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NFL: Where the Philadelphia Eagles sit after draft, free agency moves

The city of brotherly love continues to apply rigorous expectations to their beloved NFL franchise. So much so that many years ago the once revered Andy Reid quickly turned into public enemy number one after two mediocre seasons.

Rumblings make it seem like current general manager Howie Roseman is heading down the same path. Then again, that is more than likely noise from passionate fans with clouded judgement. Remember that Roseman played a big role in the Philadelphia Eagles’ first Super Bowl title win, and has become synonymous with high-risk high-reward roster moves.

The 2020 draft is the most recent instalment of ‘Howie what the heck?!?!’. Not to say the moves Roseman made were bad, far from it, just a tad confusing when you are in dire need of players in certain positions. The Eagles second pick this past weekend saw them take former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, when there were glaring needs at linebacker and in the secondary.

Relax, Jalen Hurts is not replacing Carson Wentz

A move that was a shock at the time, but it should not spell any concern for current quarterback Carson Wentz or the ‘Fly Eagles Fly’ faithful. For all the skill and God-given talent Wentz has which makes him one of the most exciting players in the league, he has had to battle through numerous injuries since being drafted back in 2016. Wentz has not finished each of the last three seasons under centre, and has played in just 41 out of a possible 54 career games.

But assuming he can stay healthy for all of the coming season, which should be the expectation, where on earth does Jalen Hurts fit into everything?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma vs UCLA, Sept 14, 2019, Pasadena, CA
Jalen Hurts during his time with Oklahoma. (Photo / Steve Cheng)

Hurts gives the Eagle comfort, knowing full well they have a capable replacement if need be, but can also become a weapon in other areas. The former Sooner has tremendous mobility and strength, as well as renowned leadership and intelligence of the game. Utilising him as a dual-threat in other areas mirrors a style that has benefitted the New Orleans Saints with Taysom Hill and the Baltimore Ravens in Lamar Jackson’s rookie season.

Praise be, wide receiver has been fixed

Funnily enough the Eagles have featured plenty of quality at wide receiver during and since their Super Bowl winning season. But that group was reduced down to just two reliable pieces this summer in Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson – both Pro-Bowl level receivers, but are alone.

DeSean Jackson (All-Pro Reels)
DeSean Jackson will return from an injury-ravaged 2019 season, and help elevate an improved receiving core. (Photo / All-Pro Reels)

That hole was filled after just two days at this year’s draft.

Amongst the six new faces, the best looking one is the Eagles’ first-round selection in TCU wide-out Jalen Reagor. Standing at 5 feet 11 inches, Reagor is incredibly quick and tough, with an ability to make big plays after the catch. As well as that the team added veteran Marquise Goodwin via a trade with the 49ers on day two of the draft, who has proved to be a handy third or fourth option.

Now Carson Wentz has plenty of options at disposal, three in particular that can lift the lid on defences. Never forget Philly also feature two premier tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and tailback Miles Sanders can move out of the backfield.

Linebacker remains a glaring problem

The Eagles have slowly leaked players out of this position over the last three years. In that period Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks have all departed a unit that was to be fair, already lacking.

Depth has been the focus so far with the additions of Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley through the draft, and Jatavis Brown in free agency. But the quality is still missing, which is more concerning when two other teams in their division – the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Reskins – boast impressive defensive fronts.

Philly will still benefit off one of the game’s best defensive lines, which includes perennial All-Pro Fletcher Cox, Pro-Bowler Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, along with newly acquired Javon Hargrave. Perhaps that will make up for a sub-par set of linebackers.

There is the chance they grab a Darron Lee or even bring back Bradham who are in the free agent market. But that seems a stretch right now.

The secondary received some touches, but more are needed

Cornerback has received the most high-profile addition, an area in dire need of strengthening for many years now. The trade with the Detroit Lions for All-Pro Darius Slay, who the Eagles subsequently signed to a three year deal, now gives them an elite presence to cover opposing receivers. Starter Nickell Robey-Coleman also joins from the Los Angeles Rams, completing a crew that has the familiar Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox.

However safety remains thin. Jalen Mills will move over from corner to cover the loss of veteran Malcolm Jenkins, and partner free safety Rodney McLeod. Will Parks comes in from the Denver Broncos and could even take Mills’ role should the newly-transformed strong safety struggle. In the draft K’Von Wallace was taken in the fourth round – a capable backup who plays with exceptional tenacity – and will slot in behind McLeod on the depth chart.

Another running back would help

Miles Sanders will get first pickings in the Eagles backfield after a stellar rookie season in 2019, rushing for 818 yards in 179 attempts and chalking up 509 receiving yards. But it is wise to bring in another option next to him and fellow youngster Boston Scott.

The Birds happily let go of Jordan Howard in the offseason, a player who’s power run style did not fit their offensive scheme that thrives with mobile running backs that can double as receivers when needed. It would be wise to bring back Corey Clement who remains on the market, and was a big producer for the Eagles in their Super Bowl season and the two following.

Lamar Miller and Ty Montgomery are out there as well, waiting for a new home.

Lachlan Waugh View All

Sports writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have a strong passion for a range of codes, including the NBA, NFL, Soccer, Rugby and more.

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