With their first-round pick, the Eagles pull the trigger, and Howie Roseman makes an uncharacteristic move.
Round One: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson
Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles are a team that is perennially at the bottom of the NFL in terms of how much they invest in the interior linebackers. This would be the first off-ball linebacker the Eagles pick in the first round since Jerry Robinson was selected 21st overall out of UCLA in the 1979 NFL Draft. While it seems unlikely, the Eagles' lack of investing in their middle linebackers has put them in a position where it is a glaring need compared to the other position groups on the roster.
Wide receiver and the secondary are often mentioned as positions the Eagles could select in the first round. However, receiver A.J. Brown is under contract through 2026, and DeVonta Smith is under contract through the 2025 season if you include his fifth-year option. Keep in mind the fact that Smith was a first-round selection in 2021.
At cornerback, Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox have contracts that will keep the trio in Philly through at least the 2024 season. At safety, it is appearing with every passing week that 2022 UDFA Reed Blankenship and 2023 second-rounder Sydney Brown are emerging as the future of the safety position for the Eagles.
Enter Clemson's Jeremiah Trotter Jr. While fellow Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter also has first-round upside, Trotter Jr has displayed more versatility, has a slightly more impressive stat sheet, was more heavily recruited entering Clemson, and has ties to the Eagles through his father, Jeremiah Trotter Sr.
While it may be far from the most original take on what the Eagles should do in the first round, it is also far from the most illogical. Trotter Jr. has appeared in 32 games for the Tigers and started 19 of them. He has amassed 134 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, nine sacks, nine passes defended, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions while displaying the ability to line up at multiple linebacker positions.
Following Clemson facing off against Syracuse in Trotter Jr.'s third year with Clemson, Trotter Jr. has allowed a passer rating of 75.1 when targeted, has only allowed one passing touchdown, and has only been penalized once. Pro Football Focus also has given Trotter Jr. an average season run defense grade of 82.7. While selecting a linebacker seems incredibly unlikely for the Eagles, it also seems like their best chance to add a player who can have an instant impact.