Philadelphia Eagles 2017 NFL Draft Retrospective

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

How should the Philadelphia Eagles feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

When the curtain closed on the Philadelphia Eagles 2016 regular season, there was a ton of optimism. The rookie, Carson Wentz, had helped lead them to a 7-9 win-loss total and shown a ton of promise in his first campaign with the team.

The theory was if Philly could land a few prized targets during the free agency period and score well in the NFL Draft, they’d have a nice nucleus of talent that could help them take the next step. No one was prepared for what would come next, but in all honesty, it’s good to be wrong sometimes.

You’ve heard the theory that the NFL’s annual selection meeting is a crapshoot. The Eagles proved that with 2017’s draft class, one that still has quite a few people who love this team shaking their heads.

Original Grade

FanSided: B-

"“The Eagles went all-in on their first-round pick last year. This year they went for a high floor over high ceiling with the selection of Derek Barnett. Barnett is a professional pass rusher. He knows exactly what he is doing off of the edge, and has a pro dip move that gives him the ability to slip below offensive lineman.”"

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 14)

839. . DE. Volunteers . Derek Barnett. -5. player

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

The foundation for this one was laid on Sept. 3rd of 2016 when the Eagles threw everyone a curveball by trading Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round selection. That wound up being the 14th of 2017’s draft, and the Birds threw everyone a curveball by taking Derek Barnett.

The term ‘stunned silence’ comes to mind.

Since being drafted, Barnett has had his share of splash plays including recovering the fumble that was set up by the most famous strip-sack in Super Bowl history. Unfortunately, the narrative since then has been that every year that’s followed has been described as a potential breakout season. Eagles fans are still waiting on that breakout to happen.

Round 2 (No. 43)

818. . CB. Huskies . Sidney Jones. 2. player

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

Philly went with the popular choice, the cornerback, in Round 2. They just went with an unconventional method of finding one as they decided to bank on one who had torn his Achilles a month before 2017’s draft was supposed to happen.

Many pro scouts saw Sidney Jones as one of the five best corners in that year’s class and a potential first-round selection, so the idea of taking him and giving him a redshirt made some sense. The only problem is, since his return, he hasn’t done much to prove that he was somebody that should have been given first-round grades.

Round 3 (No. 99)

Mountaineers . Rasul Douglas. 3. player. 877. . CB

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

You can make a case that Rasul Douglas is the valedictorian of Philly’s 2017 draft class. The Eagles found another cover guy that they definitely needed. This one would be able to pay immediate dividends.

2017 began the Eagles’ trend of injury-filled seasons. Douglas was forced into action early and held up nicely. He’d appear in 14 games with five starts. He registered 25 total tackles, two interceptions, and 11 passes defended as a rookie.

He’s since improved his resume with 118 tackles, five picks, and 25 passes defended for a career that stretches over 46 games with 18 starts. He’s fallen out of favor with the coaches and fans recently, but maybe someone should recognize that his speed deficiencies make him better suited to play safety.

Round 4 (No. 118)

Mack Hollins. 4. player. 838. . WR. Tar Heels

CURRENT TEAM: Miami Dolphins

Mack Hollins played 26 career games for the team as his 2018 season ended before it could even begin. That year, he was placed on the team’s IR (injured reserve) on Sept. 6.

The two seasons that bookended that one were equally as forgettable. Hollins’ legacy in Philly is mired in criticism, unmet expectations, and a stat line that’s atrocious. He only managed one touchdown in his career, a 64 yarder that he snagged from Wentz as a rookie. He’s currently a member of the Miami Dolphins.

Round 4 (No. 132) 

Aztecs . Donnel Pumphrey. 5. player. 901. . RB


Unfortunately, Donnel Pumphrey is the perfect example of how a player being successful in college doesn’t necessarily guarantee the same will happen once they arrive in the NFL.

After a stellar career at San Diego State, the Eagles were hoping to see Pumphrey turn out to be a steal in the fourth round of the draft in 2017 after the running back combined for 57 touchdowns over his final three seasons with the Aztecs.

Pumphrey didn’t record a single snap in 2017 due to suffering a torn hamstring injury early on in September, but at least the running back still managed to earn a Super Bowl ring from the situation.

Round 5 (No. 166)

877. . WR. Mountaineers . Shelton Gibson. 6. player

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

Similar to the situation with Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson was fortunate enough to be part of the Super Bowl squad during the 2017 season, although unlike his former teammate, the wideout did see some action on the football field throughout his rookie campaign.

Even if Gibson only caught two passes that season, it seemed like only a matter of time before the West Virginia wideout found a consistent role in the passing game, which clearly was far from the case.

Just like other players over the years, Philadelphia provided Gibson with numerous opportunities to make a name for himself on the roster, only to fail to come through when it mattered the most.

As for what the future holds for Gibson with the Eagles, well it will certainly be interesting to see if he ends up being part of the 2020 plans when the time comes.

Round 5 (No. 184)

Cornhuskers . Nate Gerry. 7. player. 810. . LB

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

After limited action in each of his first two seasons with Philadelphia, Nate Gerry finally received a larger role this past season with the Eagles by appearing in every game, including 12 starts.

In fact, Gerry ended up recording his first career interception for a touchdown in 2019 as well during a Week 5 battle with the New York Jets, making it easy to see why this past season was the best year of the defender’s young career.

If the 2019 season is any indication of what the future has in store for Gerry, the linebacker seems like he’s only scratching the surface of his true NFL potential, and could be in for another big year in 2020 to continue building a strong case to be part of the long-term plans on defense.

Round 6 (No. 214)

. DT. Huskies . Elijah Qualls. 8. player. 818


After being part of the Super Bowl team from the 2017 season while appearing in six games, the Eagles would move on from Elijah Qualls the following year, and the former Washington star has struggled to find a consistent home ever since.

The fact that Qualls’ time in Philadelphia marked the last team he saw action in an NFL game shows how difficult the last two years have been after failed stints with three other teams before recently making the leap to the XFL with the DC Defenders.

Retrospective Grade

C. . . Philadelphia Eagles. 2020 RETROSPECTIVE GRADE

Bottom Line:

Since it’s only been three seasons since the draft in 2017, the good news for Philadelphia is some of the players with high expectations such as Barnett and Jones still have time to prove they were well worth the risk.

Barnett has certainly looked great at times, but there’s no question the Eagles’ defense would love to see more consistency from the former Tennessee star.

If this happens along with Jones and Douglas finding a way to develop enough to elevate their game to new levels in 2020, maybe the results for Philadelphia from this draft will seem better around this time next year.

by Dan Parzych and Geoffrey Knox

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