Draft day has finally arrived and for the Eagles this is going to be one of the most important drafts in recent memory. From potentially finding a franchise quarterback to patching some prominent holes on the roster, the pressure is on for Howie Roseman and the front office to give Doug Pederson the best possible chance of success.. both short-term and long-term.
While a lot of the focus will understandably be placed on who the Eagles take with the second overall pick, there will be some very interesting things to watch out for as the draft progresses..here are the top 3.
3) No running back no problem
One of the biggest Eagles Draft discussions that doesn’t involve Carson Wentz is if the Eagles will take a running backin the third round. The running back pool is fairly deep this year, but will the Eagles prioritize the need over more prominent ones and take a back with their lone third round pick? There will be huge implications either way.
By trading up to the second overall pick, the Eagles have already dictated the future of the backfield. After completely disregarding the possibility of drafting a franchise running back in Ezekiel Elliott, it’s a clear sign that the Eagles are at least content with their current situation. So do they search for a budget Zeke in the third round, or do they look for a complimentary back to fill out a committee backfield in an attempt to recreate what Pederson ran in the absence of Jamaal Charles in 2015?
There are plenty of similarities between the backfield Reid utilized without Charles in 2015 and the backfield that the Eagles have currently (as pointed out in a lengthy article here). With the implementation of a fullback all but certain, the Eagles just need a tough power runner to grind those tough yards alongside the elusive Ryan Mathews and the aging yet still effective Darren Sproles. A runner who emulates a style similar to Jamaal Charles would be the perfect compliment in order to reduce the workload on both Sproles and Mathews and give the Eagles that added thump in the backfield that they lacked last year due to trying to turn DeMarco Murray into something he wasn’t and persisting when things went wrong.
If the Eagles draft one of the tougher runners in this years’ draft, we’re likely going to see the rookie take the majority of snaps in a committee backfield in 2016. But what if they don’t?
If the Eagles don’t take a running back in the third round, it’s likely that they won’t take one at all. This would not only be a sign of confidence in Sproles and Mathews but likely see an increase in activity for Kenjon Barner..something fans have been pleading for. The Eagles can certainly survive another year with their current backfield, but will the Eagles be willing to help the backfield accomplish more than that, or focus their attention elsewhere?
2) Fortifying the future
The Eagles have already decided that they’re building for a future beyond Sam Bradford in trading up to draft a Quarterback, but how will they follow that initial move up in the remaining rounds?
As mentioned in a previous article, Carson Wentz is a very talented Quarterback..but it’s important not to get too excited. He played behind an Offensive Line that allowed NDSU to run the ball 61% of the time in 2015 and allowed just 8 sacks on Wentz in 7 games. A contrasting situation to what he could potentially be walking into in Philadelphia.
If the Eagles decide to draft Offensively in the remaining rounds (especially the line), it’s likely that they are building a solid fortress for Wentz to one day reign in..but what about the remains of a castle that Chip Kelly once had control over?
As it stands, Sam Bradford is the starting Quarterback. How much help do the Eagles bring in that will impact the team in week one of the 2016 season? After Bradford’s attitude following the trade up, will the Eagles be willing to focus on more developmental prospects as opposed to more refined players who can benefit the team now?
Without a first round pick next season, the Eagles have to put themselves in good stead for 2017, one way or the other. So do they try to fortify the pick of Carson Wentz..or do they look to give Bradford as much help as they can to increase their chances of winning next season?
The Eagles were by far one of the most active teams during Free-Agency, adding depth on both sides of the ball. From Defensive backs to wide receivers, contract extensions to interior linemen..the Eagles have been doing all they can to patch as many holes as possible in the run up to the Draft..so the question is, what kind of team do the Eagles become?
There are still holes on both sides of the ball and with Schwartz bringing his aggressive 4-3 system to Philly, a change in focus to Defense may not be the worst scenario ever..especially when you consider how Defensively sound the Eagles were during their most successful seasons and how the Broncos were able to win the Super Bowl without an elite QB just by dominating Offenses all season long with one of the most impressive Defenses the league has seen in recent memory.
But, here’s the problem. By trading up for a franchise Quarterback, the Eagles have already leaned towards the Offensive side of the ball. This point coincides with the second one but it will be interesting to see what direction the Eagles take after the opening round.
If the Eagles focus on Offense, they are either already incredibly comfortable with both the coach and the players he has to work with..or a little skeptical of what the future could hold on the other side of the football.
It makes sense to give Schwartz as many weapons as possible to bring the grit back to Philadelphia, but in doing so does it somewhat neglect the needs on Offense? Without a first round pick in 2017 and another impending Free Agency frenzy, the Eagles need to be very meticulous about who they draft and the impact they will have on the team.