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NFC East review: Evaluating the Philadelphia Eagles 2020 draft class

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Did Philly get better in the draft?

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

In our final component of the NFC East 2020 NFL Draft Review, we turn to the Philadelphia Eagles.

If the Washington Redskins had a safe draft and the Dallas Cowboys had a very successful draft, the Eagles fell somewhere in between. They managed to snag some high-value picks in the later rounds similar to the Redskins and they made some splashes like the Cowboys, particularly when selecting Jalen Hurts and trading for veteran Marquise Goodwin.

Let’s take a dive into the 2020 NFL Draft class haul of the defending NFC East champions.

Round 1 (No. 21 overall): Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Selecting Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick in the first round falls under the more “surprising” category for the Eagles. Philly absolutely needed a wide receiver but Reagor, though talented, leaves something to be desired in a first round pick. Reagor had an explosive career at TCU, finishing second in school history in touchdown catches (22) and sixth in receiving yards (2,248).

But there are a number of reasons Reagor wasn’t projected to go until the second round. He has streaky focus, is shorter than ideal and recorded eight drops in what was a less productive 2019 season overall. With CeeDee Lamb dropping (who the Cowboys eventually snatched at No. 17), it’s a little surprising that the Eagles did not try to trade up to get a more explosive receiver. Overall, Reagor has the potential to make an instant impact on the Eagles receiving corps but he was an unexpected pick at No. 21 overall.

Round 2 (No. 53 overall): Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

This is the pick, of course, that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the Eagles’ 2020 draft class. And it is probably their worst pick of the draft because the value does not match the need.

I like Jalen Hurts as a prospect and think he has earned the utmost respect for gracefully taking the sideline and supporting Tua Tagovailoa in Alabama’s championship game. He’s shown that he is a team player and a humble leader - qualities that any team would want in a quarterback. The problem? The Eagles do not need him right now and they don’t even need him soon. GM Howie Roseman wants to produce a “quarterback factory,” but the Eagles already have Carson Wentz who is fresh off leading his team to an NFC East championship.

With the No. 53 overall pick, the Eagles had a chance to draft someone who can make an immediate impact. Yet, they selected Hurts who, in the most ideal scenario, will not take many snaps in the upcoming years. At this rate, the Eagles could have traded No. 21 and No. 53 to trade up to No. 16 in order to snag Lamb. Instead, they got one player who might make an immediate impact and another, who hopefully never will.

Round 3 (No. 103 overall): Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado

Another pressing need alongside wide receiver for the Eagles was at the linebacker position, so credit to them for choosing one with their third pick. I am not sure, however, if Davion Taylor was the best linebacker the Eagles could have chosen.

He has the speed of a sprinter and is durable, playing 91.2 percent of defensive snaps in 2019. But the concern with Taylor is a lack of experience. Taylor practiced with the football team at his high school but did not play on game days because of his mother’s religious beliefs. They were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and observed the sabbath Friday night through Sunday morning. Taylor was therefore a no-star recruit out of high school. He made a name for himself in Boulder and has a shot at competing for the starting middle linebacker job with the Eagles. But his lack of football experience is a red flag and he might be a better fit for special teams before transitioning to the defense.

Round 4 (No. 127 overall): K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson

Safety was another position of need for the Eagles, mostly because the safeties Philadelphia has now are only short-term investments. It is unclear exactly where K’Von Wallace will fit alongside veterans Jalen Mills, Will Parks, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc. All of these players are signed only through 2020 though so Wallace could see much more playing time the following season.

Wallace was known at Clemson for his aggressive mindset and competitive spirit. He moves through traffic well and was voted a team captain because of his work ethic. He also tied the school record for games played with 59. He does not have great size but is overall, a great value player at a position of need for the Eagles - a smart pick.

Round 4 (No. 145): Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn

Jack Driscoll brings versatility to the Eagles as someone who can play tackle, guard and possibly center. He has steady footwork and a high football IQ. He started his playing career at the University of Massachusetts before moving on to play at Auburn as a fifth-year senior. He has a reputation for having a strong work ethic and professional attitude, starting 45 games in the last four seasons.

