Grading the Eagles’ 2015 Draft

Let’s get right to it:

Round 1, Pick 20: WR Nelson Agholor, USC
As I said in my piece that graded the first round picks of all 32 teams, the Eagles not landing Marcus Mariota limited the ceiling of the approval of this pick. However, Agholor likely has the best hands of any receiver in this draft, and he’s an outstanding fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. I initially questioned the value of this pick, but the Lions would have reportedly taken him with the 23rd pick had he been available. The Eagles will move him around and get him into space, and an 800-1000 yard rookie season is certainly not out of the question. Grade: B+

Round 2, Pick 47: CB Eric Rowe, Utah
One of my favorite players in the entire draft, Rowe is a physical, long-armed player who fits well in the Eagles’ press-man scheme. Though they had to trade up to draft him, Rowe was projected by many as a first round player, so the Eagles got some great value in this pick. Like Agholor, Rowe should make an immediate impact. Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 84: ILB Jordan Hicks, Texas
Probably the Eagles’ most shocking pick of the draft. He missed a lot of time at Texas due to injury, but Hicks is an above average player who the Eagles supposedly ranked as the top three-down linebacker in the draft. Though it was an unexpected pick, Hicks will be in a great situation in Philadelphia due to the Eagles’ current depth at inside linebacker. He will develop as a rotational player as a rookie before competing for a starting job in 2016. Grade: B-

Round 6, Pick 191: CB JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas
The Eagles weakest unit last season was the secondary, and strengthening the defensive back positions—both in quality and quantity—was an obvious focal point of Chip Kelly’s draft plan. Shepherd was “as close to a shutdown corner as you can find in the pass happy Big 12” according to trusted football expert Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball on Twitter), and the corner likely projects as a slot player in Billy Davis’s defense. Shepherd impressively allowed a 38.6 completion percentage on passes defended during the 2014 season, and he was Mel Kiper’s “Best Available Player” for nearly an hour on Saturday. There’s obvious value in this pick. Grade: A

Round 6, Pick 196: DB Randall Evans, Kansas State
Evans was the third defensive back taken by the Eagles in their first five picks. Versatility is one of his biggest strengths, and Evans might project as a safety for the Eagles after playing cornerback at Kansas State. A former walk-on, Evans adds to the Eagles’ depth in the secondary and will likely immediately contribute on special teams. I do wonder, however, if the Eagles should have targeted an offensive lineman or pass rusher with their second pick of the sixth round. Grade: C

Round 7, Pick 237: DE Brian Mihalik, Boston College
The second most athletic defensive lineman in the entire draft, Mihalik will rank in the 97.6 percentile of all defensive linemen in the NFL. Simply a “best player available” pick, the 6’9, 302 pound Mihalik (who ran a 4.89 40 time) will be a project player with an extremely high ceiling for a 7th round draft pick. While it’s impossible to project how he’ll contribute to the Eagles in 2015, Mihalik is a low risk, high reward player to keep a watchful eye on in the future. Grade: B

Final Grade: B+
Summary: The Eagles did a lot of good things in this draft. Agholor and Rowe will immediately contribute and should have large roles in the 2015 season. Hicks, Shepherd, and Evans will all be rotational players during their rookie seasons and should immediately contribute on special teams. In the long term, I expect Hicks and Shepherd to be valuable players for the Eagles’ defense. Evans is somewhat of a wild card and it depends on his position, but he certainly has the skills to be an above-average NFL player. Mihalik is an athletic freak, but will be a long-term project and likely won’t contribute much to the Eagles defense in 2015. However, in the 7th round, I love Chip going after an elite athlete.

Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII


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