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Roseman's poor use of draft picks catching up to Eagles

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 14, 2018 - 6:00 am

Since taking over personnel control prior to the 2016 season, Eagles' top personnel executive Howie Roseman has accomplished two of the most difficult tasks in all of sports. 

First, he found a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. Then, he won a Super Bowl. So it is safe to say his return to power has gone pretty well. 

One area that Roseman has not done well with, however, is his use of draft picks. Roseman’s issues with the draft are twofold. 

First, he has traded away high-end draft picks for players that proved to be rentals. Roseman traded away a 2017 3rd-round pick for cornerback Ronald Darby, a 2017 4th-round pick for running back Jay Ajayi and a 2018 3rd-round pick for receiver Golden Tate. Although he never played at a consistently high level, Darby was a starter on the championship team. Same with Ajayi. The use of those two picks helped the team in 2017. 

The issue now, however, is that there is a strong chance neither of those players are on the roster in 2019. Both are free agents and both are recovering from torn ACLs. If neither player is back, Roseman will end up getting 20 games from Darby and 14 from Ajayi.  

There is also the trade for Tate to consider. The trade was a bet on this year’s team. That bet might end up paying off, but after the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, it is looking like it might not. Tate is set to become a free agent this offseason, and likely will command a pretty decent sized deal. There is a chance Roseman ends up getting almost no meanigful contribution from Tate, and to keep him to recoup using that pick to get him, will have to lay out a big deal this offseason.

For front offices that draft well, third-and-fourth round picks should be low-cost starters for at least four years. Finding talented players on rookie deals are key to any team winning consistently in the NFL, but especially for a team like the Eagles that will soon have to give quarterback Carson Wentz a huge contract.

Roseman’s inability to find quality backups or starters in the draft is also starting to hurt this team. Here is a look at his draft record since 2016:

2016 NFL Draft: 

Carson Wentz (franchise quarterback)

Isaac Seumalo (benched twice, but now a starter)

Wendell Smallwood (not a starter)

Halapoulivaati Vaitai (not a starter, but quality backup)

Blake Countess (released)

Jalen Mills (quality starter)

Alex McCalister (released) 

Joe Walker (released) 

2017 NFL Draft: 

Derek Barnett (injured)

Sidney Jones (injured)

Rasul Douglas (not a starter)

Mack Hollins (injured/not a starter)

Donnel Pumphrey (released)

Shelton Gibson (not a starter) 

Nate Gerry (not a starter)

Elijah Qualls (released) 

2018 NFL Draft: 

Dallas Goedert (contributor) 

Avonte Maddox (starter)

Josh Sweat (not a starter)

Matt Pryor (not a starter) 

Jordan Mailata (backup)

Those are the 21 picks that Roseman has made over the last three years. This upcoming Sunday against the Saints, only two of them — Wentz and Seumalo — will be legitimate starters. Smallwood, Vaitai, and Maddox could all start, but if they do, it will only be because of injuries. None were projected to be starters this season. 

If you include the injured players, and projected the starters with every single player on the roster healthy, only four (Wentz, Barnett, Seumalo, Mills) would be starters. In fact, of the 22 players that started in Week 1 of this season, less than half — 10 — were drafted by the team. 

That kind of track record in the draft simply isn’t going to get it done and it is already catching up to the Eagles. They are thin at cornerback and running back because of Roseman’s swing-and-misses at the position. Their issues at offensive line have centered around their lack of depth, leaving them with no real option to replace Jason Peters. Of the 21 picks Roseman has made, only two have been offensive tackles, and one of offensive tackles was playing Rugby one year ago. 

There is an argument to be made that as long as the Eagles have Wentz, they will be competing for a Super Bowl, but that isn’t really true. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who some believe is the most talented quarterback of all time, has only ever played in one Super Bowl. To truly compete, Wentz is going to need talent around him. 

The best way to get that talent around him consistently is in the draft. Roseman has proven he is capable of swinging deals for rental talent, but he has not proven he is capable of adding low-cost, quality talent through the draft. The Eagles have very few, if any, true financial bargains on their roster. All of their real contributors (outside of Wentz) are on big deals that have to be continually restructured to create more room. 

Roseman might be one of the best general managers in the league, but outrunning a bad use of draft picks is going to be very hard to do — and it might already be catching up to the Eagles.

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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