Again, Driscoll’s body type is nothing to be too excited about and he does not have solid technique. He has a quiet personality and needs to learn to insert some fire into his game so he can attack more on the field. He might be able to find his own place amongst a group of veterans by being a movable lineman and he has the benefit of learning from offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

Round 5 (No. 168): John Hightower, WR, Boise State

Because the Eagles had such a need for wide receivers heading into the draft, it was smart that they tacked on another with this fifth-round pick. Hightower will add even more speed to the Eagles’ receiving corps, joining Reagor and newly-acquired veteran Marquise Goodwin. They are definitely looking more formidable on offense than they did before the draft, even with a less-than-desirable first-round pick in Reagor.

Hightower was a two-year starter at Boise State and finished his career with 2,606 all-purpose yards (317 rushing, 1,447 receiving, 840 kick return and two punt return) - numbers that showcase his all-around versatility. He has good acceleration and is reliable downfield but overall, he lacks discipline. He’s a gamble but his speed and tracking skills suggest that he may have NFL potential.

Round 6 (No. 196): Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple

By selecting Shaun Bradley with their first pick in the sixth round, the Eagles transitioned from adding depth to the wide receiver group to adding depth to the linebacker corps. Philly entered the draft with both a short and long term need for linebackers. Prior to the draft, the Eagles had just five players at the position and the addition of Bradley and Taylor will create a competition for starting spots in training camp. Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton and Jatavis Brown are all scheduled to be free agents after the 2020 season so an investment in linebackers is important for Philly’s present and future.

Bradley was a three-year starter at Temple and was known for his aggressive angles and movements in coverage. He struggles to anticipate and get off blocks, but his competitive nature might be enough to land him a spot on the back end of the roster or with a special teams role. He is also sure to be a fan favorite as he is a local kid who grew up in New Jersey and attended Temple University.

Round 6 (No. 200): Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss

The Eagles added even more speed to their growing wide receiver corps with Quez Watkins. Philly needed receivers heading into the draft but now with Reagor, Hightower and Goodwin, the selection of Watkins out of Southern Miss seems a little redundant. It is unlikely that Watkins will be able to earn a roster spot this season.

Watkins was a two-year starter at Southern Miss. He actually was suspended from the team following the 2018 season but managed to improve his grades and do everything that was asked of him to return to the program. He is one of only six FBS receivers to average at least 107.0 receiving yards per game in 2019. he needs to work on his mental and physical focus and will have an uphill climb with the receivers Philly has added to its roster, but his explosive speed certainly makes him stand out.

Round 6 (No. 210): Prince Tega Wanogho, OT Auburn

Prince Tega Wanogho is a steal for the Eagles with the No. 210 overall pick in the sixth round of the draft. Factor in the fact that Philly moved down 20 spots to acquire Goodwin and this pick is even more impressive. At 6-foot-5, 308 pounds, Wanogho started 32 games for Auburn, demonstrated the ability to get out his stance quickly and had strong recovery athleticism. He is a Nigeria native and developed a reputation at Auburn for bring a highly driven individual with a strong work ethic.

The biggest problem with Wanogho, and the reason he fell to the sixth round, is his medical history. Some draft experts gave him a third-round grade, but he started to fall when he was not allowed to participate in the Senior Bowl after a physical revealed fluid inside of his knee. Wanogho apparently played through injury all of last season. If he can stay healthy, Wanogho brings great value, especially from a sixth round pick.

Round 7 (No. 233): Casey Toohill, DE, Stanford

Casey Toohill had a very strong senior year at Stanford, finishing with a team-best 11.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in the backfield. He has above-average length and shows surprising pass rush quickness. He shows tweener traits and also finished as a finalist for the Academic Heisman.

Yet, it’s difficult to imagine Toohill on the Eagles’ roster. He was only a one-year starter at Stanford and battled injuries as an underclassmen. He needs to improve his hand work and functional strength if he is going to make the team because he will have a difficult time making the roster as a traditional 4-3 defensive end.