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Philadelphia Eagles Draft History Under Howie Roseman

The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and discussion is ramping up. The Philadelphia Eagles made waves by trading down from the No. 6 spot to pick 12, and Howie Roseman is on the hot seat. While he built a great roster in 2017 that went on to win the Super Bowl, he’s come under immense fire recently. The criticism is in no small part thanks to his shaky drafting, especially in the past two years. The recent whiffs have led people to accuse Roseman of being bad at drafting throughout his career.

Is that true? Let’s take a look at the Eagles draft history under Howie Roseman.

eagles draft need targets nfl 2021
Credit: Jeff Fusco/phillymag

Eagles Draft History Under Howie Roseman

Roseman was promoted to general manager in 2010. How much say he’s had in each draft is unknown, as Andy Reid probably had a lot of influence for the first few years. Same with Chip Kelly, although we do know 2015 was mostly Kelly by himself. Still, besides 2015, we’ll credit the drafts to Howie to make things simple. 

2010 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

The notable pick here is Brandon Graham in the first round, at pick 13. Graham took awhile to get going, but he’s undoubtedly a great player and has been one for the past five-plus years. He’s never been one to get a ton of sacks, but Graham gets a ton of pressure and supports the run defense as well. Riley Cooper in the fifth round was a decent pick as well. He wasn’t a star, but for a fifth-rounder, he performed admirably, capping out at an 835-yard, eight-touchdown year in 2013. Kurt Coleman wasn’t good for the Eagles, but he was good for the Carolina Panthers. For a seventh-rounder, that’s not bad. 

Worst Picks:

Honestly, this was a solid draft. The biggest misses were Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Trevard Lindley in the third and fourth rounds. They basically got nothing out of those two. Missing on third and fourth-rounders isn’t great, but it isn’t a massive deal.

Overall: Solid

The Eagles got one star and two serviceable starters (Nate Allen and Riley Cooper) from the draft, which isn’t a bad haul at all. How you count Kurt Coleman also matters. He was a seventh-round gem, just not really for the Eagles. Was that a good pick or bad one?  

2011 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

Jason Kelce is one of the best picks in Eagles History. He’s been a stalwart at the center spot basically his whole career, and one of the best centers for the past five. He’s made multiple All-Pro teams, and he hasn’t missed a game in the past six years. Dion Lewis is a running back still in the NFL. For a fifth-round pick, that isn’t bad. Like Coleman though, he didn’t do anything for the Birds before finding some success elsewhere. 

Worst Picks:

Unfortunately, the same NFL Draft the Eagles had one of the best ever picks, they also had one of their worst ever. Danny Watkins was supposed to be a pro-ready guy, ready to contribute from Day 1 because his age (26). Theoretically, he didn’t need to develop any. Turns out, they were right that he wouldn’t develop, but they were wrong that Watkins was a NFL player. He was terrible and lasted just three years. Besides that, they didn’t really get anyone else worthwhile. Alex Henery was okay for a few years, but he was a kicker in the fourth. That’s not good enough. Jaiquawn Jarret and Curtis Marsh were top-three round picks that also didn’t contribute much at all. 

Overall: Bad

This draft had one player that was remotely useful, and it also contained one of the worst whiffs of all time in Watkins. It gets saved from a bottom barrel rating only by Kelce, who again is one of the Eagles all-time best picks. 

2012 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

After one of the worst drafts comes one of the best. Fletcher Cox has been one of the best defensive tackles in the league, and one of the best defenders in general. If Aaron Donald didn’t exist, he would probably be considered the best DT of the decade. They got him with the 12th pick, and hopefully they make a repeat performance this year. Mychal Kendricks was a solid linebacker and has started basically his entire career. Nick Foles brought this team a championship as a fourth-round pick. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters. 

Worst Picks:

The Birds got a star or a serviceable player with their first five picks. Their last four didn’t do much, but they were a fifth, two sixths and a seventh-rounder. Missing on those is pretty whatever, all things considered. 

Overall: Great

A stud in Fletcher Cox and the man that brought the city its first championship in Nick Foles. Those two picks alone make this a great draft. In general, no misses in the first five is absolutely amazing.

Zach Ertz trade candidates philadelphia eagles news
Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

2013 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

Another good NFL Draft by the Eagles. Lane Johnson has been an elite right tackle his entire career. The only thing stopping him is availability. Zach Ertz was also one of the best tight ends in the game for about a four-year period. 

Worst Picks: 

Matt Barkley was not good, although taking a flier on a QB that might have a lot of potential (before Barkley’s disastrous last year in college he was seen as a first rounder) isn’t a bad decision. No one besides the first three picks contributed at all.

Overall: Good

They got two All-Pro players in their first two, and a serviceable starter in the third. Fourth and beyond was a mess, but that’s a good top three. If you can draft like that every year, you’re doing well.

2014 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

Jordan Mathews in the second was a good pick. His career wasn’t a long one, but it was good for a bit. He had three straight years with 800+ yards, and his 2015, where he went for 997/8, is a nice season. Beau Allen was never a starter, but he had a decent career and was playable for six years. For a seventh-rounder, that’s acceptable. 

Worst Picks: 

Just like Danny Watkins, Marcus Smith was a late first-rounder that was a disaster for the Eagles. He never started, and had 6.5 sacks in his whole career. It’s another one of the worst picks ever. Besides Mathews and Allen, none of the players made any impact in the league. Josh Huff was a third-rounder that only survived three years. Not ideal.

