The massive first-round mistake the Eagles must avoid in the 2024 NFL Draft

It may finally be time to end the drought and take a linebacker or cornerback in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Philadelphia Eagles draft news
Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Philadelphia Eagles draft news / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Eagles have been playing football since 1933. They have won three NFL Championships (1948, 1949, and 1960). They have qualified for four Super Bowls and have won one of those. The NFL Draft approaches. They'll be looking to catapult themselves back into pro football's elite tier. Adding elite young players will be key in doing so.

Through the years, we've watched Philly navigate several selection meetings. Let's just say they have a distinct business strategy, one that doesn't seem to include investing consistent first-round draft capital into linebackers and corners. That's something that must change moving forward, and it's part of a theory we hope they are tossing around.

The Eagles can ill-afford continuing to ignore the top draftees at the linebacker and defensive back positions in Round 1.

We've all said this 200 times. It bears repeating for the sake of argument. If the Eagles didn't take anything else from Andy Reid's tenure, it was this. In roster construction, everything begins in the trenches.

There were exceptions, but Big Red, more often than not, selected a defensive or offensive lineman in Round 1. It's a wise strategy, but there are times when exceptions should be made.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen those exceptions made very often. The Eagles haven't drafted a corner in the first round of any selection meeting since 2002 when Lito Sheppard was the selection. They have only taken three DBs in Round 1 in total since the NFL Draft began. They add linebackers in Round 1 even less often.

And, no we aren't counting Nolan Smith here. He's an edge rusher. We're discussing traditional linebackers here.

Throw Smith's name out of the discussion, and Philadelphia hasn't taken a linebacker in Round 1 since 1979 (Jerry Robinson). We've long discussed their perceived negligence in addressing their needs at the defense's second level and the secondary. There's no need to revisit any of that here, but their strategy must be altered. The defensive depth chart is too often watered down as a result.

Again, there are exceptions. Philadelphia probably would have taken Sauce Gardner on night one of the 2022 NFL Draft had he been available when they were on the clock. We know how that turned out, but that's evidence that the Birds aren't completely opposed to taking a DB in Round 1. Only Heaven knows when they'll add a linebacker in Round 1 again.

The coming selection meeting is loaded with talented first-round cornerback options (Nate Wiggins, Quinyon Mitchell, and Terrion Arnold). There are talented safeties (Kamren Kinchens). The first-round linebackers are phenomenal (Edgerrin Cooper, Chop Robinson, and Dallas Turner).

Here's something worth noting. There has been a large contingent that has suggested Jeremiah Trotter Jr.'s addition to the Eagles nest feels like destiny. He's received second and third-round grades as of late, so he's out of our first-round discussions for the time being.

Well see if he rises, but in the meantime, let's focus on something more important. It's time to drive a wedge in the revolving doors at cornerback, safety, and linebacker. Adding quality young talent through the draft will help Philly accomplish that.

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