Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 Draft Class Could Be Vital In 2019

Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, and Josh Sweat; what is the connection between and connection with those 3 players? They were the first 3 selections for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft. And as the team continues with OTAs and we start to project how the roster will play out over the course of the next few months, it’s important to take note of the potential impact that the 3 of them could have on the team in 2019.

We’ll start with Goedert. The Eagles’ 49th overall pick has had some lofty expectations attached to him even before he played a single snap his rookie season. He was regarded by many evaluators as the top TE prospect in a relatively weak TE class, showing the athleticism, receiving ability, and blocking potential to be a complete player and fill the team’s need for a 2nd TE after the loss of Trey Burton in free agency. Goedert’s season stats weren’t overly impressive at face value as he reeled in 33 receptions for 334 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns, but this is another case of where the numbers do lie. If you really watched and studied how he played in 2018 you’d easily see how impressive of a talent he is. He’s not only already a pretty good receiver but he’s also quickly developed into a great blocker as well. He also showed some impressive YAC ability, something that star TE Zach Ertz often gets criticized for not having.

The Eagles’ offense had its share of struggles throughout 2018, but its strength, especially late in the season, came when they were in 12 personnel and that trend should only continue to improve in 2019. Dallas Goedert is too good of a talent to not have on the field more. Many fans and media members (myself included) believe that the team could potentially have the best TE duo in the league since the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Are those expectations unreasonable? That depends on how high you are on Goedert and if you believe Head Coach Doug Pederson will use him and Ertz a significant amount. It’s difficult not to be very excited about the type of player Goedert can become though.

When Avonte Maddox was drafted in the 4th round he was projected to be the team’s future slot CB but would need a lot of time to develop. He had great athleticism, a physical and aggressive mentality, and the intangibles to be a leader in the locker room, but he was also very raw and had a handful of fundamental flaws that needed to be ironed out. However, a season-ending injury to Rodney McLeod was the beginning of a surprise season for the young corner. To the shock of many, Maddox was put in at safety, a position he had never played before. It was a questionable decision at the time, but looking back it really spoke volumes to the type of player Maddox is. He not only filled in at safety and performed admirably, but later in the season he took over at outside corner and was an absolute stud, making play after play and showing that his lack of height or experience didn’t hinder his ability to play at a high level.

The CB position for the Eagles could be the most interesting one this offseason. Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, and Cre’von Leblanc are all competing to win a starting spot in the secondary. That’s 6 different guys vying for 3 CB spots. But out of all of them, you can make a good case for Maddox having the best chance at being one of the starters come Week 1. The real question is where/how he’ll line up. Slot CB probably makes the most sense as that spot will most likely maximize his talents, but you also don’t want him coming off the field in base packages. So then could he start at outside corner? He’s already shown he absolutely can. But in doing so, does the team end up limiting their options at slot? Jones and Leblanc are the only other CBs who spent time in the middle in 2018. And then you could also make a case for Maddox getting playing time at safety again, at least in dime packages at the 3rd safety. Regardless of where he lines up though it’s almost a certainty that Maddox will be relied on heavily and could be the team’s top corner when it’s all said and done.

And then there’s Josh Sweat. It may be questionable to some for me to mention Sweat as a potential impact player for the Eagles this upcoming season considering he didn’t really do much in 2018. The athletic EDGE defender from Florida State fell in the draft because of injury concerns but was looked at as someone with a very high ceiling. He struggled his rookie year though as he didn’t have the requisite strength or pass rushing counter moves in his repertoire to shed blocks at the pro level. Sweat was eventually placed on injured reserve after the Week 14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys with an ankle injury.

Howie Roseman re-signed long-time Eagle and Super Bowl hero Brandon Graham and brought back Vinny Curry to provide depth. 3rd year EDGE Derek Barnett will also be returning from his season-ending injury and has some high expectations of his own as he retains his starting spot opposite Graham. But the recent retirement of Chris Long has opened an opportunity for Sweat as the 4th guy on the depth chart and the other EDGE opposite Vinny Curry in the 2nd unit. Whether he’s bulked up enough in the offseason and developed his pass rushing skills enough to win that spot remains to be seen. Right now he’s an unknown, a wild card of sorts. But if he can step up and seize the opportunity that lies in front of him he’ll provide yet another legitimate pass rush threat to an already deep and deadly defensive line.

These next few months of the offseason with OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, and the pre-season will help tell us a lot about where Goedert, Maddox, and Sweat are in their development and what we can really expect from them in 2019. But make no mistake about it; they each have a chance to be key players on a team with Super Bowl aspirations this year.

Should they all pan out, credit needs to be given to Howie Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office for landing them in the 2018 draft. It would be an impressive feat to have hit on their first 3 picks considering the team traded away their 1st round pick and didn’t have a 3rd round pick either. You can’t ask for much more than to have your draft picks develop this quickly. That’s how you know you’re doing a good job at building through the draft, and Eagles fans are hoping that Goedert, Maddox, and Sweat will all end up being building block pieces of the future.