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Spadaro: How do the draft picks fit in?

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

Monday is a workday for the Philadelphia Eagles. It's bustling. It's energy. It's operating with a sense of purpose. No celebrations two days after the 2023 NFL Draft. No victory laps. What they're saying on the outside doesn't mean a whole lot on the inside of the NovaCare Complex, where the Eagles veterans reported for Week 2 of Phase 1 of the offseason. The workouts and the meetings continued. Later in the week, the Rookie Class arrives for a Rookie Minicamp weekend.

Business. As. Usual.

The Eagles were extremely pleased with how the process worked through the draft weekend and they are excited to see how it all plays out. They trusted their draft board – evaluations that consumed the scouting department for 11 months – and they feel they've added a lot of talent and upside to an already-strong roster.

Guarantees that this is all going to work out according to plan? There are zero of them.

"These guys haven't proven anything yet, so we've got to get them on the field, develop them on and off the field," General Manager Howie Roseman told me shortly after the draft ended Saturday evening.

He's 100 percent correct here. The work is just starting for the 2023 Eagles. While the roster is, for the most part, in place – and we know that Roseman is going to keep looking for ways to "look over our roster and see areas that we can continue to improve, and that won't stop," he said – most of what the Eagles will be in the season ahead is in the building.

So, the natural question is – and this won't be answered until the season begins – how do the new pieces fit in? We take a preliminary look, understanding that the players have yet to sit in a classroom meeting, don't have a playbook, and haven't stepped on the field.

D'Andre Swift, running back

The Eagles traded a 2025 fourth-round draft pick and swapped 2023 seventh-round selections with Detroit to bring Swift on board, and he offers a ton of production and talent.

Swift battled injuries in his three seasons with the Lions, but there is no denying his skills. He has burst, change of direction, and big-play ability as a runner, and he's dynamic as a receiving threat. Swift is in the final year of his contract, so he comes in with a lot to prove. In 40 career games, Swift has 1,680 rushing yards and 1,198 receiving yards to go along with 25 touchdowns. That is some outstanding production. He's a baller.

Bottom line: The Eagles were right when they said after the draft that they liked the running back room as it stood prior to Thursday. Philadelphia likes Rashaad Penny and his big-bodied, downhill, power running game. Kenny Gainwell showed late last season that he's ready to take on a bigger role. Boston Scott does everything right. Trey Sermon has a year in the system and is hungry to show the Eagles what he can do. Swift adds something different, though, a player who can line up around the formation and win in space. He's another big-play toy for this offense and it's going to be fun to see how the Eagles use him as a runner and receiver. He is a threat to score every time he has the football, a jack-of-many-trades who defenses must account for when he is on the field.

Jalen Carter, defensive tackle

The Eagles have built up an impressive room here. Retaining Fletcher Cox helps bring everyone along and, oh, by the way, he had a strong 2022 season with 7.5 quarterback sacks, good play against the run, and versatility along the line of scrimmage. The team also signed Kentavious Street in free agency, another player who has position versatility and who played very well in a rotation with the Saints last season. Second-year man Jordan Davis expects to take a big step forward. Milton Williams came on strong in '22 and big things are expected from him this season. There are some younger linemen who are going to get a lot of attention, too: Marlon Tuipulotu and Noah Elliss, who spent last season rehabbing from injury.

Bottom line: Carter is the team's first-round draft pick and with that comes expectations, for sure. But he isn't walking into a starting job, nor is anyone thinking he is going to transform the position. If that happens, great. But the Eagles will have a ton of competition for playing time at one of the deepest position groups on the roster.

Nolan Smith, linebacker

There could be opportunities for Smith to get reps, depending on how quickly he learns the defense and adapts to the NFL game. He certainly will have a chance to earn time on special teams with his speed and his tenacity, and in this defense, the Eagles just can't have too many pass rushers. Smith was far more than just a pass rusher at Georgia, as he was great at setting the edge against the run and playing tough in small spaces. The Eagles have a lot of weapons off the edge – Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, among them – so where does Smith get reps?