Overall: Terrible

Pound for pound, this was the worst draft so far. You can debate who was worse between Smith and Watkins, but at least 2011 produced Jason Kelce, putting it far above this disaster of a NFL Draft class. Mathews was good for two years, and that’s about it. Roseman lost his personnel privileges for this draft, and it’s kind of understandable. 

2015 Eagles Draft

We won’t discuss this one much, as it seems to be generally accepted that this was a Chip Kelly-driven draft. Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe both had moments on championship teams, but were overall not great for their draft spot. Agholor still has time though, and just had a career year. Jordan Hicks was a stud when he was playing. Unfortunately, he missed nine games in his final two seasons with the Eagles, then Philly let him walk. The first three picks are still in the league, but none are really elite at this point in time. The other three picks (small draft) flamed out quickly.

Overall: Solid

Can we do better than Roseman? Maybe. This draft had three starters in the first three rounds, but no truly elite guys. Roseman has had better, and he’s had much worse.

2016 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

This is always going to be a controversial one because of Carson Wentz. The Eagles traded up to get him, and it looked like an incredible move until 2020, where it became a terrible one. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. At the end of the day though, Wentz was instrumental in the Eagles first Super Bowl and for that I consider it a good pick. Besides Wentz, Jalen Mills had his ups and downs, but was a starter. For a seventh-rounder, that’s great. 

Worst Picks:

This draft had a lot of late picks (six picks in round five or later) which means there were a lot of guys that didn’t contribute much. That’s to be expected, though. Alex McCalister never played a game in the NFL, and is the only person in the draft class that wasn’t on an NFL roster in 2020. 

Overall: Good

Even with mostly late round picks, Roseman hit on most of them. Jalen Mills was value in the seventh, and Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai were a third and fifth-rounder, respectively, that were solid-good linemen. If you ignore the contract part of the Wentz saga, he did lead the Birds to a playoff spot three of his five years, including a near-MVP level campaign in 2017. 

2017 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

Derek Barnett has been a pretty good lineman for his career with the Eagles. He’s never been any better than that though, and for the 14th pick in the first round, that’s just okay. The rest of the draft is not great.

Worst Picks: 

The decision to draft Sidney Jones wasn’t a terrible one. He was a high-potential prospect that fell due to injury. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, and a bust in the second round hurts. Jones had moments here, but it never worked out. Mack Hollins in the fourth had more opportunity than a lot of mid-round wide receivers and did nothing with it.

Overall: Bad

Barnett is fine, nothing more. No one else made a positive impact. Rasul Douglas played a lot but wasn’t good. Sidney Jones never got established, Hollins was more interested in special teams than catching passes and Nathan Gerry was one of the worst NFL players I’ve ever seen. 

2018 Eagles Draft

Best Picks:

Josh Sweat had a breakout season in 2020 and was really good. Finding playing time on the Eagles defensive line isn’t easy, and he excelled. Jordan Mailata might become the new Jason Kelce. He was a seventh-rounder and hasn’t played at all until this past year. That didn’t spot him from being great, though. Mailata was another gamble by the Eagles (their other gambles haven’t worked) going for an incredibly raw athlete with little football experience, but it seems to have paid off in spades. 

Worst Picks:

Avonte Maddox wasn’t great, but he was a starter for the Eagles for a few years and filled in admirably for a fourth-rounder at a few different spots. The Eagles only had five picks this year, and honestly they sort of hit on all of them

Overall: Great

We are getting to the point where judging drafts are really tough, because there simply hasn’t been enough time to properly evaluate these guys. However, even without many top picks (they had a second, two fourths, a sixth and a seventh), they basically hit on all of them. Maddox and Pryor aren’t amazing, but they aren’t bad either and were late picks. Mailata could be a stud. Dallas Goedert looked poised to easily take Ertz’s mantle before injury and Josh Sweat also looks like he has a ton of potential.

Miles Sanders Eagles nfl draft
Credit: Matt Rourke/AP Photo

2019 and 2020 Eagles Drafts

These two years will get grouped together because it’s too early to really judge them. The jury is still very much out on guys like Andre Dillard or Jalen Reagor. There are clear winners and busts as well. Miles Sanders is good-great running back, while fellow 2019 second-rounder J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is a major bust. Overall, we won’t know for a few years how this draft turns out. At the same time, Dillard and Reagor have given little to no value so far, while many other first round picks are contributing immediately. 

Final Tally

The Eagles had two great drafts, good drafts, one solid draft, two bad drafts and one terrible one. Altogether, that’s fairly decent. To be fair, 2019 and 2020 are leaning towards the negative side, but we don’t know that yet. With the data we have, Roseman is not an amazing drafter, but he also isn’t a bad one either. More advanced data (more advanced than my opinion anyways) shows something similar. Using career approximate value, Football Outsiders sorted the teams based on draft capital and draft return from the past 10 years. The Eagles were towards the bottom in draft capital, and pretty much bang average in return. This was before the 2020 season too, where Sweat and Mailata had breakout years. 

First Round?

Howie Roseman has strengths and weaknesses, but so far, the draft doesn’t really seem to be either. It’s just pretty solid. One thing that can reassure Eagles fans is that so far Roseman seems to hit on early first rounders. All of the first rounders in the top half (Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett and Carson Wentz) have all had various levels of success (from wildly successful to pretty good). It’s the latter half that is kind of a minefield, with huge busts in Marcus Smith and Danny Watkins and potentially other busts in Andre Dillard and Jalen Reagor. The Eagles pick 12th this year, and Roseman has a solid track record in that range.


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