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Eagles miraculously land star cornerback Quinyon Mitchell without a trade up

The team grabbed the Toledo cornerback at No. 22

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For the first time in 22 years, the Eagles have selected a cornerback in the first round of the draft.

And incredibly, they may have just gotten the best corner in the draft without giving anything up in a trade.

The Eagles on Thursday used the 22nd pick in the 2024 draft on Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, a 6-foot, 195-pounder with outstanding speed, size, technique and physicality.

With 15 offensive players going in the first 18 picks, the top two corners — Mitchell and Alabama’s Terrion Arnold — both plunged so far in the first round the Eagles didn’t have to trade up. This is only the fourth time since he became Eagles GM in 2010 Howie Roseman has selected a player in the first round with the Eagles’ original pick.

Despite playing off the beaten path in the Mid-American Conference, Mitchell was universally seen as the most complete cornerback in this year’s draft. He wasn’t expected to last this long, but there was no way Roseman was going to let him slide past No. 22.

Mitchell is the first corner Roseman has drafted in the first round and the first the Eagles have taken in the first round since Lito Sheppard in 2002.

Mitchell’s performance at the Senior Bowl erased any doubts anybody had about his level of competition.

“(I showed) that I can hit with the big dawgs,” Mitchell said at the Combine. “Going into that week, there was a lot of, ‘He can’t play against good competition,’ and stuff like that. So just going and showcasing and dominating everybody.

“I didn’t come to be mediocre. I came to break records.”

Mitchell grew up in Florida, not far from Gainesville, but poor grades in high school meant the offers from major schools disappeared. Toledo stuck with him through everything, and he repaid their loyalty by not transferring. 

“Coming out of high school I had a low GPA, then had to pick my grades back up,” he said. “Didn’t qualify at the end of my senior year. Had to take a Plus-One class and then I sat out the next season. Toledo, they were just always reaching out. That’s why I went to Toledo. … Just try to stay loyal to those who are loyal to me.

“I feel the Group of 5 just nationally is disrespected. The NFL isn’t made of solely Power 5 guys. It’s guys in Group of 5 doing their thing all across the country.”

The Eagles this past year allowed 253 passing yards per game — 2nd-worst in the NFL — and became the eighth team in NFL history to allow 35 or more touchdown passes and intercept fewer than 10 passes.

With Mitchell, free agent safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and corner Isaiah Rodgers, the Eagles will have at least three new pieces in their rebuilt secondary.

The only other 1st-round defensive backs the Eagles have drafted since 1970 are Roynell Young out of Alcorn State with the 23rd pick in 1980 and Ben Smith from Georgia with the 22nd pick in 1990.

The Eagles have gotten by almost exclusively with veteran corners over the past 15 years or so. The only outside cornerback they’ve drafted in the last 20 years who’s become a regular starter is Jalen Mills, a 7th-round pick in 2016. 

MItchell joins a cornerback room that includes 2023 starters Darius Slay, who is 33, and James Bradberry, who turns 31 this summer and is coming off a terrible season. Rodgers was just cleared by the NFL after missing last year following a suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy, and 2023 rookies Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks both had some promising moments this past year as well. The Eagles recently re-signed veteran slot Avonte Maddox.

Roseman has said Bradberry is part of the Eagles’ plans moving forward, but drafting a corner at No. 22 could change those plans.

Mitchell is the first player the Eagles have drafted out of Toledo since 4th-round cornerback Clarence Love in 1998. He played in six games for the Eagles. 

They also drafted back Frank Maher out of Toledo in the 10th round in 1940 and defensive back Jim Gray (not that one) in the 16th round in 1965. Maher never played for the Eagles. Gray played three games in 1967.

Mitchell is the fourth straight defensive player the Eagles have drafted in the first round, following Jordan Davis in 2022 and Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith in 2023. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve drafted four consecutive defensive players in the first round.

Mitchell is only the Eagles’ ninth 1st-round pick who’s not an offensive or defensive lineman since 1991. The others are wide receivers Freddie Mitchell, Jeremy Maclin, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith, quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz and Sheppard.

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