The challenges of trading up, Kyle Hamilton’s 40 speed, Bobby Hoying’s historic 1998 season and Thanksgiving with Rich Kotite.
We’ll start there with this weekend’s edition of Roob’s Random Eagles Offseason Observations.
1. I’d bet anything Howie Roseman would love to trade up a few spots from 15 and get out of 18, but it’s easier said than done, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to find trade partners. There’s a growing notion around the league that the real value in this draft is in the top 10 picks and then in the 2nd and 3rd round. If that is the case, then 15 and 18 are kind of no-man’s land. If you feel like you can land the same caliber player at the end of the first or into the second round as you can in the middle of the first, then you don’t want to pick at 18. You want to get out of there, be patient, add some picks and then get the players you want later. But the buzz around the draft is that it might be difficult or impossible to move into that top 10 or 12 because teams that are already in there know what the Eagles know and don’t want to give up those picks. Because they don’t like the middle of the first round either, and they want one of those handful of potentially elite players. And it might be tricky also to trade down from 18 because why would anybody give up late 1st-round value or Day 2 value for less value in the middle or end of the first round? If that all happens and the Eagles wind up picking at 15 and 18, they’ll still have a chance to get a couple good players. They just might not get the overall value out of this draft that they would if Howie can pull off some moves.
2. I know there’s a lot of skepticism about Roseman’s comment the other day that the trade with the Saints wasn’t made to enhance the Eagles' chances of possibly drafting a top quarterback in the 2023 draft. Here’s the thing. Of course that’s part of the equation. We don’t know if Jalen Hurts will be the guy long term. And it would be silly to pretend there’s no chance the Eagles will be thinking QB in next year’s draft. But trading No. 16 and 19 for No. 18 and the Saints' 2023 1st-round pick – along with a 3rd-round pick this year and a 2nd-round pick in 2024 – makes sense no matter what your quarterback situation is. Even if the Eagles had Donovan McNabb in his prime you still make this trade. So maybe the trade ends up helping the Eagles get a QB a year from now, maybe it doesn’t. Either way, it's still a strong move.
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3. Remember Howard Mudd? He was Eagles offensive line coach in 2011 and 2012, Andy Reid’s last two years here. Mudd was a legendary o-line coach, but he was also a three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the 49ers and was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 1960s. Howard was a 9th-round draft pick out of tiny Hillsdale (Mich.) College in 1964, and you know how he found out he was drafted? The 49ers mailed a letter to the Hillsdale athletic director informing him they had drafted Mudd. The AD had Mudd come down to his office, showed him the letter and an NFL career was born.
4. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts last year became only the 15th player in NFL history to rush for 750 yards with a 5.6 average or higher and at least 10 rushing touchdowns. In the last 48 years, only Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Nick Chubb and Kyler Murray have also done that.
5. I laugh whenever I read how Kyle Hamilton is supposedly dropping in the draft because he ran such a slow 40 at the Combine - 4.59. Hamilton is a big, strong, rangy, intelligent, instinctive safety who made plays all over the field at Notre Dame. If he drops out of the top 10 and starts drifting toward the Eagles because of his 40 time, teams are crazy and I would do anything within reason to snag him. He’s one of the true potentially elite players in this draft. So what about that 4.59? Dawk ran 4.62. Malcolm Jenkins ran 4.57. You don’t need elite speed to be an elite player. If you have elite intelligence and instinct and see the play happening before it happens, you’ll play fast, and that’s what Hamilton does. His ability and understanding of the game allow him to play faster than his 40 time. And if teams really think he's too slow to be an elite NFL safety, I'll take him in a heartbeat.
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6. The last time the Eagles had two Hall of Famers on the field at the same time was 1997, with Brian Dawkins in his second year and Richard Dent in his 14th. The last time they had two Hall of Famers on the field at the same time on offense was 1968, when Bob Brown and Mike Ditka played 11 games together.
7. We’ve talked a lot about how the Eagles ranked 31st in the NFL last year with just 29 sacks, matching the fewest they’ve ever had in a season since sacks became an official stat in 1982. But let's look at the numbers behind the numbers. What makes that number worse is that six of those 29 – more than 20 percent – came in one game vs. the Lions that they led by as many as 41 points. Four more came in Dallas in a game the Eagles trailed by as many as 27 points. That leaves 19 sacks for the Eagles’ 15 other games. Five times they had no sacks. Four times they had one sack. They were 2-7 in those nine games. They had six total sacks in eight home games, which is the fewest in NFL history. They had one or fewer sacks in seven of eight games against playoff teams. Can’t win like that. Can’t win without making QBs feel uncomfortable. Haason Reddick will help. Solid pickup. But it was only a start. The Eagles need more.
8. I still marvel at Bobby Hoying’s 1998 season. He threw 224 passes without a touchdown. That’s an NFL record. He threw nine interceptions. That’s not quite an NFL record, but it’s the most INTs without a TD over the last 44 years. He had a 45.6 passer rating, 2nd-lowest in the NFL since the late 1970s (ahead of only Ryan Leaf’s 39.0 rating the same year). He averaged 4.3 yards per pass attempt, lowest in NFL history. He averaged 8.4 yards per completion, tied for the worst in history. He went 1-7 in his eight starts, the one win coming over a 2-6 Lions team when he threw for 97 yards. He generated 35 points in those eight starts, That’s 4.4 points per game. He put up the equivalent to 1 ½ field goals per start. Of the 114 passes he completed, none went for more than 38 yards and 41 – more than a third – went for five yards or less. Quite possibly the worst season a quarterback has ever had.
MORE: The secret strategy that helps Roseman pull off draft-day trades
9. I thought it would be fun to find the best player the Eagles have ever drafted with each pick in the first round. So I started going through it. Best top overall pick would be Chuck Bednarik. Best No. 2 pick Donovan McNabb. Then Jerry Sisemore at No. 3, Lane Johnson at No. 4, then Steve Van Buren, Charle Young and Clarence Peaks. Then I got to pick No. 8 and the choices were a few guys from the late 1940s and early 1950s – end Neill Armstrong and halfbacks Clyde Scott and Chet Mutryn – plus Michael Haddix and Antone Davis. That’s it. Armstrong caught 76 passes in a nondescript Eagles career. Scott rushed for 402 yards in his career. Mutryn never even played for the Eagles. Haddix is one of the greatest 1st-round busts in franchise history, which leaves Antone, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to put him on a list with Bednarik, Van Buren and other Eagles greats. So I just abandoned the whole idea.
10. It was the day before Thanksgiving in 1993, and after practice me and another Eagles beat guy were summoned into head coach Rich Kotite’s office. Rich was furious. We had both been critical of the team, and Rich felt like screaming at us. I had written a story critical of the team’s free agency signings. After the Great Exodus that saw Reggie, Seth, Clyde, Keith Jackson, Eric Allen and so many others leave town, the Eagles began to fill holes with a pathetic parade of aging, fading free agents, and most were disasters. From Tim Harris to Keith Millard to Ken O’Brien to Erik McMillan to William Perry to James Lofton to Michael Carter to Mark Duper … it was just one washed-up veteran after another. So Richie starts screaming and cursing and carrying on, and he finally paused long enough for me to offer, “But Rich, all your free agents do suck.” At which point a PR guy in the room screamed at me, “What about Vai Sikahema?” Which was hilarious because Vai was a nice addition and still a capable punt returner, but he was also 31, in his final NFL season, already eying up a TV career, and if he’s the centerpiece of your rebuild you might be in a little trouble. Finally, Rich was done with us, and as we were escorted out of the room, I said, “Happy Thanksgiving, Rich.” He didn't say anything.