NFL Draft: Breakdowns and grades for each Eagles selection

The 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books.

Howie Roseman was busy throughout draft weekend, wheeling and dealing a handful of his original picks to move up and move down. When it was all said and done, the Eagles left the weekend with five draftees, several notable undrafted free agents, and of course, a top tier wideout in A.J. Brown.

Before we dive into the specific grade for each selection, there are a few things the Eagles didn’t do during the draft that are worth pointing out. First and foremost, Philly didn’t draft a single player in the secondary, easily their biggest need at the moment. Sure, they picked up a handful of promising prospects from the undrafted free agent pool, but given how clear the need is, leaving the draft without selecting at least one corner or safety is a bit head scratching.

Secondly, Howie surprisingly didn’t address the pass rush in a meaningful way. You can argue that Jordan Davis will have a secondary effect on the pass rush because he can eat up blocks, but as we’ve pointed out before, Davis is most likely not going to see the field in passing situations when you already have Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and even Milton Williams at your disposal.

So, with those gripes out of the way, let’s breakdown each of the Eagles selections from this draft class.

1 (13), Jordan Davis, DT Georgia

In order to get in position to snag Jordan Davis, Howie made his first trade of draft night, sending the 15th, 124th, 162nd, and 166th overall picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for the 13th overall pick. On its surface, this is a fine trade. Giving up the 15th overall pick was a given in any day one trade scenario and only giving up one other top-150 selection was a win.

With the pick itself, there were a handful of other prospects that would have made more sense for the Eagles. We already mentioned not addressing the secondary, but Howie could have made a real splash by taking Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with that 13th overall selection; he ended up going one pick later to Baltimore. Howie probably could have just stayed put at 15 to get Hamilton, as it appeared Baltimore was one of the few teams really eyeing Davis with their first-round pick. Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis and Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson would have also been plausible, given the clear need at defensive end. Not to mention Washington corner Trent McDuffie, who would have been without question the starting CB2 opposite of Darius Slay from day one.

Nevertheless, selecting Davis makes a lot of sense given Roseman’s draft history. Heading into the draft, Howie spoke about finding rare traits in prospects and there may not be another prospect that presented as much rarity as Davis. He’s a mammoth of a man who will clog lanes and consistently take on double teams whenever he’s on the field. The only problem is, he probably won’t be on the field down the stretch and in passing situations. In 2021, Davis played 378 snaps for Georgia’s defense. Although that was the biggest workload he’s seen in a single season, it was still surpassed by 98 interior defenders in the NFL and 240 in the FBS.

Pro Football Focus did an entire breakdown of Davis following his dominant combine performance. They found that while Davis is an athletic freak that is certainly capable of dominating in all facets of the game, he simply doesn’t.

Few defenses in college football history have been as stacked as the Georgia unit [Davis] was playing on, limiting his workload. Still, it’s an issue when it comes to projecting his play in the NFL and how valuable he can be.

We simply haven’t seen Davis handle the kind of workload he will need to have at the NFL level to be worthy of a high draft pick.

At over 340 pounds, Vita Vea is one player Davis is compared to in terms of the kind of positive impact he can bring to a defense and the value that has in today’s NFL. Vea averaged 37 snaps per game in 2021. Davis cleared that mark only four times in his college career, and in only one of those games did he record a 70.0-plus PFF grade.

2022 NFL Draft: How early should a team draft Jordan Davis?

Simply put, Davis has the potential to be a slam dunk selection, but at this juncture, it’s impossible to argue that he is a slam dunk selection without projecting. Draft projections can be a dicey proposition and the Eagles have never hit on those types of selections — with the exception of Jordan Mailata in 2018.

If Davis figures it all out and can become the next Haloti Ngata, then of course this is a great pick. But it’s a big ‘if.’

Grade: C+ — Points for getting a generational athlete, but trading up for him and basing his entire draft stock off projections decreases the value.

2 (51), Cam Jurgens, C Nebraska

Is this a sexy pick? No. Is it a smart pick with a long-term view in mind? Yes.

Obviously Cam Jurgens won’t play in year one unless Jason Kelce gets injured or there’s a handful of injuries to either guard spot. Regardless, Jurgens may have the highest ceiling of any center prospect in this draft class and he’s coming to a situation where he’ll have time to refine his game.

During his time at Nebraska, Jurgens did struggle early in his career, posting PFF grades of 44.1 and 42.7 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. He took a big leap last year, boosting his grade to a modest 71.4 mark. Though the grades were bad, Jurgens proved to be a reliable starter all throughout his collegiate career. In 1,016 pass blocking snaps, Jurgens surrendered just one sack, four quarterback hits, and 29 total pressures.

As a former tight end, Jurgens brings the type of athleticism that the Eagles covet in their centers. Jason Kelce himself even said that Jurgens was the one center in this draft class that compared the most to his own game.

I understand that with in the first few rounds, ideally you want to get players that can play right off the bat. Unfortunately, the Jurgens pick doesn’t fit that criteria and there were a handful of players at 51 who could have had an immediate day one impact for the Eagles. Nevertheless, Howie values his offensive lineman and the team doesn’t have a clear contingency plan for Kelce. Jurgens gives them that.

Grade: B — Points for finding a suitable replacement for Kelce with solid upside, but the fact that a second-round pick is going to have the ride the bench in year one is less than ideal.

3 (83), Nakobe Dean, LB Georgia

The best pick for the Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft and it’s not even close. As a matter of fact, this may go down as one of the biggest draft steals in team history. Nakobe Dean is that good and it’s astonishing that he lasted all the way to 83rd overall.

