The Philadelphia Eagles were eliminated in the Divisional Playoffs last season after winning Super Bowl LII the previous season. Finishing at 9-7, the Eagles did a nice job at filling some holes in the 2019 NFL Draft. Let's examine their selections and how they can help the team moving forward.
1st - No. 22 - Andre Dillard - OT (Washington State)
Dillard saw limited action as a redshirt freshman, but started every game at left tackle in 2016. Gaining recognition as a junior, Dillard was Pac-12 honorable mention. He really blossomed during hit senior year, Dillard was All-Pac-12 and third team AP All-American after starting all 13 games.
Dillard will learn from veteran and future Hall of Famers Jason Peters, who is likely in his last season in the NFL. Dillard was clearly drafted to take over when Peters retires. Dillard is very athletic with excellent pass blocking technique. Because of the system he played in at Washington State, his run blocking may be a question mark. However, the Eagles clearly did an excellent job landing Dillard at number 22 and could be a starter early on and have a long career ahead as starting left tackle.
2nd - No. 53 - Miles Sanders- RB (Penn State)
Sanders saw limited action during much of his time at Penn State because of the presence of Saquon Barkley. However, when given the chance to play, Sanders impressed. He saw time on special teams as a freshman returning kicks and had only 56 carries in 2016 and 2017 combined. As a senior, Sanders rushed for 1,274 yards on 5.8 per game, with nine touchdowns. His contributions earned him second team All-Big Ten honors.
Sanders has good instincts, size, quickness and overall skills to come in and be an instant contributor to the attack. He may have to prove himself more as a receiver since the Eagles like to employ the screen game, but Sanders can finds yards when it's not there. He comes to an Eagles' team that has improved their running game having already added Jordan Howard and now Sanders to go along with Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. Running backs coach Duce Staley will have plenty to work with. Sanders has the chance to be an NFL starter and an every down back.
2nd - No. 57 - J.J. Arcega-Whiteside - WR (Stanford)
Arcega-Whiteside lead Stanford in touchdown receptions in 2016 with five, despite having a modest 24 receptions. As a sophomore, he lead the team in touchdowns with nine, receptions with 45 and yards with 781. In 2018, Arcega-Whiteside was second-team All-Pac 12 earning second-team All Pac-12 honors. He hauled in 63 balls for over 1000 yards and was among the nation's best in scoring, finding the end zone 14 times.
Arcega-Whiteside has the size, strength and ability to get the ball in traffic, much like Alshon Jeffery, who will likely be a mentor as well as a teammate. He will be perfect in red zone situations, replacing speedster DeSean Jackson in such scenarios. Arcega-Whiteside doesn't have the foot speed to get beyond top corners but will be bigger than anyone that covers him and can out position, jump and strength defenders for the ball. He joins a solid receiver group that includes Jeffery, Jackson, Nelson Agholor, as well as tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
4th - No. 138 - Shareef Miller - DE (Penn State)
Miller recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss and 22 overall tackles in 14 games in 2016. Improving his game in 2017, Miller was named Big-Ten honorable mention after totaling five sacks and 37 tackles. In 12 games last season, Miller was third team All-Big-Ten and was recognized by the team as co-MVP of the defense, registering 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss of yardage.
With Chris Long likely not returning to the Eagles, the team, the Eagles added to the depth of the line, including re-signing of Vinny Curry. The selection of Miller likely wont pay immediate dividends on defense, but could on special teams. He has good athletic ability but small for a defensive end. Perhaps Miller could transition into a linebacker role, but until he improves his fundamentals as a pass rusher, Miller is more of a long term project with a chance to be an eventual starter than an immediate impact player.
5th - No. 167 - Clayton Thorson - QB (Northwestern)
Thorson had average statistics at best as a freshman with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. He improved significantly in 2016, throwing for nearly 3,200 yards, 22 touchdowns and only nine interceptions, earning Big-Ten honorable mention. Although is touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15-to-12 in 2017 was much worse than the previous year, Thorson was third-team All-Big Ten. He completed a personal best 61.1 percent as a senior, but his 15 interceptions was the second most in the nation.
Thorson was clearly drafted as a long term developmental project. Carson Wentz is clearly the starter for the Eagles with Nate Sudfeld as the back up. Thorson will learn and develop and eventually could battle for the back up position.