LAS VEGAS – It was all about having a vision and having the flexibility to execute the plan for the Eagles on Night 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft and in the middle of the first round, Philadelphia executed two huge trades and came away with impact players for both sides of the line of scrimmage – selecting Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis with the 13th overall pick after moving up two spots and then trading to Tennessee the 18th and 101st picks in the draft for Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown.
You heard all that talk from General Manager Howie Roseman about having "flexibility" and maybe it didn't sink in. Maybe you didn't quite understand what flexibility would mean for the Eagles as they entered this crucial draft. On Thursday night, it all became clear. Having 10 total draft picks and those two in the first round enabled Roseman to send the 15th pick, a fourth-rounder, and two fifth-round selections to Houston for the 13th spot to take the enormously talented Davis, a mountain of a young man who anchored the best defense for the best football team in college football in 2021. Only a few minutes later, the Eagles finalized the deal with Brown, whom they then agreed to terms with on a four-year contract.
Boom! Just like that, the Eagles added two pieces of blue-chip talent and Roseman and Head Coach Nick Sirianni expressed their delight at the NovaCare Complex in the post-Round 1 press conference.
"It starts with Jordan. Jordan was a top-10 player on our board," Roseman said. "For us, it's O-line, D-line. We wanted the best O-line in the league, and we think we're on our way with the players we have on our roster and hopefully, we continue to add to that. And we want to have the best D-line in the league. The combinations (on the defensive line) we can have with the players on our roster, it's exciting."
"Really excited just to have him on this team," Sirianni said of Brown. "He plays with great play strength. This is a strong man. He's quick for a big guy and he just catches everything. Those are things that really stick out from his tape. And there's no projection there. You've seen it and you've seen it for three years now. It's just exciting to put on his tape and watch it."
In Las Vegas, Davis expressed his delight at being an Eagle. Dressed in a snappy suit that he designed adorned with the appropriate bling, Davis spoke of his excitement about joining the Eagles and playing with one of his idols, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Davis starred at Georgia and was named the recipient of the Outland Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award last season as the country's best defensive player.
In Philadelphia, he is determined to take his game up another notch.
"Exhilarated, excited, ready to work," Davis said when asked how the moment felt. "My mom (Shay Allen) is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, so she loves it more than I do and I'm just ready to get out there and see the team. I visited the Eagles and that visit was special. It showed that they really care. That they really cared about their players. They really care about winning. Everything went well. It was an amazing feeling. You felt like you wanted to be there. You felt at home, so I'm ready. I'm excited to get there.
"This has been amazing. More than I ever dreamed. More. You can't really prepare for this. You have dreams about it but actually doing it, walking across that stage, hearing your name being called, hearing that pick and the fact that they traded up for me just shows you how much they really want me and I'm ready to give everything I've got."
Davis made sure to show NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just how happy he was by emphatically hugging him with a little extra love.
"It was a bear hug, man," Davis said. "I had to squeeze him. I felt his backbones pop a little bit so I think I did good."
Davis will fit right into the defense working with Cox, Javon Hargrave, and second-year lineman Milton Williams. He's a versatile player who Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl said can win one-on-one battles and provide an anchor in the middle of the defense. Strength up the middle, for sure.
"I think when you see a guy with that type of size, athleticism, explosion, that loves to play the game, he did what they asked him to do in their defense, he fit the bill," Weidl said of Davis. "He made them strong in the middle of the defense. I mean you saw the lateral quickness. You saw the range. You saw the ability to get down the line of scrimmage and run down running backs and hop on quarterbacks. We think he has it in his body, explosion in his body. We're excited to get him in here and in our program."
With Brown, the Eagles acquired the physical and highly productive wide receiver who caught 24 touchdown passes and 185 passes in three seasons with the Titans, averaging a robust 16.2 yards per reception. He gives quarterback Jalen Hurts another big-time target. The two immediately got on the phone together with Hurts saying, "Let's do it."
"It was a priority to get the right players. And this, for us, was the right player, was the right fit," Roseman said. "I can't tell you that we were definitely going to draft a wide receiver in the first round. We had some other players we were looking at here, but I think we felt like this particular player, this particular person, the fit was really good for what we had and what we were looking for.
"A.J. Brown was someone we studied coming out and spent a lot of time on. We had a lot of love for A.J. Brown in that draft. Obviously, things went a different way in that draft. But, really excited to get him, just in terms of how Coach can use him and his vision for A.J. Brown in this offense and how he complements the other guys that we have here. And, as you guys may or may not know, his relationship with our quarterback. All exciting things and looking forward to getting him into Philadelphia."
Certainly, the Eagles did it on Thursday night. They went big on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, wheeling and dealing and landing two young, blue-chip talents who the team expects to fit right into the culture and the schemes in Philadelphia.