Eagles top 25

First-round pick lands on list of most important Eagles in 2024

Quinyon Mitchell takes his spot on the list of most important Eagles of 2024.

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2024 season.

25. Brandon Graham
24. Nakobe Dean
23. Milton Williams
22. Jake Elliott
21. Nolan Smith
20. Cooper DeJean
19. Reed Blankenship
18. Tyler Steen
17. Devin White
16. Quinyon Mitchell

Howie Roseman did something during the draft that he doesn’t normally like to do.

He waited.

And with a huge wave of offensive players going off the board in front of the Eagles, they sat back and were able to land cornerback Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo with the No. 22 overall pick. They got the best corner in the draft without moving up at all.

Now it’s time to wonder what Mitchell’s role will be as a rookie.

The biggest takeaway from spring practices is that there’s a ton of competition in the Eagles’ cornerback room. Just to earn a starting gig opposite Darius Slay, Mitchell is going to have to fend off Kelee Ringo and Isaiah Rodgers and that won’t be easy. If Mitchell doesn’t appear to be ready, the Eagles won't hesitate to start one of those other guys.

But if it’s close? If Mitchell looks ready to go? Then he should be the starter. The Eagles have shown some hesitance in the Nick Sirianni Era to play rookies but Mitchell was the best corner in this draft and he might be the best solution in the short-term and the long-term for the Eagles.

The only entrenched starting cornerback, Slay, has been impressed with the rookie so far.

“Great. A lot of great things, man,” Slay said, giving his initial impressions of Mitchell this spring. “Quick dude, got a quick twitch. I love his off-man. I’m real good at off-man, what I do. I watched his tape in college for a good minute. Some things that I’m going to help him with for sure that he asked me about already to do and that’s my duty to do. 

“I’m looking forward to helping him because I see a great talent in him. I’m looking forward to seeing him make a lot of plays for this organization.”

Cornerback is a position where players used to need some time to acclimate to the NFL but there have been plenty of talented rookies seeing the field earlier and earlier. Guys like Devon Witherspoon, Trent McDuffie, Derek Stingley and Sauce Gardner over the last couple of seasons have stepped into major roles from Day 1 and thrived. So maybe it’s not crazy to think that Mitchell could do so as well.

Here’s a look at the first-round corners in recent seasons from a story after the draft:

2022: 1-3: Texans: Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU): 9 starts. Stingley began the season as a starter and started the first nine games before suffering an injury, which shut him down for the rest of his rookie season. An injury shortened his second season too. But in the 20 starts of his career, Stingley has looked very good.

2022: 1-4: Jets: Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati): 17 starts. There was no waiting for Gardner, who started every game as a rookie and was an All-Pro. In two seasons, Gardner is a two-time All-Pro with 33 starts, 2 interceptions, 31 pass breakups. He’s already one of the best corners in the NFL.

2022: 1-21: Chiefs: Trent McDuffie (Washington): 11 starts. McDuffie was a Week 1 starter before suffering an injury that landed him on IR. But he returned that season and helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl over the Eagles. He started 16 games in 2023, was an All-Pro and won his second Super Bowl ring to begin his career.

2022: 1-23: Bills: Kaiir Elam (Florida): 6 starts. Elam was not a starter out of the gate but played in 13 games with 6 starts as a rookie. In Year 2, Elam didn’t win a starting gig and played just 3 games thanks to injury and sometimes being a healthy scratch. His career is very much up in the air.

2023: 1-5: Seahawks: Devon Witherspoon (Illinois): 13 starts. Witherspoon was a star from Day 1 and was a Pro Bowler as a rookie. He finished fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting behind Will Anderson, Jalen Carter and Kobie Turner.

2023: 1-16: Commanders: Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State): 6 starts. The slender corner took some lumps in his first year in the NFL as we saw when A.J. Brown bullied him when the Commanders faced the Eagles.

2023: 1-17: Patriots: Christian Gonzalez (Oregon):4 starts. Gonzalez won a starting job and was tremendous, winning Defensive Rookie of the Month for his first four games. But he suffered a torn labrum that required surgery and missed the rest of the year. But his future looks bright.

2023: 1-24: Giants: Deonte Banks (Maryland):15 starts. Banks was a starter from Day 1 and started the first 15 games of the season before missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. Banks had an up-and-down rookie season but will be the Giants’ CB1 in 2024.

There are some ups and downs in there but nothing we’ve seen from Mitchell in the spring has tempered expectations. In fact, Mitchell getting first-team reps in a spring where Ringo and Rodgers were both playing great seems notable. It will take a big training camp for Mitchell to solidify this role but if he does, he’s going to be a massively important piece of the 2024 defense.

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