NFL draft 2017 grades: National media generally impressed with Philadelphia Eagles class
Today’s special edition of Philadelphia Eagles links takes a look around the country at what people are saying about the Birds’ NFL draft class from the weekend.
Here are the grades from a number of publications around the country:
There should be few boobirds in Philadelphia after the draft when it comes to the home team. Every need was checked off with no reaches, and both Barnett and Jones are ideal defensive scheme fits. They padded the re-made wideout corps for Carson Wentz, too, and found their new change-up speed back in Humphrey.
They got the second-best pure edge rusher in the draft in Barnett at No. 14. In the second round, Philly got a first-round value in Sidney Jones, who might have to half-redshirt the year as he recovers from injury but will be a good corner down the road. Rasul Douglas is another long corner who will be on the field right away.
I really like the choice of pass rusher Derek Barnett in the first round. He might be the best pass rusher in this class. They took a risk with Washington corner Sidney Jones in the second, but it could be a big-time payoff if he comes off a torn Achilles tendon healthy. They added some young weapons for Carson Wentz in the later rounds. Fifth-round receiver Shelton Gibson can fly.
Philadelphia had issues in the secondary last season, too, and one of the best things for a porous pass defense is a stellar pass rush. The Eagles took a step toward that on Day 1, then boosted the back end on Day 2. Sidney Jones could be a steal if he recovers fully from the torn Achilles he suffered at his pro day in March. Though he’s optimistic about returning in 2017, he might be better served by a redshirt year. If healthy, he’s a top-15 talent with good ball skills and the ability to handle big wideouts. Rasul Douglas was a ballhawk in 2016 with eight interceptions, but he doesn’t have high-end speed (4.59 40). … Philly needed to shore up its defense and it did that pretty well. It’s not a home run class, but the Eagles got better.
On the “needs” list for Philly headed into Thursday were a pass rusher and cornerback. Check and check. The Eagles nabbed DE Derek Barnett in Round 1, a safe and steady option off the edge, then doubled down on Day 2 with CB Sidney Jones (who’s rehabbing an Achilles tear) and Rasul Douglas. If Jones gets back to 100% at any point, he has Pro Bowl potential. The offensive run in Rounds 4 and 5 was intriguing. WRs Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both can stretch the field, which QB Carson Wentz would like to do more; RB Donnell Pumphrey essentially could be Darren Sproles 2.0.
The Derek Barnett pick was solid, if not spectacular — he’ll help right away. Sidney Jones won’t, but he has first-round talent. Rasul Douglas is a boom-or-bust player, but I like him in that system, and Mack Hollins has a chance to be special. Donnel Pumphrey projects as Darren Sproles’ replacement, and Shelton Gibson and Elijah Qualls are great third-day values.
Some draft analysts question the athleticism of first-round DE Derek Barnett. But he was an extremely productive pass rusher in college and the Eagles must hope that translates to the NFL ranks. Second-round CB Sidney Jones suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon at his pro day and it’s not clear when he’ll be able to play. Perhaps in part because of that, Philadelphia went with another cornerback in the third round, Rasul Douglas. Getting DT Elijah Qualls in the sixth round was an excellent value.
One of the most obvious needs for any team in this year’s draft was the Eagles need for a cornerback. The Eagles waited to target the position, taking defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round. It was something of a surprise to see him available with the 14th pick. He’ll help the team’s rush up front. … The Eagles waited until the second day to get corners, Sidney Jones in the second round and Rasul Douglas in the third round. Had Jones been healthy, he would’ve been a first-round pick. Douglas is a good physical cornerback with measurables.
If pass defense was their primary concern entering the weekend, they made strides. DE Derek Barnett (Round 1) is relentless, if not twitchy. CB Sidney Jones might represent highway robbery at No. 43 if his pro day Achilles injury heals quickly. CB Rasul Douglas (3) picked off passes left and right for West Virginia. Fourth-round RB Donnel Pumphrey, the all-time leading rusher in FBS history, may be another nice weapon for QB Carson Wentz on passing downs but must confirm his slender frame (5-8, 176) can withstand the NFL’s rigors.
Here’s the rest of the day’s Eagles links: