PHILADELPHIA – Anyone who knows me or follows me on social media, knows I don’t do draft grades. I prefer to wait three years before handing out a grade.
So, the 2018 Eagles class: A-
All five players taken have been extremely useful and, for the most part, highly productive players. More importantly, they are still on the roster.
They are Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, Josh Sweat, Matt Pryor, and Jordan Mailata.
It’s a grade that comes on the heels of a 2017 class that I grade a D- and would be an F if not for Derek Barnett, the first-round pick who is the only player still left on the roster from a class of eight.
The best I can do with the recent haul of nine players in last weekend’s draft is give you three things I liked and three things didn't like about a draft that, I believe, was solid overall.
Check back in 2024, though for an actual letter grade.
3 THINGS I LIKED
That the Eagles fortified their defensive tackle group. OK, maybe their back seven still needs work, but this feels like a defense that will be built from the inside out, and the two players they drafted – Milton Williams in the third and Marlon Tuitupolu in the sixth – look like they will help for years to come.
It wasn’t believed to be a very deep group of D-tackles in the draft, but that didn’t mean it was bereft of talent. Williams and Tuitupolu give the Eagles depth at a position that needed it, and Williams has the potential to be a standout.
The last time the Eagles drafted a defensive tackle was four years ago when they took Elijah Qualls in the sixth round. Qualls, of course, did nothing.
Before Qualls, they spent a seventh-round pick on Beau Allen in 2014, but you have to go back eight years to find a DT they picked on the second day of the draft and that was Bennie Logan in the third round of 2013.
Williams had a terrific pro day, flashing athleticism all over the place, clocking a 4.67 in the 40 and a 38.5 vertical jump.
Tuitupolu started all six games for USC at nose tackle last year and recorded 23 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. In 33 career games, he had 49 solo tackles, 15 TFL, and 8.5 sacks.
Devonta Smith. Duh. OK, maybe the Eagles would have taken CB Patrick Surtain II had they been able to finagle a trade with the Denver Broncos for the move to go up three places instead of the two they ultimately jumped up to get the Heisman Trophy winner at No. 10, though GM Howie Roseman insists otherwise. Smith, he said, was their target the entire time.
He will provide excitement in the short term, and you just hope that, with his size concerns, he can continue to provide productivity in the long term.
The trade. No, not the one with the Cowboys in the first round, but the deal they made on the final day, packaging one of their four sixth-round picks and one of their two seventh-round selections to Washington for WFT’s fifth-round pick in 2022.
Just add it to a cupboard that already includes all seven of their own picks, plus a first-round pick from the Dolphins, a conditional second-rounder from the Colts that could become their third pick of the first round, and now Washington’s fifth-round selection. That’s a total of 10 at the moment.
3 THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
The Landon Dickerson risk. I get why the Eagles did it, but I would have drafted another Alabama player who, again, anyone who knows me or follows me on social media, knows the affection if I have for the ability and the ceiling of DT Christian Barmore.
In the third round, with the 73rd pick after trading down, I would have taken another player I really liked, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo, who went No. 76 overall to the Saints. Or even Minnesota’s Benjamin St-Juste would have looked good. St-Juste went to Washington with pick No. 74.
No Zach Ertz trade. Don’t get me wrong. It would be good if the Eagles could bring the tight end back, but that ship appears to have sailed. It looks like now the Eagles will wait until June 1 and release him.
At that point, the Eagles would save $8.5 million against the salary cap as opposed to just $4.9M if they release him prior to that date. The dead money savings goes down from $7.7 if cut prior to June 1 to $4.2M if they wait.
The Jacksonville Jaguars could still use a tight end after the draft, but, at this stage, may as well wait to see what Roseman does.
“You just want to be fair,” the GM said after the draft ended. “You just want to find outcomes that not necessarily are great for the team and not good for the player, but just fair. Just stuff that everyone can kind of feel like you know what, this works for everyone.”
Only one cornerback. Hard to believe they only took one. It's harder to believe they waited until the final day to get one. I like Zech McPhearson well enough, and believe he will be a good player for them, but will he be ready to start opposite Darius Slay Day One? Not so sure.
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.