In 2017, Washington cornerback Sidney Jones widely was considered a top prospect. A torn Achilles tendon suffered during his Pro Day workout, however, caused him to slide out of round one.
The Eagles took a second-round flier on Jones. The move widely was hailed at the time as a potential steal. Once healed, Jones in theory could perform like a player much better than the 43rd slot in the draft would indicate.
Three years later, Jones didn’t make the Eagles’ 53-man roster. So why did Philadelphia end the experiment that started with the investment of a second-round selection?
“You know, when we make these decisions, we try to make sure we are not making decisions just based on where guys were picked,” G.M. Howie Roseman told reporters on Saturday. “I think that one of the things I’ve learned from some of the great General Managers in this league is they understand when it is time to kind of move on, and I’m not just talking about that in regards to Sidney or any of the draft picks we let go today. For us, we are going to be aggressive and we are going to take some chances, and then if we are wrong when we do those things, we have to learn from it. We have to figure out why they didn’t work and try to get better.”
He’s absolutely right. Teams always take chances in the draft. The process is imperfect. Some guys pan out, some guys don’t. In round one, roughly half of the guys taken never live up to that billing — although you’d never guess that from the TV praise heaped on each and every first-round pick as its made.
“You see it across the league,” Roseman said. “It’s hard to hit on all of your draft picks. There’s no doubt about it. But I think when we look at our track record, we have a pretty good track record of bringing in good players to Philadelphia and they come in all sizes and shapes and forms and by the same token we are not going to be right every time but we have to be right a lot more than we’re wrong.”
Roseman acknowledged, indirectly, that the injury may have hampered Jones’ ability to adjust to the NFL, especially in light of the various other adjustments a young player makes when taking the leap from college to pro football.
“That doesn’t mean that he can’t be a good player going forward,” Roseman said of Jones. “That doesn’t mean he won’t be a good player going forward. That doesn’t mean we’d ever rule out bringing him back, but I think right now we have to make decisions that maybe are a little different than if we were in an ideal world that obviously none of us as we can see with this format, are living in.”
Roseman is also right about that. This is an unusual year, with unusual factors influencing decisions made about who stays, who goes, and who lands on the practice squad.
Regardless, Jones is gone and the Eagles now have only two members of the 2017 draft class remaining on the roster.
“It’s disappointing,” Roseman said. “I take all of that personally, and I think that you want more guys from your draft class to be successful. I think unfortunately we had to learn from that draft class and we’ve gone over some of those guys and what happened there.
“Did we force some things? Did we do some things that were kind of contrary to our plan going in because we missed out on some things? You know, those are all the questions we ask. We don’t just sit there and go, ‘Those guys didn’t do a good job,’ and we’re just washing over it. I do think when we look back at the last few years’ draft classes overall, they are pretty good. There are a lot of guys playing for us, and we’ve done a good job on our free agency, and I think overall, our scouting staff, our personnel staff, our front office staff, I’m proud of them and the job that we have done overall. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t made mistakes and we can’t do a better job.”
And here’s the thing. Regardless of how many guys are left from the 2017 draft, the 2017 Eagles won the Super Bowl. All in all, then, it was a pretty damn good year for the Eagles.