It’s been a rollercoaster offseason for the Eagles. A quarterback factory, some hard goodbyes, and a total coaching staff overhaul have given Philadelphia a fresh makeover. There are still some big questions that need to be answered between now and the start of the season, however.
Is there enough depth on the offensive line?
The Eagles not only lost a future Hall of Famer in Jason Peters, but also his backup who had started in every season at some point or another since being drafted in 2016. Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s departure will undoubtedly put some strain on the tackle position, especially considering the left tackle baton passed from Peters is now firmly in the hands of former first-round pick Andre Dillard. If he struggles or were to go down with injury, the Eagles really don’t have an insurance policy behind him. A pair of tackles were drafted late this year and will come in behind Jordan Mailata, Casey Tucker, and Matt Pryor who can play just about everywhere.
On that note, it’s Pryor who will likely take over from the injured Brandon Brooks, who tore his achilles earlier this offseason. The TCU product flashed some nice potential when filling in for Brooks last year but again, depth behind him is light and even competitive depth seems to be lacking, with really only former UDFA Nate Herbig waiting in the wings.
Do the Eagles have enough offensive line depth to get through an entire season? The team has relied heavily on its backups to bail them out of trouble since the beginning of the Pederson era, with Vaitai and (at one point) Seumalo consistently chipping in when an injury occurred or form dipped. All it takes is one rogue injury and Jeff Stoutland’s group will face an almighty test.
What about linebacker?
Linebacker was a significant need for the Eagles going into the offseason, and that was before they said goodbye to both Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nigel Bradham (the latter is still a free agent). The Birds did draft third-round pick Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley was taken in the sixth, but outside of that…there hasn’t been much noise at all.
Taylor himself is a very raw, but rapid player with limited footballing experience due to his religious path keeping him out of High School action and with Bradley clearly being a project player fighting for a spot in an offseason without OTA’s, it’s easy to assume that their immediate impact will be subtle.
The lens then turns to thttps://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/03/23/eagles-signing/he current players. Nate Gerry mustered a whopping 78 tackles last year, but also made a ton of mistakes in the process. T.J Edwards flashed some real potential but as a ‘MIKE’ in a defense leaning more and more on its defensive backs, his leap into year two could also be one that doesn’t leap off the screen right away. Alex Singleton and Duke Riley are special teams aces with strong upside and the team signed a sporadic open-field tackler in Jatavis Brown…so that’s a thing?
My theory here is that names like Will Parks, K’Von Wallace, and Jalen Mills will not only help negate the loss of Malcolm Jenkins, but also play inside the box and feature in DB-heavy sets in or even replacing the ‘WILL’ and ‘SAM’ backers at times. In 2018, the Eagles were in nickel packages a stunning 61% of the time and that number was around the same mark one year later. Linebackers are dissolving in this defense, so the real question becomes have the team done enough at Safety in order to fill the void?
Will they sign another running back?
Losing Jordan Howard wasn’t an easy pill to swallow and depth behind Miles Sanders is light. Boston Scott, Corey Clement, and a group of UDFA’s including a member of last year’s class in Elijah Holyfield, all sit behind the Penn State prince, but there are significant question marks across the board.
The Eagles feel this way too. That much is apparent due to the team’s interest in names like Carlos Hyde and Devonta Freeman, with LeSean McCoy forever being linked to his former team and only adding fuel to the fire.
The issue here is that the Eagles don’t seem intent on spending more than a veteran’s minimum on a back, and with the role clearly playing second-fiddle to Miles Sanders, it’s hardly the most appealing option.
This question is the most up in the air of all three. Will the Eagles actually sign a running back before the season starts, or simply roll into it leaning on underdogs as they have oh so many times?
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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