Philadelphia Eagles Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado – Round 3
The Eagles made a terrible second-round pick, and in the third round, they reached slightly for Taylor, although he wasn’t as bad of a selection as the previous pick – more on that below. Philadelphia was thin at linebacker coming into the 2020 NFL Draft, so it was understandable that organization added some young talent to the middle of its defense. As a late third-round pick, Taylor is projected to be a backup who develops into being a starter, which seems feasible for him.

For the NFL, the 6-foot, 228-pounder needs to get stronger to take on and shed blocks, but he has speed and athleticism to work with. He showed some pass-coverage ability as a senior, notching seven breakups for the Buffaloes. Taylor got a late start in football, so developing as a backup would be the best plan for him. Becoming assignment sound and having a good knowledge of the league will help him to be more productive when he gets an opportunity.

Former Falcon Duke Riley is ahead of Taylor on Philadephia’s depth chart, but that is an easy veteran for Taylor to overtake, as Riley was a disappointment for Atlanta. After a year or two of development, I think Taylor has the potential to emerge as a solid starter for the Eagles.

2019: Miles Sanders, RB
2018: Avonte Maddox, CB
2017: Derek Barnett, DE
2016: Isaac Seumalo, C
2015: Nelson Agholor, WR
2014: Marcus Smith, OLB
2013: Zach Ertz, TE

Most Likely To Bust

Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma – Round 2
As Walt highlighted in his video with Kenny and in our draft wrapup show, the selection of Jalen Hurts was horrible and a notoriously bad pick for the Eagles. If everything goes to plan for the franchise, Hurts will never see the field, so from the very outset, selecting him was a flawed premise. Carson Wentz is signed to long-term contract topping $100 million dollars and is a young quarterback entering his prime with a decade or more before retirement. It made no sense to take his backup with a second-round pick when Philadelphia could have signed a veteran in free agency or drafted a backup on the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Either of those courses would have allowed the Eagles to use their second-round pick on a wide receiver like Denzel Mims or Van Jefferson, a linebacker like Willie Gay, a cornerback like Kristian Fulton, or a defensive lineman like A.J. Epenesa. All those players were better prospects than Hurts. To make matters even worse, the Eagles could have used the second-round pick spent on Hurts to move up for CeeDee Lamb in the first round, but they passed on doing that deal and instead saw Lamb land with their arch-rival, Dallas.

Hurts is not a good quarterback at this time, and other teams had him graded as a mid-rounder. Sources also said that the staff at Oklahoma was happy to see Hurts leave and noted he transferred from Alabama after being beat out for the starting job. Thus, he may not take well to a backup role over time.

ESPN and other media outlets hyped Hurts all season, but in speaking to scouts from other teams, they did not think highly of Hurts for the pros. They feel he struggles to read defenses, looks to run too often after one read, is not that accurate, does not have impressive arm strength, and is not a great runner for the NFL. They felt that Hurts is tough and a winner, so they could see a team taking him in the mid-rounds if a team really liked him and wanted to work with him as a backup quarterback who might be able to contribute some like Taysom Hill in New Orleans. Some scouts felt Hurts should move to fullback for the NFL because his struggles as a passer are why he was benched at Alabama. Oklahoma also transitioned to more of a running offense than what it used with Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield because of Hurts’ passing limitations.

Even if Wentz gets injured and/or is traded, which would force Hurts into the starting lineup, I could see Hurts being a bust as a pro. He is a severely limited passer and needs a lot of development. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a bust, and I will eagerly admit if I am wrong and he pans out.

2019: Shareef Miller, DE
2018: Josh Sweat, DE
2017: Rasul Douglas, CB
2016: Wendall Smallwood, RB
2015: Jordan Hicks, LB
2014: Josh Huff, WR
2013: Bennie Logan, DT

Potential Boom Pick

Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – Round 1
I think the Eagles should have traded up for CeeDee Lamb, especially considering my belief that they wasted their second-round pick on a future bust backup quarterback. That being said, I really liked Jalen Reagor and feel that could end up being a good player for Philadelphia.

Reagor (5-11, 206) is a speed demon who is a true home run hitter with mismatch speed. The ultra-fast Reagor, can take the top off of a defense and is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. Reagor is a true blazer who is similar to DeSean Jackson, Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown or Will Fuller. Reagor uses his speed to create separation and shows a nice ability to track the ball downfield. For a speed receiver who lacks size, he looks comfortable with defenders around him and does not seem to get afraid of hits coming his direction. Even though he isn’t a big receiver, he does a nice job of positioning himself to make contested catches.

Team sources say that Reagor has no clue how to run a route and will need to be coached up on that. He has above-average hands for a smaller speed receiver, but he will occasionally drop a pass. While being a dangerous receiver, Reagor also brings added value on special teams and could be a dynamic returner in the NFL.

The Eagles needed some youth at receiver for Carson Wentz. DeSean Jackson won’t be around much longer, and Reagor can be their long-term speed receiver to take the top off of defenses. With a talented young quarterback in Carson Wentz to work with, Reagor has boom pick potential for Philadelphia.

2019: Andre Dillard, OT
2018: Dallas Goedert, TE
2017: Sidney Jones, CB
2016: Carson Wentz, QB
2015: Eric Rowe, CB
2014: Jordan Matthews, WR
2013: Lane Johnson, OT

Future Depth Player

John Hightower, WR, Boise State – Round 5
The Eagles needed multiple receivers from the 2020 NFL Draft, and they were fortunate it was a deep class, which helped them come away with two late-round steals on Day 3. Hightower and Southern Miss’ Quez Watkins were great values. Hightower (6-1, 189) is a lean speed receiver who produced a lot of big plays for Boise State over the past two seasons. In 2019, he had 51 receptions for 943 yards with eight touchdowns. He caught 31 passes for 504 yards and six scores in 2018. Hightower has 4.43 speed and is a vertical threat who could be a good backup wide receiver who challenges defenses downfield. While Hightower may not become a starter, I think he could be a solid rotational player behind Philadelphia’s top-two receivers.

2019: Clayton Thorson, QB
2018: Matt Pryor, OT
2017: Donnel Pumphrey, RB
2016: Alex McCalister, LB
2015: JaCorey Shepherd, CB
2014: Jaylen Watkins, CB
2013: Matt Barkley, QB

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

21. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – C- Grade
The Eagles usually do well in the draft, but tonight was not a positive for them. They had an opportunity to trade up for CeeDee Lamb, yet watched the Cowboys snatch him as a major steal at No. 17. Then, they obtained no value with Jalen Reagor. The TCU product is one of several receivers the Eagles could’ve chosen here, so they should’ve traded down. Reagor obviously fills a huge need, but he’s a raw receiver and doesn’t project to be as good as Justin Jefferson.

53. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama – O’BRIEN- Grade
What the hell is this? Unless the Eagles have a trade lined up where they can ship Jalen Hurts, this makes absolutely no sense, and I think Howie Roseman has lost his mind. There’s no reason to take a quarterback here, period, with Carson Wentz not even in his prime yet. And yet, this is a major reach. Jalen Hurts’ ceiling is very low, so he should’ve been a fourth-round pick. This is the worst pick of the draft so far unless a trade is pending.

103. Davion Tayor, LB, Colorado – D Grade
Did the Eagles not think Jacob Eason was available? Davion Taylor is a tremendous athlete, but he’s extremely raw as a player. He may have to be relegated to special teams until his second or third season – not exactly what you want from a third-round prospect. I had Taylor in the sixth or seventh frame in most of my mock draft updates, so this is another poor pick.

127. K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson – B Grade
I thought the Eagles might go with a seeker here to catch the snitch. Instead, the Eagles actually made a semi-decent pick. K’Von Wallace makes sense as an athletic safety in the fourth round. With Malcolm Jenkins gone, Philadelphia needed help at the position.

145. Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn – B Grade
Jack Driscoll needs to continue to get stronger for the NFL. He’s a developmental project who could eventually become a starter. I imagine he’ll likely be a swing tackle, however, but he makes sense here at the bottom of Round 4.

168. John Hightower, WR, Boise State – B Grade
The Eagles picked Jalen Reagor and traded for Marquise Goodwin, but they’re still adding speed to their offense. John Hightower is a speed threat, but will struggle to come down with contested catches until he gets stronger. He was considered a fifth-round prospect, so this is a decent pick.

196. Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple – A- Grade
This is a bad vibe for Philly fans because Shawn Bradley was a huge bust for the 76ers. Shaun Bradley should be better though. Bradley had speed concerns, but he answered those at the combine. Given the Eagles’ issues at linebacker, I could see him cracking the starting lineup at some point.

200. Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss – B+ Grade
Nothing will make up for the worst draft pick we’ve seen in 20 or more years, but the Eagles made a nice selection with Quez Watkins in the sixth round. Watkins is a terrific athlete with loads of potential. It wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually became a starter.

201. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn – A+ Grade
Prince Tega Wanogho – who is an actual prince – would have been chosen much earlier in the 2020 NFL Draft had there not been any injury concerns. You could say he’s a risk, but aren’t most draft picks risks? I love taking the chance on someone so talented in Round 6.

233. Casey Toohill, DE/OLB, Stanford – B Grade
I’m not sure about Casey Toohill’s fit in the Eagles’ 4-3. He’s more of a 3-4 player, but I’m sure the Eagles have a plan for him to rush the quarterback somehow. Philadelphia needed to upgrade its pass rush, and Toohill is a nice value.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: D . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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