The Philadelphia Eagles' 2017 rookie group is a great example of why it takes several years to properly evaluate a draft class. There is promise here as well as disappointment, but injuries to some key players -- most notably second-round corner Sidney Jones -- make it difficult to know whether this was a home run, a strikeout or somewhere in between. Here's what we know so far:
Best rookie: DE Derek Barnett. The first-round pick out of Tennessee was a regular part of Jim Schwartz's defensive line rotation. He finished the regular season with five sacks, 32 QB hits/pressures, nine tackles for loss and a pair of fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He has a motor that doesn't stop and the makings of a quality pro. The Eagles were interested in trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the offseason, a move that might have cost them a first-round pick. (The Patriots gave up a one and a three to the Saints in exchange for Cooks and a fourth-rounder). "I'd rather have Barnett," Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount said recently.
Most improved rookie: Jones, purely from a health perspective. He sat out most of the season after suffering a ruptured Achilles during Washington's pro day prior to the draft. Considered one of the best corners in the class, the Eagles took a risk by selecting him in the second round and have waited for him to heal. Jones was activated for the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys and played 29 defensive snaps. He was up and down, as you might expect, but flashed some of the ability that has the Eagles' brass excited about his future.
Most disappointing rookie: It would be harsh to give it to fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey, considering he spent the year on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, though it should be noted that he was squarely on the roster bubble during cuts this summer. Instead, we'll go with fifth-round receiver Shelton Gibson, who struggled with drops during training camp and was inactive for much of the season. He finished with two catches on three targets for 11 yards.
Jury is still out on: CB Rasul Douglas. Credit Douglas for stepping in when Ronald Darby suffered a dislocated ankle in the opener and helping to hold down the fort during Darby's extended absence. He had two interceptions and 11 passes defensed. There were some bumps along the way, and it's to be determined if the third-round pick out of West Virginia will develop into a consistent, quality outside corner in this league. Recovery speed would seem to be the primary concern.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: Running back Corey Clement out of Wisconsin earned not only a roster spot but also a regular role in Doug Pederson's offense. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and found the end zone six times. Clement appears to have a future in the league. Rookie kicker Jake Elliott needs to be mentioned. Plucked from the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad following an injury to Caleb Sturgis, Elliott made one of the great kicks in Eagles history by nailing a game-winning 61-yarder against the New York Giants in Week 3. He hit 17 of 19 field goals from 40-plus yards this season.