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In Roob's Observations: Can Eagles end 40 years of terrible DE drafting?


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In Roob's Observations: Can Eagles end 40 years of terrible DE drafting?


The world's most surprising Mike Mamula stat, a look at the biggest one-year improvements ever by Eagles wide receivers and the crazy story of a player the Eagles drafted in 1959 who became one of the greatest receivers in history ... but not for the Eagles.

That's a small sampling of what's in store for you in today's Roob 's 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!  

Here we go!

1. Since the start of the official sack era in 1982, the Eagles have drafted 13 defensive ends in the first four rounds. It has not gone well, to put it mildly. Out of those 13, you know who had the most sacks per game during their Eagles career? Take a look:

0.41 … Mike Mamula [1st, 1995]

0.37 … Brandon Graham [1st, 2010]

0.34 … Derek Barnett [1st, 2017]

0.32 … Josh Sweat [4th, 2018]

0.28 … Derrick Burgess [3rd, 2001]

0.27 … Vinny Curry [2nd, 2012]

0.24 … Greg Jefferson [3rd, 1995]

0.17 … Daniel Te’o-Nesheim [3rd, 2010]

0.14 … Victor Abiamiri [2nd, 2007]

0.13 … Jamaal Green [4th, 2004]

0.09 … Jerome McDougle [1st, 2003]

0.08 … Jon Harris [1st, 1997]

The notion that Mamula was a bust is pretty funny when you consider that in terms of sacks per game he’s the most productive edge rusher the Eagles have drafted in the first four rounds in the last 40 years.

Maybe Sweat will surpass him. He should. Considering his contract, he better. If Sweat plays all 34 games over the next two seasons, he would need 10 sacks per season to move ahead of Mamula in career sacks per game going into the 2024 season. And Sweat has gotten better each year.

But these numbers do illustrate just how poorly the Eagles have drafted edge rushers on Day 1 and Day 2 not just under Howie Roseman but for the last few decades. The best defensive ends the Eagles have drafted - Clyde Simmons in 1986 and Trent Cole in 2005 – were a 9th-round pick and a 5th-round pick.

Brandon Graham made the play of the century and developed into a Pro Bowler late in his career and overcame a lot of adversity, but the bottom line is he’s averaged 4.9 sacks per season in his career and has never reached double figures.

The last defensive end the Eagles drafted in the first four rounds who had double-digit sacks in a season was Dennis Harrison, a 4th-round pick in 1978 who had 10½, 11½ and 12 sacks from 1982 through 1984, the first three years sacks were an official stat.

That was 44 years ago.

All of which leads to this year’s draft. 

Derek Barnett won’t be back and obviously Ryan Kerrigan won’t be back, Graham will be 34 years old coming off an Achilles injury and that leaves Sweat and nobody else.

There are a ton of edge rushers who could go in the first round and a bunch more will go in the second round. The Eagles will draft one of them, Quite possibly two. They need to get it right for once.

2. There’s a chance half the 1st-round picks on the Eagles’ 2022 roster will be from the 2022 draft. The only former Eagles 1st-round picks that are locks to be here next year are Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and DeVonta Smith. We don’t know about Brandon Graham’s health, Andre Dillard could get traded, Barnett is expected to sign elsewhere and Jalen Reagor could very well be released. The only other active former Eagles 1st-round picks are Nelson Agholor and Carson Wentz, and I have a hunch neither one of them will be back. Of course, there’s a chance the Eagles won’t pick three players in the 1st round, but they might. 

3. Let’s take a moment to appreciate Keith Byars. No, he wasn’t the stud running back the Eagles expected when they made him the 10th pick in the 1986 draft. But he quickly developed into one of the greatest receiving backs in NFL history. Byars finished with 610 catches, 5th-most in NFL history among running backs. But just focusing on his seven years with the Eagles, Byars caught 371 passes for 3,532 yards, and even though he only average 382 rushing yards per season he was still 10th among all RBs in the NFL in scrimmage yards during that seven-year stretch before he left for Miami as part of the Norman Braman-inspired Great Free Agent Exodus. Byars had five 50-catch seasons as an Eagle, and Zach Ertz is the only player in franchise history with more. And he had three 700-yard receiving seasons, as many as every other Eagles RB combined (Brian Westbrook 2, Timmy Brown 1). He’s one of only three backs in NFL history with three straight 700-yard receiving seasons. The others are Hall of Famers Lenny Moore and Marshall Faulk. And even though he only spent seven years here, he still ranks 8th in franchise history in receptions and 12th in scrimmage yards. Byars also averaged 9.3 yards per catch, which is 6th-highest of the 42 running backs with at least 350 catches. Maybe not the career Eagles expected but one of the best receiving backs in NFL history.

4. The last five players the Eagles have drafted in the second half of the 1st round: Danny Watkins, Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor, Andre Dillard, Jalen Reagor. 

