With two picks in a deep first round, there was some pressure on the brain trust at the NovaCare Complex to get some game-changers on an Eagles team that is supposedly still in “rebuild mode.” The team used some Day 3 equity to move up to 13 and selected defensive tackle Jordan Davis from Georgia. Then the team pulled another massive trade, sending two picks to Tennessee for wide receiver A.J. Brown.
Yes, the Eagles have a knack for stealing thunder in April with big draft noise. Howie Roseman and his team just drowned out a Phillies sweep and will likely get the attention on sports talk radio Friday over the Sixers’ close-out win in Toronto.
While the Eagles traded away half of their 10 picks on the first night, they impacted both sides of the ball and certainly turned some heads. Here’s an analysis of the major decisions from Thursday.
Big Man Inside at 13
10 years ago, the Eagles traded up to #13 and got a defensive tackle from Mississippi State named Fletcher Cox. Same pick, same conference, different division. This time, it took sending picks 124, 162, and 166 to Houston for two slots up in the first to get a different Bulldog.
Jordan Davis won a national title with the Bulldogs, earning unanimous All-American honors. He also won the Outland Trophy as an outstanding interior lineman and the Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player.
A couple of things stick out with Davis. First, he is MASSIVE. At the combine, he measured at 6’6”, 341 pounds. He ran a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash, just the third player over 330 pounds to eclipse 5 seconds in the run. It looked like he couldn’t fit the draft hat over his head, which may have been more about protecting his braids.
That speed includes a burst off the line that looks a lot like what Cox does. The term “disruptor” on defensive linemen means someone can cross the line of scrimmage and throw the offensive scheme into chaos. Davis had two sacks and five tackles for loss as part of his 32 tackles last season. He also got a pass defended which is good because interior linemen are expected in the NFL to put their hands up and hit balls thrown.
Davis took up a lot of attention on a relentless Georgia defense that dominated opposition this year to win the school’s first national title in decades. His teammate Travon Walker went first overall to the Jaguars. Three other defenders from the Bulldogs went as first-round picks.
Jonathan Gannon has a very talented player to develop and go with a youth infusion on that defensive line. It’s possible the team has chosen Cox’s heir apparent. However, with Nick Sirianni’s unorthodox schemes, Davis may see some offensive snaps as well. He scored as a rusher last season and had two goalline carries. Could he be this generation’s William “Refrigerator” Perry?
Trade-and-Sign for A.J. Brown
With two first-round picks, mock drafts saw the Eagles taking one player on each side of the ball. However, most had them taking a wide receiver with the first selection. With four WRs off the board between picks 8 and 12, that option seemed gone.
Howie Roseman found a way to get a wide receiver, sending picks #18 and #101 to Tennessee for A.J. Brown. He then signed Brown to a 4 year, $100 million extension.
Drafted from Ole Miss in 2019, Brown produced 1,000-yard seasons in his first two years as a Titan. The team traded for Julio Jones to pair with Brown and maximize the offensive capabilities. Brown missed four games to deal with mental health issues but still collected 63 catches for 869 yards and five scores.
The trade caught almost everyone off guard but this is a major upgrade for the offense. Brown will be the #1 receiver in a deep but still fairly young group. He has the ability to stretch defenses and occupy top CBs. This is a needed element to the offense that excelled in methodical drives led by the run game but lacked a long-throw threat. Put him in a formation with DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders, and pick your poison in coverage.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts has been seen working out with Brown in previous offseasons. Hurts posted on his Twitter a portion of a Facetime conversation with his new teammate after the trade got announced. Looks like they’re excited to work together.
Pulling off the trade turned some heads. The contract extension likely turned even more. Brown joins the $100 million club of wideouts that includes Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Amari Cooper, all of whom changed teams in the offseason. The deal reportedly includes $57 million in guaranteed money and will run through 2026, keeping him out of free agency until he turns 30. Details have yet to be formally released.
Philadelphia has two picks remaining for Friday, #51 in the second round and #83 in the third round. However, the deals made Thursday night means there’s a lot less to decide on Saturday. In addition to shipping pick #101 which will be announced Friday, the team moved a fourth and two fifths to Houston. They retain pick #154 in the fifth round and #237 in the seventh round. They also retain both of their 2023 first-round picks, which is a feat on its own. If any other moves are made, we’ll cover those in the next two days here.