What we know about the Eagles after the three-day 2022 NFL Draft is that they added six players, including a proven standout at the wide receiver position, and they are a better football team now than they were a week ago and that, yes, they have work to do.
The "building" process continues for Philadelphia, as Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman acknowledged on Saturday night after the seven-round draft and the frenzy to sign non-drafted players was complete.
"I feel good about our process and the talent that we added," Roseman said. "We're a better football team than when we last took the field."
An NFL offseason is to be taken collectively, so let's begin with what the Eagles have done since free agency began in March. They signed their top target, pass-rushing linebacker Haason Reddick, whom they will incorporate into Jonathan Gannon's defense. Reddick's motor and his burst and his productivity will help set the standard for a defense that was just beginning to bring top-line talent to the mix for 2022 and beyond.
Philadelphia also added off-ball linebacker Kyzir White and wide receiver Zach Pascal on one-year deals in free agency and then spent the rest of the month retaining its own with center Jason Kelce, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, safety Anthony Harris, defensive end Derek Barnett, and running back Boston Scott leading the way. The Eagles also transitioned J.J. Arcega-Whiteside from wide receiver to tight end to add more depth behind top-flight talent Dallas Goedert.
Then it was on to the draft, and Roseman made his first move by dealing one of the team's three first-round draft picks to New Orleans for a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick along with a third-round pick for this year, and it was a sign of what was to come in this Draft Weekend.
So what did they add? Here is a rundown of the five draft picks and wide receiver A.J. Brown, whom the Eagles acquired in the trade with Tennessee on Thursday night:
DT Jordan Davis, Round 1 (No. 13 overall)
Roseman traded up with Houston to get Davis, a mountain of a man who anchored the middle of the defense for the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs.
"I think when you see a guy with that type of size, athleticism, and explosion that loves to play the game, he did what they asked him to do in their defense, he fit the bill," Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl said. "He made them strong in the middle of the defense. But you saw the lateral quickness, you saw the range, you saw the ability to get down on the line of scrimmage and run down running backs and hawk down quarterbacks. So, we think he has it in his body, the explosion in his body. We're excited to get him in here and get him in our program."
Davis is expected to work into a defensive tackle group that features Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Milton Williams. That's a lot of talent and a lot of depth as the Eagles look to wreck offensive lines from the inside out.
WR A.J. Brown, trade with Tennessee
Head Coach Nick Sirianni knows Brown well, having coached against him in the AFC. And Sirianni understands just how dominating Brown can be and how much he and second-year man DeVonta Smith will complement each other in this passing game. Said Sirianni: "He's a bigger guy with a lot of play strength. Like I said, this is one of the stronger receivers in the NFL. I was on the opposite sideline of him twice a year in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. So, I saw it up close and personal, and then obviously we did our due diligence on tape.
"There's a lot of different things that because of his skill set, because of that play strength, because of that body quickness that he has, and just the major – the biggest asset that he has is the one that's so vital to the position. If you can't catch the ball, you can't play. And this guy catches everything. We can see him on a lot of different routes that fit our offense that uses that play strength, that uses that quickness, and that's where he's so tough. You want guys that can win one-on-one matchups. And this guy has shown in the NFL that he will win one-on-one matchups. Again, I know I keep saying it, but it just sticks out. The way he wins with his play strength, the way he wins with his quickness."
C Cam Jurgens, Round 2 (No. 51 overall)
The Eagles stayed put with the 51st pick in the draft and selected Jurgens, who comes in to learn from one of the best ever, Jason Kelce (who called Jurgens his favorite player in the draft and who helped the Eagles scout Jurgens). Roseman made it very clear that the Eagles are high, very high, on Jurgens, a standout at Nebraska with his athleticism, his intelligence, his fundamentals, and the way he plays extremely hard on every single play.
"He was, in our mind, very, very worthy of the pick where we took him," Roseman said. "Those guys are hard to find. They are not in every draft. This guy – shout-out to our Offensive Line Coach (and run game coordinator) Jeff Stoutland. This guy, he's unusual. He's unusual."
LB Nakobe Dean, Round 3 (No. 83 overall)
Expected to be a first-round selection before the draft, Dean – the best player on Georgia's record-setting defense last season – lasted until the third round as teams shied away because of injury concerns. The Eagles did a thorough evaluation of Dean and came away convinced those concerns were unfounded. Dean is expected on the field in the week ahead as the Rookie Minicamp takes place at the NovaCare Complex.
"I think I've said this 50 times in the sense of what are we looking for in players. We are looking for high-character guys," Sirianni said. "We are looking for guys that love football. We are looking for guys that are tough. We are looking for guys that have high football IQ. And (we are looking for guys that are) competitive, that's the last one. He checks every one of those boxes. He's a leader on the field for Georgia. His football IQ is so high. His instincts are so high. That's just been my experience with players, too, that guys that are highly instinctive, they just find a way to make plays over and over and over and over again. It's just so hard not to get excited about it."
LB Kyron Johnson, Round 6 (No. 181 overall)
Johnson was a very productive edge rusher and tackler in the Kansas defense and he also has a chance to be an impact special teams player because of his speed. He was a leader at Kansas and another high-character player the Eagles targeted late in the draft.
"He is an explosive pass rusher. He gets off the ball exceptionally well. He's got edge speed. He's a natural-leverage guy, can convert speed to power. He can win three ways. He's excellent on stunts. He plays with energy. He's been an outstanding special teams player, 17 career special teams tackles. He shows up there," Weidl said. "A lot of positives with him and at the Senior Bowl, he took on some of the top tackles and put them on their back with his pass-rush ability, so you see that. It was just a great opportunity to get a guy who can add to the rush game."
TE Grant Calcaterra, Round 6 (No. 198 overall)
After beginning his collegiate career at Oklahoma, Calcaterra suffered a series of concussions and stepped away from the game, only to return and flourish in the 2021 season at SMU. He says he feels fully healthy and, after benefiting from the perspective of the sidelines for a season, a better tight end. The Eagles felt he was worth the draft pick in the sixth round as he joins a position headlined by Dallas Goedert, second-year man Jack Stoll, and now Arcega-Whiteside. Tyree Jackson is returning from a late-season knee injury.
"A really good tight end, does exceptionally well in the passing game – routes, skill, the ability to win at the top of routes, get open at the second and third level versus man coverage as well as uncover versus zone," Weidl said. "Really smart football player. Natural hands. Very polished as a route runner. Just a friend of the quarterback. We were happy to get him at that point."