Project Eagles Analysis: Howie Rosman has stopped outdoing himself

Howie Roseman’s story has always been about a guy who tried to act as if he was one step ahead of the league but constantly ended up falling flat on his face. Whether it was the disastrous 2019 NFL Draft where JJ Arcega Whiteside was picked ahead of DK Metcalf or Jalen Reagor taking over Justin Jefferson in 2020… I always felt like the obvious answers were there for Howie and he always unnecessarily zigzagged up when the others zigzagged.

But something has changed.

Entering last year’s draft, the team needed some stability. Doug Pederson’s era ended in disaster, Carson Wentz knocked off the stage on the left and the Eagles were left with a young quarterback, rookie coach and GM looking to correct the capsized ship. Howie Roseman spent his first picks on two of the hottest players from the country’s top team that year: De Fonta Smith of Alabama and Landon Dickerson. Smith was talk of the Heisman campaign that carried Crimson Tide to the national title and Dickerson was a very decorated member of Tide’s offensive line. These were smart, clear choices for players that were proven at the highest level. Not to mention Howie Roseman dropped out of that draft with an additional first round pick in 2022.

The payoff was clear. DeVonta Smith was spot on and the best wide receiver on the team, and Landon Dickerson eventually settled as a kicking guard next to Jordan Mailata. Top rookies made huge contributions while the rest of Howie’s 2021 class had some seriously bright moments. The end result was a surprising playoff and a great hope for the team’s future.

Spring 2022 the Eagles were full of choices and money, with the entire team expected to take their next big step. Howie made another great deal to send one of the 3 teams in the first round to New Orleans in 2023 first and 2024 seconds, so the Eagles entered the draft with two firsts and a host of other picks.

Then Howie really went to work.

The Eagles could have walked in a million directions in the first round. The needs were still many across the entire team: Basically, any good defensive player would be welcome in the first round or perhaps a wide receiver. Howie took his first step when he went ahead of Baltimore and selected Jordan Davis, the athletic defensive tackle superb from the Georgia National Defense Championship. Just 30 minutes later, Howie transferred another first-round pick to Tennessee’s AJ Brown, one of the best young receivers in the NFL. Brown, a proven playmaker, is undoubtedly better than any receiver the Eagles could have passed in the draft. It was clear that the Eagles needed a more experienced passer in their attack full of young receivers and Howie Roseman played one of the best.

And in a way, that’s not the end of the story in Howie’s brilliant 2022 draft.

On the second day, Rosman chose the Cam Jurgens Sports Center outside of Nebraska. The team has been associated with Jurgens for a long time and after the draft it was revealed that Jason Kelce himself had put in a good word for Jurgens to be his clear heir. When Jason Kelce tells you a position is good, you listen.

But the main story of day two wasn’t the center of the Eagles’ second round, linebacker Nakobi Dean was dropping more than anyone expected. Many expected the heart and soul of Georgia’s national title defense to be the first or second high pick, but he was free to fall for the second day.

His downfall was halted with a pick of 83 in the draft when Howie Roseman drafted fast Nakobi Dean to a desperate team to play the top-tier linebacker.

For the second year in a row, Roseman has drafted two of the hottest players from the best team in the country. A formula that worked so well last year, it would be ridiculous not to repeat it again. The Eagles dropped out of the draft with Jordan Davis, Nakobi Dean, AJ Brown, Cam Jurgens, some quality depth players and a few picks in 2023.

It really looks like Howie Roseman was willingly criticizing himself after the 2019 and 2020 drafts and he is now on one.

Enough about Howie, here are a few closer looks at the Eagles 2022 picks.

Jordan Davis, Defensive Intervention, Georgia

What he immediately brings to the team: Jordan Davis was my Fourth player in the class. His dominant running defense and ability to devour blocks were enough to mark him as a top pick in the NFL, but he was also one of the top athletes to come out of college football. Jordan Davis’ direct influence is someone who can dominantly play any indoor defensive position in base defense or nickel defense. His one man destroying the crew’s anti-run ability would allow the Eagles to play with lighter chests to be better prepared to defend against the pass. Having such a dominant defender on the spot is a perfect way to consistently get defenses in third and long positions, and raise the level of play for the entire unit.

Long term look: Much has been done about Jordan Davis’ lack of dash pass production in UGA, but it actually had nothing to do with ability and more to do with UGA’s defensive philosophy. Davis was required to control the line of scrimmage and create opportunities for blitzkrieg games. Davis would read the first round in every game he played on the court, which meant he always played a step slower running and speeding up the lane. The few times Georgia has asked him to shoot on the field, Davis has brought to light the world’s devastating ability to be blown up by guards and posts to create internal pressure.

