The NFL Combine is now officially in the books, marking the end of the first step towards the NFL Draft, a very important period of time for all NFL franchises. For the Eagles, some have rumored that it might just be a very important 30 minutes (if they trade their whole draft to select Marcus Mariota), although that still just seems way too unlikely. Assuming they don’t pull off a ridiculous trade, which would be in their best interest, here are some positions they need to focus on in the draft:
Just because I don’t think they should draft Mariota doesn’t mean they don’t need to address the quarterback position. There’s basically no chance they re-sign Mark Sanchez, and Matt Barkley has been sub-par at best in his two years in Philly. Both USC quarterbacks would not return to the Eagles if I were calling the shots. Drafting a guy in the third or fourth round to back up Nick Foles seems like the best option. If they need to keep Barkley for one more year, then so be it. But at least get someone to challenge Foles in case he has a terrible season.
The Eagles’ second-best wide receiver (on the depth chart) is actually terrible, aka Riley Cooper. To me, that screams “this team needs some sort of wide receiver, fast.” Jordan Matthews was great for a rookie, so if the Eagles could find someone in the third or fourth round to bolster their wide receiver group, it would be nice. They could even snag one in the fifth round if necessary to fill in as a backup since I don’t see them re-signing either Brad Smith or Jeff Maehl, both of whom are free agents this offseason. Either way, they need to bring in somebody to fill up roster spots and not just sign a bunch of random free agents. They need to build through the draft.
Evan Mathis is getting a little bit older now, and Todd Herremans, who’s also old, is injury-prone. Both guys are still very solid starters at worst, but the Eagles need to start thinking about some possible replacements now if they want to make sure they have a smooth transition when one of these guys retires. The Eagles have a great offensive line when healthy, but it’s pretty old, so they need to work on building depth. I could see them taking a guard basically anywhere in the draft except for the first round. My guess is they won’t take one till later in the draft, probably around the fifth or sixth round.
The Eagles are going to have to make a decision on what to do with Brandon Graham and Trent Cole this offseason. It’s possible they get both guys back, but it’s also possible neither is back. I think they’ll probably give Cole a pay cut and let Graham go, which means they need a backup. I would be completely fine if they drafted an outside linebacker in the second or third round. It’s a clear area of need for the team, but how much of a need it is will be determined after free agency. Either way, they need to bolster this position.
The Eagles absolutely need to draft a cornerback in the first or second round. Their secondary was so bad in 2014 that it would be insane to not target it very high in this year’s draft. There are luckily a good group of cornerbacks that should be available around their pick in the first round, but they may want to wait until the second round to grab someone. Cornerbacks very rarely dominate in their first year in the league and will take a little time to develop. If they take someone in the first round and he doesn’t tear it up, they’re just going to be criticized.
I think safety is the most likely position to target in the first round. There are also a few guys that should be available when the Eagles pick at No. 20 that could be valuable additions to the team. They desperately need an upgrade over Nate Allen or whatever other trash is behind him at the time. It seems like they’ve already decided that Earl Wolff is not worthy of starting, and they have no one else who is worth starting alongside Malcolm Jenkins. If they get a top safety to start next to him, that would immediately help the team.
Now, assuming they were to not trade any of their picks for the entire draft (which, as fans saw last year, will not happen), here’s what position I would target for each round. They currently have eight picks, one of each round plus two fourth round picks. They received the other fourth round pick in the Bryce Brown trade during last year’s draft.
Mock Draft- Positions
3rd: Outside Linebacker
4th: Wide Receiver
5th: Offensive Guard
7th: Wide Receiver