Why the Eagles should draft a cornerback with sixth overall pick

ORLANDO, FL – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Patrick Surtain II (2) prior to the first half of the Citrus Bowl between the Michigan Wolverines and the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 01, 2020, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

After an all-around dismal year, the Eagles are left with a lot to sort out for 2021. Although hoopla is seeping into every aspect of Philadelphia football, there are many opportunities to turn this franchise around this offseason — none more important than the draft. The Eagles have the 6th overall pick and have faired pretty well with top 10 picks in recent history.

Although it is never a smart move to blindly draft for need, there are really only two correct options for the Birds. The Eagles have been abysmal in the passing game, both on offense and defense. Outside of the quarterback position — which is up in the air for the team, although that problem is one to solve outside of the draft for 2021 — a receiver would be the biggest help to spark the passing attack. On the other side of the football, the cornerback group has been dreadful outside of Darius Slay. Therefore it really comes down to: should the choice be a receiver or a corner?

Here is the case for a corner.

Looking into an Eagles crystal ball

From the outside looking in, it’s obvious the Eagles are at a crossroads. As you get closer to the situation, each little grievance, gripe, or uncertainty has its own variables and fragments that will play a role in how the team moves into the future.

Will the team be headed by Carson Wentz, and for how long? If not Wentz, will Jalen Hurts be the man of the future or a stopgap for the next QB? How will the offense change to accommodate the man under center?

Who will take over from Jim Schwartz? Will the team stick with a 4-3, downhill, hit the RB on the way to the QB defense?

How long will Howie Roseman and Doug Peterson be with the team?

Most importantly, is this team still in win-now mode or are we transitioning towards the future?

No one outside of the front office knows the answers to these questions. In fact, I’m not even sure the front office is certain. Therefore the need to hit on a solid, contributing player in the first round is crucial. This is not a top-10 roster, and with every other team in the division adding solid young players the Eagles cannot afford to miss on another pick.

None of this, however, points to selecting a corner over a receiver. So why is corner the better pick?

Let’s look at it from both a win now and plan for the future lens.

Win Now

In this scenario, the Eagles believe they can win with Wentz, or have enough confidence in Jalen Hurts going forward. I do not believe the goal, in any case, is Super Bowl or bust, but instead to get back to winning ways and give the team a chance to win a playoff game or two.

Wide Receiver

As it stands, the Birds will likely lose DeSean Jackson and may decide to say goodbye to Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. All three were missing from the lineup for large portions of the season this year and years past. The Eagles spent three picks on receivers last season. Although none of them looked like world-beaters as rookies, Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins deserve the chance to become larger cogs in the offense. Even Greg Ward looks like a solid starter in the league.

Even still, we’ve seen in previous years how much Carson Wentz can accomplish with a who’s-who receiver cast. In Jalen Hurts’ four games his top targeted receivers were: Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. He showed very clearly that he is at his best when he can spread the ball around.

Now, that doesn’t mean a top receiver wouldn’t help the situation. Perhaps Jalen wouldn’t have to spread the ball around so much. On the other hand, maybe it would encourage Carson to trust in his receivers more often. Either way, the Eagles have proven that they can make the playoffs with less. The real projection of how high this offense can fly seems more dependent on the health of the offensive line and Miles Sanders’ usage. In short, a top 10 draft pick spent on a receiver would absolutely help the team’s quest to win now, but isn’t the be-all-end-all solution. That is if that pick is a hit (more on that below).

Plus, the coaching staff has had long documented struggles integrating new cogs into the offensive system. While we have seen other first-year receivers burst on to the scene, it was long thought of as a position that needed a few years to acclimate. That could still very well be the case for the young receivers on the Eagles roster, but they have not been getting much help from the coaching staff. Adding more moving parts to a young, developing offense could only add to the chaos we witnessed this season.

Instead, the Eagles could target one of the many capable free agent receivers available in 2021 — if they are able to wiggle themselves out of cap hell. The list is highlighted by Allen Robinson, Will Fuller, and Chris Godwin, but includes some possible affordable names such as: Kenny Golladay, David Moore, Corey Davis, AJ Green, TY Hilton, Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard and Marvin Jones Jr. The Eagles could even poke the tires on some younger players that never reached their potential — John Ross, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Zach Pascal.

Continued on the page below.

Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire