Eagles: Howie swung for the fences in round one; will it be worth it?

Howie SZN was in full effect Thursday night.

Rumors about Howie’s wheeling and dealing circulated all throughout the week and they proved to be true. First, Howie moved up from 15th overall to 13 to snag Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, the 366 pound mammoth who became a household name after his unworldly performance at the scouting combine. Roseman sent the Houston Texans picks 15, 124, 162, and 166 in order to move up and secure his guy.

There’s a lot to be said about Davis. Some believe he’s a generational type of physical talent who could become the best interior lineman in the league during his career, and others believe he’s a one-trick nose tackle who won’t be able to play on passing downs because of his poor conditioning and lacking pass rushing ability. I tend to side with the latter, but it’s hard not to see the potential upside if the Eagles coaching staff can get the most out of Davis.

If nothing else, selecting Davis is a signifier for what Jonathan Gannon wants to do defensively moving forward. More odd fronts are on the way, and for all we know, Gannon could be making the full transition to a 3-4 base defense this year. The signing of linebacker Hasson Reddick also speaks to this notion, as he’s more of a pass rusher by trade.

Admittedly, I was not overly excited when the Eagles moved up to 13 to snag Davis. With guys like Kyle Hamilton, George Karlaftis, and Jermaine Johnson still on the board, going with a part-time player in Davis felt like a bit of a reach.

Nevertheless, Davis will quickly become a fan favorite in Philly.

But alas, Howie made it up to me just a few moments later. Before even getting to the 18th overall selection, Howie traded the pick, along with the 101st overall pick, to the Titans for Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Brown.

We know he and Jalen Hurts have a connection off the field. They worked out together over the past few weeks and Hurts even attended Brown’s daughter’s birthday party. Still, taking a homerun swing like this seems a little out of character for Howie, who has been hesitant to go out and spend big on big-time names on the trade block.

After acquiring Brown, the team subsequently signed him to a four-year, $100 million contract with $57 million guaranteed. It’s a lot of money, but if we know anything about Howie, the details of the contract will probably reveal that this is a somewhat team-friendly deal.

Brown is one of the best young receivers in the league. At 24 years old, he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s been a top-5 receiver over the past two years, earning an overall grade of 90.4 in 2020 (second-best in the NFL) and an 86.3 grade in 2021 (fifth-best).

When it was all said and done, the Eagles left the first-round with one of the more alluring prospects in Jordan Davis and the best wide receiver available in A.J. Brown. From a pure value standpoint, this certainly wasn’t Howie’s best moment. Trading up to get a nose tackle and then trading two high picks for a receiver to pay him $100M isn’t exactly a ‘value’ move, but perhaps Howie is turning the page here.

For the past two offseasons, Howie’s mantra has been to build for the future. This offseason, Howie has made several win-now moves to ensure his team has a chance to make a run in 2022. And while I could be ‘that guy’ and continuously point out why paying a receiver that much money is a mistake and why drafting a nose tackle that high is a boneheaded move, it feels good to be a part of the discussion now.

As we all know, winning the offseason doesn’t mean shit in the grand scheme of things. Howie’s ‘won’ the offseason before and it hasn’t resulted in anything other than disappointment. But he’s certainly given his team a real chance to contend in 2022, and as fans, that’s all we can really ask for.

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