The Eagles had two picks Friday and a host of needs. After drafting defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round Thursday, it was clear the Eagles needed to look at cornerback and/or running back on the second day. As some of the top running backs were taken off the board, Eagles fans thought perhaps Joe Mixon might be selected in the second round. Instead, the Eagles took Sidney Jones, their top-rated corner in the draft, then Rasul Douglas in the third round, filling an enormous need on defense.
Jones, 6-0, 186 pounds, was one of the targets the Eagles had in the first round before he injured his Achilles during his personal pro day in advance of the draft. He was one of three Washington defensive backs selected, and many thought he was the best heading into the draft process, but with an injury that could have him out for at least the first half of the season, the pick was a bit polarizing. The Eagles made things a bit worse for themselves when they declined to put a timetable on Jones being fully recovered, as Howie Roseman came damn close to throwing in a Trust the Process comment during his press conference.
“Our doctor and training staff not only looked at corners and players in the national football league, but we looked at players in other sports,” Roseman said. “Guys who play explosive positions, quick switch positions to look at their recovery timetable.
“We feel very confident with our medical team that when he gets here he’ll be able to be the same player he was before the injury.”
Roseman said Jones, like Barnett, was one of the Eagles’ top 14 prospects on their big board. To get two first-round talents without having to make any (more) trades is a big win for the Eagles. If Jones can return to 100 percent health.
“Because of his age it’s a very, very high percentage of coming back to 100 percent and that’s why we made the pick,” Roseman said. “For us it had to be a very, very good chance he’d be the same before the injury.
“The draft is about the longterm interest of your football team.”
Doug Pederson echoed those thoughts, saying, “we just got a first round talented corner. We’re not going to rush into anything with him. The kid is dynamic. He’s a really special kid on the field and that’s what we evaluated when we made this decision.”
Roseman also lauded his character, which wasn’t a direct response to why the Eagles opted not to take Mixon at running back, but it might as well have.
With Jones likely needing more time to get into NFL shape after he returns from injury, Douglas should be able to start right away, if he fits into Jim Schwartz’s defense in that role. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network was high on the pick, saying, “I like the fact they doubled down. You want ball skills? He’s got eight picks. He’s got elite size to match up with the receivers in this division.”
Douglas is 6-2, 209 pounds, and the former junior college player earned All-Big 12 honors at WVU. He’s a big dude, but he may not be fast enough to track guys who beat him on man-to-man routes. And still, he’s an upgrade from what the Eagles have, which is pretty much nil after Jalen Mills.
The Eagles have had a solid draft through three picks, which is saying something given the tumult all around the draft board. It’s not the most dynamic draft — they did that last year — but in three picks they have three defensive players who can help them in the near future. They’ve filled needs, and will go into Day 3 looking to add depth and find that potential sleeper pick who can turn into a star. This is a good draft for the Eagles. Fans should be happy. Yep, even in Philly.