The Philadelphia Eagles’ biggest weakness remains in the secondary and that needs to change if they wish to contend in 2017.
Anyone who watched a Philadelphia Eagles game in 2016 should be able to tell you that their pass defense was atrocious.
More specifically, the cornerback play was just flat out bad.
Leodis McKelvin may have had 16 passes defensed, but he gave up almost twice as many over his head. Nolan Carroll was average at best and Ron Brooks (another Buffalo Bills retread) was lost seven weeks into the season. That left seventh-round rookie Jalen Mills as the “top” corner. Admittedly, Mills played very well given his draft position. But no other team in the NFL would consider him a No. 1 corner.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the only corners that have legitimate NFL experience are Mills and Brooks (who is recovering from injury). McKelvin was cut and has yet to be signed and Carroll signed with the rival Dallas Cowboys. Given the current state of affairs, common sense tells you that the Eagles need to go corner early and often in the draft. Luckily, this year’s draft is one of the deepest for the position in recent memory.
Plenty of options…
According to NFL.com’s Cornerback Draft Grades , there are 25 corners who have been graded as being a “Backup or Eventual Starter” all the way to “Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential.” Folks, that is a lot of starting potential for one position group.
Obviously, we have no idea what the Eagles are going to do until April 27.. It isn’t crazy to think, though, that the team can walk away with two immediate starters at a premium position.
Who to target and when?
Ideally, the Eagles take a corner with their first-round pick. Two prospects who could be in play at 14 are Marshon Lattimore and Marlon Humphrey. Then, they take another corner with one of their two fourth rounders or fifth rounder. That first pick gives Philadelphia a premier cover man who will be able to slide in immediately to one of the outside positions. The fourth/fifth round selection will still give them a good player that should be able to take over a starting role. Doing this will allow the team to address other positions of need with those premium second and third-round picks. Two players that could be great fits for the Eagles in the middle rounds are Howard Wilson out of Houston and Rasul Douglas out of West Virginia. You can check out their draft profiles here (Wilson) and here (Douglas).
The Eagles can set themselves up for major future success with a solid 2017 draft. This time last year, they were able to secure their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. This offseason, they added significant offensive upgrades in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The abundance of talent in the 2017 draft should allow the Eagles to significantly upgrade the glaring holes on their defense. Of course, it will ultimately be up to the Eagles to capitalize on this opportunity as they chase the ever-elusive Lombardi Trophy.