The Philadelphia Eagles had a sensational 2023 NFL Draft.
Howie Roseman had a challenging offseason, in part due to the overwhelming amount of free agency departures that were a necessary casualty of a contending roster with breakout stars. Despite losing the likes of Javon Hargrave, C.J. Gardner Johnson and T.J. Edwards, the front office made savvy decisions and prepared to restock the cupboards in the draft.
We take a deep dive into just how good Howie Roseman did throughout the 2023 NFL Draft, grading each individual prospect as they prepare to become Philadelphia Eagles.
Round 1, Pick 9: Jalen Carter – DL, Georgia.
Jalen Carter may be the best overall player in the 2023 NFL Draft.
As the Georgia Bulldog defender slid to ninth overall, GM Howie Roseman made the savvy move to flip selections with the Chicago Bears. Carter’s involvement in a tragic incident that led to the death of a teammate and recruiting staff member was well publicised and certainly contributed to his fall.
In juxtaposition, Carter’s on-field performance is difficult to call into question. His 2022 NCAA Season was fantastic, headlined with a phenomenal 92.3 overall PFF grade. Carter displayed a versatile skillset that was effective as both as pass rusher and a run defender. His brute strength, alongside his blazing sudden quickness resulted in fantastic advanced production. He won, a lot. His 16.3% pass rush win-rate and a 15.3% run-stop rate was the statistical representation of his elite game-wrecking ability.
Philadelphia is seemingly a perfect landing spot for Carter. The defensive lineman will be surrounded by collegiate teammates and NFL Veterans. Between Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, Carter will have the opportunity to learn how to be a pro as well as develop even more as a dominant trench player. Moreover, collegiate championship teammate (and now Eagles’ teammate) Jordan Davis was somewhat of a mentor for the Georgia defender. That support system should allow for Carter to thrive and be able to contribute to a functional franchise that have invested significantly in him.
The Eagles have made a consistent theme of reinforcing the trenches, and used a premium selection to bolster it again in the 2023 NFL Draft. Carter’s similarity to veteran incumbent starter Fletcher Cox is poignant, and will only assist in his development into a stalwart game-wrecker at the next level.
Roseman absolutely nailed the Eagles’ first selection.
Grade – A+
Round 1, Pick 30: Nolan Smith – EDGE, Georgia.
Alright, this just seems unfair.
Howie Roseman started the 2023 NFL Draft by snagging the second overall player on the PFF Draft Big Board with the ninth selection. Although Carter had significant concerns, that was an absolute steal of a pick.
Then, Roseman looped back around and grabbed PFF’s 13th ranked player with the 30th overall selection. While Smith presents some size limitations, he has unquestionable talent and the potential to be one of the best defenders in the draft class.
The Georgia defender has a tantalising mix of athletic profile, potential and collegiate production. He was dominant as a pass rusher in the 2022 NCAA Season, as he ended the campaign with a 25.5% pass rush win rate. He tested sensationally at the combine, exploding for a 4.39 40-yard dash, 41.5″ vertical jump and 10′ 8″ broad jump.
As detailed in a previous piece of mine, Nolan Smith is versatile and will excel in a variety of different roles in the Eagles’ defense. He can wear different hats on different downs. As an edge rusher, Smith can bend and flatten with ease, and has fantastic hand usage at the point of attack.
As an off-ball linebacker, the Georgia defender shows off elite lateral quickness, the ability to create advantageous angles and a competitive demeanour that manifests into aggressively taking on offensive players far larger than him. He can displace blockers and make them look silly by forcing them to whiff on blocks with his elusiveness.
Nolan Smith has the ability to be a hybrid defender that can be a future leader of the Philadelphia Eagles defense.
Grade – A+
Round 3, Pick 65: Tyler Steen – OT, Alabama
Stoutland University gets its newest student.
Alabama offensive linemen Tyler Steen could prove to be a long term contributor to the Eagles’ future offense. After adding two consecutive front seven defenders, Roseman turned his attention to the longevity of Philadelphia’s offensive line by investing in the Crimson Tide’s starting left tackle.
Steen has the versatility to play multiple positions across the offensive line, but likely projects as a guard at the next level due to his limited arm length. At 6’6″, 321 pounds, the Alabama lineman has sub 33-inch arms, which is generally below the ideal threshold for an offensive tackle in the NFL. Nonetheless, PFF touted him as “one of the more powerful linemen in this class”.
Steen has fast feet, solid leg drive and a quick first step. He sinks low into his anchor in pass protection, often stopping edge defenders dead in their tracks after full engagement. He allowed just two sacks in 841 offensive snaps in 2022, despite Alabama’s significant competition.
The departure of offensive guard Isaac Seumalo has created an immediate vacancy at the position. In the short-term, the Eagles will likely plug this hole with 2022 second round selection Cam Jurgens. Although the Nebraska product projects as the eventual replacement for center Jason Kelce, he may be a temporary solution next to the pivot.
Thus, Steen will likely be able to benefit for the tutelage of Jeff Stoutland for some time prior to being thrust into the starting lineup. As a result, expect his potential to be maximised through fantastic coaching and veteran development.
Grade – B
Round 3, Pick 66: Sydney Brown – S, Illinois
The Eagles had a glaring need at safety, and got sensational value in Illinois defensive back Sydney Brown.
