After a dreadful 2020 NFL draft that helped send the Philadelphia Eagles into a short-term rebuild, GM Howie Roseman has completely changed his approach to the draft.
Everyone’s a critic, but Roseman’s work in recent drafts has been fascinating. He is one of the best in the business at getting value out of draft picks, and so far, it seems to be working.

The Infamous Reagor Pick & How Roseman Changed

The Eagles needed some juice after losing in the wildcard round 2019. Not a single wide receiver on the team had 500 yards through the air on the season, and it put Philadelphia in ugly territory – mediocrity. With the 21st overall pick in what was seen as a very good wide receiver class in 2020, the Eagles took one. Unfortunately, with future Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson on the board, Roseman took TCU receiver Jalen Reagor.

While Jefferson was a highly-touted collegiate athlete based on his numbers at LSU, he fell due to a loaded receiver class. Instead of taking a chance on that talent, Roseman went with Reagor, who was taken outside the first round in some mock drafts. It went even more miserably than anyone could have anticipated, being off the team by 2022.

With quarterback Carson Wentz having absolutely no weapons and seeing some regression of his own, the Eagles were terrible in 2020, going 4-11-1. After that, Roseman changed everything.

In 2021, he took 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith with the 10th pick in the draft after trading back and then trading up again, interestingly enough. Of course, that selection has been a home run. In 2023, he took quite possibly the best defensive prospect in the class, Jalen Carter, with the ninth pick. Roseman learned from his mistakes, and the Eagles are better off for it.

The Art of Trading for Picks

But, wait, hold on a second. How did the Eagles have the ninth pick in a draft class directly after they went to the Super Bowl? That brings up, arguably, the best part of Roseman’s drafting.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Roseman has become a master at both getting the players he wants and getting assets to do so. When Wentz was traded for his poor performance to the Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles won that trade by a landslide by acquiring a 2022 mid-first-round draft pick and a third to go along with it. With that first and an additional one in the 2022 class, the Eagles got the 18th pick, a 2023 first-round choice, and a second-round pick from a New Orleans Saints team trying to win as soon as possible.

What Roseman did afterward helped create a Super Bowl-caliber team. First, he traded that 18th pick as the primary asset for one of the best wide receivers in football, A.J. Brown. Remember that trade back in 2021? Well, that pick allowed the Eagles to take defensive tackle Jordan Davis with their 13th-overall selection in 2022. For the cherry on top, the Saints were awful in their 2022 campaign. Carter, who has easily lived up to his pre-draft hype, fell to ninth overall. All the Eagles had to do was trade up one spot, and he was theirs.

Preying on the downfall of other teams worked like a charm for Roseman. It’s unlikely that he will make moves of that magnitude anytime soon, but it’s a lesson to any team that trading future first-round draft picks is an awful idea. Doing so created a juggernaut in Philadelphia.

2024 Draft Approach & Why It’s Important

Roseman’s 2024 draft wasn’t as eventful as previous ones, but he was still busy nonetheless. In fact, he was one of the busiest GMs in the history of the draft. With eight total trades, he and the Eagles were tied for the most deals made during the event since 1990.

Without actually knowing why Roseman does the things he does, it’s not too hard to see his potential vision. The Eagles don’t have a lot of cap space and likely won’t for a long time due to the sheer quantity of star players they have. That isn’t a bad thing, by the way. It just means that acquiring depth can be tricky.

What did Roseman do in 2024? He went for two valued cornerbacks (arguably the Eagles’ biggest position of need) in Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in the first and second rounds. While Mitchell fell right to him, he had to trade up to select DeJean. Nonetheless, he got two of the best players at their position in the entire draft.

Throughout the second and third days of the draft, Roseman pulled off as many trade-backs as he possibly could. In the end, he made nine picks in the 2024 draft and has nine available in 2025.

But why does this all matter, though?

Well, let’s look at the position he targeted early.

The Eagles know very well how important a good secondary is. It being top-notch can help an entire team through coverage sacks. If defensive backs can’t cover, sacks will be less frequent for a defense.

In 2022, Philadelphia had one of the NFL’s best sack totals in history with 70. Corners Darius Slay and James Bradberry were arguably the best duo in the NFL, and the entire defense shined. Then came their regression in 2023. One of the worst-graded top cornerback duos in the NFL, the Eagles had just 43 sacks plus a bad secondary.

It’s not exactly concrete how much a good secondary helps a pass rush, but it’s fair to say it helps a decent amount. This can actually be quantified.

Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post wrote about the importance of sacks:

“An interception this season has cost an offense around four expected points after taking into account the down, distance, and field position of each mistake. The average sack costs an offense around 1.5 expected points, but because they are more common, sacks actually do more damage in the aggregate to an offense’s scoring potential” (from: ‘In an NFL sea change, sacks are hurting offenses more than interceptions,’ The Washington Post, 11/14/23).

When a single sack costs a team, on average, 1.5 expected points in a game, losing 27 of those sacks can be crushing to a defense. Roseman technically addressed it by boosting his secondary.

Even in the mid-rounds of the draft, there is always pressure from fans to take a certain position of need. The reality is that getting a starter at all is a massive win. From the 2o23 NFL draft, there were very few players after the second round who made a serious impact right away. Sometimes, it can take several years for these athletes to develop.

After the first two rounds, taking a position of need for a contender is almost irrelevant. A team’s needs rapidly change over time, so taking a linebacker in the fifth round, for example, isn’t going to change that. Roseman went for the players he felt were the best available after the second round, even if it meant reaching a little bit. For a team that doesn’t have the cap space to adequately address depth issues, the GM went ahead and did so in the draft. It’s honestly kind of brilliant.

Instead of reusing clearly ineffective ideas, Roseman evolved as a GM.
As a result, he should be in Philadelphia for a very long time. He is spoiling the Eagles’ organization.

PHOTO: Getty Images

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