Super Bowl 2018: How the Philadelphia Eagles were built through the NFL Draft
The Eagles have a strong collection of homegrown talent, and one draft many years ago is the foundation
Yes, the likes of Alston Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Tim Jernigan, and Cris Long have been integral to the Eagles’ Super Bowl run and were acquired via trade or free agency.
But let’s examine how these Eagles were built through the draft.
One draft class stands alone.
2016, Round 1: Quarterback Carson Wentz
The Eagles sent their 2016 and 2017 first-round picks, plus a 2016 third and fourth and a 2018 second-rounder to the Browns for the second overall selection in the 2016 draft and a conditional fifth-rounder that became a fourth. Wentz was a somewhat polarizing prospect mainly due to his time spent playing against lesser competition at North Dakota State. His rookie year started tremendously then cooled off down the stretch. But he took a seismic leap in his sophomore campaign in the NFL and was a top MVP candidate — along with Tom Brady — before tearing his ACL in Week 14. While the Eagles paid a hefty price for Wentz, the early return seems to be totally worth it.
2015, Round 1: Wide receiver Nelson Agholor
Agholor was a key aspect of what many believed to be one of the worst wideout groups in football in 2016. Through two seasons in the NFL, the former USC star had 59 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns. The move into the slot proved to be a godsend for Agholor. During the regular season he had 62 catches for 768 yards with eight scores. His speed and quickness are better accentuated inside.
2013: Round 2: Night end Zach Ertz
One of the most underrated tight ends in football for years now, Ertz broke out in the touchdown department this season. He reeled in eight scores during the regular season and maintained his typical 70-catch, 800-yard production clip. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds with a well-rounded skill set, Ertz, who’s only 27 years old, is a critical yet sometimes overlooked element of the Eagles offense.
2013: Round 1: Offensive tackle Lane Johnson
A converted tight end, Johnson has slowly emerged as, arguably, the best young offensive tackle in the NFL. He’s always been a superb athlete for the position — check out his MockDraffable web, it’s insane — and as he’s added strength in the pros, Johnson’s play has steadily improved. His three-cone drill, vertical, broad jump, 40-yard dash, and 10-yard split are all in the 95th or better percentile of every offensive tackle prospect who’s participated in the combine since 1999. And yes, even at right tackle, Johnson is vital.
2012, Round 3: Quarterback Nick Foles
Oh yeah, the quarterback who’s starting the Super Bowl for the Eagles was a third-round pick in the same draft that featured Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson. Foles is on his second stint with the Eagles and owns one of the best individual quarterback seasons in NFL history — yes, really. In 2013, he threw 27 touchdowns to just two picks and led the league in quarterback rating, touchdown percentage, and yards per attempt. His 119.2 rating that season is still the third-highest all-time behind Peyton Manning’s epic 2004 and Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous 2011 campaign. In Chip Kelly’s system, Foles got the ball out quickly and routinely threw with accuracy. Against the Vikings in the NFC title game, with similar responsibilities, he looked to be back in 2013 form.
2010: Round 6: Guard Jason Kielce
Kelce is the diamond in the rough most super-successful teams have on their roster. Deemed undersized for the center position, the Cincinnati Bearcat alum has consistently won with incredible mobility and a proper angles. He’s the consummate zone-blocking center who can typically be found delivering textbook combo blocks and demolishing linebackers on screen plays.