We need to start by noting that this article was already being prepared ahead of Tuesday's news of the trades of Marcus Peters and Jalen Ramsey, neither of which were to the Eagles. That development adds another dynamic to our premise, and will be addressed in the article, but first things first.
I think we can all agree that the Eagles we've seen through the first six weeks of the season have not been the Eagles we expected, a team we thought was among a handful of Super Bowl favorites. Instead, we've seen a team that looks like it will be in a dog fight just to make the postseason, and two glaring red flags have emerged in the process.
The first one is that the team is experiencing recurring issues from a year ago. Slow starts, an inability to develop rhythm on offense, and depth issues in the same position groups (wide receiver/secondary). Now, these issues aren't all on the general manager. The coach deserves plenty of blame here, and injuries have played a role, but the the GM isn't blameless, especially regarding the depth issues.
The second, and arguably bigger, issue is that this team doesn't have a single hole but rather holes all over the field and roster. This is 100% on the general manager, and the problem is two-fold: the GM's failure to recognize these holes in the offseason and a failure to identify talent in the draft that has led to the depth issues and also caused the Eagles to lack playmakers at key positions.
Not wanting to contribute to a lazy narrative, I looked back at the team's draft history under Roseman. I excluded the 2015 draft when the coach who will not be named was in charge of personnel. What I found was, well, depressing.
The Eagles have made 74 selections during Roseman-led drafts. Using an incredibly generous definition of "hit" (any player who has made any kind of contribution) gives you 27 hits. A stricter definition accounting for longevity and impact of contributions drops that number down to 21. Due to the fact that defining a "hit" is somewhat subjective, it's difficult to find a league-wide average, but 30-35% feels poor.
Digging deeper, we used our (again somewhat subjective) hit metric to break things down by round, and we found a glaring issue in the middle rounds. We gave Roseman hits on 75% of first round picks (with the glaring misses being Danny Watkins and Marcus Smith, yuck), 60% of second rounders, and 57% of third rounders. Not too bad outside of those egregious first round mistakes. But then the bottom falls out. Roseman hit on just 15% of fourth rounders, 23% of fifth rounders, and 12.5% of sixth rounders. Again, it's hard to know what the league average is, but hitting on mid-round picks is imperative for a team's depth and sustainability of success. To his credit, Roseman hit on a solid 36% of seventh round picks, doing a good job of finding serviceable players in the last round.
Roseman has invested the majority of his draft capital on both lines and the defensive backfield. That fact contains some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it is an excellent strategy, as football games are won in the trenches. And he's done a generally good job with those picks, as both lines have for the most part been strengths for the Eagles during his tenure. The bad news is in the defensive backfield, where 15 picks were spent and only four players have really given the Eagles anything: Jalen Mills, Kurt Coleman, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox. The list also includes dubious names like Nate Allen, Trevard Lindley, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh, Jordan Poyer, Ed Reynolds, and Blake Countess. Considering the current state of the secondary and the resources spent on the position, that is a poor record.
It gets worse at wide receiver. Roseman has selected seven wide receivers during his tenure. I will present the list to you without comment: Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
You don't have to dig super deep to see the problem here, and Arcega-Whiteside demonstrates it perfectly. He has struggled to produce anything for the Birds, and also owns a crucial drop. Meanwhile, D.K. Metcalf, chosen seven picks AFTER Arcega-Whiteside, has 16 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns. And that is the crux of the problem. It's bad enough to miss on draft picks, but it is exacerbated when the players you passed on become contributors elsewhere. Metcalf entered the draft with a fair amount of buzz, Arcega-Whiteside did not. And yet the Roseman and the Eagles outsmarted themselves and are paying the price.
In case you're not feeling depressed enough, let's give one more example: Donnel Pumphrey. The Eagles selected Pumphrey with the 132nd overall pick. He gave the Eagles nothing. Running backs selected after Pumphrey: Jamaal Williams, Chris Carson, Marlon Mack, and Aaron Jones. They are all contributing to contending teams. Pumphrey is preparing to start his XFL career. Ouch.
Making matters worse is these misses tend to have a snowball effect. Not only did you spend capital on a player who doesn't contribute and lose better players to the competition, but the failure to find a contributor leaves you spending more capital trying to make up for the miss and fill the resulting hole. Now you find yourself chasing and diverting resources from other areas of need. It can turn into a viscous cycle, one that puts increasing pressure to hit on draft picks going forward. The draft will never be an exact science, and you aren't going to hit on every pick, but as the misses pile up you fall further and further behind the 8-ball and are left scrambling to recover.
The performance on the field this season has put a microscope on the team's draft failures in recent years and has called into question Roseman's assessment of his team this offseason. That in itself is enough to turn up the heat on the GM, and then Tuesday's trades happened and the optics are just brutal.
Two days after the secondary got absolutely scorched by the Vikings and anyone who has ever watched a down of football clearly seeing the Eagles' secondary situation isn't tenable for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, two high-profile cornerbacks were dealt and the Eagles weren't involved with either. It's true that Roseman can't force a team to trade with the Eagles, but at the end of the day other GM's are simply trying to do what's best for their teams, just like Roseman is. I find it hard to believe he couldn't have gotten one of those deals done, and the fact that he didn't makes it look like he's asleep at the wheel. Again, just a bad, bad look.
The fact that Roseman has been a wizard at manufacturing trades during his time with the Eagles, which he deserves a ton of credit for, makes Tuesday's developments all the more confounding and frustrating for Eagles fans.
The bottom line is this: Howie Roseman has done a very good job as Eagles general manager. In addition to the savvy trades he's made, he's been masterful manipulating the salary cap and he engineered the first Super Bowl-winning team in Eagles history. For that, he will forever be a legend and deserves every bit of praise and recognition. However, with a franchise quarterback on board, the expectation is for the Eagles to add more hardware to the trophy case, and the current iteration of the team appears woefully unable to accomplish that goal. For all that he's done, Roseman's draft record is sketchy at best, it appears that he grossly mis-assessed this year's roster, and is standing idly by while players who could help his team are being moved elsewhere.
It's very possible that Roseman has something up his sleeve and by the time the trade deadline passes this whole assessment will seem silly. But it's hard to ignore the harsh realities the Eagles are facing right now, and despite all his accomplishments as Eagles GM, the time has come to start scrutinizing the job he is doing.