Dec 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles free safetyMalcolm Jenkins
(27) before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles Draft Possibilities
Now that the reality is settling in on the Philadelphia Eagles fans, that the NFL draft will be overseen by second year head coach Chip Kelly, there are a wide range of thoughts as to what will likely play out this year. From the team that has had higher expectations and deeper disappointments recently, getting our hopes up too high is bound to dash our optimism before training camp.
Starting off the draft discussions in the weeks ahead will take up a great deal of our time, and I have no intentions of placing a shopping list onto paper this early in the draft. But we can discuss a number of other events: how many draft picks will these Eagles have, when are we picking, and at what position in the draft?
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Philadelphia Eagles Draft Picks
For the 2015 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles will be drafting at the 20th position. That is the last place a non-playoff football team can draft in any season. Not only do the Philadelphia Eagles have a full compliment of one pick in each of the seven rounds, but they also have earned the rights to the fourth round pick of the Buffalo Bills.
As you recall, on day three of the 2014 draft, the Buffalo Bills traded for Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown for a conditional 2015 fourth round pick. Those conditions were met, but also involve the Bills trade of wide receiver Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers, so the Eagles will end up with two fourth round picks – their own, and the one originally held by San Francisco via Buffalo.
So eight picks to “restock the shelves”. But will the Eagles be decimated by free agency? Well the Eagles should be in relatively good shape. For 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles have ten players entering free agency (per philadelphiaeagles.com), listed in descending order of their last contracted salary. I also have included two grades – zero to ten on the player contribution to the team, and a second grade of zero to ten of the importance of that position to the success of team. If the player grades higher than position, they need larger role. If position grades higher than position, then Eagles should look to upgrade if a player with that higher quality will be available to sign for team in free agency)
Unrestricted Free Agents – can sign with any NFL team, have four or more years of experience
Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin (Maclin-9, Starting WR-9)
Linebacker Brandon Graham (Graham-7, Rotating OLB -6)
Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (Fletcher-3, Starting CB-10)
Quarterback Mark Sanchez (Sanchez-5, Backup QB-6)
Safety Nate Allen (Allen -6, Starting S-8.5)
Wide Receiver Brad Smith (Smith-4, Backup WR-4)
Linebacker Casey Matthews (Matthews-6, Backup LB-7)
Restricted Free Agents – can sign with any team, Eagles retain right to match offer. have three year experience
Defensive Tackle Cedric Thornton (Thornton-8, Starting DE-8.5)
Running Back Chris Polk (Polk -7, Backup RB-6)
Exclusive Rights Free Agents – two years experience. can only negotiate with Eagles.
Wide Receiver Jeff Maehl (Maehl – 4, backup WR-4)
Other NFC East teams have a much higher hurdle to leap: Dallas has 21 free agents, New York Giants have 23 free agents, and Washington has 18 free agents. But the key to free agency is keeping your core players, while trying to fill roster holes throughout free agency. The Philadelphia Eagles, in the small number of free agent players, automatically have over 80% of the team under contract. It’s important that the Eagles enter the 2015 NFL Draft without a glaring need in the roster. That dictates the focus towards defensive backs before the NFL draft arrives.