Before the blockbuster trade made by the Eagles to trade up to the second overall pick took place, there was a general consensus when it came to the projected Draft direction. There was a selection of prioritized holes that needed filling and all of the Eagles’ pre-draft research seemed to paint a clear picture of where the birds would focus their attention. But in losing two mid round picks and taking a Quarterback early with their newly acquired second overall pick, what does this mean for the Eagles in the rounds beyond the opening one?
Howie Roseman was very transparent when he met the media to discuss the trade with Cleveland..especially when it came to Free Agency.
““What we did in free agency was, to the best we could, try to fill a bunch of holes…
…we felt like those were young guys that were almost for us like draft picks. Second and third round draft picks.”
The Eagles have had such a rollercoaster of a Free Agency period it’s tough to remember everything that’s happened at the best of times. So here’s a quick recap of some of their most notable acquisitions thus far.
OL Stefan Wisniewski
OL Brandon Brooks
FB Ryan Mueller
WR Chris Givens
WR Reuben Randle
LB Nigel Bradham
S Rodney McLeod
CB Leodis McKelvin
CB Ron Brooks
CB Nolan Carroll (Became a free-agent before signing a new deal)
Roseman used the term “second and third round draft picks” to describe the players brought in through Free Agency. It’s coincidental that the Eagles are now without second, (one) third and fourth round picks this year. It’s also coincidental that with the exception of some depth on the Defensive Line, you could argue these are the Eagles biggest needs coming into the Draft. With that mentality, it would be fair to say that the Eagles have tried to plug as many holes as possible to minimize the need to Draft these positions higher up the board..or retrospectively, justifying the trade up.
If Howie Roseman believes these players to be worth 2nd-3rd round picks, in a Draft scenario that would be regarded as a sufficient upgrade to the position. So where will the Eagles look with their lone third rounder and beyond?
Of the teams needs that haven’t been addressed in Free Agency, Running Back may be the most prominent. The RB class this year conveniently runs pretty deep, with talents like C.J Prosise, Kenyan Drake and Daniel Lasco all likely to still be on the board in the third round and beyond. With Mathews’ ability to stay healthy questionable and the slight decline of the aging Darren Sproles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles spend their lone third rounder on a running back.
If it’s a committee backfield that Pederson is looking to employ in Philadelphia as he did in the absence of Jamaal Charles last season, this is a no brainer. The Eagles already have a backfield with enough versatility t0 keep Defenses on their toes and partner that with the use of a Fullback and the one piece they’re missing is someone to power through the trenches. Whilst Ezekiel Elliott would have been the perfect fuel to the fire, the Eagles can survive with a running back who acts as a compliment to what would become a complex and unpredictable backfield.
With the change to a 4-3 most notably seeing Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham join the war on the front lines, the Eagles depth at the LB position is low. Nigel Bradham was a good “depth” addition to the position but you have to feel as though the Eagles would benefit from at least another Linebacker through the Draft. The Eagles need playmakers. Hicks had an emphatic rookie season but with the inconsistencies displayed by Kendricks, the Eagles need to be ready for injuries or wavering form. An explosive linebacker or at least someone who can punch through the holes that the rampant Defensive Line aim to tear open effectively should be high on their list of priorities.
Sure, the Eagles have added a pair of talented Linemen through Free-Agency, but with the long term future of Jason Peters under serious doubt and Johnson the man looking to take over once Peters closes the curtains on what has been a fantastic career, the Eagles will need tackles..both starters and backups.
This need is emphasized with the projected drafting of Carson Wentz. Wentz was dominant at NDSU behind a Line that allowed just over one sack per game and aided the teams backfield into leading their conference in rushing and running the ball on 61% of their Offensive snaps. With at least one developmental year under his belt, Wentz would most likely be coming into a line that leaks pressure from the outside, forcing quick reads and scrappy throws and one of his few yet prominent flaws is that he tends to falter under pressure.
Fortifying the line in preparation for the arrival of Wentz should be a priority. Even if not for the future, the Eagles should be doing all they can to help protect Sam Bradford and strengthen a running game that as it stands will be less than fruitful in 2016.
This isn’t to say that the Eagles won’t add a receiver or draft a CB, but the move up to the second overall pick has changed not only the landscape of the Draft, but the team’s structure moving forward.