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It’s that time of year again when fans and analysts dig into prospects and predict the upcoming NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles have their fair share of roster holes and will look to the draft to improve the team. In the 2014 draft, the Eagles decided to trade down due to the way the draft played out, the team can be looking at a similar scenario this year as well.
Last season, the Eagles desperately needed wide receiver, outside linebacker, and secondary help. The team sat at the number 22 spot and prayed that some of the top prospects at those positions would still be on the board when the team was on the clock. Philadelphia couldn’t afford to trade up because they had only 6 total draft picks. As it turned out, the Eagles targeted prospects were all gone and the team traded down to the 26 pick and received a third round pick in the process. That was pretty much the only option the team had.
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This upcoming draft is almost identical to last years. The Philadelphia Eagles are at number 20 and only have 8 total draft picks. Their needs this year include wide receiver, outside linebacker, secondary help, and right guard for good measure. Do all those needs sound familiar? Of course drafts are very unpredictable and strange things have happened in the past, but the way the first round is starting to look, the Philadelphia Eagles are a prime candidate to trade down barring some unforeseen drop of a quality player.
The teams biggest need is safety, it has been for a long time now. The Eagles have drafted players late in drafts before but with mediocre results. This year, the only quality safety in the first round is Alabama’s Landon Collins. In my opinion Collins isn’t worthy of a first round pick, he’s a liability in coverage and takes poor angles, but safeties tend to get over drafted and Collins will be long gone before the team can even sniff him. Chalk safety off the board in the first round.
Then there’s the wide receiver position. With the departure of pro bowl wide outs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson in two consecutive years the team has depth issues. There’s only 3 “elite” receivers in this class, West Virginia’s Kevin White, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and DeVante Parker out of Louisville. Those three are top 10 pick caliber prospects. The one player to watch is Jaelen Strong out of Arizona State. I love Strong’s game. He fits the mold of what head coach Chip Kelly wants in his receivers, big, fast, and can make contested catches. The only problem is i’m not entirely comfortable taking him at number 20. Personally I think that’s a little too high for Strong. The Eagles reportedly seem to have of interest in Strong.
Another glaring need is corner. The Philadelphia Eagles prefer tall, lanky corners to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and still have the ball skills to contest throws in the air. The perfect corner in this draft for the Eagles scheme is Trae Waynes out of Michigan State. Many draft experts have Waynes gone just before he reaches the Birds. Waynes would be ideal, but after that you have a lot of corner prospects with big concerns. LSU’s Jalen Collins fits Chip Kelly’s mold but is raw as can be, Washington’s Marcus Peters is ultra talented but has character issues. There’s really no solid option at number 20 after Waynes, another reason to contemplate trading down.
The Philadelphia Eagles desperately need to get younger along the offensive line. Chip Kelly has started this process by releasing guard Todd Herremans, thus creating a void at right guard. With the team’s zone blocking scheme, the Eagles are looking for athletic linemen who can get out in space and create running lanes. Jake Fisher would be a nice fit, Fisher played for Kelly at Oregon and already knows the basics of the system. Fisher has a nice blend of size, athleticism, and technique to make him an instant starter at right guard. However, Fisher, like Jaelen Strong, would be a reach at 20. Many draft gurus have him going late first or early second.
The 2015 NFL draft is similar in many ways to the 2014 draft for the Philadelphia Eagles. The most ideal prospects are either out of reach, or will be over drafted due to need. The one difference however is that the Birds and Chip Kelly seem to at least have backup options if a trade down were to occur. The needs they have aren’t as extensive compared to last season. A trade down would be a really nice option because of the added pick, and the Eagles would still likely land a prospect they really like and can be starter from day 1.
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