The Eagles enter the 2017 NFL off-season looking for answers at various positions. After going 7-9 (last in NFC East), the Philadelphia Eagles are looking to grow as a team with Carson Wentz at the helms. The Eagles top three needs are at the wide receiver, cornerback, and running back positions.
With Wentz being the franchise quarterback of the team, the Eagles must help find him weapons, as he had a bad group to throw too, which no rookie quarterback should be thrown into the fire and should have to deal with a inconsistent group that includes Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, and others. Matthews and Ertz are the only two that produces when given a chance.
However, the cornerbacks are the weakest group in Philly’s defense, which I would expect the Eagles to express interest in drafting a corner early and signing one of the big names in the open market to try and stop the Giants big three (Beckham Jr, Marshall, Shepard). The defense in general was up and down, as they finished in the middle of the pack of each major category, but the group from a depth and talent point of view is lackluster with Jalen Mills headlining as the team’s best corner.
Back to the offensive side, the running game was led by Ryan Mathews (661 yards, 8 TDs), but Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood helped pick up the slack when Mathews was benched. This is not a bad group, but the Eagles should look at potentially finding their future bell cow in this year’s draft, as it is a loaded one at the running back position.
So, if the Eagles decide to look at bolstering these three positions via free agency, then I expect them to sign Stephon Gilmore, Torrey Smith, and Rashad Jennings.
I think signing Stephon Gilmore would be a steal for the Eagles, as he is the best corner in the open market, which the last time they signed the best corner in the off-season (Nnamdi Asomugha) it back fired on the team, but Gilmore has ties to Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz from when Schwartz was the Bills defensive coordinator in 2014, which the Bills defense was tremendous that year finishing top ten in total team defense. He also reunites with former teammate Ron Brooks.
Gilmore is a well-rounded corner that is not afraid to make an open field tackle, which the Eagles lack on the perimeter. He is also a quiet ball hawk (14 career INTs) and he is also not afraid to go against the best in the league, which is why he is going to land an enormous deal. This past season, the South Carolina product recorded five interceptions. This is his new career high in the regular season.
Next, the Eagles must look at bringing in a veteran to help give some lead way to the youngsters at the wide receiver position. Matthews is fine, but Agholor is looking like a bust, but I think they can fix his drop problems, also Green-Beckham has the tools to be something special, but at best, he is a solid three or four still developing. Overall, when Ertz, Matthews, and Sproles are receiving the ball most of the game, it shows that the quarterback has no trust in others like Agholor or Green-Beckham.
This leads to the Eagles in pursuing Torrey Smith, which he has experience as a number one receiver and that he can still play, despite displaying the worst season in his professional career, which led to his release from the San Francisco 49ers. To be fair, the 49ers were a mess and they had no quarterback to distribute the ball to the receivers. Honestly, Uncle Rico could not even help them. Carson Wentz would love to have a receiver like Smith, as he can spread the field with his speed and make the home run type plays, which we seen when he was a Baltimore Raven.
Lastly for a free agency signing, the Eagles could look at bringing Rashad Jennings, as he is just like Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. The Eagles stick with a rotation for one more season before landing their future back. Jennings is familiar with the NFC East and is a do it all back. Solid depth for a team with running backs that are questionable week in and out.
Furthermore, let’s shift all eyes to the draft. I have developed three options (rounds 1-3) with mix selections based on the team’s top three needs.
The first option includes the Eagles selecting in order from round one to three, Mike Williams, Alvin Kamara, and Kevin King. Taking Mike Williams is a huge possibility, as he is considered the number one receiver on the board. Kamara is a steal in the second round, but his ability to become an every down back will make it harder for him to stick in the second round. Next, Kevin King is a really good corner that was overshadowed by Sidney Jones at Washington.
Next, the second option is probably a more realistic option with the Eagles taking Sidney Jones with the 14th overall pick. Jones is my number one corner in this draft and landing him at 14 is a perfect spot. In the second round, the Eagles land a rising prospect in Zay Jones from East Carolina. Jones is a big receiver with a chance to become a great one in the league. He has all the tools, which Wentz needs. Jones would start opposite of Matthews day one in camp. Now, most people will question this third round pick, but Joe Mixon can play the game of football and if he would have never had legal troubles, he would easily land in the first round. Mixon is a bell cow and i would love to see what he can do as a three down back.
Thirdly, the third option consist of the Eagles taking Christian McCaffrey, which is another possibility. He reminds me of a combination of Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush, but I think he will live up to the hype over Reggie Bush. With the second round pick here, I really like those Clemson players and taking Cordrea Tankersley would just light up those Eagles jersey sales, as I still do not understand how people do not think he could be a potential all-star with the skill set he possesses. Well, enough talk of that selection. This third round pick would be really cool. How about the Eagles taking in-state collegiate star Chris Godwin from Penn State? He always putted on a show at Penn State and it resulted in a total of 154 receptions for 2,421 yards and 18 scores.
Finally, I think all of them are great options, but I think the second option is the one I would go with. All three selections are instant upgrades at each position.
Little Notes on option two:
1. Sidney Jones is the next shutdown corner and pairing him with Gilmore would be fun to watch, plus Mills and Brooks next to those two in a dime package is quite a group.
2. Zay Jones was one of the most productive receivers in college football, as he led the nation in receptions (158). Had a great Senior Bowl week down in Mobile, Alabama. Size is intriguing and he will be Wentz’s favorite target.
3. Mixon is a do it all running back that has seen his draft stock fall due to the off-field issue. Put the off-field issues aside, and the Eagles land a bell cow that could carry them for an easy ten years. Looks like the Frank Gore of this draft.