NFL Draft: Eagles Stick With Tradition, Switch Up With Consecutive Round 3 Picks
The Philadelphia Eagles exited Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft with two major needs potentially filled in back-to-back picks in the early part of the third round.
Offensive lineman Tyler Steen, of Alabama, and former Illinois safety Sydney Brown were selected 65th and 66th, respectively.
Steen, announced as a guard, is a traditional pick in the trenches that the Birds have become accustomed to, a pick that became significant after the Eagles took a defensive lineman and edge rusher Thursday in the first round.
In the post-Day 2 press conference, Eagles personnel chief Howie Roseman said the Steen pick was consistent with the Eagles’ identity, as Steen became the third guard taken on day two for the Eagles in the past three seasons.
“For us, it’s what we believe in,” the team’s executive vice president of football operations said. “It’s what we stand for.”
The 6-6, 321-pound Steen spent four years with Vanderbilt before using his extra year of eligibility as the left tackle and blindside protector for top overall pick Bryce Young, who went to Carolina.
At the Senior Bowl, the Eagles observed Steen play guard, an important showcase for them and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
“Smart guy, comes from great family and obviously Coach Stout was big part of our process as well,” Roseman said.
Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s offensive line now has another option at right guard following the departure of Isaac Seumalo to the Steelers.
Steen can compete with last year’s second-round pick Cam Jurgens, initially drafted to be Jason Kelce’s replacement at center, and fourth-year vet Jack Driscoll, who has played guard and tackle throughout his Eagles career.
“The best player will play,” head coach Nick Sirianni, sitting alongside Roseman at the podium, said.
Brown, on the flip side, represents a slight break in tradition. The Illinois product is the team’s highest pick at the position since takijng Jaiquawn Jarrett 54th overall in 2011.
The Canada native is a classic ball-hawk safety whose six interceptions in 2022 was tied for second-most in the nation.
With both of Philadelphia’s 2022 starting safeties – Marcus Epps and C.J. Gardner-Johnson exiting in free agency – Brown should immediately enter the mix of an unproven room featuring Terrell Edmunds, Reed Blankenship, and Justin Evans.
Like Steen, Brown auditioned for the NFL at the Senior Bowl in a different role. Used mostly as box safety at Illinois, Brown took reps at post safety at the Senior Bowl, showing his skill-set in coverage and his athleticism.
“He can get to the ball. He has great range to make plays from hash to hash,” Sirianni said. “We really think he can tackle. He makes plays on ball in space.”
Roseman called Brown a “red star” prospect, a term the team gives to prospects who “exemplified what it means to be an Eagle” through character and leadership.
“Just a tremendous person with obviously really good athletic tools,” Roseman added, noting Brown’s “leaderhsip ability and, for us, just excited to get him in the building.”
Entering the evening with one pick apiece the second and third round (62nd, 66th), Howie Roseman continued his wheeling and dealing by trading down with the Houston Texans shortly before they were first scheduled to be on the clock.
Philadelphia acquired Houston’s third round pick, 65th overall, along with an additional fifth- and seventh- round pick, upping the number of the total Eagles 2023 draft selections to eight.
“For us, we wanted to take a couple more shots [Saturday],” Roseman said. “We were really trying to bring some good luck into so we didn’t lose these two guys, but I thought for us to get another middle sixth-round pick and get another in the seventh round … it gives our staff some juice when they walk in [Saturday] morning.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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