With the 2020 NFL Draft right around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the 2019 draft for the Philadelphia Eagles and see how we fared. Although it is still too early to tell, I think there are some positives to the draft and definitely some negatives. In this article, I will be going back and providing an ideal redraft for the Eagles, if every other pick stayed the same.
1ST ROUND, PICK 22; Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
(Original pick: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington)
Although I definitely considered staying with Andre Dillard at this pick, it was too hard not to grab one of the top wide receivers, as the team struggled so much this past season at that position. The question was whether to draft Deebo Samuel or DK Metcalf. Even with what Metcalf did to us last season, I still think Samuel is the better receiver and has the brighter future of the two receivers. Samuel led all rookies with catches of 20-plus yards (17), finished fourth with 802 receiving yards, and racked up 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He would look pretty good paired with Carson Wentz for the next several years, especially given the Eagles’ need to find young talent at the position.
2ND ROUND, PICK 53; Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
(Original pick: Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State)
This one isn’t too hard to figure out. Miles Sanders developed into a potential star right before our eyes in 2019. In the second half of the year, he transitioned into a new role as not only the starting running back in Jordan Howard’s absence, but also as a primary playmaker in the offense. Sanders finished 18th in the NFL and first among rookie running backs in all-purpose yards. He collected 818 rushing yards on 179 carries (4.6 yards per attempt), 509 receiving yards on 50 receptions, and six total touchdowns. Not to mention, in the playoffs, he ran for 69 yards on 14 carries even though he wasn’t one-hundred percent with his ankle injury. Sanders also provided value in pass protection, which everyone was told was an area of concern for him coming out of college. This was a no brainer to keep the same.
2ND ROUND, PICK 57; Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
(Original Pick: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford)
Now that we know we will have to replace defensive centerpiece Malcolm Jenkins, why not draft a safety to breed under Jenkins for a year before being thrown into the starting role? Thornhill had three interceptions along with eight pass deflections and 58 tackles before a season-ending injury. He will definitely be a staple in the defensive backfield for years to come and would be a great succession plan to Jenkins and fellow safety Rodney McLeod. This would have allowed Jalen Mills to remain at cornerback too instead of now having to learn a new position this offseason.
4TH ROUND, PICK 138; Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
(Original pick: Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State)
Although the expectation was low for Shareef Miller for his rookie year, nobody thought he would play a total of just two snaps the entire season. With Josh Sweat having a somewhat productive season as the rotational defensive end, the Eagles don't need another outside pass rusher. However, with Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill gone, they definitely could use a linebacker. In 2019, Greenlaw played in all 16 games with 11 starts. He officially earned his starting job in Week 8 and finished with 92 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and two passes defended. It’s safe to say he had a smooth transition into the league and could have led our defense for many years.
5TH ROUND, PICK 157; Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina
(Original pick: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern)
Although he only started nine games as a rookie, Dennis Daley was considered by Pro Football Focus to be a top-five rookie offensive lineman. He isn't the guy to fill the gaping hole being left by future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters, but he is a good backup offensive lineman who had some success in his first year. He also will definitely have more of an impact and upside than the original pick at this spot, who never even made the team and is now a depth quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
If the 2019 draft would have worked out this way, there's no way of telling how much of a difference it would have made. It could have potentially meant a postseason win against the Seattle Seahawks, and maybe even another deep playoff run. Let's hope the 2020 draft can give the Birds some real talent for the upcoming season and beyond.