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A Retrospective: Grading The Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 NFL Draft

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2018 NFL Draft on a high. They had just defeated the Tom Brady led New England Patriots to secure their first NFL championship in the Super Bowl era. Carson Wentz was coming off an MVP caliber season that ended prematurely due to injury, and looked like the next NFL superstar.

The Eagles entered the 2018 Draft with one first round selection, and none in the second or third rounds. As expected, the reigning Super Bowl Champions remediated that swiftly. With a slew of moves, the Eagles maneuvered themselves into five total selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, which required that they give up their opportunity for a Day One pick.

Let’s review how these choices panned out in a retrospective grade of the Eagles’ 2018 NFL Draft.

Second Round (49th Overall) – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Dallas Goedert is a top 10 tight end in the NFL.

His career began as a backup to incumbent star Zach Ertz. The Pro-Bowl tight end exceeded 1,000 yards receiving in Goedert’s rookie season. From 2017 to 2019, Ertz accumulated an astounding 2,903 yards and 22 touchdowns on route to three consecutive Pro-Bowls. Thus, the chances of the South Dakota State prospect starting over him were slim to none.

Even withstanding his lower snap count (48% of offensive snaps in his rookie season), the second round selection had some sound production and clearly displayed potential. He hauled in 33 of his 44 targets for 334 yards and four touchdowns in his debut campaign.

Goedert progressed in his sophomore year, racking up 607 yards from 58 catches as he scored five times. By his third season, Goedert had began to show he was capable of starting, exceeding Ertz’s receiving yards and resulting in the team relying on him more.

His prowess resulted in Ertz being traded to Arizona during the 2021 season, as Goedert broke out. He established himself as a top ten TE in the NFL, racking up 830 receiving yards from just 56 catches. The ascension resulted in him receiving a four year extension last November, locking him up as a big target for Jalen Hurts.

Entering his fifth season, expectations are sky high for Goedert. As the offense begins to open up with the acquisition of star receiver AJ Brown, the Eagles passing game should develop. Goedert’s excellent vertical skills and possession prowess are poised for further development into a star. His presence will give Jalen Hurts a terrific security blanket and big target in the middle of the field.

Grade – A

Fourth Round (125th Overall) – Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh

Good slot corners are difficult to find in today’s NFL.

Philadelphia were fortunately able to find one on Day Three of the 2018 NFL Draft. Maddox has had an extremely solid start to his career, becoming a very dependable nickel back in today’s more pass heavy league.

Maddox is tough, stingy and extremely physical. His career in Philadelphia has seen fantastic production, including 195 total tackles, 26 passes defended, nine tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Maddox earned a three year extension with the Eagles that will cement him as their slot cornerback moving forward.

Maddox was terrific last season, even with the implementation of a new scheme by rookie defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. He held opposing quarterbacks to a 87.2 passer rating when he was targeted, allowing just 7.4 yards per target. He also excelled as an infrequent pass rusher off the edge, as he had three quarterback hits and half a sack from just 12 blitzes in 2021. The season also saw him have nine passes defended, an interception and two forced fumbles.

Maddox has galvanised himself as an integral part of the Eagles secondary, capable of providing a versatile defender to use in nickel formations.

Grade – B+

Fourth Round (130th Overall) – Josh Sweat, DE, Flordia State

Josh Sweat has been a work in progress in the NFL.

Entering his rookie season, the roster was stacked with defensive line talent. The depth on the roster was the result of building trenches that carried the Eagles to their Super Bowl the previous season.

After playing just 68 snaps in his 2018 rookie season, Sweat began to become seen as a rotational edge rusher in 2019. The Florida State product registered four sacks and 15 pressures in his first season with significant time playing. He was able to do that despite just playing 35% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps.

Due to the flashes he had displayed in 2019, the coaching staff began to implement Sweat into the defensive game plan more in the following season. The 2020 NFL Season saw significant improvement for the edge defender, as he lodged a career high nine tackles for loss and an impressive six sacks. He also managed to have three forced fumbles and two pass deflections. He was developing into a stout, versatile edge defender, capable of affecting opposing offensive game plans.

Then, in 2021, he broke out. Sweat made the Pro-Bowl, as a replacement to Nick Bosa, after oozing versatility and edge rushing prowess. He finished the year with 7.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and four pass deflections. He consistently got to the quarterback, ending his fourth campaign with 25 pressures. His season was sensational, leaving the Eagles to be confident about his starting potential this season.

What is even more impressive about Sweat, is that he has somehow only missed two tackles in his NFL career thus far. Wow. That sort of dependability is an invaluable asset on the edge of your defensive line.

Safe to say, the Eagles got an absolute steal here on Day 3.

Grade – A

Sixth Round (206th Overall) – Matt Pryor, T, TCU

Grading a sixth round pick a D+ may seem a little harsh.

That being said, Pryor was not a good fit for the Eagles. He did not play in 2018 after being drafted, so instead made his rookie debut in 2019. He played just 79 snaps and allowed four pressures, ending the year with overall PFF blocking grade of 62.0. Unfortunately, this sample size was simply too small for the Eagles to get an accurate assessment of his future.

Conversely, the 2020 season allowed him a wealth of opportunities. Pryor played 776 snaps as injuries plagued the Eagles’ trenches. He played more than 40 snaps at four different positions, making it difficult for him settle into a role. He allowed 35 pressures and six sacks, leading to a poultry 55.3 PFF overall blocking grade.

Following the 2020 season, Pryor was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, where he developed significantly in 2021. He ended the season with a 76.5 PFF blocking grade and did not allow a single sack in 438 snaps. Moreover, he allowed just eight pressures, despite again being deployed at three different positions for 69 or more snaps.

His work for the Colts unfortunately does not contribute to his grade here. Thus, his time at the Eagles was essentially as a necessary backup in an injury riddled season, and nothing really more.

Grade – D+

Seventh Round (233rd Overall) – Jordan Mailata, T, South Sydney Rabbitohs

Well what a gamble this was.

Jordan Mailata has quickly ascended into a budding star in the NFL. No, that is not hyperbolic. The Pathways Program prospect has blossomed in his short NFL career, despite beginning to learn the game after being drafted. In fact, the professional rugby player had not played American Football prior to being drafted by the Eagles.

Mailata did not play his first two seasons as a pro, as he learnt the game behind the scenes. The Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland worked with Mailata to develop his skillset and football vernacular, whilst utilising the plethora of incredible physical tools he had to the prospect’s advantage. His development allowed him to earn some snaps in 2020 as rampant injuries tore through the offensive line. The results were encouraging enough to earn him a spot as the starting left tackle.

He grasped the opportunity with a firm grip. Last season, Mailata graded out as the best player on the Eagles offensive line. He earned a staunch 87.4 overall PFF blocking grade, allowing just three sacks and 20 pressures in 914 snaps. The most frightening thing for the NFL is that he is just getting started.

Mailata’s physical tools and limited experience have already garnered significant recognition in the league. The 6’8″, 365 pound lineman is powerful and extremely quick. His athleticism, coupled with his growing knowledge of the game and technique, should propel him into the Pro-Bowl in 2022.

This selection has become a stroke of genius for an Eagles front office that continues to supplement their offensive and defensive lines through consistent drafting and developing.

This is the easiest grade to give on this list, by a country mile.

Grade – A+

What do you think of these grades? Would you change any?

Let us know in the comments below.



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