The Eagles’ 2019 rookie class this season hasn’t been horrible, but they haven’t been setting the world on fire either. Andre Dillard and Miles Sanders, their top-two picks, have each shown flashes of potential, but the class has been terrible after that. Through 11 games into their rookie season, here is how each Eagles’ rookie grades out.
Round 1: Andre Dillard (LT) Grade: B+
Up until Sunday’s game, Dillard would have been in the “A” range, but he struggled and ultimately got benched against Seattle. The Eagles traded up to select Dillard with the 22nd pick in the 2019 draft. He will be the Eagles LT of the future once Jason Peters retires. Dillard played great in Weeks Six through Nine with Peters out, and many thought he should have earned the starting job going forward.
Last Sunday was an abysmal showing from him, however, as he allowed two sacks in the first half before getting benched. He was tasked with moving over to RT in that game with Lane Johnson out. I say let him be the full-time starting LT so he can develop.
Round 2: Miles Sanders (RB) Grade: B-
Overall, it’s been a relatively weak class of running backs so far, and Sanders is arguably the best behind Josh Jacobs. While Sanders hasn’t been consistently running the ball well, his best production has come out of the passing game. With Desean Jackson out for the season, Sanders has been relied upon to make big plays in the passing game out of the backfield. On the season, Sanders has run the ball 99 times for 437 yards and a touchdown; a solid 4.4 YPC.
However, he sometimes tries to make a play when nothing is there and costs himself yards. He needs to know when it’s okay to get 2-5 yard gains on a given play, especially on first down. His best strengths as a runner are his elusiveness and ability to break tackles in open space. Overall, I’ve been satisfied with his production and expect to see him improve going forward.
Round 2: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR) Grade: F
Sure, it’s early, but so far, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been a disastrous pick for the Eagles. The Eagles’ wide receiver production has been abysmal all season, and despite this, JJAW has had trouble even getting on the field. Mack Hollins, who has played nearly 300 snaps and has one catch since September, has been playing over him. JJAW’s most notable moment was dropping a would-be go-ahead touchdown late in the game against Detroit. On the season, he has just five catches on 13 targets, including four drops.
To make matters worse, he was selected above DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Darius Slayton, wide receivers who have all played prominent roles for their teams. He was drafted to be an improved Alshon Jeffery who could go up and make tough catches in traffic. Imagine how much better the Eagles could have been if they had one of those guys. So far, terrible pick.
Round 4: Shareef Miller (DE) Grade: D
Despite being taken in the fourth round of the draft, Shareef Miller has only been active for one game in which he played zero defensive snaps. The Eagles took him without a need for a defensive end. Linebackers such as Blake Cashman of the Jets and Mack Wilson of the Browns would have been more productive selections.
Round 5: Clayton Thorson (QB) Grade: F
The Eagles also really did not need a quarterback. Imagine if they had taken Darius Slayton instead of a lousy quarterback they cut after the preseason. Their record may be better than 5-6 right now. He is currently on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
Terrible pick then, and even worse now. Thorson had so many red flags when he got drafted that the pick made no sense. He was 23 (older for a rookie), didn’t have a great college career, had injury concerns, and didn’t throw a very good deep ball. Despite all this, GM Howie Roseman pulled the trigger and selected him in the fifth round. Sixth rounder, Gardner Minshew II, and UDFA, Devlin Hodges, have each led their teams to wins, while it wouldn’t shock me if Thorson never plays an NFL snap.
Undrafted: T.J. Edwards (LB) Grade: B-
With Zach Brown getting cut, the Eagles needed Edwards to play for a few weeks since Nigel Bradham was hurt. With Bradham back, Edwards’ role has been significantly reduced. Edwards has 16 total tackles and has been active for every game this season.
Undrafted: Albert Huggins (DT) Grade: C+
Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, and Hassan Ridgeway have all missed extended time this season, which forced the Eagles to add some undrafted defensive tackles. Through four games with the team, Huggins has played 44 snaps, recording three tackles and one quarterback hit.
Undrafted: Anthony Rush (DT) Grade: C+
In the same boat as Huggins is Anthony Rush, who also signed before week eight to provide depth at defensive tackle. Rush has five tackles and one tackle for a loss in 68 snaps this season.
Round 6 (Signed Midseason): Marcus Epps (FS) Grade: B-
The Vikings selected Marcus Epps in the sixth round of the draft and moved him to the practice squad at the start of the season. After Philly released Andrew Sendejo, they signed Epps to provide depth at safety. He got his first game action on Sunday and did a solid job as Tyler Lockett only caught one pass for 38 yards in that game.
Undrafted: Nate Herbig (C) Grade: C-
Herbig is essentially a glorified practice squad member as he has been inactive for every game this season, despite being on the Eagles’ 53-man roster all season.
Overall, the Eagles’ 2019 rookie class has been underwhelming. Andre Dillard and Miles Sanders have shown flashes of potential, but mistakes were definitely made by Howie Roseman. It will be interesting to see how this rookie class develops going forward.
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