Inside the Eagles’ Draft: Building a Championship Roster With Georgia Talent

Howie Roseman

Getty Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.

The Philadelphia Eagles boast the bedrock of a championship culture, which allowed general manager Howie Roseman to harness the championship talent from one of college football’s most successful programs during an eye-opening 2023 NFL draft.

In a strategic blitz, Roseman and the Eagles loaded up on a pack of Georgia Bulldogs during the NFL draft, reinforcing the franchise’s championship culture and loading up a roster capable of propping open the franchise’s Super Bowl window.

The Eagles came three points shy of winning the franchise’s second Super Bowl back in February, but Roseman’s targeted NFL draft strategy just might have propelled Philadelphia into the catbird’s seat to add another Lombardi to the trophy case this upcoming season.

“When you get a good roster that good,” an NFC personnel executive told Heavy of the Eagles’ draft. “Just look back over the years when Seattle was making runs, Green Bay, you just start taking players. It’s like you sit in the war room and say, ‘F*** it, we have depth everywhere, let’s just take the best players.’”

Philadelphia certainly has depth, pretty much everywhere, and after the draft, the Eagles now have a quality two-deep, especially along both lines of scrimmage, after stockpiling talent across the board.

From the calculated risk of stopping Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter’s mini-slide, and scooping up arguably the premier prospect in the entire class with pick No. 10, to pairing him with prolific edge rusher — and teammate Nolan Smith to bookend Round 1, to matching value with need and talent across the board, Roseman’s maneuvering of the board was a masterclass.

“Carter’s ability to leverage gaps with lateral quickness and agility is just ridiculous,” USA Today NFL editor Doug Farrar told Heavy. “When he uses his hands to maximize his lower-body movement skills… well, that’s one reason he’s just a rare talent. And the pure power to just knife through double teams is generational.”

For this upcoming season, Carter gets to learn behind future Eagles Ring of Honor resident Fletcher Cox, before the 22-year-old who produced 6.0 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in three seasons in Athens gets to lineup alongside former teammate Jordan Davis. The trio of Cox, Davis, and Carter is a formidable matchup nightmare for opposing interior linemen.

Meanwhile, just a couple of feet away on the Eagles’ defense, Brandon Graham gets to chase another Lombardi Trophy, before he ascends into the Ring of Honor and likely cedes his starting job to Carter’s former teammate, and — you guessed it, former Georgia standout Nolan Smith.

“Whether he’s chasing quarterbacks outside the pocket to futile results,” Farrar explained. “Or embarrassing enemy blockers with ridiculous inside counters and multi-gap switches, he’s a common problem with that functional speed. Smith also has great bend and lean around the edge, which just accentuates his inside moves. My NFL comparison for him is Haason Reddick, and he can do a lot of the same things Reddick has done in those fronts.”

During the course of a draft weekend that has earned Roseman and the Eagles accolades from people inside the league, and observers of it alike, Philadelphia bolstered both lines of scrimmage, invested in the most talented players available at premium positions, and just might have effectively fortified a Super Bowl roster.

With a brilliant young quarterback like Jalen Hurts on a team-friendly extension for the next four seasons, dynamic playmakers such as A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and adding — for good measure, running back D’Andre Swift during draft weekend, Roseman was afforded the luxury of taking the best player on the board when the Eagles were on the clock.

This might not have been more evident than in the draft’s latter stages when the Eagles tabbed  Howie did it again. Stole Texas DL Moro Ojomo in the seventh round.

“I love him as a big end in nickel stuff,” Farrar said. “And a guy who can disrupt inside in their five-man fronts.”

The NFC East should be competitive as ever this season, after strong offseasons from the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, following each team’s 2022 postseason run. This offseason, though, Roseman positioned the Eagles to be the team to beat not only within the division but all but ensured the road to the Super Bowl goes through South Philly.

“I liked their draft. A lot,” the executive says. “The thing I like about Howie is not only is he good at moving around the board, and all that stuff, but he’s picking football players. Not just height, weight, speed guys. He’s picking players that fit a role … in their scheme.”

Matt Lombardo Column

Quote of the Week

“That’ll never be the narrative ever again … It proved that I am me … A quarterback doesn’t make me. I make me. And I can do it consistently at this level … That’s why [last] season meant a lot … You can just write in: He didn’t need Aaron Rodgers.” – Raiders WR Davante Adams (via The Ringer)

Davante Adams certainly didn’t skip a beat, leaving Aaron Rodgers and the Packers behind for a reunion with his former college roommate, former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, in Las Vegas last season.

Adams’ Vegas maiden voyage saw the veteran wideout average a career-high 15.2 yards per reception while catching 100 balls for 1,516 yards with 14 touchdowns, his most scores since setting a career-high in 2018.

There is no question that Adams is one of — if not the most complete wide receiver in the sport today, and he is certainly a matchup nightmare. But, the heavy lifting for Adams might just be beginning.

After going from Rodgers to Carr, it will now be Jimmy Garoppolo slinging it in Adams’ direction. It will be fascinating to see whether the Raiders continue to push the ball downfield, with Garoppolo behind center, as the former 49ers star averaged only 7.5 intended air yards per attempt in 2021, his most recent fully healthy season, which was fewer than Zach Wilson, Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, among others.

Adams remains prolific, and a matchup nightmare for opposing secondaries. He proved that Rodgers doesn’t make him as a receiver. Now, the world gets to see if Adams can sustain his consistently high stander, and lift Garoppolo to that level along with him.

That is, if Adams doesn’t first request a trade.

Final Thought: Joe Burrow, Bengals Could Strike Winning Formula

Joe Burrow wants to keep the band together.

Burrow, the wunderkind franchise quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals is surrounded by an embarrassment of talent at the offensive skill positions. Dynamic wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase — Burrow’s former college teammate at LSU — Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and running back Joe Mixon form the foundation of what has cemented Cincy as one of the NFL’s elite, both over the past three seasons and so long as No. 9 is behind center.

Now, as Burrow enters his fourth season since being chosen No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft, with a Super Bowl appearance and pair of AFC Championship trips on his resumè, he’s eligible for an extension for the first time.

One prominent NFL agent who represents several high-profile quarterbacks believes Burrow and the Bengals are going to thread the needle during these talks to avoid sacrificing the talent around their brilliant passer.

“I’d expect a cheap-team deal when it comes to cash,” the agent told Heavy. “Something in the area of five years at $52.5 million to $55 million per year, with the first two years fully guaranteed. You could also see something like the third year conditionally guaranteed at signing.”

After the Eagles and Ravens beat the Bengals to the punch, when they locked up Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, respectively, it’s Burrow’s turn to cash in.

But, money isn’t all that’s on his mind.

“It’s definitely — whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that’s always on your mind,” Burrow told reporters. “You want that to be a focal point. So, we’re working to make that happen.

“You’ve got to have good players. It doesn’t matter how good your quarterback is if you don’t have good players around him, you’re not going to be a very good team.”

Might the Bengals be able to mirror the Eagles’ pact with Hurts, which still preserved much of Philly’s spending flexibility over the next three seasons? The Eagles are set to have just over $14 million in cap space in 2023, $4.9 million in cap space in 2024, $53 million in cap space in 2025, and as much as $132 million in 2026.

That’s one way to keep Burrow surrounded by elite talent, as the Eagles continue to be intent on doing for Hurts.

Burrow will likely reset the market, as Hurts and Jackson both have this spring. If he doesn’t break the bank, or the Bengals’ cap, Cincinnati may be best positioned to make a run at sustained success with multiple runs at the Lombardi ahead.

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