Recapping the Eagles Late Round Picks
The Eagles lost a significant share of their late round picks due to the Jordan Davis and A.J. Brown trades, causing them to only take two players on Day 3 of the draft.
The Eagles had Pick #154 but then traded back with Jacksonville, before trading back up to Pick #181 while keeping Pick #198.
Here's some analysis on the Eagles two late round picks.
Round 6, Pick 181: LB Kyron Johnson, Kansas
Like all of you after hearing this draft pick, I searched across the internet for film and scouting reports of the Linebacker from Kansas. As measurements go, Johnson is 6'1 235 pounds and played all 5 years of his college career at Kansas. He recorded 6.5 sacks, 63 total tackles and a whopping 4 forced fumbled in his final season with the Jayhawks.
However, we need to look deeper at the actual player instead of just the stats. Johnson is listed as a linebacker but he played edge rusher for most of his time at Kansas. His quickness really jumps out from watching him play, which he used his speed around tackles instead of maybe taking them head on. Johnson is a pretty good decision maker for where the Eagles took him; he gets to the perimeter quickly using his quickness to make sure whoever he has to take on doesn't escape. Tackling is not an issue from what I've seen, Johnson wraps up guys and brings them to the ground with relative ease.
Johnson probably caught the Eagles eye at the Senior Bowl, where he put together some pretty impressive reps against some good tackle prospects. The one that is going around Eagles fans on Twitter is a rep he had against new Saints tackle Trevor Penning where he bull-rushed him back then got right in his face after. This is one practice rep but it's still something to note. Many scouts said he overall had a great Senior Bowl.
Unfortunately the negatives could outweigh the positives for Johnson. He has very short arms, meaning that offensive lineman in the Big 12 were able to handle him pretty easily at times. He's more of a finesse rusher, his lack of strength letting him down a lot of times last year. Once he got caught in a block downfield he sometimes found it very hard to break away from it and make a play.
Those qualities obviously don't bode well for Johnson being an inside linebacker in the NFL, meaning that he may have to stick at OLB to attempt to get any playing time early in his career. The problem with that is that I just find it hard to believe he'll be able to do much against NFL-caliber offensive lines with his short length and lack of power rushing. Him landing here in Philadelphia makes a lot of sense since Jonathan Gannon implemented the SAM linebacker last season. That's where I'd project Kyron in this defense, but he'll be fighting an uphill battle with Haason Reddick, Patrick Johnson and JaCoby Stevens all fighting for a spot there.
Overall, I think the fit makes sense and you can't be expecting an instant impact from someone this late in the draft. If Johnson can stay with the Eagles through training camp they'll get a chance to harness his quickness and attempt to fix some of the things he was lacking as an edge rusher in college.
Round 6, Pick 198: TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU
With their last pick of the draft, the Eagles grabbed a tight end in Calcaterra who has had a really up and down career. Calcaterra played the first 3 years of his college career at Oklahoma before temporarily retiring from football due to reoccurring concussions. He came back to college football in 2021 at SMU while grabbing 38 catches, 465 yards and 4 TDs in the AAC.
Standing at 6'5 and 247 pounds, Calcaterra makes up for his small size in other ways. He has great speed off the LOS, creating good separation past linebackers and defensive backs alike. Even when he didn't get great separation, Calcaterra is great after the catch and can make explosive plays in the open field. He ran a 4.62 40 yard dash at the combine and his speed is really the thing that jumps off the page while watching him on film.
On the other side, there are a few concerns about his game. Although he can get separation with his speed, it was rare to see Calcaterra go up and get a ball over a defender. That is probably due to his average size but long arms. Although he was willing to work in the blocking game in college, most of the time he didn't have the size or strength to withstand himself in that role. Most scouts noted that he was much more sucessful blocking linebackers and safeties than anyone on the opposing teams line. Blocking isn't everything, but when you are a young tight end in a crowded room it's something that a team like the Eagles will expect you to excel at.
In terms of his role here, he'll again be fighting a tough battle in camp with the Eagles currently having 6 other tight ends on the roster. Those players would be Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Jack Stoll, Noah Togiai, Tyree Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. If Calcaterra ends up having a role here, he'll have to show off his explosiveness and improve his production compared to what he piled up in his final year at SMU.
It may not seem like Tight End is a pressing need with Dallas Goedert blossoming right in front of us but there aren't many great options behind him. Stoll is exclusively a blocker, Rodgers sometimes struggles to stay on the field and everyone else is ether injured or unproven. I get that secondary is a need that is above everything else, but are you really going to get a difference maker in the 6th round? The Eagles have always been known to take project-type players late in the draft and this seems like another situation like that. I don't think we've seen Calcaterra's ceiling yet and if he can work on his blocking game he has an outside shot at making this roster. It's early to be talking about this stuff but he seems like someone the Eagles would love to develop on the practice squad for a couple years.