I would have been fine selecting him in the first, I was banging my head against a wall when they passed on him at 51, and I rejoiced with a few beverages after he was finally selected at 83rd overall. Draft weekend is always a whirlwind.

There was a lot of speculation as to why Dean fell so far. Most notably, it was reported by several outlets that the pectoral strain he suffered while training for the draft caused the slide. He sat out during the scouting combine and didn’t test at his Pro Day either because of the injury. Apparently, it scared teams off. Following the selection, the Eagles made it clear that they’re comfortable with Dean’s health status.

If Dean is going to be on the field as early as next week, then what are we even talking about here? He still has four months until the regular season rolls around. If the Eagles are willing to say he’s healthy, I’ll take them at their word.

Whenever we do see Dean take the field in midnight green, we’re going to see an instinctual linebacker who plays with elite processing speed and a nose for the football. He did everything for Georgia’s defense. Among Power Five linebackers in 2021, Dean ranked sixth in pass-rush win rate (22.3%) while allowing a first down when targeted in coverage at the lowest rate (13.5%). Not to mention, he didn’t surrender a single touchdown while in coverage. He recorded a pick-six in 2021, making Dean one of the few defenders to score more touchdowns than they allowed in a season. Against the run, Dean is just as impressive. He posted a PFF run-defense grade of 81.9 in 2021.

Although his measurables clearly don’t affect his game, they’re worth pointing out. His height, 5-foot-11, places in the seventh percentile historically among off-ball linebacker and his weight, 231 pounds, places in the 30th percentile. Regardless, his tape is the selling point here. He doesn’t look like an undersized linebacker when watching the film — he looks like one of the best linebackers in this draft class and a day one starter.

If you can’t tell already, I love this pick. I’m not exactly breaking new ground by saying that, but there simply isn’t any downside to this selection.

Grade: A+ — The best linebacker in the country last season, the leader of the best defense in college football, and a pure football player through and through. At 83rd overall, this is tremendous value.

6 (181), Kyron Johnson, LB/EDGE Kansas

Kyron Johnson played all over the field during his five-year stint at Kansas. He was the best player on their defense so that shouldn’t be too surprising.

In 2021, he played primarily at EDGE and he put forth his best season to date. Johnson posted six sacks, six quarterback hits, and 27 hurries on just 268 pass rushing snaps. Per PFF, he posted a true pass set pass rush grade of 90.4, ranking him among the best pass rushers in college football in that metric. He also posted a solid 16.6% pass rush win rate in 2021.

Johnson has all the physical tools to become a solid situational pass rusher in the future. He ran a 4.4-second 40 time at his Pro Day while coming in at 6-foot, 235 pounds.

As a high upside backup to Hasson Reddick in the SAM backer role, there’s not much to complain about with this pick. The only nock worth pointing out is the fact that he’ll be 24 years old heading into his rookie season. For a guy that has long-term potential, you typically want to find those prospects on the younger side. But it’s not a huge deal.

Grade: B — Points for finding an upside pass rusher late in the draft, but at 24 years old, he’s on the older side of the rookie pool.

6 (198), Grant Calcaterra, TE SMU

To close things out, Howie snagged SMU tight end Grant Calcaterra with his final selection from the 2022 NFL Draft. If it weren’t for his concussion issues, Calcaterra would have been one of the first tight ends off the board this weekend.

He missed the second-half of the 2019 season with concussion problems, before retiring from football altogether after the season. He opted to come back in 2021, transferring to SMU to finish out his collegiate career. Starting off his career at Oklahoma, Calcaterra actually crossed paths with Jalen Hurts during his time there.

After joining SMU, Calcaterra had the best season of his collegiate career, totaling 38 receptions for 465 yards and four touchdowns. Standing at 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, Calcaterra has prototypical NFL size. He was vertical threat in SMU’s offense and possesses nice YAC ability once he gets the ball in his hands. Calcaterra looks like a natural route runner on tape and has the ability to run an NFL route tree from day one.

He is a receiver-only type of tight end, rarely being asked to block at all during his college days. He actually played the majority of his snaps in the slot as opposed to the natural in-line alignment for tight ends.

As it stands right now, he has the best receiving ability of any tight end on the roster not named Dallas Goedert. If his concussion issues don’t arise again, Calcaterra could be the TE2 in Nick Sirianni’s offense for years to come.

Grade: B+ — If Calcaterra can stay healthy, this is another draft steal for Mr. Roseman.

Overall Grade: B+

While I have warranted concerns about the Jordan Davis pick, it’s hard not to like every pick Howie made this weekend. Neglecting the secondary is a real problem and it’s been a problem for quite some time now. The organization either loves the potential they have in their cornerback room with the assortment of young players there and projects Marcus Epps as a starting safety in Jonathan Gannon’s defense, or maybe Howie has something up his sleeve. The former is the more likely answer here, but you never know.

Overall, Howie did a good job this weekend. He snagged 2-3 players who will contribute in year one, along with getting a 24-year-old No. 1 wide receiver in the trade for A.J. Brown. Nakobe Dean was arguably the steal of the draft and the potential for guys like Davis and Jurgens is there.

The only thing holding this draft class from being a slam dunk is passing on Hamilton/Karlaftis/Johnson/McDuffie in favor of Davis, but I’ll live with it.

Here’s to the 2022 NFL Draft cycle. I’m already reading mock drafts for next year.

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