Eagles Outlook: PFF lays out the perfect first-round scenario for Philadelphia in the 2023 NFL Draft
As NFL free agency dies down, all eyes are turning towards the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles hold two first-round picks in 2023 – tenth overall (via New Orleans) and 30th overall.
Holding two first-round picks (one of which being inside the top-10) is an obvious luxury for a team that just reached the Super Bowl. A luxury that could propel the Eagles to another Super Bowl appearance if Howie Roseman plays his cards right.
Pro Football Focus recently laid out the perfect first-round scenarios for each team that holds two picks on day one. Their ideal outcome for the Eagles sees Howie Roseman snagging Georgia standout Jalen Carter at ten, then following it up by selecting Alabama defensive back Brian Branch at 30th.
Unless Howie decides to trade one his firsts, PFF’s vision for the Eagles is what every fan should be clamoring for.
I get it, drafting Bijan Robinson would be a lot of fun. It’s the offseason, we could all use a little bit of Eagles excitement. But at the end of the day, walking out of the first-round with Carter and Branch would almost instantly fix all of the concerns we have with the Eagles defense.
Starting with Carter, if it weren’t for the off-field issues surrounding him, he’d probably be the first non-quarterback off the board. He’s number two on PFF’s big board and he placed in the 95th percentile or better in pass rush grade (89.1), run defense grade (91.2), pass rush win rate (16.3 percent), and run-stop rate (15.3 percent).
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Here’s PFF’s glowing review of Carter’s tape in their scouting report:
In the 2022 NFL Draft, Georgia had the first two defensive tackles off the board in Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt. Yet, neither holds a candle to their younger teammate as a prospect, Jalen Carter. Carter’s 90.0 pass-rush grade in 2021 led all Power Five interior defensive linemen, as did his 18.9% pass-rush win rate. Despite battling injuries in 2022, Carter posted a 92.3 grade that ranked first among Power Five interior defensive linemen. He’s the best defensive tackle prospect since at least Quinnen Williams, and even that might be selling him short.
Sooooo, yeah. He’s a really good football player and we should all want him in midnight green.
Carter’s pre-draft process has certainly raised some red flags. But, if the Eagles feel comfortable enough to draft him at ten, I’ll have faith in their judgement.
Getting Branch at 30 would also be a huge steal for Howie and Co.
He’s one of the most versatile defensive backs in this year’s draft class, spending time in the nickel as well as deep at safety. Branch could seamlessly replace what CJ Gardner-Johnson brought to the Eagles defense, while bringing more pure talent to the field.
As a third safety who creeps down into the box, Branch will thrive in year one. Although he’s not the most physically gifted athlete, his football IQ and versatility more than makes up for it. Even as a late first-round selection, Branch is capable of starting day one if he’s given an ideal role for his skill set.
I’ve seen more Eagles first-round scenarios than I can count at this point. This latest one from PFF might just be the best one yet. Putting Carter along this already ferocious defensive line is a horrifying thought. Getting a versatile defensive back that can start right away down at 30 is just the icing on the cake.
Simply put, if the Eagles can get two difference makers in the first-round, we all should all walk away fat and happy. They obviously achieve that in PFF’s perfect day one scenario.
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