Only one week has passed in the 2021-22 season, but Howie Roseman has completely changed the outlook on the Philadelphia Eagles for this season and the franchise’s future. Despite a one-game sample size, I feel confident enough to hop back on the GM’s side and prove his case.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts did nothing but impress in the season opening win over the Falcons, efficiently leading an offense that proved to be full of playmakers.
Hurts’ first two passes of the 32-6 win in Atlanta were consecutive first down connections with receiver Quez Watkins, not only highlighting the exciting young partnership but also displaying new head coach Nick Sirianni’s trust in Watkins to be a playmaker.
Howie Roseman drafted Quez Watkins with the 200th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
The following plays featured a 13-yard Hurts scramble and back-to-back runs for a first down conversion by Miles Sanders, former second-round pick out of Penn State. The drive ended on a TD pass to Heisman winner Devonta Smith, a perfect way for Roseman to show off some of his biggest draft investments from the past few years.
Roseman’s biggest flaw has apparently been his ability to draft young talent, here are his first and second round picks since 2019.
1 / Devonta Smith
2 / Landon Dickerson
1 / Jalen Reagor
2 / Jalen Hurts
1 / Andre Dillard
2 / Miles Sanders
2 / JJ Arcega-Whiteside
Devonta Smith lived up to the Heisman hype with a career opening statline of six receptions (eight targets) for 71 yards and the game’s first touchdown. Smith’s six catches tied Desean Jackson’s record for most catches in an NFL debut by an Eagles rookie.
The Eagles offensive line played the entire game in Atlanta, but Landon Dickerson immediately slotted in as the Eagles top backup on the offensive line. This SHOULD be a title up for contest by former first round pick Andre Dillard, but we’ll get to him later.
Also, Dickerson’s recent change to #69 almost guarantees that pick as a nice one.
Jalen Reagor also found his way into the endzone against the Falcons, but doesn’t have nearly the fan support as his teammate Smith. Roseman’s decision to pick Reagor over Justin Jefferson with the 21st pick will forever go down as a poor decision thanks to a record-setting rookie campaign by the now-Vikings receiver, but the shadow cast by that decision can be significantly shrunk by a strong year.
While Reagor has several things to overcome, his situation is a favorable one with the talent on the Eagles roster and rookie head coach Nick Sirianni’s wide receiver background. I expect Reagor to have an exciting redemption tour this season, and see well over 7 touchdowns in store for the TCU product.
Next on the list is Jalen Hurts, the former Heisman runner-up who Roseman shocked the world with when he selected the Oklahoma quarterback at pick 53rd pick in the second round after taking the other Jalen in the first.
I will attest that the Hurts draft pick played a large role in the poor performance of one Mr. Wentz last season, but Roseman’s affinity for large investments in the quarterback unit has proven to do more good than bad.
For example, that Super Bowl 52 banner hanging up at the Linc.
If you are following along with the list, you’d realize we should be at Andre Dillard right now. Because he is such an exciting topic (not), I’m going to delay his analysis another few paragraphs.
Miles Sanders is one of the most exciting young running backs in the league, and gets to run behind a smart and strong offensive line. Despite a low-volume sophomore year that many labeled a disappointment, Sanders is one of the Eagles most talented young players.
JJ Arcega Whiteside deserves every “bust” label he’s given, but it was hard to hate the pick at the time. Roseman needed to get a tall and physical receiver to play on the outside, he just chose the wrong one with DK Metcalf still on the table.
Finally, Andre Dillard.
Jordan Mailata is a beast, and Howie managed to snag him in the seventh round before the Australian developed into the Eagles starting left tackle. Dillard was supposed to fill that role when Roseman traded up to select the lineman from Washington, but his inability to play both Tackle positions along with repeated disappointing performances have restricted him to back-up designation.
The Dillard selection was a smart one with high upside, and the major reason for his inability to develop into a starter is much more an effect of Rosemans’ success in the later rounds by finding Mailata than it is an effect of Dillards’ own shortcomings.
Speaking of late-round success, here are some of Rosemans’ successful selections in rounds 3-7 from recent years that will seemingly have major roles on the Eagles roster moving forward after impressive young careers.
3 / Milton Williams
4 / Zech McPhearson
5 / Kenneth Gainwell
4 / K’von Wallace
6 / Quez Watkins
4 / Josh Sweat
4 / Avonte Maddox
Roseman has been able to acquire adequate young talent for a roster’s youth movement, and with (likely) three first round picks next year to surround an exciting young athlete at QB in Jalen Hurts, Roseman has been able to set the Eagles up for success in the future.