Eagles 2023 draft class receives relatively poor grade after first season

Philadelphia had seven picks in last year's draft.
Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles
Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Eagles have landed some franchise cornerstones in the NFL Draft in recent years. They snagged quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round in 2020 and added star wide receiver DeVonta Smith with the tenth overall pick the following year.

Did they land another cornerstone-type player in 2023? Only time will tell. But, now that the '23 rookie class has had a full season of action, it's a logical time to look back on the group as a whole to assess.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the results were somewhat underwhelming. The Athletic recently graded every team's '23 draft class, and the Eagles received a 'C-' for their first-year players.

For those who need a reminder, the Eagles drafted defensive tackle Jalen Carter with the ninth overall pick last year, followed by linebacker Nolan Smith later in the first round. The team's other picks included offensive tackle Tyler Steen, safety Sydney Brown, cornerback Kelee Ringo, quarterback Tanner McKee and defensive tackle Moro Ojomo.

Here's what The Athletic had to say about the draft class:

"There was a lot of hype around Philadelphia’s first-round selections, former Georgia teammates Jalen Carter (No. 9) and Nolan Smith (No. 30). Last season’s defensive meltdown does not fall on the shoulders of the rookie class, but Carter’s production didn’t paper over an aging roster around him, and Smith didn’t show enough in limited action to keep the Eagles from acquiring Bryce Huff this offseason. . . . Tyler Steen (No. 65) and Sydney Brown (No. 66) will be nice to have, but the franchise needs more young difference makers."

Still time for development

It's important to keep in mind that just because the class didn't blow pundits away last season doesn't mean that it's doomed. All of the players drafted in '23 are still very young and have ample room to grow and improve. Perhaps we'll see several of them take major steps forward in 2024.

Jalen Carter, for instance, flashed a whole lot of potential as a rookie. The Georgia product recorded 33 total tackles and six sacks, despite starting in just a one game. His role will likely increase moving forward. The same could be said about Sydey Brown.

Similarly, Nolan Smith will probably see an increased workload in 2024 after playing sparingly during his first season in Philly. General manger Howie Roseman recently admitted that Smith probably should have seen more on-field opportunity as a rookie.

“In retrospect, just seeing him certainly in the playoff game, one of the guys who played well in the playoff game, maybe giving him a little bit more time during the year and experience, we talked about that,” Roseman said of Smith. ". . . “He's got all the right tools in his body. He's got the right mentality. And at the same time, he's got to go out and show it.”

So, there's still some real reason for optimism when it comes to Philadelphia's 2023 rookie class. Plus, with eight picks in the upcoming 2024 draft, the Eagles will have an opportunity to infuse even more young talent into the team.