Nov 26, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) catches a 71 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Skyler Howard (not pictured) as Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya (5) chases from behind during the third quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Here are the Day 3 grades for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles have quietly had a solid 2017 NFL Draft. They started off Thursday night by taking former Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. At the time of the pick, Barnett seemed like a head scratcher. There were far better players on the board (O.J. Howard and Rueben Foster), but the Eagles went with Barnett. They already have Vinny Curry and Chris Long opposite of Brandon Graham, so it wasn’t clear why Barnett was the pick.
However, after their first pick in the second round, it was clear: the Philadelphia Eagles are officially in “Trust The Process” mode. For those who aren’t familiar with that, it means the Eagles are building for the future and 2017 isn’t the priority. They cemented this thought by taking Sidney Jones out of Washington. Jones was the best cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft, until he tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day. It is likely Jones could sit the entire 2017 season out, so the Eagles made this pick for the future.
They also added cornerback Rasul Douglas to the mix and failed to address offense the first two nights of the draft. Luckily for quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles, they had one more day to get some help on offense — and they did.
Round 4, Pick 118: Mack Hollins, WR – North Carolina
Former North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins is a big-bodied wide receiver (6-4, 221 pounds) with speed. He scored 20 touchdowns his last three seasons at UNC, but only four in 2016 because of a season-ending injury. Had he not been injured, Hollins would have heard his name called a lot earlier.
That is good news for the Eagles, mainly because adding pass catchers for Wentz is huge. When you think of big-bodied receivers, you do not expect them to average 20.6 yards per reception. But Hollins was a big-play guy for the Tar Heels. Additionally, he is a stud on special teams. He will be able to make an impact in year one for the Eagles covering punts and kickoffs.
Round 4, Pick 132: Donnel Pumphrey, RB/Slot – San Diego State
After addressing defense on Day 1 and Day 2, the Eagles go with back-to-back offensive players. It was evident the Eagles needed a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, and in the fourth round, they got one. Former San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey leaves college as one of the greatest running backs in NCAA history. He ended his career third in NCAA history with his 6,405 rushing yards. He also left as the all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 7,444. Pumphrey also scored 67 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in college.
The biggest knock on Pumphrey is his size. He stands at 5-8 and weighs 176 pounds. That is something he obviously can’t change, so it’s something to worry about. However, he plays bigger than he is. He may never be an every-down back for the Eagles, but he will be a reliable weapon for them. It would not surprise me if the Eagles traded Darren Sproles before the 2017 season because Pumphrey could fill his role nicely.
Nov 28, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) makes a catch and scores during the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Round 5, Pick 166: Shelton Gibson, WR – West Virginia
The Eagles have added three receivers this offseason: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Hollins. They made it number four when they drafted former West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson in the fifth round (166 overall).
Gibson was one of my draft crushes this year, and I have had him mocked to the Eagles the entire draft season. He is a poor man’s DeSean Jackson in my eyes, the way he can stretch the field and make a big play. He may never be a guy you send underneath, but that is okay because it isn’t his game. Gibson is a legitimate deep threat and will instantly become an impact player for the Eagles. They may have Smith, but Gibson is going to be a guy that makes more plays in my eyes.
Jeffery is, of course, the big name addition this offseason, but Gibson may become the Eagles biggest weapon they have added. This pick gets an excellent grade from me, and Philly fans should be excited that Gibson is an Eagle.
Round 5, Pick 184: Nathan Gerry, S/LB – Nebraska
Nathan Gerry played safety his last three years at Nebraska. However, after the Philadelphia Eagles selected him with the 184th overall pick in the fifth round, the team announced that he would be making the switch to linebacker. Gerry played linebacker his freshman year, so he will be moving back into the box full-time.
Had the Eagles selected Gerry to play safety, this pick would have been highly questionable. Gerry does not have many starter qualities as a safety in the NFL, but the Eagles obviously feel a switch to linebacker will be huge for him. With that in mind, I think the pick was still just okay. Taking a player in the fifth round and hoping he can make a switch to a different position that he hasn’t played in three years is risky. But sometimes with risk, there is a reward.
Round 6, Pick 214: Elijah Qualls, DT – Washington
After a bunch of moves throughout the day, Philly’s last pick was in the sixth round, 214th overall. They ended the 2017 NFL Draft with former Washington defensive tackle Elijah Qualls. The 6-1, 314-pound defensive lineman finished his Huskies career with 7.5 sacks in three seasons. NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein had this to say about Qualls:
“Athletic interior defender with the play traits and ability to play three-technique or nose tackle in the right scheme. Qualls’ draft stock could be a hurt by a lack of desired length and a growing concern in scouting circles that he is a boom-or-bust prospect with concerns over his future weight and work ethic. He has the talent to become a solid, early-down run defender but is unlikely to ever factor as a pass rusher.”
Zierlein also projected Qualls to go in the third or fourth round, so the Eagles obviously felt he was too good to pass up at this point. He will not be a starter, but Qualls will give the Eagles solid depth on the defensive line.