The Eagles have had a rollercoaster offseason that ended in the same way it started, explosively. After trading up to the second overall pick to draft a Quarterback, the Eagles drafted several players who have had their fair share of injuries and off the field issues. However whilst the teams’ philosophy may have changed, there are more to these picks than meets the eye.
There are 23 players entering their final contracted year with the Eagles this season. Now admittedly, not all of these players are regular starters..or even backups. However, losing anywhere between 5-15 players would impact any team..especially one that lacks a first round pick.
It’s also interesting in that the positions that would take the biggest hits if the players entered free agency are among the teams biggest needs. Out of the 23 players, among them are:
|2 running backs|
|4 wide receivers|
|3 offensive linemen|
|3 defensive linemen|
When it came to the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles were very meticulous with their picks.
|1 running back|
|0 wide receivers|
|2 defensive backs|
|2 offensive linemen|
|1 defensive lineman|
The glaring anomaly here is the lack of receivers taken. However, it’s important to remember that the Eagles did sign four receivers in the offseason and also signed undrafted rookie free agent Cayleb Jones.
What else do these players have in common? Versatility.
Isaac Seumalo: Played in every position on the Offensive Line at College
Wendell Smallwood: Caught 31 passes in 2015 as a running back
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: Has played on both sides of the Offensive Line
Blake Countess: Played in numerous positions during final year at Auburn
Jalen Mills: Has experience at both safety and cornerback
Alex McCalister: Athletic pass rusher with huge wingpsan and unique frame
Joe Walker: Led Ducks with 87 tackles, can blitz with efficiency and drop back into coverage with ease..inconsistencies show when he’s physically tackling.
It’s safe to say that with five of the eight picks having played in multiple positions and all of them showing various levels to their game, that this was no accident. With such a big offseason around the corner and deals still to come for the likes of Fletcher Cox, the Eagles know that they could be losing a lot of depth.
By adding players who can play in multiple positions and may have fallen down the draft order due to character concerns, the birds are hoping that they will be getting players with much higher upsides who can fill in and potentially start when depth runs low or starters fall injured.
Instead of one-trick Ponies, the Eagles are choosing to draft a “Jack of all trades” in order to compensate for the potential loss of depth in holes that already needed filling. In 2017, those holes were likely to have opened up much more if the Eagles had not placed their focus on trying to kill numerous birds with the same stone.
Sure, the injury history and off the field issues may make fans and analysts wary, but if you have a player who has displayed NFL fundamentals throughout his college career and can benefit a team in multiple ways then it’s more than worth the low risk. Especially if you’re a team who are one season away from another explosive free agency.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Young Kwak