The Eagles and Howie Roseman had a huge task ahead of them this season. The only thing harder than getting to and winning the Super Bowl is getting it behind to the Super Bowl after losing the previous year. In the aftermath of their loss to the Chiefs, the team faced a massive roster change of head coaches. Things looked bleak, but Howie Roseman accepted the challenge head on. With the 2023 NFL Draft now in the books, it looks as if the Eagles are as steering the winds of change as they can be. The Eagles draft was a massive achievement and its impact must be felt early on.
Let’s take a look at the new members of the team.
Jalen Carter, Defensive Lineman, Georgia
#1 Overall, #1 rated Defensive Lineman
Professional comparison: Gino Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Jalen Carter has the opportunity to be a very special player early in his career. Carter has been a standout player for the Bulldogs for the past two years. Even on a defensive line consisting of Travon Walker, Jordan Davis and Devonte White, Carter regularly looked like the best player on the block.
With Walker, Davis, and Wyatt out to the NFL, more focus has been placed on Jalen Carter. Early grumbling about personality issues combined with a lower body problem to shake the spotlight around Carter. Carter played through injuries late in the season to help Georgia to their second straight title. Although never playing to his full strength, Carter was a force at times.
Questions about Carter’s character intensified once he was involved in a street racing accident that left two people dead. A devastating tragedy born of truly horrific decisions. Obviously, serious and valid questions about Carter’s maturity caused him to fall out of the draft. The Eagles apparently felt they could offer unique organizational stability to Carter, who turned 22 in early April. With the strength of their locker room, they are easy to trust.
On the field, Jalen Carter should be an immediate influential contributor to this defense. He has the speed and technical prowess to thrive as a penetrating defensive tackle on equal fronts. He can take advantage of the space Jordan Davis devours to punish inside attackers and generate pressure in the middle. He also has the upper body strength, anchor, and awareness to play a lineman. His versatility and disruption make him a formidable chess piece in Sean Desai’s defense. A healthy rotation of Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, Galen Carter, Fletcher Cox, Street Kentavius and Brandon Graham’s inside picks means the entire line will be kept fresh and ready to go.
I expect Carter to see over 35% of defensive snaps and be a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Nolan Smith, Edge Defender, Georgia
#7 Overall, #3 rated Edge Defender player
Professional comparison: Micah Parsons
The Eagles doubled down on the Dogs in the first round, adding Nolan Smith with the 30th pick overall. Smith, projected as a top 20 pick by many, fell into the draft due to some factors. For example, Smith missed the second half of the 2022 season with a pectoral muscle injury. Furthermore, Smith is too small for an edge defender (6’2″, 238 lbs) and failed to produce at a high level in college.
These are reasonable concerns, but there are a few key traits with Smith that are worth betting on. When it comes to production, the Georgia defense mostly wants its men to control the line of scrimmage rather than constantly attacking the field. Much of the pressure in the Georgia defense has come from their linebackers (see: Nakobe Dean in 2021) and that’s provided by how dominant the line is at gobbling up space. Play the movie with Nolan Smith, and despite its size, you’ll see him constantly on edge against a much larger plotline. He’s got plenty of power for an edge player of any size, not to mention a 240-pound.
His athleticism is really rare in this position, and that, combined with his personal size, means Sean Desai can post him from anywhere. He can be a hand on a ground rush at third and long, but can also blitz from all over the formation and cover as an off-the-ball fullback. The Eagles don’t need him to be a true defender. They already have that in Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat. They need Nolan Smith to be A.J a weapon In defense, I expect that’s exactly how it will be used.
Tyler Steen, offensive lineman, Alabama
It was kind of a given that the Eagles would recruit an offensive lineman at some point in this draft. With Lyn Johnson in the later stages of his Hall of Fame career and the right guard spot newly opened, the Eagles needed an influx of youngsters in the trenches.
Tyler Steen feels he’s an ideal player for coach Jeff Stotland to become a senior contributor. Steen played 30 games at Vanderbilt before transferring to Alabama to play left tackle. Steen has a massive build at 6’6″, 321 lbs and the athleticism to thrive on an island when tackled.
Because of the shorter arms, Tyler Stein figures slide inside to play guard. This will be a bit of a project. Steen’s struggle comes as a barrier of inconsistent clout as a tall player. When guarding, leverage becomes even more important when you’re playing in a phone booth against a shorter defensive line. The key to Steen’s success at guard will be the level of cushion, a significant but doable adjustment for the experienced lineman. Here the Eagles take a big swing on an athletic, quality, well-tested offensive lineman who is likely to start sooner rather than later in his career.
