As we head into training camp next week, happy with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman for a moment, let’s pause a second.
Training camp is where we get our first real look and feel for the rookies on the Eagles roster. There will be hitting. Will the rookies hit back? Do the rookies belong? We’ll know soon if they are NFL-worthy.
Evaluating the rookies is part of the process of judging the general manager.
Yes, Jordan Davis, Cam Jurgens and Nakobe Dean seem like a terrific top of the draft class. Kyron Johnson and Grant Calcaterra also are garnering notice about being contributors this season.
“Sometimes, it’s not that hard,” Roseman said after this year’s draft.
“Great players, great school, high recruits, play at the highest level, it kind of works. You want winners. You want guys who have done it.”
While riding high the past few years, Roseman’s drafting record has endured some spectacular misses, too. Spectacular.
That’s the point of being an NFL general manager. Sometimes, everything falls into place, you draft the kids you want and they play well. Sometimes, you get lucky.
And, sometimes, you fail and everybody knows it.
A quick look at the Howie Roseman draft history:
- Roseman has been the Eagles’ general manager since 2010.
- He has been responsible for the draft since then, except for 2015 when coach/emperor Chip Kelly ran the show.
- Since 2010 (and excluding 2015), the Eagles have the 10th-best record in the NFL.
- They have made the playoffs in six of Roseman’s 11 seasons.
Oh, and they won the franchise’s only Super Bowl.
EXCEPT FOR REAGOR, EXCELLENT RECENT DRAFTS
Roseman had excellent drafts in 2021 and 2020, with first-round wide receiver Jalen Reagor in 2020 the notable exception. So far, Reagor hasn’t played to expectations. He isn’t even guaranteed a roster spot this season.
Roseman has made 11 first-round picks. Eagles first-round draft picks should be a slam dunk. They should be starters. They should have a sustained impact.
Sometimes, they don’t.
Howie Roseman draft history – first-rounders:
- 2022 — Jordan Davis
- 2021 — DeVonta Smith
- 2020 — Jalen Reagor
- 2019 — Andre Dillard
- 2018 — No first-round pick
- 2017 — Derek Barnett
- 2016 — Carson Wentz
- 2015 — Chip Kelly’s draft (Nelson Agholor)
- 2014 — Marcus Smith
- 2013 — Lane Johnson
- 2012 — Fletcher Cox
- 2011 — Danny Watkins
- 2010 — Brandon Graham
DeVonta Smith, Johnson, Cox and Graham have lived up to their first-round expectations. And with Smith, obviously, it’s too early to make a judgment, but he looks like a future Pro Bowler.
Roseman’s first-round flops are notable: Reagor (so far), Andre Dillard (so far), Marcus Smith and Danny Watkins.
The Eagles received value from first-rounders Derek Barnett and Carson Wentz. Without Wentz, there was no Super Bowl victory in 2017. But Wentz lasted only five seasons in Philly, way too little for a “franchise” quarterback.
Barnett made the key fumble recovery toward the end of the Super Bowl, but his career has been mixed — some good play, some silly and costly penalties.
Roseman has found success with his second-round picks. The 2nd round definitely has more wins than losses in our Howie Roseman draft history lesson. This is actually a splendid list.
- 2022 — Cam Jurgens
- 2021 — Landon Dickerson
- 2020 — Jalen Hurts
- 2019 — Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside
- 2018 — Dallas Goedert
- 2017 — Sidney Jones
- 2016 — No pick
- 2015 — Kelly’s draft (Eric Rowe)
- 2014 — Jordan Matthews
- 2013 — Zach Ertz
- 2012 — Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry
- 2011 — Jaiquawn Jarrett
- 2010 — Nate Allen
The second-rounders have serious players — Dickerson, Hurts, Sanders, Goedert, Matthews, Ertz, Kendricks and Curry.
Remember, the Hurts selection at No. 53 was highly controversial as the Eagles had an established starting quarterback in Wentz. Many critics called the Hurts pick a wasted one.
“As we looked at where we were on the board,” Roseman said about Hurts after he drafted him in 2020, “and what was the thing that we believed in the most and more the kind of people we believed in the most, Jalen stood out in all those regards.
“We think he’s an incredible teammate. He’s got a lot to learn here obviously.”
Roseman’s words from 2020 have played out. From all indications, Hurts is a tremendous teammate and he is working on improving as a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. He started four games as a rookie and 15 games last year. The Eagles made the playoffs last year in Hurts’ first year as a starter.
As with any team, some Eagles second-rounders haven’t cut it at the rate such a high draft pick would dictate: Arcega-Whiteside, Jones, Jarrett and Allen.
WITH THE 88th PICK …
The Eagles have had some clutch third-rounders — starting with Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles in 2012.
Without Foles, the Eagles don’t win the Super Bowl. Can you imagine another back-up quarterback leading the Eagles to that victory? I can’t.
Foles’ performance was statue-worthy.
Three other third-rounders are valuable — rotational defensive tackle Milton Williams (2021), linebacker Davion Taylor (2020) and possible starting right guard Isaac Seumalo (2016). Rasul Douglas (2017) was a contributor on the Super Bowl team and now is with the Packers.
The 2018 draft yielded fourth-rounders Avonte Maddox and Josh Sweat, both important rotational players on defense.
Two 2020 fourth-rounders are on the team — safety K’Von Wallace and offensive lineman Jack Driscoll, a candidate to start at right guard.
No assessment of Roseman’s drafting record would be complete without applauding his uncanny knack for finding great players in the later rounds.
For example (round in parentheses):
- 2021 — Kenneth Gainwell (5)
- 2021 — Tarron Jackson (6)
- 2020 — Quez Watkins (6)
- 2018 — Jordan Mailata (7)
- 2016 — Halapoulivaati Vaitai (5)
- 2016 — Jalen Mills (7)
- 2015 — Kelly’s draft (Dion Lewis, 5)
- 2014 — Beau Allen (7)
- 2012 — Dennis Kelly (5)
- 2011 — Jason Kelce (6)
Finding starting left tackle Jordan Mailata in the seventh round and starting center Kelce in the sixth round is flush with luck and preparation.
Mailata might be a 10-year pro, with many Pro Bowl selections. Kelce might be a Hall of Fame player. A remarkable 190 players were drafted before Kelce. Before Mailata, 232 players were taken.
Here are the players taken by the Eagles before Kelce in 2011. Be prepared to cover your eyes.
- Round 1 — Danny Watkins, guard, Baylor
- Round 2 — Jaiquawn Jarrett, defensive back, Temple
- Round 3 — Curtis Marsh, defensive back, Utah State
- Round 4 — Casey Matthews, linebacker, Oregon
- Round 5 — Dion Lewis, running back, Pittsburgh
- Round 5 — Julian Vandervelde, guard, Iowa
- Round 6 — Jason Kelce, center, Cincinnati
You can criticize other general managers for not taking Kelce. But criticize Roseman, too, for waiting until the 191st pick to take him.
All in all, Roseman’s stewardship has been successful. The Eagles won their only Super Bowl under his management.
And he has rebuilt a team that was 4-11-1 in 2020 into a contender for the NFC East title in 2022.