Roob's Observations

In Roob's Observations: How free agency made Howie Roseman's job easier in the draft

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What free agency means for Howie Roseman in the draft, the worst season ever by an Eagles running back and a look at how many members of the 2017 Super Bowl team will wind up in the Eagles Hall of Fame.

And a star on the 1960 NFL Championship team who inexplicably isn’t in the Eagles Hall of Fame.

Here’s this weekend’s helping of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.

1. Howie Roseman covered just about every position in free agency. The Eagles added an edge rusher (Bryce Huff), an off-ball linebacker (Devin White), a couple hybrid linebacker edges (Oren Burks, Zach Baum), an outside cornerback (presuming Isaiah Rodgers is soon to be cleared), a nickel corner he had already released (Avonte Maddox), a safety (Chauncey Gardner-Johnson), a running back (Saquon Barkley), two receivers (Parris Campbell, DeVante Parker), an offensive lineman (Matt Hennessy) and a couple quarterbacks (Kenny Pickett, Will Grier). Taken individually, some are huge moves, some are minor moves. But taken as a whole, what these moves do is give Roseman the luxury of having every position covered going into the draft. Roseman is not in a position where he HAS to add any certain position. He’s already added either a big or little piece at every spot on the field, and that allows him to go into the draft without having to reach for anything. He can just let the draft come to him and genuinely take the best available player at a position of need. Even in the middle rounds, he doesn’t have to reach because he’s already got one of everything. Signing Parker and Campbell doesn’t mean he won’t draft a receiver. And signing Huff doesn’t mean he won’t draft an edge. It just means he doesn’t have to. It’s a healthy place to be going into a draft with three of the first 53 players for the first time in 30 years.

2. I’m not sure how this is possible, but only four of the last 34 players selected 22nd overall have made a Pro Bowl. Demaryius Thomas made five, Justin Jefferson has made three so far, and Percy Harvin and Desmond Trufant each made one. Incredibly, Trufant is the only defensive player taken 22nd to make a Pro Bowl in the last 40 years - since 1983 pick Gill Byrd. Some of the disastrous picks at 22 over the years: J.P. Losman, Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn, Josh Doctson and Chris McIntosh. Andre Dillard was also 22nd. The only Hall of Famer taken at No. 22 was Ernie Stautner in 1950. Maybe Howie really should trade that 22nd pick.

3A. How crazy is it that in the Eagles’ 1986 draft, Seth Joyner was selected in the 8th round and Clyde Simmons in the 9th round? Two rounds that don’t even exist anymore. They’re two of the greatest defensive players in Eagles history and if they were coming out of college the last 30 years, they would have been undrafted. 

3B. One of the greatest and most underrated undrafted players in Eagles history is Don “The Blade” Burroughs, who spent his first five years with the Rams and his last five with the Eagles – from 1960 through 1964. Burroughs had 50 career interceptions, 29 of them with the Eagles.  Burroughs is not only the only player in Eagles history with three straight seasons with seven or more interceptions, he’s the only one with three seasons at any point with seven or more INTs. He had nine INTs in the 1960 NFL Championship season and then seven in each of the next two years. Despite playing just 64 games in an Eagles uniform, Burroughs ranks sixth in Eagles history with 29 interceptions, trailing only Eric Allen, Bill Bradley and Brian Dawkins (34 each), Herm Edwards (33) and Wes Hopkins (30) – who each played over 100 games with the Eagles. Burroughs inexplicably is not in the Eagles Hall of Fame. 

4A. Dave Z. and I were looking back at the careers of Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox on our last Eagle Eye podcast, and we started pondering how many other members of the 2017 Super Bowl championship team would eventually find their way into the Eagles Hall of Fame. It’s tricky because they only induct two people per year, so it might take a while before all the deserving guys from that team get acknowledged. But in addition to Kelce and Cox, you have to think Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Graham, Jason Peters and Zach Ertz are locks. Nick Foles has to get in. Jake Elliott almost certainly will get in also. That’s nine. Brandon Brooks is borderline. Only played four full seasons here but made three Pro Bowls and was a beast on that 2017 team. Brent Celek and Rodney McLeod are close but probably don’t quite rise to the Hall of Fame level. Carson Wentz? You can actually probably make a case – he had three of the five-best statistical seasons by a quarterback in Eagles history - but that won’t happen. But even if it’s Kelce, Fletch, Lane, Malcolm, B.G., J.P., Ertz, Foles and Jake, that’s a lot. All had very long, very productive Eagles careers other than one guy, and he was the Super Bowl MVP. 

4B. If nine guys from that 2017 team do make the Eagles Hall of Fame, would that be the most ever? Actually, it would tie the record. The 1960 team had nine (Maxie Baughan, Chuck Bednarik, Tom Brookshier, Timmy Brown, Sonny Jurgensen, Tommy McDonald, Pete Retzlaff, Norm Van Brocklin, Bobby Walston). The 1961 team had eight (the same as 1960 minus Van Brocklin) and seven teams have had seven, most recently 1991 (Eric Allen, Jerome Brown, Randall Cunningham, Seth Joyner, Mike Quick, Clyde Simmons and Reggie White). The last team that had a current Eagles Hall of Famer was 2010, David Akers’ final year here. The last team with none was 1942.

5. The Eagles’ obsession with drafting linemen in the first round goes back way before Howie Roseman and it even goes back before Andy Reid and Joe Banner. It goes back to Tom Heckert and even Harry Gamble, two Eagles GMs in the 1990s. Starting in 1991, the Eagles used eight straight 1st-round picks on offensive or defensive linemen. Most of them were terrible. The approach was a sound one but they just didn’t know how to evaluate players. Since 1991, the Eagles have drafted 31 players in the first round, and only eight haven’t been linemen. Of those 31, 14 were defensive linemen and nine were offensive linemen. The others were five wide receivers (Freddie Mitchell, Jeremy Maclin, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith), two quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb, Carson Wentz) and one cornerback (Lito Sheppard). So if any time over the last 33 years you predicted that the Eagles would select a lineman in the first round, you would have been right 74 percent of the time.

6. A.J. Brown’s 2,952 receiving yards the last two years are the most in NFL history by a veteran in his first 34 games with a new team. The only three WRs with more yards in their first 34 games with any team are Odell Beckham Jr. (3,385), Justin Jefferson (3,200) and Ja’Marr Chase (2,977), all with the teams that drafted them. The previous high by a non-rookie was Brandon Marshall’s 2,922 yards in his first 34 games with the Bears from 2012 through the start of 2014. I always thought it would be impossible to top the Jason Peters deal as the greatest trade in franchise history, but Howie might have done it with the Brown trade.

7. What was the worst season ever by an Eagles running back? In 1970, rookie Lee Bouggess had 159 carries for 401 yards and a 2.5 average. That’s the lowest in NFL history on 150 or more carries. Bouggess, the Eagles’ 3rd-round pick from Louisville, averaged under 4.0 yards per carry in all 13 games he played in. In a game against the Dolphins, he had 12 carries for two yards – an average of six inches per carry. During a three-game span vs. the Dolphins, Falcons and Giants he ran 43 times for 65 yards for a 1.5 average – worst in NFL history over a three-game span by a running back with 40 or more carries. In 1971, Bouggess improved to 2.7 yards per carry on 97 rushing attempts and after missing 1972 with a knee injury, he averaged 2.3 on just 15 carries in 1973, his final NFL season. Overall, he averaged 2.57 yards on 271 career rushing attempts, lowest in NFL history by a running back with at least 250 carries. He had 13 career games with 10 or more carries and never averaged 4.0 yards in any of them. Bouggess did have 50 catches as a rookie, tied with Miles Sanders for the most ever by an Eagles rookie running back. But as a runner? Worst ever.

8. Here’s the complete list of all the running backs in NFL history to average 5.5 yards per carry in the postseason (minimum 20 carries) and also score at least three touchdowns: Marion Motley, Terrell Davis, Zack Crockett, Raheem Mostert and Boston Scott.

9. I feel like it’s a lot more likely the Eagles will trade up than trade down – and I also think it’s more likely they’ll trade up than stay at 22. And while we’ve talked a lot the past couple weeks about trade-up candidates – UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu, Alabama offensive tackle J.C. Latham, Washington tackle Troy Fautanu, Toledo corner Quinyon Mitchell – there is a chance Howie Roseman could get out of 22 by trading down and getting good value while also adding picks. It takes a team that wants to get to 22 and I’m not sure that’ll be the case, but if the Eagles do trade down, there are some guys who might make sense. Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton could be available near the end of the first round, speedy Texas receiver Xavier Worthy could probably be had early in the second round and the same with Missouri corner Ennis Rakestraw Jr. O-tackle and corner in particular are positions with good depth this year. There could be seven 1st-round offensive tackles and four or five corners. That means good value will get pushed down. Nobody is better at finding that value than Roseman.

10. The oldest player in Eagles history to catch a pass was kicker Sam Baker, who only caught seven passes in his career but did have a three-yard reception on a fake field goal from Joe Scarpati in a 12-0 win over the Lions at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 28, 1968, at the age of 39 years, 16 days. Baker also made four field goals in that game and is the last NFL player to catch a pass and kick four field goals in the same game. The completion was the only one of Scarpati’s career.

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