Many Philadelphia Eagles fans, including me, were mutual about the recent NFL draft. Here at PhillyAnalytics, it is our job to give a statistical insight of recent news. Thus, in this article, we will break down each selection, starting with the fourteenth overall selection- Derek Barnett.
First Round: Derek Barnett (Defensive End, Tennessee)
Derek Barnett appears to be a mid first round pick, so therefore, the Eagles did not get great value or take him too early. In my opinion, he went exactly where he was projected to go. Therefore, from that standpoint, we can judge this pick without any bias.
Onto the numbers: below, I included an important picture from draft night. After taking a closer, look, I was quite surprised at the production that Barnett has been able to put up in the SEC, especially because, he has significantly outperformed Myles Garrett (First Overall Pick) during conference play. While the other numbers are similar, Barnett’s SEC numbers look great. This comes off as great news, as he played in the best conference, statistically.
Looking at various Tennessee games this year, Barnett’s performance against an elite offensive lineman Cam Robinson jumps out. In that game, he had three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one interception. Yes, that is correct, an interception. What makes his performance even more impressive, is that he did all of that against Cam Robinson, who was a first round talent if it were not for his off field issues.
What can we take away?
Derek Barnett may not be the most glamorous selection; however, his technique and football IQ will help him at the next level. In college, he showed that he could get it done when it mattered most, even better than first overall selection, Myles Garrett With that being said, let’s hope that Barnett can find a role in an already strong defensive line. Despite Barnett’s abilities, it is remains to be seen how he will fit with that lineman core. For that reason, many Eagles fan continue to question the front office. With more dire needs, the Eagles could have used this valuable selection for a player that could make a bigger difference. In short, Derek Barnett is a great player; nevertheless, I, like most Eagles fans, hoped that they would use the pick for a playmaker.
Second Round: Sidney Jones (Cornerback, Washington University)
For analytics junkies, like myself, this is best selection from the Philadelphia Eagles. For those that are not aware, Sidney Jones was projected to go in the top 15; however, during his pro day, he tore his ACL, dropping him all the way to the second round. Therefore, this pick will either be a boom or a bust.
I tried to find a statistic, showing the percent of players that come back from ACL injuries to full strength. However, there are many factors that go into the recovery process of a player, so it is unreasonable to apply a general statistic for this case. Nevertheless, Sidney Jones is 20 years of age, which makes it much easier for him to come back from injury. Since he is young, there is not as much tear on his legs, making it easier to recover. Additionally, according to many sources, his injury is in the upper ACL, which is apparently easier to heal than a lower ACL tear.
Now, let’s get into Sidney Jones, the player. After looking at his numbers, they don’t jump off the board. However, there is a clear reason for the discrepancy between his technique and skill and the actual numbers: many teams avoided throwing to his receiver due to his known talent. In fact, during the entire season, he was only targeted 48 times (tied for 201st in the country) in the upcoming Pac-12.
Therefore, I had to watch tape to fully analyze Sidney Jones. While watching, it was clear that he was the best press man coverage cornerback in this draft. Similarly, under Jim Schwartz, the Eagles use a 4-3 scheme with man coverage in the secondary. On another note, he has great footwork, allowing him to play tight coverage off the line of scrimmage and break on balls in zone coverage. In general, he has excellent ball skills, breaking up and intercepting passes without initiating much contact. During the past two seasons, Jones had 9 interceptions and got a hand on 21.3 percent of balls thrown his way over the last two seasons. Moreover, he gave up a reception every 8 coverage snaps, putting him in the top 10 of all cornerbacks in the draft.
What to take away?
This pick is most likely going to be a boom or bust due to Jones’ skills and injury. If Jones can become healthy, he can be a great player. In terms of personnel, the Eagles filled a crucial cornerback need. However, Jones will not be on the field for the majority of the upcoming NFL season. Therefore, he does not fill an immediate need, leaving the Eagles in about the same spot as last year.
With the first round and second round selection, the Eagles got players with great upside. However, they did not fill needs of the team- Running Back, Cornerbacks (That can play right away), and future Offensive Line help. Instead, they got players for the future that can slowly come in and make their way into starters, if not stars. Therefore, I give the Eagles a C for the first two selections because they did not greatly improve their team from what it was before the draft. The team is, more or less, in the same position as it was before the draft.