiveness to become a true No. 1 weapon, the Eagles landed on Reagor, a three-time All-Big 12 pick whose father, Montae, played nine seasons in the NFL, including 2007 in Philadelphia. At 5-11, 206 pounds, the younger Reagor is no run-stuffer. He is, however, perhaps this draft’s best combination of elusiveness, breakaway speed and body control, offering immediate jukes and juice as a short and intermediate target in the passing game to complement Jeffery and Jackson as vertical threats. In this way, Reagor was a cleaner scheme fit in Philadelphia than some of the other highly regarded wideouts still on the board. Further, his experience as a punt returner (two TDs in 2019) could push incumbent Eagles’ starter Boston Scott. The Eagles averaged just 5.9 yards per punt return in 2019. Only one team that made the playoffs last year (Green Bay) fared worse.
Best Value of the Rams’ 2020 Draft: OT Prince Tega Wanogho
If receiver was the Eagles’ worst position a year ago, one could argue that offensive tackle has been the franchise’s best position for quite some time. Longtime Pro Bowlers Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, of course, have a lot to do with that and the Eagles drafted Andre Dillard in the first round a year ago to continue the elite play at tackle. As such, Wanogho’s path to playing time is problematic – perhaps as much as the medical concerns which prompted the one-time projected first round pick’s dramatic fall to the sixth round and the 210 pick of the draft. Wanogho was one of the real losers of this year’s unprecedented cancelling of Pro Days and medial updates. The three-year starting left tackle was invited to the Senior Bowl but had his right knee flagged there. He was unable to participate there, at the Combine or Auburn’s Pro Day, robbing him of the opportunity to show off the exceptional raw athleticism which on tape looks every bit as good as first round and Combine superstars Mekhi Beckton and Tristan Wirfs, among others. Wanogho isn’t just a medical risk, he is still quite raw, frequently frustrating at Auburn with mental mistakes. Wanogho will have plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles behind Philadelphia’s starters, however, which is why this late round gamble has much better odds to pay off royally than most.
Best Project of the Rams’ 2020 Draft: OLB Davion Taylor
Wanogho, himself, is definitely a project but one might expect that given his late round selection and the native Nigerian’s late start in football. Taylor joined the game late, as well, with his mothers’ religion, rather than location, delaying his start. Since, however, his ascent as an NFL prospect has been nearly as fast as the 4.49-second 40-yard dash the linebacker ran at the 2020 Combine. A zero-star recruit who had to convince Coahoma Community College (Mississippi) to give him a tryout, Taylor wound up emerging as one of the country’s elite JUCO prospects in less than two years there, joining Colorado over offers from many other programs, including some in the SEC. Once in Boulder, Taylor’s exceptional speed stood out, earning him a trip to the Senior Bowl. What also stands out on Taylor’s tape, however, is his lack of polish. His relative inexperience shows up with Taylor occasionally losing sight of the ball and he currently lacks the pop in his hands to meet, greet and discard blockers quickly. A stout Philadelphia defensive line, however, is well suited to keeping blockers off of Taylor and allowing his speed to pursue backs and tight ends (or returners on special teams) with reckless abandon.
Overall Grade for the Rams’ 2020 Draft: B+
Previous 2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: Cincinnati Bengals |Washington Redskins | Detroit Lions | New York Giants | Miami Dolphins | Los Angeles Chargers | Carolina Panthers | Arizona Cardinals | Jacksonville Jaguars | Cleveland Browns | New York Jets | Las Vegas Raiders | Indianapolis Colts | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Denver Broncos | Atlanta Falcons | Dallas Cowboys | Pittsburgh Steelers | Chicago Bears | Los Angeles Rams | Philadelphia Eagles | Buffalo Bills | New England Patriots | New Orleans Saints | Houston Texans | Minnesota Vikings | Seattle Seahawks | Baltimore Ravens | Green Bay Packers | Tennessee Titans | San Francisco 49ers | Kansas City Chiefs