PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles made nine draft picks during the weekend, but the one that seems to have given their fans the most angst is Landon Dickerson.
Yes, he can play.
No, he can’t stay healthy.
Four of his five college seasons were interrupted with an injury, with two torn ACLs and two tightrope-style surgeries on his ankles.
It’s the kind of pick that could haunt Eagles GM Howie Roseman the way the specter of DK Metcalf does.
The way Justin Jefferson will.
The way Sidney Jones has.
Christian Barmore was taken by the Patriots, who traded up to pick No. 38 overall, right after Dickerson was taken by the Eagles.
Then came a run defensive backs, and yes, the Eagles needed help in the secondary. All they came away with was one cornerback in a draft that was steeped in them.
Central Florida safety Richie Grant went at No. 40 to the Falcons. Another safety, TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, went No. 43 to the Raiders. Two corners followed – Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph at No. 44 to the Cowboys and Asante Samuel Jr., the CB it seems every Eagles fan wanted, at 47 to the Chargers.
“He (Dickerson) is a special player and a special person,” said Roseman. “And that it was worth the risk.”
Roseman could, however, rue the day he took Dickerson if Dickerson can’t find a way to stay healthy and become the anchor and leader of an offensive line for several seasons.
Or Dickerson could be ready to put his injury history in the past and become the player the GM expects.
“We know it's hard to hit in the draft,” Roseman said. “We know in the first round, 50 percent of the players are not going to work out. So, when you have a guy with this kind of character and this kind of physical ability. He's a person you want to bet on.”
Roseman bet on Jones in 2017 and lost, and Jones only had one serious injury concern, tearing his Achilles during his pro day that March.
Jones ultimately made a full recovery, but never lived up to the billing that he would have been a top 15 pick had he not torn his Achilles and is already on his second team.
Dickerson is probably a better player than Jones, but the qualifier has to be added in: “when he plays.”
“When we look at Sidney, the position he plays, I think that factors into the evaluation of him and Landon,” said Roseman. “And again we rely on our team of experts in that field, our medical experts, we know in this game anyone can get hurt. And obviously, the history is that guys have been hurt, get hurt more often than guys who have a cleaner injury history.
“But we also don't want to be risk-averse. We want to take chances. When we think about Landon, think about what kind of player we think he is and what kind of player we think he can be in the National Football League. And then again our medical group giving us comps of guys of linemen with these injuries and how long their careers last and what they're playing, how many games they're starting.
“We knew all that. But we just felt like this player is unique. To quote [Eagles run game coordinator/offensive line] coach [Jeff] Stoutland, he's unusual.”
It gets a little scary when Roseman starts inserting his medical group because the faces and names in that department come and go like the four seasons do here in the Northeast, but Roseman isn’t going to stop listening to the people that make those decisions. Nor should he.
Still, if he and his scouts wanted a player with a cleaner injury history, one who could play center and guard like Dickerson, they could have taken Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, who went 63rd overall to the Chiefs.
“The makeup of Landon; the ability to overcome adversity; the mental toughness; the fortitude that he has as a player, a person; leadership, I think when you took all that into account it made sense for us right there,” said VP of player personnel Andy Weidl. “There was a comfort level, there was an excitement in the building with the coaches and scouts.”
It’s excitement the majority of Eagles fans don’t seem to be sharing at the moment.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.