The NFL Draft is just two days away and for Eagles fans, excitement is reaching new heights. But before we dive into the strangest NFL Draft in history, we’re prefacing it with five bold predictions.
The Eagles don’t draft a linebacker
I wrote an article detailing this theory in greater detail yesterday, but as time presses on, I’m only more convinced that the Eagles won’t pick up a linebacker if we’re to go off of this thought train.
It basically boils down to Howie Roseman being a very forward-thinking GM and noticing the next ‘bubble’ in the NFL. This was reflected in his decisions to revamp the safety position with the help of Will Parks and Jalen Mills, who will join Rodney McLeod in 2020.
Here’s the gist of the article for those who missed it yesterday:
Base defense in the modern game consists of a five-man secondary. That third linebacker is rarely seeing the field and in the case of the Eagles, if you can substitute a second linebacker with a versatile DB, why wouldn’t you? It’s about noticing the trends and getting ahead of the curve. Think of RPO’s and dynamic playmakers like Steph Curry and the three-point shot. The rest of the league has to play catch-up one way or another.
The Eagles schedule in 2020?
San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants Giants x2 (Hey Saquon)
Los Angeles Rams
The Eagles know that with a deficiency at the linebacker spot, it makes little to no sense spending a huge asset to upgrade it when the modern game is demanding less and less of the position. Considering that 2020 will see the Eagles face off against every lethally fast offense imaginable, it only makes sense to double-down on DB’s and disguise looks. They tried that with Nigel Bradham last year, bringing him into the B-Gap only to drop him into coverage, and it worked to some extent…but it would be salivating with Will Parks.
They will probably take Patrick Queen 21st overall now because that’s usually how the story goes, but if we’re talking bold predictions, I don’t think you can get much bolder than not drafting a player to fill the team’s biggest area of need.
A quarterback is taken in round 4 or above
If we’ve learned one thing in the last few years it’s that having a strong backup QB matters. Nick Foles not only led the Eagles to a historic Super Bowl win, but would return to the playoffs for what was nearly a second miracle run. One year later, Josh McCown’s spirited Seattle effort highlighted the simple fact that the Eagles can’t lean on vets forever…and Carson Wentz is way past needing someone to carry a clipboard.
Nate Sudeld rejoins the team on a tender, but this shocked me. He’s not been trusted outside of week 17 scenarios to carry an offense, instead he’s been tasked with handoffs at every opportunity. After seeing Josh McCown let loose vs Atlanta and Seattle, the lack of confidence was clear.
The Eagles missed wildly on Clayton Thorson last year and I don’t expect them to do so again. James Morgan is the name to watch as a QB who fits the mold perfectly and who impressed the team at the Senior Bowl. Be prepared for Howie to pull the trigger if he’s still sitting there in the heart of round 4.
Moving on up…
There has been lots of speculation about what the Eagles will do at pick 21. Will they move up? Will they trade back? Is it going to be a wide receiver? At this stage, it’s a total shot in the dark.
But if there’s one thing we can take from Howie’s press conference last week, it’s that the word ‘trade’ was referenced more times than he probably realized. Roseman is the ultimate opportunist and all it takes is one extra bounce of the ball to change the outcome of a game…sorry Sixers fans.
If Howie smells an opportunity, he’ll go all-in on maximizing the value it presents. I think trading up into the teens for a receiver is absolutely viable and worthy of inclusion in an article of bold predictions.
A surprise goodbye
While we’re talking about trades, the Eagles are going to have to part with more than just picks if they do intend to move up. Rasul Douglas’ name has been shopped for some time now and as we’ve reported, there has been notable interest from around the league and an offer made by San Francisco…but he’s not the player we’re bidding goodbye to here (at least in this scenario).
Instead, it’s Derek Barnett. If the Eagles are going to move inside the top 15, they’ll need more than a rotational CB and picks to swing the deal. We know Howie doesn’t like giving up draft capital and when it comes to players, there aren’t many with more intrinsic value than the former Tennessee edge rusher.
Barnett is still only 23-years old and is going into year number four of his rookie deal. The Eagles are yet to pick up his fifth-year option and he’s become a relatively polarizing player to talk about. A 6.5 sack season doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of a former first-round pick who has been underwhelming in his overall development.
Barnett could be seen as an instant starter around the league and with an upside to lock in a fifth-year option into place, I think the Eagles may be willing to hit reset on finding a future star on the EDGE.
Building from the ball out
This has been the mantra for Howie and the Eagles ever since the inception of the Doug Pederson era and it won’t change now. Jason Kelce needs a successor and with Vaitai now in Detroit, the Eagles need depth at tackle. Expect a minimum of two offensive line picks out of the eight selections currently held by the Eagles.
What are your bold predictions? Let us know in the comments!
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports