Being taken in the first four rounds of the NFL draft is a precious gift for most college players, but Eagles fans would be wise not to expect too much of the players the team just drafted. At least, not right away.
Second-round cornerback Sidney Jones won’t contribute much in 2017, of course, since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in March, but the Eagles got him at No. 43 for that reason. He would have gone 30 picks sooner if not for the injury, maybe in the top 10 of the first round.
Expectations for the rest of the draft class need to be tempered, too. Otherwise, first-round defensive end Derek Barnett will find those comparisons to fellow Tennessee product Reggie White to be more a curse than a blessing.
Reggie had 11 sacks in his fifth of eight seasons with the Eagles ... and that was the worst of his eight seasons with the Eagles. Barnett might not get 11 sacks in any season with the Eagles. That won’t mean he’s a bust, this year or any other.
Terrell Suggs, whom Barnett resembles, had double-digit sacks just six times in his 12 full seasons. Suggs played only eight games in 2012 and one game in 2015. Suggs averaged nine sacks when healthy. Nine sacks from Barnett would be marvelous, but even that seems unlikely.
Presumably, he will start, but he will share playing time with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Chris Long; and this assumes 2014 first-rounder Marcus Smith does not make the team. Realistically, then, Barnett will play about 50 percent of the defensive snaps.
Another reality check: Barnett will face Pro Bowl left tackles Tyron Smith of the Cowboys and Trent Williams of Washington a total of four times this season. To put it another way, Barnett will play against two of the best blockers in the NFL in 25 percent of his games as a rookie. Expect him to come away frustrated.
Eagles fans should not be. Not immediately, anyway.
Again, in general, any player taken in the fourth round or earlier should contribute immediately.
In Philadelphia in 2017, that simply might not be the case. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas clearly stocked their pantry for the future.
Big third-round corner Rasul Douglas must learn perfect technique to compensate for his lack of speed. He might start, but that might not last. Big fourth-round receiver Mack Hollins must learn how to run routes and catch passes in traffic; he reminds you of Riley Cooper, a big fifth-round receiver who did not flourish until his fourth season with the Eagles.
Little fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey is about 100 steak dinners from making a difference in the NFL. He weighs 179 pounds.
Maybe the Eagles will redshirt him.
That would certainly curb expectations.