The 5’10”, 211-pound prospect enters the NFL at 23 years old with a phenomenal 3,168 collegiate snaps under his belt. In the 2022 season, Brown had a PFF coverage grade of 89.4, forcing a paltry 49.6 passer rating from opposing quarterbacks when targeted. Although undersized, PFF’s NFL Draft Big Board touted him as the “single best athlete in this safety class”.
Brown stuffed the stat sheet in his final season in college. He racked up six interceptions, seven passes defended, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown. Moreover, the Illinois defensive back had a 17.4% forced incompletion rate and even had a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Furthermore, Brown excelled at the NFL Draft Combine. He had a 4.47 40-yard dash, 40.5″ vertical jump and 10′ 10″ broad jump. His instincts, big play ability and athletic profile make for a tantalising prospect that has significant potential at the next level.
Roseman’s ability to bolster the secondary in the offseason, despite losing C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps has been sensational. The Eagles hope that Brown can be a long term answer at one of the safety spots.
Grade – B
Round 4, Pick 105: Kelee Ringo – CB, Georgia
How did Roseman do this again?
Philadelphia snag another Georgia Bulldog at the 104th overall pick, selecting possibly the most imposing defensive back in the 2023 NFL Draft class. At 6’2″, 207-pounds, Ringo is a huge cornerback that has fantastic potential. Responsible for a pick-six that sealed a NCAA Championship for the Georgia Bulldogs, he entered the 2022 season as the top-ranked corner on most draft boards.
Ringo does not look like a typical cornerback. Pop on the film and he looks almost like a small linebacker on the outside, capable of completely manhandling receivers. He has good hand usage in press coverage, using his effortless physicality to redirect receivers with ease. Ringo also has blistering 4.36 40-yard dash speed that makes it easy for him to keep up with receivers deep.
Unfortunately, the Georgia defensive back has significant limitations too. His tape exposes poor change of direction skills, as he consistently gets left in the dust by hard cuts and quick releases. Ringo decided not to test in the 3-cone or 20-yard shuttle, further evidence of his shortcomings. Also, as with any physical corner, he may have an issue with penalties at the next level.
Ringo had a solid 70.3 PFF coverage grade in 2022, and may develop into an elite cornerback at the NFL level. Frankly, his slide to the fourth round is almost comical, as his size is clearly a significant asset that could become a dominant factor if he develops. Fortunately for the Eagles, his slide lands him in a situation that he can sit behind veteran superstars Darius Slay and James Bradberry, who he can learn from.
Roseman again grabbed fantastic value in a later round, getting one of the best boom-or-bust prospects in the class.
Grade – B+
Round 6, Pick 188: Tanner McKee – QB, Stanford
This is a future focused selection.
Presented with terrific value in the sixth round, the Eagles could not resist taking a quarterback prospect that was ranked 81st overall on the PFF Big Board. Although Philadelphia inked veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota, McKee represents a long term investment in the most important position.
The Stanford signal caller has prototypical size to play quarterback. At 6’6″, 231-pounds, McKee projects as a pocket passer at the next level that has an accurate arm and terrific ball placement skills. He can rip balls into tight windows, and PFF’s NFL Draft Big Board suggests he could be “even better in the NFL”.
While McKee’s skillset as a pocket passer is really sound, there are some flashes of concerning shortcomings. Against Washington, the Stanford signal caller showed a really poor pocket presence. He panicked on numerous occasions under pressure, taking unnecessary sacks and missing easy check-downs. If McKee can stay composed, his pinpoint accuracy and solid arm strength can make him a really effective pro at the next level.
Although the Eagles don’t necessarily need another backup quarterback, they clearly felt that McKee’s value in the sixth round was too good to pass up. Mariota presents a sound short term scheme fit, but juxtaposed to the upside of Tanner McKee, he presents a relatively low floor. Roseman’s investment in quarterback here may be puzzling, but if he hits on the Stanford signal caller, he may just have one of the most stable QB rooms in the NFL.
Grade – C
Round 7, Pick 249: Moro Ojomo – DL, Texas
Moro Ojomo in the seventh round is absolutely absurd.
Ranked by PFF as the 93rd overall prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Texas defensive tackle inexplicably fell to Philadelphia with 249th overall selection. And what a fit Ojomo could turn out to be in the City Of Brotherly Love.
The Longhorn defender had a terrific season in 2022. Although his three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss may seem modest, Ojomo ended the 2022 season with an overall PFF grade of 90.6. He was credited with 20 hurries and a phenomenal 17.8% pass rush win rate, showing his dominance when getting after the quarterback.
Furthermore, Ojomo’s potential oozed through his tape. He flaunted a variety of pass rushing moves that were accompanied by an explosive first step, really solid hand usage and an absolutely endless motor. The physical defensive tackle makes up for his size concerns at 292 pounds by playing with power, aggressiveness and a refusal to give up on a play until the whistle has blown.
Despite being undersized, Ojomo also was dominant in the run game. He managed a 91.4 PFF run defense grade, which shuts the door on limited down usage at the next level. The Texas defensive tackle can contribute in each phase of the game defensively, which will allow the Eagles an even deeper rotation along their fortified front-line.
Legitimately, Moro Ojomo could be the steal of this entire draft class for the Eagles, which had so many highlights already.
Grade – A
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