With all of the offseason moves made by the Philadelphia Eagles, it is clear that Carson Wentz was the biggest winner.
This time last year, everyone was wondering whether or not Carson Wentz would be worth the king’s ransom that the Philadelphia Eagles gave up to get him. Looking back, most Eagles fans would probably agree that being able to secure a franchise quarterback for the next 10-12 years far outweighs the cost to get him.
Wentz lived up to the hype, but for a rookie, a lot was put on his shoulders. This offseason, the main focus was to add those missing pieces that would alleviate some of the pressure on Wentz.
2017 Free Agency
The Eagles entered the 2017 offseason as one of the teams with the least amount of cap space. However, this didn’t stop them from going out and securing some big names to surround their young signal caller.
The biggest move of the offseason was signing stud wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal. Jeffrey was the top wide receiver on the free agent market and securing him gave Wentz a legitimate red zone threat that the Eagles had been lacking. The team was not yet done signing offensive weapons, as they locked up Torrey Smith to be the deep threat that would keep defenses honest. They then shored up depth along the offensive line by re-signing Stefen Wisniewski and adding players like Chance Warmack and Dallas Thomas.
Aside from the offense, the team also added defensive pieces that improved a unit that ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL. The Eagles signed former first-round pick Patrick Robinson to bolster the secondary and traded for Timmy Jernigan to help solidify the defensive line.
Improving the defense allows the Eagles to avoid forcing Wentz to win the shootouts that the they found themselves in last season. A reliable defense helps bail young quarterbacks out of mistakes they inevitably will make. However, the team did let two of their starting cornerbacks walk in free agency. This meant that they would need to turn to the NFL Draft for help.
2017 NFL Draft
With their first three picks of the draft, the Eagles selected three defensive players.
First was defensive end Derek Barnett out of Tennessee. Barnett will be able to contribute immediately to a pass rush that faded as the season went on. You can read more about what you could expect from Barnett here.
With their next two picks, the Eagles addressed the secondary by selecting cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. Douglas is a long corner that should be able to come in and compete immediately for playing time. Jones is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered during his pro day, but was believed to be a top 15 pick when healthy. If he makes a full recovery, he could be that shutdown corner the team has been sorely lacking.
The Eagles went back to the defensive well by selecting linebacker Nathan Gerry and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls in the sixth round. Gerry will be transitioning from safety to linebacker, but provides athletic depth to a position that needs it. He also brings a swagger that fans are going to love. Qualls was a great value pick in the sixth round to provide depth to the defensive line. With Beau Allen tearing his pectoral, Qualls should be able to contribute early.
Wentz may not be directly affected by these picks, but they improved a serious area of concern. A solid defense will let Wentz just go out and play ball. If the defense can recover from offensive missteps, then the need to be perfect will be much less.
The Eagles’ first pick in the fourth-round was used on wide receiver Mack Hollins out of UNC. Hollins is a big, fast, wide receiver that gives Wentz another weapon to work with. He only had 81 catches at UNC, but 20 of them went for touchdowns. Get this kid the ball and he knows exactly what to do with it.
The second pick of the fourth round was used on offensive weapon Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey broke almost every record known to man at San Diego State and he hopes to carry that production to the NFL. With Darren Sproles set to retire soon, the Eagles can insert Pumphrey into that role and not miss a beat.
The fifth round brought wide receiver Shelton Gibson of West Virginia to Philadelphia. Gibson can flat out fly. The 4.39 forty time that he ran at his pro day is evidence of that. Some scouts have even compared him to DeSean Jackson. Gibson provides another deep threat that can take the top off the defense. His speed will help to open up the shorter and middle-of-the-field routes as well, which can make for easier reads on Wentz.
I imagine that Carson Wentz has gone through this entire offseason with a huge smile on his face. The Eagles did a great job of improving their defense, while giving their franchise quarterback young weapons to develop with him. If the Eagles decide to move on from Jeffrey and Smith this offseason, they will already have players on the roster that will have a rapport with Wentz.
Only time will tell if this offseason can really be considered successful, but as it stands right now things are looking good.