The Philadelphia Eagles' defense most certainly had its flaws, didn't they? The 10-1 record entering December did little to mask them. The weaknesses were obvious, and they were exposed in the freefall that punctuated the final month of the regular season (and the Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Hiring the correct defensive coordinator is imperative for Philly following the in-season demotion and the recent firing of Sean Desai. Senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia appears set to explore other coaching opportunities.
Following last year's deep playoff run to the Super Bowl, many of the sought-after defensive coordinators were already hired by the time the Eagles were looking to replace Jonathan Gannon. Things will be different this time around. Philadelphia will have an opportunity to choose from better candidates There's more to the story though. This team needs talent.
After watching the Philadelphia Eagles struggle on defense in 2023, Kool-Aid McKinstry projects to be the type of player that can fuel a turnaround. He'd be a logical choice (if he's available at the 22nd-overall selection). Let's discuss the reasons.
Here are two reasons Kool-Aid McKinstry would be a slam-dunk Eagles selection if available.
While having a good defensive coordinator is vital for the Eagles' defense to improve, adding and developing good players is also just as significant. There also needs to be a pipeline. That brings us to an obvious reason McKinstry's selection would make sense.
Cornerbacks James Bradberry and Darius Slay aren't going to be on the Eagles roster much longer.
Following the 2024 season, the Eagles can get out of both of their contracts. Both carry enormous dead cap hits that prevent Philly from moving on this offseason, but this organization still needs long-term answers and a succession plan from both.
Philadelphia hasn't drafted a cornerback in Round 1 since 2002 (Lito Sheppard). They need to consider investing early capital. The league continues to be pass-heavy. Enter the "Kool-Aid man," Ga'Quincy "Kool-Aid" McKinstry.
McKinstry is the kind of defensive player that can make a huge impact on a club, and he can do so beginning in his rookie season. He may not be a top-five pick like cornerback Sauce Gardner was during the 2022 NFL Draft, but the Alabama Crimson Tide star has the potential to be a game-changer at the cornerback position.
This 21-year-old has excellent coverage skills and is a solid press corner and run defender. According to NFLDraftBuzz.com, he has comparable skills to NFL corners Patrick Surtain (Denver Broncos), Emmanuel Forbes (Washington Commanders), and Martin Emerson, Jr (Cleveland Browns).
The Birmingham, Alabama native is projected to be drafted anywhere between picks 10-25 in mock drafts. One recent mock draft by Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com has the Eagles selecting McKinstry with their 22nd overall selection in the first round. The website has him as the top cornerback in this year's draft. It is safe to say he is a consensus top-three player among others at his position who will be available in the coming selection meeting.
The coming draft is deep with defensive backs who are projected to be picked in the first round this year. The Eagles have several options to select from in the first round if they want to improve their secondary this year.
They struggled against the pass in 2023. McKinstry could pay dividends. He is one of the cornerbacks in this year's draft with the potential to be a standout on an NFL defense for many seasons.