Can Howie Roseman and the Eagles reverse their trend with mid-to-late first-round misses?

Last year, Howie Roseman and the Eagles did some real magic at the NFL Draft.

Based on their 4-11-1 record, Philadelphia went into the low season with overall pick No. 6, a pick they swapped away for the Miami Dolphins a month before the draft, moving six spots back to No. 12 while also achieve an election in the first round of the 2022 draft. Then, on draft night, the Birds moved up two spots to No. 10, sending a third round to the Dallas Cowboys and jumping ahead of the New York Giants to pick Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

Howie Roseman undoubtedly got the best wide receiver prospect in the draft, while also winning a pick in the first round of this year’s draft, a player who set the franchise rookie reception record last year (916) and established himself as a rising star in the league. It was without a doubt a great choice, a sea change from some previous drafts filled with first round misses and galaxy-brain-thinking.

Roseman has been in charge of the Eagles’ drafts since 2010 (with the exception of Chip Kelly’s promotion to the top dog, which included the ’15 Drafts), and below are all of his first-round picks.

Eagles 1st round pick under Howie Roseman

Year Player Position Select no.
Year Player Position Select no.
2010 Brandon Graham EDGE 13
2011 Danny Watkins AND 23
2012 Fletcher Cox DT 12
2013 Lane Johnson OT 4
2014 Marcus Smith EDGE 26
2016 Carson Wentz QB 2
2017 Derek Barnett EDGE 14
2018 No choice
2019 Andre Dillard OT 22
2020 Jalen Reagore WR 21
2021 DeVonta Smith WR 10

There is no doubt that Roseman has had some first-round winners, including Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Carson Wentz and DeVonta Smith. All are, or were, excellent players for the Eagles, the first four of which were an integral part of their Super Bowl championship in 2017. All were drafted within the first 13 picks of the draft.

The Magic 13.

Watkins, Smith, Barnett, Dillard and Reagor were all drafted as No. 14 or later.

The tragic 14-and-under.

Fast-forward to this year, when Roseman executes a pre-draft trade that moves him a bit down the pick sequence while allowing him to pick up another first rounder next season. Following his agreement with the Saints, the Eagles now sit with their original No. 15, as well as No. 18.

These two places are not in The Magic 13, but is there really that much difference between pulling in the top 13 and choosing a few places later? Historically, there has been that under Howie Roseman. Given that, should he then be looking to move a few places up and wade into an area where there is a little more security?

Before we decide, let’s take a look at the players taken at No. 15 and 18 overall over the last 10 drafts.

  • 2021: Mac Jones (QB), Jaelan Phillips (DL)
  • 2020: Jerry Jeudy (WR), Austin Jackson (OT)
  • 2019: Dwayne Haskins (QB), Garrett Bradbury (C)
  • 2018: Kolton Miller (OT), Jaire Alexander (CB)
  • 2017: Malik Hooker (S), Adoree ‘Jackson (CB)
  • 2016: Corey Coleman (WR), Ryan Kelly (C)
  • 2015: Melvin Gordon (RB), Marcus Peters (CB)
  • 2014: Ryan Shazier (LB), Calvin Pryor (DB)
  • 2013: Kenny Vaccaro (DB), Eric Reid (DB)
  • 2012: Bruce Irvin (DE), Melvin Ingram (DE)

There are more success stories than not out of those 20 players, including last year’s selection, Mac Jones, who comes after an excellent rookie season for the Patriots, and linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who recorded 8.5 sacks as a rookie last season for the Dolphins. Bradbury has been the Vikings’ starting center since his rookie season, Miller has started on left tackle all four seasons, he has been with the Raiders, just like Jaire Alexander with Green Bay.

Ryan Kelly has made the Pro Bowl three years in a row with the Colts at the center. Gordon, when he was healthy, has been a prolific running back in the NFL, and Peters was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, a three-time Pro Bowl corner and twice a First Team All-Pro in 2016 and ’17 for the Chiefs .

Shazier was selected for two Pro Bowls before being partially paralyzed, unable to move his legs after making a tackle in a match in ’17. Fortunately, he has regained his ability to walk, but retired from football in 2020. Vaccaro played 8 years in the league with 10 career INTs and 11.5 sacks in 110 games. Reid went to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season and has 11 career INTs in 99 games for the 49ers and Panthers. Irvin has 52 sacks in his career in 127 games, while Ingram has 51 sacks in 128 games. Both have had excellent NFL careers.

Of course, they may not all be success stories, but it’s as true in the middle of the first round as it is anywhere else. The late Dwayne Haskins (RIP), Corey Coleman and Calvin Pryor were unable to live up to the high expectations of the first round, while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has shown glimpses in his two seasons with the Broncos, but missed seven games last year due to an injury, and started only five.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of good talents in the middle of the first round if one is an astute GM with a coherent plan and solid scouting department, and I would argue that there is a big difference between drafting at Nos. 15 and 18 and selecting players in their 20s, an area where a number of Roseman’s misses took place.

I’m by no means sure of Howie Roseman’s ability to draft the right players, but perhaps one can hope that what appears to be a successful 2021 Eagles draft will herald good things for this year. The Birds’ top five picks: Smith, Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams, Zech McPhearson and Kenneth Gainwell, all seem solid to big, and if the Eagles stand clap, it would certainly be instructive to see how Roseman and the rest of the staff do. Given the gaps the team has and the need for more young, cheap, high-end talent to fill them, the Eagles should stay where they are unless they are blown away by an offer from a GM who has lost his mind on his abilities.

Crossing fingers to choose outside of The Magic 13 does not mean another Watkins or Reagor this time.

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