With the rush of free agency in the rear view mirror it is time to focus in on the NFL Draft, specifically on team draft needs. In this article we take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles draft needs for 2016 as we approach the April 28th first round from Chicago. Philadelphia are something of an interesting prospect next year – They have a rookie head coach, a mediocre former #1 overall pick at quarterback, their supposed first string running back is injury prone, and left tackle Jason Peters has maybe one good year left. Last year’s Eagles also managed to give up a franchise record 36 passing touchdowns, calling into question their defensive backfield. The new coach also brings a new system, and Philadelphia will move from a 3 – 4 defense to a 4 – 3, meaning they may be in for a middle linebacker come draft time. Some of these needs were partly addressed in Free Agency; signing Leodis McKelvin at cornerback, for instance, should give them greater security in their passing defense, and Stefen Wisniewski looks set to shore up the inside of their O line. But come the number 8 pick in the draft, what do Philadelphia need?
Although the Eagles have Jason Peters, it is highly unlikely that he will be with the team come the start of the 2017 season. Starting a rookie to protect your Quarterback’s blind side isn’t the smartest idea, so drafting a tackle high this year is a good step to ensuring continuity. Ronnie Stanley should be available when the Eagles take to the stage in Chicago, and it makes sense that Philadelphia should look and see what their divisional rivals, the Dallas Cowboys have done by investing picks in their line. The fact that last year DeMarco Murray (who is no longer with the team) looked a shadow of the player he was in Dallas should speak volumes for the value of making an investment early and taking a player who could potentially be a cornerstone of the franchise for a number of years.
When you look at the Eagles’ biggest weaknesses last year, it’s obvious that the passing defense proved a complete failure. If your defense gives up an average of 2.25 passing touchdowns a game, it’s hard to win too many. Looking at the prospects available, it’s unlikely that Jaelen Ramsey will still be there, so it could be Vernon Hargreaves III going to Philly at eight. Safety Walter Thurmond is also mulling retirement, according to rumours, although the likes of Eli Apple don’t look to be value considering their draft position, and if the Eagles are looking to take a safety in round one, they could almost certainly trade back and get some value for their pick. Although they’ve done some work already this offseason, drafting depth at DB is definitely a good idea.
Sam Bradford is… When you google that phrase, along with the query ‘Is Sam Bradford married?’ overwhelmingly you get questions about his injury status. Yes, he has been unlucky, but he has failed to set the world alight throughout his career in the manner one would expect for a number one overall pick, and it’s hard to do that when you spend more time on the sidelines than you do on the field. Drafting a quarterback early would be a good choice. Wentz will be gone, Goff as well, almost certainly. Meaning Paxton Lynch is likely to be the pick. Whilst drafting what is, essentially, a backup with the number eight overall pick seems somewhat excessive when you look at who they’re backing up it becomes a better plan to both get a player who can plug in and play at a decent level when needed as a rookie, but also grow and develop and turn into either a franchise quarterback or a reasonable haul of draft picks for a QB needy team in a future offseason. Doug Pederson is an offensive coach, and taking a quarterback is something which is likely to appeal to him.