Philadelphia Eagles Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh – Round 4
The Eagles were in the market for cornerback help, yet they were forced to wait until the fourth round as they had only one selection on the first two days of the 2018 NFL Draft. Philadelphia was fortunate to land a player like Maddox in Round 4 because he is comparable as a nickel corner to players who went in the second and third rounds. Maddox could take some time to develop, but in time, he could be a quality starting nickel for the Eagles.

In speaking to sources at other teams, they felt that Maddox was worth a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-9, 184-pounder is a very fast and fluid athlete who has the ability to run the route to prevent separation. Even though he is a smaller corner, Maddox is a willing tackler. He also possesses tremendous speed, as illustrated by a 4.39-second time in the 40-yard dash. Maddox had good moments at the East-West Shrine to help himself along with an impressive workout at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Eagles have corners ahead of Maddox like Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas. Darby, however, may not be re-signed after this season and is likely to get a big contract in free agency. Maddox could take a year of development but then be in line to be Philadelphia’s starting nickel cornerback. He has the potential to be a solid starter at nickel.

2017: Derek Barnett, DE
2016: Isaac Seumalo, C
2015: Nelson Agholor, WR
2014: Marcus Smith, outside LB
2013: Zach Ertz, TE

Most Likely To Bust

Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State – Round 4
Some in the media had projected Sweat as a first- or second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but had him going lower, having learned from team sources that they were not valuing Sweat in the early rounds. In fact, many teams were down on Sweat due to concerns about him holding up in the NFL.

In speaking to multiple team sources, the reason that Sweat slid and some were against draft him was medical. I can refer back to what I wrote last August for the explanation. “[In 2016], Sweat was showing limitations from a knee injury that he sustained early in his senior year of high school. Team sources say that Florida State has tried a variety of rehab techniques, but Sweat’s knee instability has persisted. Sources have said it was evident on tape and watching practice that Sweat still favors the knee. Some team sources believe that the knee has multiple problems and will never heal completely. Thus, many are viewing Sweat as a one-contract player in the NFL.” Teams were never as high on Sweat as the media was after his excellent combine workout.

Of the four picks who the Eagles made in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sweat has the most potential to not work out in the NFL. Philadelphia is deep on the defensive line, and Sweat will have a hard time earning playing time. Addtionally, his knee injury could limit the length of his career and how well he plays. Sweat definitely has bust potential.

2017: Rasul Douglas, CB
2016: Wendall Smallwood, RB
2015: Jordan Hicks, LB
2014: Josh Huff, WR
2013: Bennie Logan, DT

Potential Boom Pick

Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State – Round 2
Philadelphia only had four draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and did not take a player in the first round after trading down with Baltimore. The Eagles moved up for Goedert, so that indicates they felt very passionate about him. With one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Carson Wentz, Goedert is landing in a great situation to turn into an impact-making receiving tight end.

For the NFL, Goedert has real ability to contribute as a receiver. While he will struggle to get separation from pro linebackers or safeties, he can his size and high-point ability to make catches over defenders. He will be an asset in the red zone with his skills to sky high and make tremendous catches with body control and uncanny one-handed skills. Goedert is adept at finding the soft spot in zone coverage, and his size makes him tough to tackle for defensive backs. Thus, Goedert could be a quality receiving tight end in the pros, although probably won’t be elite given his lack of three things: speed, suddenness, and an ability to separate.

“[Goedert’s] not a great route-runner and wasn’t a separation guy,” said a NFC director of college scouting. “He is more possessional and doesn’t win with suddenness or quickness. He had lots of drops, but you counter that with some spectacular catches. They threw him a million balls so some drops are going to happen. We just don’t see him as a special mismatch weapon.”

While that is how one team saw Goedert, he has some boom potential in the Eagles’ offense. They like to run double-tight end sets and lost Trey Burton in free agency. With Zach Ertz commanding a lot of attention, Goedert should see excellent looks in coverage. Of Philadelphia’s 2018 draft class, Goedert has the most boom potential.

2017: Sidney Jones, CB
2016: Carson Wentz, QB
2015: Eric Rowe, CB
2014: Jordan Matthews, WR
2013: Lane Johnson, OT

Future Depth Player

Matt Pryor, OT, TCU – Round 6
The Eagles’ final draft pick was Pryor in the sixth round, and at that point in a draft, they are hoping that he can just develop into some tackle depth. Franchise left tackle Jason Peters is returning from injury, and Lane Johnson is one of the best right tackles in the NFL. Even after Peters’ career ends in a few years, Pryor is more of a swing-tackle backup, so the Eagles will have to look for a new starter to pair with Johnson. Every team needs offensive tackle depth, and Pryor should fill that role for Philadelphia.

2017: Donnel Pumphrey, RB
2016: Alex McCalister, LB
2015: JaCorey Shepherd, CB
2014: Jaylen Watkins, CB
2013: Matt Barkley, QB

Walt’s 2018 NFL Draft Grades:

49. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State A Grade
Howie Roseman is kicking everyone’s a**. After ruining the Giants’ plans by giving Lamar Jackson to the Ravens, he moved ahead of the Cowboys, who were desperate for a tight end in the wake of Jason Witten’s retirement, for the final second-round tight end. Actually, Dallas Goedert could have arguably been a first-round selection, so I love this selection. Goedert will replace the departed Trey Burton and Brent Celek as the second tight end in Philadelphia’s two-tight end offense.

125. Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh B+ Grade
Avonte Maddox makes sense as a fourth-round pick, and he should be a logical fit for the Eagles, who needed someone to cover the slot in the wake of Patrick Robinson’s departure. Maddox is a short corner, but he’s very athletic and has high upside.

130. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State A+ Grade
There was a slight pause while we were waiting for this pick, so I thought about what it could be. I said aloud, to no one, if it’s Josh Sweat or Maurice Hurst, I’d give them an instant A+. I’m a man of my word. Sweat is a dynamic player who could have gone in the first round had he not dealt with injury issues. Maybe he never plays well because of his problems, but his upside is stellar, and he could become a terrific pass-rusher in the pros.

206. Matt Pryor, OT, TCU B Grade
It makes sense that the Eagles would use a late-round pick on tackle depth, given that Jason Peters’ career will end soon. I would have gone in a different direction, however, as Pryor has some major motivational issues. Unless he turns his attitude around, he won’t make it in the pros.

233. Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia A- Grade
Speaking of swinging for the fences, that’s exactly what the Eagles are doing with this pick. Jordan Mailata is a former rugby player; he’s a 345-pound guy who moves around pretty well. He impressed at a pro day in Florida, so the Eagles opted to draft him. Mailata obviously needs to learn football, so perhaps he’ll be ready to compete for a starting job once Jason Peters retires.

2018 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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