Philadelphia Eagles Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Tyler Steen, OL, Alabama – Round 3
The Eagles landed a steal with Steen in the third round. Philadelphia has a talented veteran offensive line, but Steen was a superb value to provide the team with at least a versatile backup in 2023 but also a player ready to compete for the starting spot at right guard. The immensely experienced Steen could be a starter immediately.

In pass protection, Steen is a polished blocker who bends at the knee and shows good development in his set up. Steen slides his feet well to cut off the edge and does not bend at the waist to lunge after defenders. With a thick and strong build, Steen anchors well against bull rushes, holding his ground and not getting driven into the quarterback. Thanks to his strength, Steen shows a nice ability to sustain blocks with strong hands.

In the ground game, Steen is able to tie up and manipulate defenders. He can push defenders backward and keep them from getting to his runner. While Steen is not an overpowering force, he is a quality, reliable run blocker.

After starting for three seasons at Vanderbilt, Steen had a very good senior year at Alabama, protecting the blind side of Bryce Young. Steen is a rare 4-year SEC starter entering the NFL, so he has a lot more experience and development than most rookies. Steen has the flexibility to play left tackle, right tackle, or guard. Even if he doesn’t win the starting right guard spot, he immediately he becomes a valuable backup at tackle and guard. As soon as his rookie season, I could see Steen being a valuable starter for the Eagles.

2021: Nakobe Dean, LB
2020: Davion Taylor, LB
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

Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia – Round 1
The Eagles were said to be hot for Smith, which is why I had them selecting him in my final 2023 NFL Mock Draft. With Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, and Smith, Philadelphia has a trio of Georgia Bulldogs who were freak athletes in college but never had a season of big production in college. Davis and Carter are large linemen who are rotated, but Smith could have played more – yet Georgia limited to him to 20-30% of defensive snaps. Along with his lack of production in college, nine total sacks over three seasons, Smith has some skill-set limitations.

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound Smith lacks the height and length to be a three-down starter at defensive end in the NFL. That limits him as a run defender and could make him more of a designated pass rusher. In the NFL, Smith will need to get better at defending downhill runs coming straight at him. He did well for his size in college, but his lack of length and weight is always going to be problematic versus NFL tackles who have a 60- to 100-pound advantage over him.

For the pros, Smith’s best fit could come as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He lacks the size and length to be a 4-3 defensive end on an every-down basis. In a 4-3, he would have to move to Sam – strongside – outside linebacker who rushes as a defensive end in the sub package. Smith might settle into an NFL role as a designated pass rusher for the sub package.

While Smith has rare speed off the edge, it did not amount to sack production in college. Given his size, limited playing time, and lack of production at Georgia, Smith looks like the most likely to bust of Philadelphia’s early-round picks.

2022: None
2021: Milton Williams, DT
2020: Jalen Hurts, QB
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 Carter, DT, Georgia – Round 1
In the days before the NFL Draft, I reported in the Hot Press that team sources were telling me that Philadelphia was interested in trading up in the top-10 to land Carter, and on draft night that is what happened, with the franchise doing a trade with Chicago to land Carter. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder will get reunited with Georgia teammates Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith. With good talent around him, Carter has definite boom pick potential for the Eagles.

As a pass rusher, Carter (6-3, 310) showed more natural ability to get after the quarterback than Jordan Davis or Devante Wyatt in 2022. Carter is quick off the ball, posessing excellent first-step quickness. With his speed, Carter is dangerous to fire his gap and get into the backfield. His speed catches offensive linemen by surprise and that allows him to often get them on their heels. Carter has a serious burst to close and he will blast into the backfield.

Despite his height, Carter plays with excellent leverage. He stays low versus guards and avoids letting them to get underneath him. Carter has natural strength in his upper and lower body to bull through blockers, showing interior speed to power.

In the ground game, Carter is a tough defender who can hold his ground and cause disruption in the backfield. He will push through blockers or fire his gap to cause havoc behind the line of scrimmage, leading to a blown up run cleaned up by teammates. With his skill set, Carter is a well-rounded defender who can play both phases well.

As a rookie, Carter can rotate with Fletcher Cox and Davis to form a talented trio. Carter should take over as the starter for Cox in 2024, and Carter could be a dynamic interior force for the Eagles. Of Philadelphia’s picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, Carter has the most boom-pick potential.

2021: DeVonta Smith, WR
2020: Jalen Reagor, WR
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

Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford – Round 6
McKee (6-6, 231) was a nice value for the Eagles in the sixth round, as he easily could have gone in the mid-rounds. McKee has good size, arm strength, and quality mechanics. The NFL is trending toward quarterbacks with running ability and athleticism, but McKee does not fit that trend. While he isn’t a complete statue, he is not a running threat and will not be a quarterback who possess mobility that frustrates a defense.

As a passer, McKee needs to speed up the process and get faster working through his progressions. With those limitations, McKee might top out as a backup in the NFL. However with his arm ability and mental strengths, McKee could turn into a solid backup quarterback.

2022: Grant Calcaterra, TE
2021: Kenny Gainwell, RB
2020: John Hightower, WR
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 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

9. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia – A Grade
Charlie Campbell reported that the Eagles would trade up into the 6-9 range for Jalen Carter if he got past Seattle. Once the Seahawks made their strange Devon Witherspoon pick, the opportunity was there because the teams drafting 6-9 didn’t like Carter very much because of his off-the-field concerns. Those are definite worries, but Carter’s upside is enormous. Carter is arguably the best prospect in this class, and outside of Bijan Robinson, no player who was going to be available for the Eagles was going to help them win a Super Bowl this year more than Carter.

30. Nolan Smith, DE/OLB, Georgia – A+ Grade
LOL wow. How did the Eagles land Nolan Smith when they easily could have selected him at No. 10? This is ridiculous, but as the adage goes, dumb teams make dumb picks, and the smart teams benefit. The Eagles are going to have an absurd defensive front that will demolish every quarterback in their path.

65. Tyler Steen, OT/G, Alabama – A+ Grade
Not a Georgia player, but a great selection nonetheless. Tyler Steen is a talented, versatile blocker who can play tackle and guard. I had him in the early second round, so I love this value. Steen will be able to replace Isaac Seumalo right away.

66. Sydney Brown, S, Illinois – B Grade
I finally don’t love a pick for the Eagles. This isn’t a bad selection though. The Eagles needed a safety, and Sydney Brown is a play-maker. I had him slotted a bit later than this, but Brown has nice upside, so he could definitely live up to his third-round billing.

105. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia – A+ Grade
Surprise, surprise, the Eagles drafted a Georgia player. Kelee Ringo is a big cornerback with tons of upside, and he easily could have been chosen in the second round. This is tremendous value, and it fills a long-term need.

188. Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford – A Grade
Tanner McKee should have been drafted a couple of rounds earlier than this, as he has a strong arm and some upside. The Eagles wanted to find a quarterback to develop as a No. 2. This is another great pick from Howie Roseman.

249. Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas – A- Grade
Moro Ojomo is a good prospect, but happens to be a tweener. I thought he would go earlier than this, as I had him in the fifth round, so this is solid value in the seventh round.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: A+. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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