2022 Eagles Draft Class and UDFA Grades
As I mentioned in my previous post, I will not lie to my loyal readers.
I’ve been a Howie hater for years now, but this man is capable of anything. He put on a masterclass with the 2022 Eagles draft class, traded for another alpha wide receiver who’s only 24 years old, and turned me from a hater to a fan in a matter of 48 hours. The man’s a magician.
RD.1 (13) DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
In retrospect, there was no way that Howie Roseman was going to pass on such a dominant defensive lineman in this year’s draft. I wrote a more extensive pre-draft article about the film where Jordan Davis looks like a God amongst men and other plays where he makes a deal with the offensive lineman to play pattycake. His 25 snaps per game at Georgia and lack of pass-rush experience are concerns for me, but that was his role at Georgia.
The Chuck Bednarik award-winner should improve his pass-rushing technique with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave coaching him up. Brian Baldinger’s breakdown of how Davis takes on double and triple teams truly shows his value on the defensive line.
Four other Georgia defenders were drafted in the first round, and seven of their starting 11 players were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. I don’t want to get too excited but think of what Vita Vea brings to the Bucs. Teams have to double him as he’s a force against the run and allowed guys like Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to have career years constantly going one-on-one with a tackle. That potential makes him the cream of the crop for this year’s Eagles draft class.
It’s not only the defensive line that a presence like Jordan Davis benefits. When centers and guards have to double him, it frees up our speedy linebacker core to not worry about linemen blocking them at the second level and fly to the ball. I believe in Jordan Davis’ development despite the plays where he seemingly is gassed and takes himself out of plays.
Draft Grade: 8.8/10
RD.2 (51) C Cam Jurgens, Nebraska
My emotions on this pick went from furious, to acceptance, to absolute joy when I heard Jason Kelce hand-picked Cam Jurgens to be his replacement. I’ve always thought that the Top 50 or so players in the draft should be immediate starters, which is why my initial reaction was anger. The way Jurgens can anchor in pass protection while being athletic enough to pull from the inside and layout defensive backs downfield are rare qualities for a center.
Jason Kelce said it best, “This guy reminds me exactly of the way I play,” which is music to Eagles fans’ ears after having the luxury of a Top 5 center for almost a decade. Anything you can find in Jason Kelce’s game shows up on tape for Jurgens. I’ll leave you with this quote from the man himself, now known as Jason Kelce Jr. Howie hit on two potential starters, and this pick could be the one that withstands all others in the 2022 Eagles draft class.
Draft Grade: 8.3/10
RD.3 (81) LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Many consider Nakobe Dean the steal of the draft, and I concur. There were rumors about a shoulder/pec injury that required surgery, which Dean elected not to have and sent him tumbling down NFL teams’ draft boards. Despite his injuries and slightly undersized frame at 5-11, 299 pounds, Nakobe Dean fits exactly what the Eagles wanted in their revamped linebacking core.
Dean’s leadership and incredible quickness stand out in his evaluation as his teammates voted him one of four team captains in 2021, while Nakobe won PFF’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year. The Mississippi native also earned the 2021 Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker.
What stands out about Dean’s game and why his size is not an issue for me is his range at the linebacker. There was no single linebacker in this class who covered more ground quicker than Nakobe Dean. Not only is his sideline-to-sideline speed incredible, but his football IQ helps him diagnose plays in an instant and reacts with that elite quickness. The 83rd selection was by far the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Draft Grade: 8.6/10
RD.6 (181) EDGE/LB Kyron Johnson, Kansas
Howie continued with the trend of drafting players with similar playstyles/positions to many veterans on the squad. A three-year starter for the Jayhawks, Kyron Johnson excels at shedding blocks at linebacker and staying with the play through contact. His strength to take on guards at the second level is a testament to his powerful base. Kyron Johnson got reps on the edge for Kansas in 2021, which resulted in 6.5 sacks (7th in the Big 12) and a team-high 8.5 TFLs.
Over the past two seasons, Kansas moved Johnson to more of an edge-hybrid position similar to Hasson Reddick. He didn’t play much second-level linebacker or inside linebacker in his two senior seasons but made strides as a pass-rusher. With tremendous athleticism and strength for a 235-pound edge, Hasson Reddick should have no problems showing the rook how it’s done and further strengthen the defensive line. Not one of my favorite picks in this Eagles draft class, but versatility is key for the Birds’ defense
Draft Grade: 7.1/10
RD.7 (198) TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU
And another one for the Eagles draft class that can learn from a similar player already on the team. Grant Calcaterra’s game reminds me of Dallas Goedert with his sure hands, ability to win 50/50 balls downfield, and using his 6-4, 241-pound frame to box out smaller defenders. However, despite his production and physical traits, many teams were concerned with his history of concussions. After suffering his third concussion at Oklahoma, he nearly retired from football and stepped away from the game for a year at 20-years old.
Grant’s passion for the game could not be squashed as Calcaterra transferred to SMU for the 2021 season. He was named a captain during his lone season at SMU, a testament to his leadership which is a quality the Eagles particularly value.
Calcaterra started all 12 games for the Mustangs last season and racked up 38 catches for 465 yards and four touchdowns with two drops on 62 targets. He also ranked tied 6th on the team with a 72.8 PFF pass-block grade but needs work on his run-blocking technique posting a 48.5 PFF run-blocking grade in 2021. Grading him as a pure pass-catcher without the concussion history, Grant Calcaterra would have gone a couple of rounds higher.
Draft Grade: 7.8/10
Eagles UDFA Draft Grades
CB Mario Goodrich, Clemson: A disappointing combine most likely resulted in him falling undrafted. Still, the man opposite Andrew Booth Jr posted Clemson’s highest coverage grade. If no free agents are signed, Goodrich could be the guy to come out as CB2 in this Eagles draft class.
Draft Grade: 7.5/10
S Reed Blankenship, Mid Tenn State: Blankenship is a monster against the run and can check wide receivers on the outside. Those traits may not entirely translate to the NFL, but he has immediate special teams player written all over him.
Draft Grade: 6.8/10
RB Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma: Enter Jordan Howard 2.0. Brooks will deliberately seek 1st contact and has no problem dragging defenders for extra yardage. He has the makings of the perfect complementary back to Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell’s running styles.
Draft Grade: 7.1/10
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