Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Draft watch: How free agency has impacted the team’s priorities

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Free agency was always going to be quiet for the Philadelphia Eagles. Outside of the blockbuster Carson Wentz trade the cap-strapped franchise was unable to really go star-shopping this offseason. They did make a couple of key signings however and it’s safe to say that their draft plans have been altered.

Safety

Gained: Anthony Harris & Andrew Adams
Lost: Rudy Ford & Jalen Mills

Pretty much a like-for-like swap here. Andrew Adams will the void left on special teams by Rudy Ford, while Harris negates the loss of Jalen Mills and provides the Eagles with a Safety who will play best as a roaming playmaker over the top while a combo of McLeod and Wallace handle duties inside the box.

It’s worth noting that both players only signed a one year deal so it’s not like the Eagles have any long-term security, especially with McLeod’s contract also now entering its final year. However, with K’Von Wallace and Grayland Arnold in the fold, I don’t think there will be a push to draft a Safety in the early rounds just yet.

Linebacker

Gained: Eric Wilson & Alex Singleton
Lost: Nate Gerry & Duke Riley

Retaining Alex Singleton was big (and was always nearly certain), but signing Eric Wilson was even bigger. The Eagles will likely be implementing a defense heavily inspired by what Mike Zimmer runs in Minnesota and the acquisition of a MIKE linebacker whose strength lies in pass coverage for such a cheap price cannot be overlooked.

I don’t know what benefits the team more, losing Nate Gerry or signing Eric Wilson. Either way, with a young core in place and two players drafted at the position last year, the arrival of Wilson basically means we won’t be seeing a linebacker taken in the first few rounds…which based off the team’s draft history, we could’ve expected anyway.

Quarterback

Gained: Joe Flacco
Lost: Carson Wentz & Nate Sudfeld

The big change here is obviously losing Nate Sudfeld that Jalen Hurts is provisionally QB1. Joe Flacco’s arrival is a puzzling one given that he has shown no intention to develop any backup thus far and his opening preset gave off that same energy.

The Eagles will look to take a quarterback in this Draft, but it probably won’t be until the bottom of the Draft in a bid to add a developmental arm to the roster and replace Nate Sudfeld. If there’s going to be a big QB move, it will come next year when the team have a trio of first-round picks at their disposal to solidify the future of the frahcise…but only if Hurts struggles in his first full season as a starter.

Defensive tackle

Gained: Hassan Ridgeway
Lost: Malik Jackson

Bringing back Hassan Ridgeway is important as we know how important DT rotations are these days. Ridgeway is a snug DT3 behind Hargrave and Cox if he can stay healthy. The team do lack a lot of depth at this spot though and may well seek to find a long-term piece that doesn’t cost them nearly 15% of their total cap space.

Running back

Gained: Boston Scott, Jordan Howard
Lost: Corey Clement

No significant change here as Clement didn’t add that much to the team last year in what has turned out to be a perplexing fall from grace. Boston Scott will bring back his versatility to the RB room, but the team need some solid depth behind Miles Sanders. Jordan Howard’s return is a low-risk, high-reward option after injuries look to really have knocked the wind out of his sails.

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Wide receiver

Gained: Greg Ward Jr.
Lost: Alshon Jeffery

Greg Ward Jr. Signing his RFA tender at least gives the Eagles some insurance in the slot for the time being, but finally parting ways with Alshon Jeffery and having no certainty whatsoever at the X spot opens up one of the biggest draft needs on the roster. JJAW is yet to live up to even the shallowest of expectations and Travis Fulgham clearly has a high ceiling but has consistency concerns. Drafting a sizeable wideout who can be a threat in the red-zone, block well, and allow the rapid wideouts to thrive on the other side of the field should be a priority here.

Cornerback

Lost: Nickell Robey-Coleman & Cre’Von LeBlanc

Having not replaced either of their nickel cornerback candidates, we can assume one of two things. They’re either going to draft a nickel, or move Maddox back inside and look for a long-term CB2. Either way, this remains a prominent need on the roster.

Defensive end

Lost: Vinny Curry

Saying bye to Vinny Curry also opens up 28% of defensive snaps in this Eagles DE rotation. Genard Avery has moved to linebacker and depth here is minimal beyond Josh Sweat who will be pushing Derek Barnett for starting reps. The Eagles could well look to add a talented edge-rusher early knowing that Barnett is in his option year and Graham isn’t getting any younger.

Offensive line

Lost: Jason Peters

Has this chapter finally come to an end? Probably not, but backup tackle depth isn’t anywhere near the need that interior depth is. Brandon Brooks is coming off of a pair of Achilles tears, Jason Kelce could be hanging his boots up soon and while Nate Herbig has shown potential, the Eagles have lost a lot of their developmental talent in recent years and will need to start the conveyor belt up once more.

As things stand, having Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata at tackle somewhat relieves the need for a backup, but the two might not be able to coexist for long. It would be smart to load on trench talent deep into the draft given Jeff Stoutland’s knack for turning water into wine.

Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

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Liam is a 25-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.

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1 comment

  • Dave says:

    Gained: Anthony Harris & Andrew Adams
    Lost: Rudy Ford & Jalen Mills

    This is not a like for like swap. The special teams portion will be, but Anthony Harris will be a big upgrade over Mills. While Mills was a great Eagle in terms of being a dedicated team player, he surely does not match up with Harris

    Gained: Eric Wilson & Alex Singleton
    Lost: Nate Gerry & Duke Riley

    Your question as to what gains the Eagles more, the loss of Gerry of the gain of Wilson, is correct on both points. Losing Gerry means we never have to watch him get beat like an old lady using a walker, and gaining Wilson brings us a tough, experienced LB, who if he plays as well as he has so far in his career, will be signing a contract extension before the year is up. This was a great off-season signing.

    Gained: Joe Flacco
    Lost: Carson Wentz & Nate Sudfeld

    The signing of Joe Flacco is a questionable one. If Hurts becomes injured at any point in the year, Flacco cannot do anything close to what Hurts can do, so the offense would have to totally change. Signing an immobile QB was not a smart move on Howie’s part. He has indicated he thinks he should still be a starter, so his desire to mentor Hurts, will probably be less than stellar. While the cupboard is bare on FA QB’s, they are 2 totally different players. My prediction is, this will not go well.

    Losing Wentz and Sudfeld….well, good riddance. Sudfeld was nothing more than a clipboard holder and Wentz is a big crybaby with a fragile ego. His folding like a tent after the Eagles drafted Hurts for insurance, rather than say, bring it on, I will beat this guy for sure, tells you all you need to know. Wentz wants to be “the guy” and with Hurts, there was a chance that he could be beaten out in camp and lose his starter position, so he wanted out of town to somewhere he would be basically guaranteed to be the starter, or that the competition was nothing to worry about.

    Gained: Hassan Ridgeway
    Lost: Malik Jackson

    Jackson was an expensive disappointment. Ridgeway, though not the greatest DT, is at least a guy who can give you significant snaps to keep the rotation fresh. Raequan Williams should take a step up this year. He got some game time last year, and players make that 2nd year jump. A new DC in Gagnon and DL coach Rocker, will hopefully be able to bring these guys along, but an addition or two in the draft wouldn’t hurt. They are thing at DT, as well as DE

    Gained: Boston Scott, Jordan Howard
    Lost: Corey Clement

    This is a wash. Clement had a great year in 2017, but has offered little since. The Eagles need to draft a big power back, who can run the rock and keep Sanders fresh. A 3 headed monster approach worked well in the SB year, and Sirianni’s commitment to the running game, will finally utilize Sanders with creative plays. Having a powerful back who is hard to bring down, will help immensley

    Gained: Greg Ward Jr.
    Lost: Alshon Jeffery

    The loss of Jeffrey is a welcome one. He’s been collecting a paycheck since the SB and hasn’t given much in return, except to take game time away from Fulgham. It’s no coincidence that Jeffreys return from injury coincided with Fulgham”s sudden decline. They wanted to get Jeffrey all the minutes they could, but it was at the expense of a developing WR. Hopefully he shows that same ability this year. We truly need a #1 WR. Reagor is not that guy. He is a very close #2, and will be a steady presence like Macklin or Jordan Matthews. We need to hit on a true #1 receiver. Though he wasn’t a true #1 at LSU with Chase in the fold, Terrace Marshall, would be a nice get at 37. Maybe luck comes our way and we can grab Waddle, though he has never played much against press coverage. There is not much film of him available against that type of defense. His speed caused teams to play off him. If he plays against press corners in the NFL, he will have to be able to get separation, or any route he runs will be disrupted, therefore disrupting the play. Whoever they get, there is a definite need.

    Lost: Nickell Robey-Coleman & Cre’Von LeBlanc

    Robey-Coleman was a horror show and LeBlanc, while Feisty is really not a #2 corner. CB is one of our, if not the biggest need in this draft. After Slay, the names on the list of CB’s on the roster is a who’s who of WHO? There is no #2 so the need to replenish in the draft is pressing to say the least

    Lost: Vinny Curry

    Though not a star, Vinny was always a steady presence at DE, and a good rotational guy, much like Long was. We need to draft another pass rusher, because we only have 3, and much like CB, an injury could really hamper the pass rush

    Lost: Jason Peters

    Thank God almighty. Though I love me some Jason Peters, he is a liability. If he moved to G and took a huge salary cut, he is still too old at 39. He would take up a roster spot where a young player could develop. I think Peters will be watching games from his couch, waiting for somebody to call in an emergency. If I were him, or should I say if that were me, I would hang it up while my name is still associated with greatness and cruise to the HOF on the first ballot.

    As anyone can see, there is a lot of need in this draft. Though it would be great to grab Pitts, that’s never going to happen. Though drafts can take some funny turns, I will be amazed if he doesn’t go in the top five or 6-7 at the latest. When we had the 6th pick, I thought, man if we can get this guy, but unfortunately, other teams are thinking the same thing and the Eagles realized that if they weren’t going to get him at 6, then gaining the 4th rounder and the 1st next year to move to #12, was a good deal. If at #12, one of the QB’s is still there, and we are on the clock, do not be surprised to hear that we have traded #12 for somewhere between #13-#20. That trade back could net us some additional draft capital, to move back up in the end of the first round, and still have #37 as well. It all depends on what is offered and how many spots we have to move back. If there is a QB available at #12, don’t be surprised to hear the Patriot’s ringing the phone off the hook. They know Newton is not the future, and even if it’s Jones, there will be a need. Depending on the board, and what offers they get, I wouldn’t rule out Howie trading back again. I would truly hope that we just draft a CB here, and a WR at #37. I have heard and would be all for packaging Ertz and #37 to the Bills for #30 if the player they want is there, like Marshall. The important thing is that Howie nails this draft. Hopefully, behind the scenes, Jeff has told him, if you don’t hit this one, you are done with player evaluation and being involved in the draft. Like his year sabbatical, he should be huddling with the scouts and the new coaching staff, to get the players they need, to do what they were hired to do. We’ll see if that happens

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