Like the previous scenarios, let’s assume the issues on the opposite side of the ball are solved through free agency.
The “Wait, HE’S available?!” scenario
In this scenario, the Eagles keep/add players to suit their needs on defense, and then can’t resist an addition in the draft that will lead to some interesting decisions in May/June.
Eagles defensive returns: LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, S Rodney McLeod, DT Hassan Ridgeway
“KGH” was due for a breakout year in 2019 but it ended in disappointment and injury. After a strong 2018 & 2019 was looking like a strong contract year performance. ut 22 tackles in ten games and a lumbar disc hernation later, Grugier-Hill is a free agent. The Eagles could give him a pass for 2019 as he missed the first three games of the season recovering from injury and also played hurt towards the end of the year and give him another one year deal to prove his worth.
After a three game campaign in 2018 that ended on IR, McLeod agreed to restructure his contract in order to stay on the team in 2019. Without the restructure, he would’ve likely been cut. In 2019, he had the most tackles of his career (74), and added one sack and two interceptions. He, along with Malcolm Jenkins, provided the Eagles with great coverage in the secondary. He’s 29 and could fetch a three year deal to stay with the team.
Hassan Ridgeway was a name not many people knew when he was traded to the Eagles during the draft for a 2019 7th round pick. But he quickly made a name for himself as a very dependable piece along the defensive line. But, like many other Eagles in 2019, his season ended prematurely as he went on IR after seven games. He has definitely earned a spot on the 2020 defensive line rotation.
Free agent defensive signings: LB Joe Schobert, LB Stephone Anthony, LB De’Vondre Campbell, CB Kevin Johnson
The corner signing isn’t the flashiest, I know. Maybe the Eagles get bad memories from the Nnamdi signing and stay away from Chris Harris, Logan Ryan, Byron Jones, and James Bradberry. Kevin Johnson wasn’t great in 2019, but he was very serviceable. He was targeted 44 times and allowed 26 completions, good for 59.1% and a 79.8 passer rating. The Eagles might opt to develop their current corners and land one to develop in the draft. Without Mills and Darby on the team, Johnson could prove as a valuable depth player.
Stephone Anthony has been hailed as a draft bust by Saints fans. After a 112 tackle rookie campaign in 2015, he had a ten game, 16 tackle, IR sophomore campaign. He was traded by the Saints to the Dolphins in 2017 for a fifth round pick. After two very unproductive seasons in Miami, his fifth year option was declined. He signed back with the Saints in 2019, but had one tackle in 12 games. The talent is there, but is the motivation? The Eagles could entice him on a one year deal to see if the rookie Anthony comes back to play.
De’Vondre Campbell was a bright spot on the Falcons defense in 2019, registering 129 tackles and two interceptions. He had a 17 tackle game (seven solo and ten assisted) in week four. Could it be one of those contract year break outs? Sure. But the Eagles should take the risk and finally have a surefire tackler on the linebacker corps.
The real gem here is Joe Schobert. He can do it all. He registered 133 tackles and has 408 in his four years in the league. He’s in on every play, as evident by his 156 assisted tackles (11th most in a players first four seasons in NFL history). His 408 tackles are more than any Eagles defender had in their first four seasons in the history of the team. He has six interceptions in his first four seasons, so he can cover. Something an Eagles linebacker hasn’t been able to do in a long, long time. He trails only Jordan Hicks and Seth Joyner in that category through four seasons. He struggles in run defense, but everyone else doesn’t so he’ll be fine. It’s time the Eagles invest in the linebacker corps, and Schobert is the guy they need.
Wait, what? Grant Delpit is available at 21?! That’s what Howie and Doug are screaming to each other when they see their big board and see who is available. They rush to hand in their card for Delpit and decide to deal with the consequences later.
In Delpit the Eagles will have a more athletic and faster Malcolm Jenkins. He can play zone, man, he can support the run, and he can blitz the passer. He is the safety the Eagles need for the long run.
Speaking of Malcolm Jenkins, he’s still on the team but wants a new contract. Delpit serves as the perfect back up plan if the Eagles decide to move on from Jenkins or if Jenkins decides to hold out. If neither of those options happen, Delpit gives Jim Schwartz the third safety of his dreams.
Yes, Gladney again. See a trend?
Continued on the page below!
Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports