NFL Draft Retrospective, Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles 2016 NFL Draft Retrospective

How does the Philadelphia Eagles 2016 NFL Draft class look three years later?

The Philadelphia Eagles 2016 season was the fresh start that the franchise desperately needed. During the previous season, the Eagles prematurely cut the cord on the failed three-year stint with their former head coach, Chip Kelly. The team was getting a fresh start with two familiar faces in charge. They hired Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator Doug Pederson to take over and call the shots. They also ended up re-hiring Howie Roseman as their general manager after having removed him from all personnel decisions in 2015, at Chip Kelly’s request.

At the time, the Eagles were a complete mess and needed to turn the franchise around. Heading into the draft, they knew they needed to take advantage of the strong quarterback class that was coming in. With Sam Bradford set to be under center for the 2016 season, there was no guarantee that he was going to remain healthy. Therefore, the Eagles made the franchise-changing trade when they moved up in the first round to get the second overall pick from the Cleveland Browns.

Original Grade

Sports Illustrated: B

SI offered the Eagles a “B.” As they noted, the Eagles got the most “pro-ready” quarterback with Wentz, while getting a late-round steal with Jalen Mills in the seventh-round. Everybody in-between those two were question marks, but definitely had their upside.

FanSided: D

FanSided has given the Eagles a “D” for their draft haul during the 2016 season. Outside of Carson Wentz, there really “wasn’t much to celebrate,” according to FanSided.

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 2)

Carson Wentz

QB, North Dakota State

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles traded up to acquire what could be their most important draft selection of the decade. The Eagles haven’t had a true franchise quarterback since Donovan McNabb. They were very high on both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, so they would essentially just select whoever didn’t get picked first overall in 2016. The Los Angeles Rams took the safe pick with Goff as he attended the University of California, which was considered to be the more competitive school in comparison to Wentz’s North Dakota State University.

In retrospect, the Eagles got the more pro-ready quarterback with Wentz. Although he was coming from a small school, Wentz proved to his coaches that he was ready to take over the offense towards the end of training camp. That made the Eagles feel comfortable enough to trade away Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings and name Carson Wentz the starting quarterback for week one of the 2016 NFL Season. Wentz got off to a hot start as the Eagles went 3-0. Soon, Wentz would hit his rookie wall though, as he finished off the season with a mediocre stat line.

Wentz’s second season with the Eagles was nothing short of spectacular. Through the first half of the year, Wentz was arguably the best quarterback in the entire NFL. As he was an MVP candidate, it was apparent that the Eagles made the right choice with Wentz. Unfortunately, Wentz’s MVP campaign would get cut short as he ended up tearing his ACL during a Week 14 battle against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles season wasn’t over though, as the team rallied behind Nick Foles and ended up winning Super Bowl LII.

That would soon cause a quarterback controversy as Wentz’s injury struggles continued in 2018 as well. However, the quarterback controversy would only survive in the media, and not in Philly’s front office. The Eagles ultimately chose Wentz over Foles, and they will stick to their 2016 second overall pick. Hopefully, Wentz can prove his doubters wrong in 2019, as he is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.

Round 3 (No. 79)

Isaac Seumalo

OL, Oregon State

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Isaac Seumalo has had some ups and downs since he had joined the Eagles in 2016. During his rookie season, he appeared in nine games. The following year, he got the start at left guard, but would eventually find himself on the bench as he struggled mightily during the beginning of the year. The Eagles ended up faring well without Seumalo during his second year when they won the Super Bowl. That left the team with no reason to believe he was going to start in 2018.

Seumalo didn’t give up hope, though. After an impressive training camp, the Eagles coaching staff would not forget his progress. Eventually, Seumalo found himself back onto the field during the 2018 season as a starter, and he did a decent job. Although Seumalo hasn’t even played the final year of his rookie contract, the Eagles saw enough in him to offer up a three-year extension. He’s not exactly an elite performer at his position, but he’s serviceable for a third-round pick.

Round 5 (No. 153)

Wendell Smallwood

RB, West Virginia

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Wendell Smallwood has been lucky enough to remain on the Eagles roster. As he has fought through injuries early on in his career, there were many times that it was believed he would end up released before the regular season in both 2017 and 2018. Somehow, Smallwood survived final cuts every time. Once again, he will go into 2019 battling for a spot in the backfield as the running back position remains the biggest question mark on the team heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. His days with the Eagles are limited. If he does make the final roster in 2019, it’s doubtful that he remains with the team beyond his rookie contract.

In hindsight, the Eagles had two other playmakers still available with the 153rd pick. The Eagles could’ve gone with wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who would’ve given Carson Wentz a young deep threat for years to come. They also could’ve taken running back Alex Collins, who has proven to be much more productive than Smallwood at this point. Although both of those players are dealing with some off-field issues as of this season, from a football standpoint, they have turned out to be better selections than Smallwood.

Round 5 (No. 164)

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

OT, Texas Christian


Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Similar to Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has had his ups and downs with the Eagles through his first three seasons. Thanks to a Lane Johnson suspension, Vaitai had the opportunity to get plenty of experience at offensive tackle during his rookie season. He would learn quickly that the NFL is not the NCAA and he struggled. His sophomore effort wasn’t as bad, as Vaitai stepped up in the absence of Jason Peters on the left side of the line. Considering that the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Vaitai as a starter, there isn’t too much to complain about.

Round 6 (No. 196) 

Blake Countess

DB, Auburn


Current Team: L.A. Rams

Eagles fans probably don’t remember this pick too well. Unfortunately for Blake Countess, he didn’t get the same luxury of winning the Super Bowl unlike the guys taken before him. Countess never ended up cracking the final 53-man roster with the Eagles during his rookie season, and the Eagles never brought him back as he went to join the Los Angeles Rams.

Round 7 (No. 233)

Jalen Mills


Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Blake Countess lost a spot as a cornerback on the final 53-man roster in 2016, while Jalen Mills ended up finding himself in the rotation during his rookie season. Mills showed promise during his rookie year and earned himself a starting role in 2017. Mills’ career with the Eagles would be defined differently by anybody you ask. To some, he’s a good cornerback. To others, he should be benched, traded, cut, etc.

Do you want the truth? Jalen Mills is really good for where he was drafted. However, it’s hard to consider him a decent starting cornerback in the NFL. Fortunately for Mills, his outspoken leadership and high-energy play have made him a favorite to his defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. But nobody should be surprised to see the team start turning the page on Mills in 2019.

Round 7 (No. 240)

Alex McCalister

DE, Florida

Current Team: Free Agent

Alex McCalister ended up staying with the Eagles throughout his rookie season, but only because he was placed on the Injured Reserve. The team gave him the opportunity to stand out the following offseason, but by that time, the Eagles realized his talents were not going to translate well at the pro level. That led to his release before the start of the season. At this time, McCalister has moved on from the NFL after a failed stint on the Redskins practice squad.

Round 7 (No. 251)

Joe Walker

LB, Oregon

Current Team: Arizona Cardinals

As the Eagles tend not to value the linebacker position much, Joe Walker was the final pick from the 2016 NFL Draft. Like many seventh-round picks, Walker failed to make the final roster. He played in 12 regular season games for the Eagles in 2017 since they suffered a long list of injuries. After collecting a ring, and only eight tackles, Walker’s days with the Eagles were finished after the 2017 NFL Season.”

Retrospective Grade

Looking back at the 2016 Draft, the Eagles did a decent job. Not only did they find their franchise quarterback of the future, but they also filled in some long-term holes with some mid-to-late round picks. They found two serviceable linemen for the future in the middle, and hit on one of their three seventh-round picks, which is quite rare. All in all, the Eagles got off to a great start with their new era of coaching and drafting in 2016.

In the NFL, everything comes down to the quarterback position and there’s little doubt that the Eagles struck gold when they went out on a limb to grab Carson Wentz. Few teams in the NFL wouldn’t want to trade places with the Eagles at QB, and from there, the late round finds only add value to the class.

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