Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking The Top Five Positions Of Need
Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of needs to fill this offseason. I believe this Eagles team is a good football team but not a great team just yet. The Eagles need to find some starters in free agency and the draft as well as getting some young players that they can develop in certain positions.
As the Eagles haven’t resigned anyone yet, I will speculate below who I think will stay or go. Here’s how I rank the Eagles top 5 positions of need heading into free agency and the draft:
A pretty obvious choice here. Although Cary Williams played reasonably average last year, he is due a hefty $8m next season and is not worth that much. I don’t think he’s the type of guy to take a pay cut either. Bradley Fletcher likely won’t be resigned after a terrible season. The Eagles want corners with good size and length starting on the outside meaning that Brandon Boykin will still play in the slot.
The Eagles therefore need two starting cornerbacks in one offseason.
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Theoretically that sounds very difficult, but the Patriots managed to do it really well last season. I don’t want the Eagles to sign mid-level free agents again who are the perfect size but have absolutely no ball skills (Fletcher and Williams). Ideally the Eagles will spend money on a top corner in free agency and draft one high.
2) Outside Linebacker
Right now this doesn’t seem a huge need but by the draft it could easily be our number 1 need. I am a huge Brandon Graham fan but he would be crazy to stay here, a team playing a 4-3 defense will be willing to give him a big contract. Trent Cole is declining and worth a huge $11m next season and they can save $6.8m by cutting him.
Even if Cole restructure, the Eagles still need to find someone to replace Grahams role. I don’t think Cole should be playing more than 60% of the snaps next season. If Graham somehow stays and Cole leaves, the Eagles still need to find someone else as Graham shouldn’t be playing every snap. There’s a fairly high chance that neither Cole or Graham are an Eagle next season.
3) Inside Linebacker
I imagine a lot of you are surprised that safety is behind both linebacker positions, I’ll get to that next. DeMeco Ryans might be a great leader but he’s an average player at this point in his career. He’s 30 years old now, coming off a torn Achilles and with a $6.9m cap hit with no dead money if he’s cut. Did the linebackers play badly when Ryans went down? I’m not sure the drop off between Ryans and Casey Matthews was that big.
Najee Goode could become a good player but he’s essentially a 5th round pick, coming off a torn ACL and he’s yet to play 200 snaps his entire career. Are you willing to bet on him becoming great? Inside linebacker could be a huge need, I was desperate for the Eagles to trade up for CJ Mosley in the first round of last years draft despite Ryans being healthy. Depending on what happens with Brandon Graham, inside linebacker could be a bigger need than any position by the draft.
Let me explain why safety is only my number 4 need. The safety position is pretty appalling in the NFL right now. Malcolm Jenkins is an above average safety, he’s not an all-pro but he’s good enough. There’s no need to improve there. The other starting safety Nate Allen is around average, maybe slightly below average, but he is not a terrible safety.
The Eagles must resign Allen, he would be a great backup and whilst I would love to get a stud at safety they are not easy to find. This is why to me safety is below the other positions, with improved cornerbacks you can survive with Nate Allen as your safety for another season.
I could have put a few positions here but I’ll go with quarterback. Anyone who follows my work knows that I am a fan of Nick Foles. However, you have to consider the possibility that he might not be the franchise quarterback for the Eagles. If Chip Kelly really wants Marcus Mariota then I respect that and the Eagles should attempt to get him if he falls out of the top 10. The price to trade up into the top 10, especially the top 5, will probably be too high.
If Mariota goes early, the Eagles should not draft a quarterback in the first round. They should however, try to get somewhere who can challenge Foles for the starting job. If Chip still believes in Foles and signs Sanchez back as the number 2 quarterback, then this position is no longer a need.
Lastly, if the Eagles don’t resign Jeremy Maclin then wide receiver will probably be my number 2 need. If they cut LeSean McCoy (due $11.95m), running back will probably be my number 3 need.