5. Quez Watkins’ jump from 106 yards as a rookie to 647 in Year 2 got me wondering what the biggest jumps ever by Eagles wide receivers are from Year 1 to Year 2. Watkins is right up there. Here’s a look at all the 400-yard increases:

1,253 yards … Mike Quick [156 in 1982, 1,409 in 1983]

1,122 yards … Ben Hawkins [143 in 1966, 1,265 in 1967]

997 yards … Bud Grant [0 in 1951, 997 in 1952]

799 yards … Chris T. Jones [61 in 1995, 859 in 1996]

677 yards … Cris Carter [84 in 1987, 761 in 1988]

541 yards … Quez Watkins [106 in 2020, 647 in 2021]

487 yards … Charlie Smith [28 in 1974, 515 in 1975]

405 yards … Todd Pinkston [181 in 2000, 586 in 2001]

So Watkins’ 541-yard increase is the largest since the Hall of Famer Carter’s first couple years and 6th-largest in Eagles history by a WR. Interesting to note that 1952 was Grant’s final season with the Eagles. He spent two years with the Lakers in the NBA and then spent in 1951 as a defensive end with the Eagles before his one season as an offensive end. When he and the Eagles were at a contract impasse after the season, he spent four years in the CFL before embarking on his Hall of Fame coaching career.

6. Also interesting that Bud Grant, Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka and John Madden all had very high-profile coaching careers but long before they became coaches all had fairly obscure careers playing for the Eagles. Another Hall of Fame coach – Guy Chamberlain – played for the Frankford Yellow Jackets and was on the 1926 NFL Championship team.

7. The Eagles have a lot of work to do at linebacker, but they are very high on T.J. Edwards, and while the rest of the linebacker corps is kind of muddled going into the offseason, Edwards is a lock to remain in a key role. Roseman brought up Edwards on his own Wednesday when asked about linebackers – "T.J. had a heck of a year, a very good year” – and didn’t mention anybody else. I don’t think anything is etched in stone with Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor, Genard Avery or Patrick Johnson, but Edwards really took his game to another lever in his third year as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin, and everything points to him remaining a key piece of Jonathan Gannon’s defense moving forward. 

8. Michael Vick averaged an NFL-best 7.8 yards per rush in 2011 at the age of 30. That’s by far the highest rushing average in NFL history by a player after his 30thbirthday. Steve Young is the only other QB who’s been over 6.5. Overall, Vick averaged 6.7 yards per carry after his 30th birthday, another NFL best. Among players with 500 or more career rushing attempts, Vick’s 7.0 career average is highest in NFL history. More than half a yard per carry ahead of No. 2 Randall Cunningham at 6.4. Put it this way: Vick had a higher rushing average in his 30s than anybody in NFL history in their 20s. Incredible.

9. Kenny Gainwell this past year became only the 3rd rookie running back in the NFL in the last 50 years with at least 540 scrimmage yards and six TDs on 101 or fewer touches. The others are the Raiders’ Bo Jackson in 1987 and Keith Jones of the Falcons in 1989. 

10. One of the biggest whiffs in Eagles history is Art Powell, and his story is remarkable. The Eagles drafted Powell as a defensive back in 1959 in the 11thround out of San Jose State. He played in 12 games as a rookie as a backup corner and showed some promise with three interceptions and a 27.1 kick return average, 2nd-highest in the NFL. But the next summer, the Eagles cut Powell. According to an article by Jack McKinney in the Aug. 27, 1960, Philadelphia Daily News, "The move was seen as an indication of the Eagles’ growing confidence in their two rookie defensive backs, Jim Niemann and Bobby Jackson.” McKinney also wrote: "Powell reportedly was overweight when he reported to training camp at Hershey and his play in the (preseason) games with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers was something less than inspired.” What happened next? Powell signed with the AFL New York Titans (who became the Jets), converted to receiver and over the next seven years with the Jets and Raiders caught 458 passes for 7,669 yards and 77 touchdowns. He had more yards and TDs during that seven-year span than any other receiver in the AFL or NFL. He made five Pro Bowls and led the league in yards and TDs twice. From 1962 through 1964, he averaged 1,265 yards in a 14-game season. He should be in the Hall of Fame. As for Jackson and Niemann, they played a combined 12 games in Eagles uniforms, starting four. Both were gone by 1961.


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53 minutes ago, time2rock said:

In Roob's Observations: Can Eagles end 40 years of terrible DE drafting?




For the most part, Roob is right.  But the Eagles did draft Brandon Graham and Trent Cole

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So we might as well draft a QB with a strong accurate arm with 1 or our 3 picks.  Maybe the kid from Cinn might be player?  Or someone else.  When everyone is in agreement that  there aren't any decent starting QBs in the draft you cab bet one of them will make the hall of fame.  When everyone is in agreement, everyone is usually wrong ala the stock market

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