Bottom line: This is another stocked group, but Smith is a talented and hungry player with a high football IQ. He is determined to find his way into the rotation defensively, but there are a lot of unknowns. We don't know what Sean Desai plans for this defense or Smith, to begin with. It's a great challenge to have – the Eagles have a lot of defensive pieces who can rush the quarterback and set the edge, so Smith has his work cut out for him as a rookie.

Tyler Steen, offensive lineman

The offensive line has a pretty cut-and-dried story: Four of the five positions return starters and only at right guard is there an apparent starting position open. And the Eagles have candidates ready to earn time there – Jack Driscoll, Cam Jurgens, Sua Opeta leading the way – and so the dedication to building a great offensive line and keeping it that way forever and ever continues to pay off for the team. Steen started his collegiate career at Vanderbilt, then transferred to Alabama, earning a starting left tackle job there. He's a competitive player with a lot of traits that Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland is eager to mold.

Bottom line: This is the perfect case of let's-get-him-on-the-field-first before making any predictions. The Eagles need to see what Steen can do as they train him in technique – he must be perfect – and then start the positional training both at tackle and guard, as they do with all of their linemen. The right guard spot is open, with a lot of players lining up to win the job.

Sydney Brown, safety

A highly productive player at Illinois, where he started for five seasons, Brown brings a lot of versatility and skill-set traits that the Eagles love. He was a favorite in the scouting department and the Eagles are extremely excited to work with Brown. The Eagles are looking for two starting safeties after C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps moved on in free agency. The Eagles signed Terrell Edmunds, a five-year starter with the Steelers, and Justin Evans, who worked his way back from a devastating knee injury that basically cost him three seasons to play well last year with New Orleans. Reed Blankenship played well in his rookie season. K'Von Wallace provided some quality reps, particularly when he started in the win at Chicago. Andre Chachere has done well when called upon, mostly on special teams.

Bottom line: With a positional group that will have two new starters, playing time is there for the taking. How quickly can Brown learn the defense and fit in and show that he is a ballhawking safety in the NFL as he was in college?

Kelee Ringo, cornerback

This is a 20-year-old, long-bodied, and very athletic cornerback who performed at a high level at Georgia. The ceiling is high for Ringo and that's why the Eagles traded up to nab him in the fourth round of the draft. Ringo has a lot of developing to do, as Roseman said following the draft, so it's going to be a matter of teaching him how to be an Eagle and how to play the cornerback position at a consistently high level. Having veterans like Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox around give Ringo a great group of players to emulate in the cornerback room.

Bottom line: This isn't a "redshirt" season for Ringo, but it's a "developmental" situation to be specific. The Eagles want to see progress, as they do with every player in the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles have some depth here and can "coach up" Ringo to get him ready for NFL action.

Tanner McKee, quarterback

If you like a quarterback, you take him, right? Draft, develop, and retain. That's the name of the game in this league. Tanner McKee is a big-armed, strong-bodied quarterback who has a lot of qualities the Eagles like. He is a developmental prospect.

Bottom line: Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback. Marcus Mariota is the No. 2. Ian Book was on the roster last season as the No. 3. If McKee is to make the 53-man roster, his competition would appear to be Book.

Moro Ojomo, defensive lineman

You can't have enough offensive and defensive linemen, right? That's why the Eagles selected Ojomo in the seventh round, because they're looking for traits at this point in the draft and he has them. He plays hard. He is athletic. He showed versatility at Texas. Now, he's going to get a long look at a crowded set of positions – tackle and end – and see what he can do to earn a roster spot and playing time beyond that.

Bottom line: Ojomo had a good career at Texas and he's here to compete for a roster spot. Every day he is at the NovaCare Complex, every rep he takes in practice and in the preseason, will be extremely valuable.

Get your first look at the newest Eagles as well as exclusive photos from the NovaCare Complex all weekend long.

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