The Eagles made the biggest move of the NFL Draft on Thursday night — and it had nothing to do with who they drafted. Rather, Philadelphia traded a Round 1 and Round 3 pick to the Titans in exchange for superstar wide receiver A.J. Brown. The Eagles also signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million contract that’ll keep him in the City of Brotherly Love for the foreseeable future.
The Titans turned right around and drafted Arkansas WR Treylon Burks as their Brown replacement, which you can read all about here.
Now, let’s look at how ETR’s Eagles projections changed now that they have Brown.
Old projection: 81.8 catches on 132.1 targets for 1,178.9 yards and 8.1 touchdowns. WR6 on Underdog (16th overall).
New projection: 69.7 catches on 115.7 targets for 1,045.9 yards and 6.9 touchdowns. WR14 on Underdog (31st overall).
- The Eagles were among the run-heaviest teams in football last season, especially over the second half of the year. Philadelphia was 29th in pass attempts, 31st in wide receiver yards per game, and last in wide receiver targets per game. Brown goes from one low-volume passing attack to another, and his efficiency may suffer catching passes from Jalen Hurts instead of Ryan Tannehill. Furthermore, Brown has more target competition on the Eagles with Devonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and a solid stable of pass-catching running backs. We also typically don’t want to be overly aggressive in projecting a target share for a player on a new team, although that mindset shifts somewhat with an elite talent like Brown. All told, we have Brown with a 22.1% target share on the Eagles, whereas he was at 24.8% with the Titans.
- Brown still possesses an elite target ceiling if he can distance himself from Smith and Goedert as Hurts’ primary target — and he’s talented enough to do so — but he has increased risk on the Eagles. For that reason, he drops into Round 3 in our rankings.
OTHER EAGLES PLAYERS
- We increased the Eagles’ team-level passing numbers as a result of this trade. The decision to trade for Brown demonstrates a commitment to the passing game, and Philadelphia could be a more balanced team in 2022 after finishing as one of the most run-heavy offenses in football last season.
- Ladies and gentlemen, get on the Hurts train now. The Eagles’ starting quarterback finished as the QB6 in fantasy on a per-game basis last year — and that was in his first season as a full-time starter with a rookie as his WR1. Hurts is QB6 in our rankings right now, and his pre-draft Underdog ADP of QB12 is certain to rise. Hurts ran for 784 yards and 10 scores in 2021, but his passing numbers left a lot to be desired. Brown is the type of wideout that can elevate an entire offense, and Hurts has top-three positional upside in his third professional season. Hurts’ projected yards per attempt increased from 7.2 to 7.7 in our algorithm after the trade. The rushing ability gives him a solid floor; the question is whether he can take a step forward as a thrower. That will determine whether he’s merely a mid-level QB1 or a legitimate league-winner.
- Smith, Goedert, and Quez Watkins all dropped in our rankings, as Brown should immediately be the alpha wide receiver for the Eagles. Smith and Goedert are both still in line for sizable workloads, but neither has the same massive target ceiling they had previously now that the Eagles have an elite WR1 in the midst. Smith dropped from WR33 to WR39 in our rankings. Goedert held firm at TE8 but dropped slightly in our overall rankings.