The Eagles’ depth of defensive line means that Davis will be an important player in year one, giving the Eagles flexibility with formations on the defensive front. They can play 3-4 fights with Davis in the 0-tech, and 4-3 over and under the fronts, with Davis playing 1-tech defenses and Field Nickel in early touchdowns with Davis playing defensive tackle knowing teams will have trouble running. With Davis getting more reps where he can rush into the field, he’ll get better at it. Even if he makes a small move as a productive pass rusher, the Eagles defensive front will be formidable for years to come.

Cam Jurgens, Center, Nebraska

What he immediately brings to the team: Cam Jurgens was chosen to eventually step into Jason Kelce’s shoes, so it’s fair to assume that he (hopefully) won’t see the field much in his rookie year. Unlike last year’s Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens lacks the size and experience to play a guard role in his rookie year. So Jurgens will sit and train behind Jason Kelce in year one.

Long-term prospects: Jason Kelce does a lot to motivate the Eagles’ attack with his athletic style, toughness, and intelligence. Replacing what he does is a long and long task. So drafting Jurgens, whose athletic profile is very similar to Jason Kelsey, was a step in the right direction. The hope is that Jurgens’ sporting tools and on-pitch mentality can be a great foundation for coach Stutland to turn him into the next great Eagles centre.

Nakobi Dean, Linebacker, Georgia

What he immediately brings to the team: The Eagles have been missing a real difference maker at full-back for a while now. Nakobi Dean brings not only the speed of the playmaking industry but also a mindset that the Eagles have not had to defend since the passing of Malcolm Jenkins. Nakobi Dean was a captain on the Georgia national title team and was the heart and soul of their defense. Dean’s energy was something that was clearly contagious to Bulldogs and would bring that to the Eagles locker room.

Schematically, Dean will be a defensive asset once he can make his way onto the field. While he’s younger than the average NFL quarterback, he used speed, instincts, and physicality to dodge and run across blocks in college. While it’s fair to assume he’ll have a harder time with the NFL lineman, his speed will still make the difference. It would immediately be a game-changing Blitzer and made it onto the field with Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Kyzir White giving the Eagles plenty of flexibility to move their linebackers and create pressure from anywhere on the field. Dean will see most of his early shots as a nickel quarterback. Fortunately, the Eagles’ talent in the defensive line will make things much easier on Dean in terms of flushing the ball carriers against the run.

Long term look: Dean may not immediately be a midfield player, but that should be his downfall as he gets more comfortable. Dean was considered a first-round talent for a reason. By the end of his rookie season, Dean should be comfortable enough as an NFL quarterback to take the majority of shots back there.

Kieron Johnson, Linebacker, KS

What he brings to the team immediately: Kieron Johnson had his time playing on the edge and off the ball during his time in Kansas. His speed, body, and hot drive made him a productive and invaluable member of the Jayhawks’ defense. In All Star circles, Johnson impressed with practicality, often winning one over the other with some offensive linemen who went way ahead of him in the draft. Johnson’s size at six feet and around 235 pounds isn’t ideal for a top NFL player, but his speed and intelligence could make him a valuable depth of field as a quarterback. The Eagles also highlighted the contributions of his own teams to college (Howie said he had 17 interference in the ST tackles), showing their hand that Johnson would be used on special teams early in his NFL career.

Long term look: The most likely path for Johnson to eventually play his way to being a defensive player. His advanced experience might make him a chess piece in a defense that values ​​resilience. Most likely, Johnson will see most of his time as contributors to a special team.

Grant Calcatera, Narrow End, SMU

What he immediately brings to the team: The Eagles have a huge gap behind Dallas Goedert in terms of a viable pass that catches the tight ends. Jack Stoll was an excellent blocker in the junior season, but was only targeted five times out of four. The team has high hopes for Terry Jackson, but he’s still working his way out of an ACL injury. JJ Arcega Whiteside was recently moved to a tight end, but it’s hard to know how this experiment will unfold. All that said, Grant Calcaterra has been a dynamic and valued player throughout his college career. He’s big, very athletic for his size and a good hand. He’s getting close to a rare position where he can compete for second place despite being a late pick.

Long term look: Health is the biggest concern in Calkatera. He briefly quit football due to a concussion before returning to play a season at SMU. Talent is undeniable for Calkatera and he could be an important player for a team that loves two tight final groups. The main thing for him is to stay on the field.

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