The Eagles’ 2018 draft class became as much about the past and the future as it is the present. When the draft began they were absent several selections due to the trades that acquired Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, and Ronald Darby. By the time the draft ended they had traded back not to acquire more picks this year, but an extra second-round selection in 2019. So how do you grade them? Are they docked for not having a first-round selection or a third? Are they credited for “drafting” Ajayi in the fourth round?
We’ll focus exclusively on the five picks the team had. We all know Howie Roseman loves a trade, and the Eagles only wound up using two of the choices they began the draft with the 130th and 206th picks. The 206th selection was the only one that began in Philadelphia and didn’t arrive via some type of trade. Here’s the haul:
Round 2, Pick 49: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Operating with one pick in the first two days of the draft, the Eagles were destined to leave with a limited number of players we can expect to come in and plug holes immediately. Thankfully, the reigning Super Bowl Champions are low on holes. But Goedert certainly qualifies as that type of player. Claiming tight end a need when Zach Ertz is on the roster may seem extravagant, but Eagles fans have been spoiled with three quality tight ends for years now, and two of those are gone.
Make no mistake: Goedert is the jewel of this draft class. The Eagles have shown the ability to scheme multiple tight ends onto the field at once with ease, so Ertz blocking him isn’t a concern. And with defenses focused on Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor, the rookie tight end should find plenty of space to operate. Goedert dominated FCS competition in college. He averaged 82 catches for 1202 yards and nine touchdowns over his final two seasons. He is ranked by CBS Sports as the number one tight end in this class, and the player NFL.com compares him to is – Zach Ertz.
Round 4, Pick 125: Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh
Maddox’ small frame (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) may remind fans of Brandon Boykin, and the Eagles may have a similar role for Maddox in mind. The slot corner role is most open-for-business in Philadelphia following the departure of Patrick Robinson and while the Eagles have a plethora of young corners on the roster, none of them have spent much time inside. Maddox was a ballhawk at Pittsburgh, making eight career interceptions and forcing three fumbles as a senior. He tested extremely well at the combine, leading all defensive backs in the 60-yard shuttle.
Round 4, Pick 130: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
We mentioned the Eagles not needing a lot of immediate help, right? Consider the final three picks ones with high upside and, in the case of Josh Sweat, really high upside. The Florida State prospect is your resident freakish athlete at edge rusher this season. He finished top five at his position in every combine test he participated in and led his group with a 39-inch vertical. He was productive too, with 14.5 sacks in three seasons. Concerns about his knee pushed him down several draft boards, but he’s joining the team with the least need to ask too much of him before he’s ready.
Round 6, Pick 206: Matt Pryor, OT, Texas Christian University
The first of two massive linemen selections to close the draft by the Eagles, and by far the more pro-ready. Teams have concerns about Pryor – 6-foot-7, 332 pounds – keeping his weight down, but despite his size and a 5.62-second 40-yard dash, the TCU lineman moves surprisingly quickly on tape. He has experience at guard and tackle and the Eagles, who announced him as the latter, will likely experiment with him at both.
Round 7, Pick 233: Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia
Just like they traded up and pipped Dallas to drafting Dallas, the Eagles moved up in the seventh round to draft Mailata, an Australian rugby player without a down of American Football to his name. Despite that, the 20-year old should excite fans with the combination of a 6-foot-8, 346-pound frame capable of a 5.12 forty and 28-inch vertical. Pull up his rugby footage and you won’t be disappointed.
Overall Grade: B+
The Eagles didn’t have a lot of draft capital to work with, but they didn’t have a lot of holes they had to fill. They left the draft with an elite player at one of their few spots of need, an extra second round pick next year, and several players who could capitalize on the incubation the Eagles are built to give them. It’s a pretty perfect draft for a team in their position.