In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles have addressed the two most important needs on their defense.
With the No. 14 overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Derek Barnett out of Tennessee. Then in the second round the Birds selected the ever-talented Sidney Jones out of Washington. Jones and Barnett were both highly-touted in their pre-draft analysis. The knock on Jones is that he is currently recovering from a ruptured Achilles that he endured during his pro day.
Rasul Douglas is the prototypical Jim Schwartz cornerback, which alleviates some of the concerns around Jones. No, Jones won’t be playing come the start of the regular season. His current return date is slated in October, but the Eagles have made it clear that they’ll trust the process and allow the young corner to fully heal before any snaps are considered.
Veterans like Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith have to be feeling the pressure with the Eagles having selected Barnett. The rookie will be expected to compete for a starting position opposite Brandon Graham.
The Eagles continued to prioritize players that could contribute both on offense, defense and special teams. Players like Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson are expected to put the heat on Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham for a roster spot. Hollins was voted a team captain on special teams and was a consistent contributor there, as well as at receiver. The addition of Donnel Pumphrey could prove fruitful for the birds. Pumphrey ran for over 2,000 yards last season, while accumulating 67 touchdowns over four years.
Lastly, the Eagles selected Nate Gerry and Elijah Qualls. Qualls’ coaches speak highly of him and at 6’1″ 313, he’ll be a force for interior offensive linemen to deal with. His coaches were concerned about his weight and said that he needs to be around 310 to excel. With Qualls slimming down, if his work ethic is strong, he could explode.
Furthermore, the addition of Gerry addresses a critical need at outside linebacker. Aside from Nigel Bradham, the Eagles have struggled to find a reliable outside backer to pair with Jordan Hicks. Gerry was a safety in college and has been praised for his ability to play close to the line and read both run and pass plays. Gerry’s ability to contribute in pass defense could provide the opportunity for substantial playing time.
Fans should be happy the team didn’t panic and oversell in order to trade up for Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon. Yes, either back could’ve cultivated a promising career alongside Wentz, but Howie Roseman is demonstrating that the philosophy put in place a year ago, has not been abandoned.