NFL Draft more important than ever for the Eagles after an explosive start to the offseason

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Philadelphia Eagles Bryce Huff talks to the media during the press conference after signing with the Eagles, Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Few teams were as aggressive as the Philadelphia Eagles during the opening weeks of free agency. With the dust now settling and all eyes turning toward the NFL Draft and beyond, it begs the question how these past few weeks have impacted the teams’ future plans.

How the Eagles attacked the offseason

On top of some housekeeping, the Eagles splurged on Bryce Huff, Saquon Barkley, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. This offseason marked a rare occurance that saw the Eagles swimming in cap space and they made every spare dollar count.

Not only did Howie Roseman uncharacteristically splash the cash at a position he very rarely does (running back), but he bolstered the defense to a point it somehow looks even more intimidating than last year’s, and we haven’t even hit the NFL Draft yet.

Philadelphia Eagle’s Saquon Barkley talks to the media during a press conference after signing with the NFL football team, Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Eagles will head into the most important weekend of the offseason with a new luxury. They can truly spend on ‘the best player available’ without having to worry too much about needing to desperately overspend assets on a particular position. The roster is stacked and that gives Roseman some freedom in finding his next crop of future stars in Philadelphia.

Looking ahead to the NFL Draft

Sure, the core premises will remain. The team feels all but destined to find a few new enrolments to Jeff Stoutland University and there are bound to be some ‘boring’ picks that ultimately have the chance to turn into Gold in a few years time. But with the mantra of this offseason being to push the Eagles back to being the dominant force they were in the opening half of the 2023 season, the Draft should also reflect that.

As things stand, Philadelphia owns a first-rounder and a pair of second round selections for the upcoming NFL Draft as well as five picks sprinkled across rounds 4-6. Whether they view these as trade ammo to make an aggressive move up, or potentially even view one of those second rounders as a potential bargaining chip remains unclear, but there is plenty of flexibility in the warchest.

Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The mission statement from here on out is a simple one – win now. The Eagles should be reaping the rewards from big-time selections of years past, with names like DeVonta Smith, Jalen Carter, and Jordan Davis all proving to be cornerstones they can hang their hat on, negating the need to take risks on players like Jalen Reagor, who fell far short of the mark when the Eagles craved receiving help. That level of desperation is no longer there, and, as a result, this team should be able to sit comfortably during the Draft and land the players with the highest upside at the time they are on the clock.

Why this Draft matters so much for the Eagles

It’s a sentiment that sounds obvious but one that often gets clouded by pressing team needs. Jalen Reagor’s trajectory was a clear example. The Eagles needed speed outside and Justin Jefferson was viewed as a perennial slot receiver with doubts about his ability to transition outside. We all know how that panned out.

Having learned from those mistakes, Roseman spent the next 3 years digging deep to find high-character players who fit the core character of an emerging Eagles team. With only secondary needs (and a somewhat ever-pressing one at linebacker) remaining, Howie Roseman can continue down that path, and it’s absolutely imperative that he does.

The GM has had a love-hate relationship with the NFL Draft, with an equal balances of masterclasses and disasterclasses over his tenure. With the Ship now stable, there has never been a Draft more integral to this team as far as extending the Super Bowl window goes.

Jalen Hurts signed a monstrous $255M contract just over a year ago and the ramifications of that deal will set in over the next few seasons. In that span, one by one, the up and coming stars of this team are going to need new deals too. DeVonta Smith will be first in-line, and with A.J Brown already on a big contract, it’s easy to see how quickly the Eagles could find themselves handcuffed. It doesn’t end there, either, and it’s easy to see how forecasting contracts for players like Davis and Carter, who also share a space on the field, can become problematic.

Bills vs Eagles a.j brown
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

If the Eagles are really going to make the most of this incredible roster, they have to keep finding players like Smith, Carter, and Davis. The era of taking risks on players with injury concerns should be left behind, as should the era on players possessing red flags in other areas. The exception to this was obviously Jalen Carter, who the Eagles were fortunate enough to be in a position to perform extended due diligence on former teammates of his.

Finish the story

Howie Roseman has long been renowned as a GM who is incredible at cap management and someone who is ruthless when it comes to risk-taking in the NFL Draft. The biggest risk he faces now is making a wrong turn that leaves the Eagles without deeper options once those steeper contracts begin to present a heavier cloud.

We don’t know what the Eagles have planned for the NFL Draft. Nobody does. But after a transformative free agency period, it’s very clear that the vision of building the floor of this Eagles team with players who have the smallest chance of busting in comparison to high-risk, high-reward counterparts, needs to be carried out.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola