Eagles Draft watch: Ranking the team’s top five needs after free agency

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 South Carolina at Ole Miss
OXFORD, MS – NOVEMBER 14: South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) during the game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the South Carolina Gamecocks on November 14, 2020, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, MS. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

We are now under two weeks away from the NFL Draft. A lot has changed since the beginning of the offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles, including their priorities when it comes to next week’s event. Here are the five positions and roles the team should be putting at the top of their shopping list ahead of the Draft.

Tight end (TE2)

Zach Ertz may still be on the roster for the time being, but even if he does play for the Birds next season, he’ll be a free agent soon after. Only adding to the dilemma is the fact that Dallas Goedert is now in a similar spot and it’s unlikely that the Eagles will retain both. This does put some added pressure to draft a tight end and there are plenty of intriguing options lying in the heart of the Draft. At the very least, expect the Eagles to bring in a developmental option. At most? There’s always the idea of trading back into the top-10 to snag Kyle Pitts

Offensive line (depth)

It feels like only yesterday that we were branding the offensive line as one of the best in football. Father Time caught up, the Injury Bug unleashed its venom, and what’s left is a shell of what used to be. The team still has a lot of depth at tackle for the time being, but reinforcements along the interior are nowhere to be seen outside of Nate Herbig. This is kind of worrying given that Brandon Brooks is coming off of a torn Achilles for the second season in a row.

There’s also the concern that Jason Kelce could retire soon, be it this year or next year. The ageless wonder continues to perform like an elite center, but the Eagles have refused to start developing his Heir to the Throne up to this point, leaving them short handed if he does decide that the time is now.

They may not go offensive line in the first two rounds, but I’d be a little surprised if there aren’t at least two new linemen brought into the mix at the end of April.

Defensive end (EDGE3)

Vinny Curry’s departure leaves a pretty significant hole. He played in 28% of snaps last year and while his stats weren’t mind blowing, that’s a big chunk of play to lose. Derek Barnett is in his option year, Brandon Graham is only getting older, and Josh Sweat is going to need an extension pretty soon. The Eagles have to prioritize finding at least one long-term option here, since Shareef Miller and his guaranteed 10-sack season lasted all of a guaranteed 10 minutes.

This could fall in the way of a Barnett extension, but it’s far more likely that the team hit reset and bring in an edge rusher within the first few picks so that with a year under his belt, he’ll be ready to step up into a bigger role in 2022 when a couple of the names currently in the rotation may move on.

Wide Receiver (X)

The Eagles are revamping their offense but we can still expect fairly rigid receiver roles. This means that the X-receiver still needs to be a red-zone threat, block aggressively, and present sizeable mismatches to draw cornerback attention while speed demons run rampant on the opposite side of the field. Colts wideouts Michael Pittman and Dezmon Patton are both 6’4 for what it’s worth.

As of right now, the team have more speed than they know what to do with and a ginormous question mark at the X spot. JJAW has shown very little since being drafted in the second round and Travis Fulgham has a lot of upside but has struggled with consistency and is clearly a volume receiver.

While it would be easy to draft a Sonic the Hedgehog clone, targeting a Rashod Bateman-type receiver should probably be the play if Ja’Marr Chase is out of the question. It might not be the sexy pick, but adding size could prove to be the smart one.

Cornerback (CB2)

Avonte Maddox is in a tricky spot. Aside from durability concerns, he struggled on the outside last year largely due to his size (shock). Depending on how the new coaching staff feels, he’s either going to be pushed back into a starting nickel role, giving the team a need to draft a legitimate CB2, or they’re going to leave him outside and hope they can coach him up, instead needing to draft a nickel corner.

I would expect the Eagles to draft a legitimate outside corner for the first time since 2017 (Rasul Douglas). There is a strong chance that they double-dip due to there being so little in the way of prestige/competition at the position right now, bringing in a firm nickel candidate in the later rounds while a corner is taken within the first two. Finding a running-mate for Darius Slay and someone who can cone day grow into that CB1 when Slay moves on has to be the priority here.

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Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire