The Eagles had an exciting first night of the 2022 NFL Draft — trading up to draft Jordan Davis at No. 13 and trading away No. 18 (and 101) for A.J. Brown — but they aren’t done yet. As the first round ended, GM Howie Roseman, head coach Nick Sirianni, and VP of player personnel Andy Weidl spoke to reporters about why they made the moves they did on Thursday night, and how Davis and Brown will fit what the Eagles are trying to build.
HOWIE ROSEMAN: “We have two more days to go here. We have a lot of work to do. Obviously, when we started with ten picks and we’re at six; I think Andy [Weidl] and his staff are a little mad at me right now for that. Let’s just see what happens here. But we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of areas we want to continue to improve on this football team. That work’s not going to stop. It’s not going to stop Saturday, it’s not going to stop Sunday and it’s not going to stop really until the trade line. Even then, we are going to look at the waiver wire and keep working, try to get better.”
Here’s what they had to say:
On the A.J. Brown trade
Roseman was asked whether the wide receivers earlier in the round factored into making the trade, but the GM said rather the trade was contingent on them getting an extension done.
ROSEMAN: “[It was] something we were working on during the course of the draft, and we were just kind of trying to balance finishing that, and if we didn’t finish that, making sure we got the right players. But, it didn’t matter who was on the board. For us. A.J. Brown was somebody that we had studied coming out, spent a lot of time on, and we had a lot of love for A.J. Brown coming out of that draft. Obviously things went a different way in that draft, but really excited to get him — just in terms of how Coach [Sirianni] can use him and his vision for A.J. Brown in this offense.”
He went on to say that they like how Brown compliments the other guys that they have, and also explained that the WR’s relationship with “our quarterback,” Jalen Hurts, was something they’re excited about.
Nick Sirianni later talked about Brown and how he’s proven to be a productive player and someone they are excited to add to the offense.
SIRIANNI: “He plays with great play strength. This guy, this is a strong man. He’s quick for a big guy, and he catches everything. Those are things that really stick out from his tape. There’s no projection there. It’s like, ‘Well, this is what he’s going to be in the NFL.’ No, you’ve seen it. You’ve seen it for three years now. And it’s just exciting to put on his tape and watch him.”
Roseman mentioned that the deal came about really quickly, and credited Brown and his agent for getting an extension done so quickly, because things were coming down to the wire to make the trade. As for why the Titans were willing to get rid of their top receiver, Roseman said it came down to resources and the Eagles having more flexibility with Jalen Hurts still on a rookie deal.
ROSEMAN: “I think for them, because the amount resources we had and they are trying to accumulate some of those resources as well, I think they thought it made some sense for them at the time. And, you know, obviously with all these players, contract’s a big issue. When you have a young quarterback like we do, you can be a little bit more aggressive with contracts than maybe you can when you’re paying a quarterback.”
As for Brown’s injury history, Roseman admitted that they did pre-draft medical work and that, while there’s no guarantee or insurance, they know what type of player he is and what he adds to the team.
ROSEMAN: “Anything you do there’s risk, but that’s who we are going to be, we are always going to be aggressive and we are always going to take shots on guys that we believe in, and we believe in A.J. Brown.”
Sirianni was asked how Brown complements DeVonta Smith and the offense, and the head coach emphasized that his size and strength will add a lot to the position.
SIRIANNI: “He’s a bigger guy with a lot of play strength. Like I said, this is one of the stronger receivers in the NFL. I was on the opposite sideline of him twice a year in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. So, I saw it up close and personal, and then obviously we did our due diligence on tape.
But, yeah, there’s a lot of different things that because of his skill set, because of that play strength, because of that body quickness that he has and just the major – the biggest asset that he has is the one that’s so vital to the position. If you can’t catch the ball, you can’t play. And this guy catches everything.
And so, we can see him on a lot of different routes that fit our offense that uses that play strength, that uses that quickness, and that’s where he’s so tough. You want guys that can win one-on-one matchups. And this guy has shown in the NFL that he will win one-on-one matchups.”
The head coach later noted that having Brown on the field will help alleviate some of the focus on Smith from defenses, and will also help boost Smith as he looks to make a leap from Year 1 to Year 2.
On the Jordan Davis pick
As for the draft picks they had to give up in order to move to No. 13 to draft Davis, Roseman explained that he was a Top 10 guy for the Eagles, and with their commitment to the OL and DL, they wanted to ensure they were able to get Davis. The GM went on to note that Jonathan Gannon does a lot of different things with the defensive scheme, and Davis gives them more flexibility, especially adding him to the likes of Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
Andy Weidl talked about how the scouts spent a lot of time down in Georgia and seeing what Davis can do.
WEIDL: “I think when you see a guy with that type of size, athleticism and explosion that loves to play the game, he did what they asked him to do in their defense. He fit the bill. He made them strong in the middle of the defense.
But you saw the lateral quickness, you saw the range, you saw the ability to get down on the line of scrimmage and run down running backs and hawk down quarterbacks. So, we think he has it in his body, the explosion in his body. We’re excited to get him in here and get him in our program.”
Weidl went on to acknowledge that it’s hard to find a comp for Davis because he is such a unique player, citing his size, athleticism and explosion. He also called Davis’ pro day workout “exceptional,” but they were also impressed by how he interacted with his teammates and how his personality emerged. Other players were drawn to the DT and his authentic personality, something that the team felt when he visited the Eagles ahead of the draft.
WEIDL: “A guy like that he keeps you strong down the middle of your defense. And having that strength down the middle of your defense is critical. It starts inside, it starts at the point.
And then I think also I wouldn’t limit him to just the point. The guy has the ability to move and play different spots along the defensive line. He has that type of athleticism, the length, the speed and the lateral quickness to do that.
I wouldn’t say just limit him inside at the nose, but he does make us stronger there and I think he has the versatility to move up and down the line of scrimmage and help us there.”
As for why they moved up two spots to draft Davis, Roseman explained they didn’t specifically think the Ravens were going to take him, but they didn’t want to take the risk. They didn’t want to get cute and miss out on the opportunity to add someone of his value.
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