As the end of the NFL Regular season draws ever nearer, excitement and speculation about the upcoming Draft continues to grow. With the Draft being held in the City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles regaining a first round pick from Minnesota, the team are adequately prepared to fill some prominent holes on the roster. But the question is, what are those holes?
3: Defensive End
Brandon Graham has been simply sensational this season, causing chaos coming off of the edge and making life incredibly difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Beyond the Pro Bowl candidate however, Connor Barwin has had a much quieter year (although still impressive), Vinny Curry has been drastically underwhelming and Marcus Smith has been..well, Marcus Smith.
Graham’s incredible form has only highlighted the lack in production from the likes of Curry, who was paid handsomely during the offseason. The Eagles need some reinforcements in order to take the weight off of Brandon Graham’s shoulders, and an interesting comparison would be Defensive Tackle. Although Cox and Logan lead the charge, undrafted rookie Destiny Vaeao has played 220 snaps on Defense this season. His production may not be there just yet due to the rawness of his talent, but the Eagles aren’t afraid to rotate even their most highly paid player in and out.
If the birds could add some young explosiveness in behind Graham, Barwin and Curry, then not only does it give them versatility and reliability..but helps bring the thunder on every single play as well as developing some young talent in behind what could turn into one of the most dominant edge rushing units in the NFL.
2: Wide receiver
Since releasing Josh Huff, the Eagles receiving corps has fell extremely light on depths. An injury to Jordan Matthews left a wildly inconsistent Dorial Green-Beckham, a man dealing with a lack of confidence in Nelson Agholor and two undrafted rookies. That is simply not enough for a rookie quarterback needing all the help he can get.
The Eagles attempted to fill that void through free agency last year. But once again, the birds failed to strike lucky. Just like Miles Austin before them, Reuben Randle and Chris Givens were both cut by the team..only this time before they had even made it to the regular season.
We’ve seen flashes of just how impressive the Doug Pederson Offense can be, but consistent playmakers and receivers who can stretch the field are absolutely crucial. Zach Ertz and Trey Burton can only do so much..and the same goes for a rookie quarterback. The Eagles desperately need help outside..and when you consider that beyond Jordan Matthews, who has received for 765 yards, the remaining FIVE Eagles receivers have combined for a total of 916 yards
As pressing as the need for playmakers on Offense is, the need for consistency at cornerback is even greater. Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll have had rollercoaster seasons this year, going from impressive interceptions to big mistakes in a matter of minutes. Injuries to the pair along with Ron Brooks has forced the Eagles to rely heavily on seventh round rookie Jalen Mills. While his development has been impressive, a seventh round pick should not be expected to line up against some of the NFL’s most explosive receivers week after week as a starter.
Jim Schwartz alluded to the fact that the inconsistency at cornerback is hurting the pass rush, and he’s absolutely right. If teams are able to get the ball out quicker due to cornerbacks making mistakes or remaining inefficient at the line of scrimmage, then their impact is going to be minimal.
The Eagles simply have to fortify the cornerback position. Trading Eric Rowe may well come back to haunt the Eagles Defense, but there is a very strong possibility that the team spend a high draft pick on helping build both depth and overall talent at the position. Something imperative if the Jim Schwartz Defense is going to be successful.