Oct 26, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham (55) celebrates a play against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles have made quite a few different splashes in free agency this year. They completely revamped their running game; they dismantled their passing attack; they even rebuilt their secondary. The issue that remains is that their is still some work to do and very little funds to do it with. At this point the free agency resources have been exhausted, and there are only so many picks in the draft to build with. So the question that remains is, what is left on the Philadelphia Eagles’ shopping list?
As far as what still needs to be done, there are five items on that shopping list. The most pressing, in my opinion, is the need for a wide receiver. The Eagles currently have wide receiver Riley Cooper as their number one receiver. That is not good. Cooper was barely a viable receiver three last year. The Eagles need a clear number one receiver and more depth.
The Eagles could try free agency, but the only top name left is Michael Crabtree and the Eagles are beginning to press up against the salary cap (which should be a big problem come next season). The next option which is my favorite, but also the least likely, is to trade for wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Nov 23, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Green Bay Packers win 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
In an earlier article I said that Patterson would be the perfect fit for the Eagles because of his immense talent and versatility combined with the fact that the Vikings seemed less than pleased with him last season. Sure enough reports out of Minnesota are that with wide receiver Mike Wallace headed north to the Vikings, Patterson is the odd man out after a disappointing 2014 campaign.
The Eagles have already said that pro bowl left guard Evan Mathis is available, and while I believe that it would be a mistake to trade a star like Mathis I cannot see a better potential offer than Patterson and a third or fourth round pick in exchange for Mathis.
While this would be an ideal fix to the wide receiver problem it most likely won’t happen which is why we must turn to the draft. In the first round the Eagles probably should not take a receiver unless one of the big three (West Virginia’s Kevin White, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Louisville’s DeVante Parker) somehow magically falls to them (more on that later). That being said, my favorite target for them is Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong. This Philadelphia native reminds me of a young Brandon Marshall with strong hands and good contested catch ability. However, Strong would cost a first round pick which the Eagles may not be able to use on a receiver.
Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) is defended by Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Daniel Davie (23) during the first quarter in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
In the second round there are a variety of options. Namely Ohio State’s Devin Smith (if he falls), USC’s Nelson Agholor, Miami’s Phillip Dorsett, or UCF’s Breshad Perriman among others. I believe that the Eagles need to select two receivers in this draft. In addition, they should make sure that the two receivers have different skill sets. A fantastic fit for the Eagles is Nelson Agholor in the second round. He is simply an all around great talent and everything about the way he plays is clean.
Later the Eagles could pair him with someone like Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller, who has been rising up draft boards, if they want size. If they opt instead for more speed they could grab Mario Alford of West Virginia late in the draft. I believe the perfect option for a later receiver would be to grab Chris Conley from the University of Georgia in the fifth round. At the combine Conley showed off great speed to pair with his decent size and solid catching ability.
The next problem the Eagles need to address is safety. This will be the hardest position to address in the draft because of the sheer lack of talent throughout. The clear choice is Alabama’s Landon Collins who should be the Eagles priority in the draft. However, they would be unlikely to land him without trading up. If Collins is gone, then the Eagles should grab Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong as their receiver, and address safety later.
Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Connecticut Huskies defensive back Byron Jones catches a pass in a workout drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The safety class thins out very quickly which is why in round two (assuming the Eagles have already selected a receiver) the Eagles should take one of these three safeties: Louisville’s Gerod Holliman, Utah’s Eric Rowe, and Connecticut’s Byron Jones. The last two aren’t actually safeties, but they do have safety experience and more talent than any other safety left after this point which is why they make sense for the Eagles. Byron Jones is an especially intriguing prospect after his record breaking broad jump.
Next is offensive line. If nothing changes about the line from this point on, meaning Evan Mathis remains an Eagle, then this should be easy. The Eagles like athletic lineman, so the two clear choices to fill their hole at right guard are Ali Marpet of Hobart, and Jake Fisher of (surprise) Oregon. Both of these are two of the worst kept secret sleepers in the draft. What I mean by this is that they will each be a steal because they could fall to the third round, but everyone knows that they are steals and everyone wants them.
Oct 26, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans safety Josh Shaw (6) tries to get the crowd going during the third quarter of the Trojans 19-3 win over the Utah Utes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly are the least pressing issues, outside linebacker and cornerback. However, both do have their problems. Newly acquired Eagles cornerback Walter Thurmond III cannot stay healthy and is on a one year deal which means he needs to be replaced soon. Meanwhile the Eagles wisely re-signed linebacker Brandon Graham, but he has never been a full time starter and needs someone as reassurance in case he takes a step backwards in his development. The best course of action here is to grab a corner in the fourth round like USC’s Josh Shaw, and grab linebacker depth in the sixth round.
While the Eagles may have fixed a lot of their problems this past week, they still have quite a few more that they need to work out in the draft.
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