Sydney Brown, Safety, Illinois
#64 Overall Player, #3 Overall Safety
Professional comparison: TJ Ward, Denver Broncos
The Eagles had a huge need for a safety in the off-season. CJ Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps left huge holes in the defence. The team has some interesting players on the roster in Red Blankenship, who has played very well as an undrafted starter, Terrell Edmonds, a former first pick at Pittsburgh, and Justin Evans, who has played decently during his career. What the group is missing is a foolproof playmaker. Someone who can set the tone and create turnarounds from across the field.
Enter Sydney Brown.
In 40 career games at Illinois, Sidney Brown caught 10 passes, forced four fumbles, made 10 TFLs and scored three defensive touchdowns. Brown is a very athletic player with 206 pounds of pure muscle packed into a 5’10” frame. He’s not afraid to make big plays against the run and can cover any level of the field with his athleticism.
His best action is near the line of scrimmage where he can play as a slot defender or even a nickel linebacker. He has the speed to cover receivers and running backs out of the field, the physique to handle larger pass catching tight ends and the fearless instincts to be an overrunning defender. Brown is an aggressive fullback, which can result in a lot of feasting or starvation when looking for big plays. Tempering this aggression will do much to make him a steady force in the right defence.
In Philadelphia, the Browns should be vying for a senior role early in their career. He could be an excellent nickel-back on Sean Desai’s defense and should eventually be a full-time strong safety.
Kelly Ringo, Cornerback, Georgia
#14 player overall, #2 overall in corner kicks
Professional comparison: Gardner’s Sauce, New York Jets
Kelee Ringo had one of the most surprising fall draft weekends of any player in the class. Many have speculated that Ringo is a first-round talent as recently as last week. Reports of medical and personal red flags circulated over the weekend, which may explain why the two-time national champion fell in the fourth round.
The Eagles’ front office said they found no issues with Ringo’s medical or off-field profile, leaving them comfortable with what looks like a luxury pick. After all, the Eagles have two excellent starting tackles in James Bradbury and Darius Slay. With those two locked in on the outside cornerback points, it gives Kelee Ringo a great opportunity to learn from two of the best angles in the game.
At just 20 years old, Kelly Ringo was one of the youngest players in the class of 2023. His age is surprising considering his body image. At nearly 6’2″ and 210 pounds, Kelee Ringo has a large, muscular frame for a cornerback and isn’t afraid to use it. Kelee Ringo is a physical, bossy defender who can swallow receivers at the line and wipe them out of the passing game. This combines with his speed on the track to make him A natural defender of the ocean.
Ringo’s struggles mostly come from a lack of experience. A skilled receiver can force him to bite down on fakes and he can be useful and let the basics down when the ball is in the air.
Kelee Ringo has tremendous positivity, but there’s clearly room to grow. In the Eagles defense, he can slowly be brought in and develop his tools behind Slay and Bradberry. I expect Ringo to be a key player in the 2025 season.
Tanner McKee, Quarterback, Stanford
#138 overall player, #8 overall at quarterback
Jalen Hurts missed three games due to injury in two seasons as a full-time player. During those games, the Eagles offense went 1-2, both losses being last season. While the goal should be to keep Hurts healthy for a full season, in reality he will miss a few games due to his style of play and how the team is using him. Thus, having decent quarterbacks is crucial.
Marcus Mariota was brought in as QB2 next year, but the third quarterback slot is still somewhat open. The selection of Tanner McKee gives the quarterback room for another youngster to develop and compete with Ian Book at QB3.
Tanner McKee has some obvious traits that make him excited. He’s very well built at 6’6″ and over 230 pounds with an NFL-caliber arm that can hit any window at any level of the field. He’s at his best, a very good pocket passer. He tests well in the combine, but the sport doesn’t show up very often. It has a hard time building out of its crime structure and isn’t much of a threat on mobile devices.
He’s a game manager type, and he’s everything you could want from a backup quarterback.
Moro Ojumo, Defensive Lineman, Texas
#131 Overall, #13 All-Defensive Player
The Eagles defensive line was a strength last year and the front office is clearly dedicated to keeping it that way. Moro Ojomo is an athletic defenseman who thrived in Texas due to his quick first step, long, strong arm, and relentless drive. Ojomo started his 30 career in Texas and that experience shows with his field awareness.
The Ojomo is a bit lighter, weighing in at just under 300 lbs. He visualizes himself as a sub pack player and a deep spinning presence. The Eagles have defensive line room loaded, so Ojomo faces an uphill climb to make the roster. However, having a player of his caliber at the bottom of the depth chart means stiff competition in the pre-season between younger defenders.