The Philadelphia Eagles head into the offseason with two glaring needs: wide receiver and cornerback.
They were able to successfully handle one of them with fixing the secondary. Those moves included trading for Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay and signing nickle corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. Losing Malcolm Jenkins was a big loss to the team, but they did resign Jalen Mills to move him to safety. They added depth with signing Will Parks as well.
With one need being figured out, the team must now decide on what to do about wide receiver. No free agency moves have been made with only rumors of DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks being mentioned. The Eagles know they need a deep threat receiver to help quarterback Carson Wentz out on offense. What is helping the Eagles is knowing that the receivers in the NFL Draft are among the deepest it has ever been. Most likely, GM Howie Roseman will look in the first or second round for a receiver.
Here is a breakdown of the Eagles’ NFL Draft and how it could look when they start making their selections April 23rd.
This is by far the number one need for the Eagles going into the draft. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are being in their 30’s and coming off injuries. They were able to find some key players like Greg Ward Jr. to step up. Unfortunately, players like Ward Jr. won’t get the job done.
Luckily for the Eagles, this year’s draft is deep at wide receiver with at least eight of them projected to go in the first round. Big names connected with the Eagles are LSU’s Justin Jefferson, Clemson’s Tee Higgins, and Penn State’s KJ Hamler.
Higgins and Hamler are more attractive names because of their speed and what they bring to the table. Jefferson won’t kill teams with his speed, but his route running and his ball skills might make him a more polished receiver. Either way, the Eagles could not go wrong with either of those receivers should they draft a receiver in round one.
The Eagles are not strong at the linebacker position. Kamu Grugier-Hill is gone which is a big loss to their defense and special teams. Top tackler Nigel Bradham was released from the team back in February. This leaves the linebackers with a lot of young players. TJ Edwards found playing time on the field and Nathan Gerry proved to be good in pass coverage. All others will not blow anyone else away with their skills.
The two most common names brought up as potential first round picks at inside linebacker is Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen. Filling that need to replace Bradham is something the team needs to address. Murray and Queen both have great speed and athleticism defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s linebacker needs.
If the Eagles don’t draft linebacker in the first round, they may be forced to wait until round three for an inside linebacker. They have the young talent at outside linebacker to be good, but drafting someone like Murray or Queen may be what the team will need to do. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles look at linebacker in round one to fill a bigger need.
Malcolm Jenkins is gone. That’s a big loss to a defense that looked at him as their leader. The team decided to bring back Jalen Mills to take over Jenkins’ spot. They also resigned Rodney McLeod to stay strong at his starting position. The solution may be in place for now, but adding a younger safety to develop would make sense for the Eagles.
The team is unlikely to go safety in the first round with the top safeties being LSU’s Grant Delpit or Alabama’s Xavier McKinney. Most likely, they’ll look in the second or third round for a safety. That would leave the team with Southern Illinois’ Jeremy Chinn and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield among others.
The good news is they can find a quality safety anywhere between the second and third round. They have bigger needs at other positions and can afford to wait some time to jump at a safety. With Mills and McLeod the most likely starters, the Eagles can take a couple of years to develop a safety before starting them.
Fans will want the Eagles to go for the sexy pick and go after a wide receiver. The smarter move would be drafting a linebacker in the first round if Murray or Queen are still available. In the second round, the team can find their deep threat receiver. Lastly in round three, draft a safety to develop for the next two years.
It may not be the strategy that Eagle fans were hoping to hear, but finding help on defense will go a long way. The receiving core in this draft is deep enough that a big name guy will drop in the second round and fall in their laps. Trusting that it will happen will go a long way with fans’ sanity heading into the draft.