The Philadelphia Eagles overcame a lot of injuries to make the playoffs this past year, avoiding the Superbowl hangover. With Carson Wentz yet again succumbing to injury, the Eagles were again reliant on Nick Foles, along with a beat up secondary on defensive, and running game, the odds seemed stacked against the defending champs; but they prevailed into the playoffs, even beating the Chicago Bears, before falling to the Saints in the divisional round.
There are, of course, some areas of concern coming into the 2019-2020 season, and the Eagles should look to address the issues in free agency, but also in the NFL Draft.
The Eagles have one first round pick, and two second round picks, and should look to use them wisely on their three areas of need: defensive line, offensive line, and linebacker.
Round 1 Pick 25
The Eagles have a relatively fair chance at securing a solid defensive tackle in this years draft, as this 2019 NFL Draft class is arguably the best talent for defensive tackles in league history. At pick 25, the Eagles have a few targets in mind….
Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
is a huge and menacing player, standing at 6’4 340 pounds. He has large arms, allowing him to garner great separation from his opposing lineman, and has a high motor, allowing him to push the opposition backwards. He is a true nose tackle, and while the Eagles play in a 4-3, pairing him with Fletcher Cox creates an absolute nightmare for opposing teams.
Career college stats: 131 total tackles, 18.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 1 interception
Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
The biggest strength of Tillery is by-far his second effort and hustle. He’s got plenty of strength and drive, but his consistency and hand/footwork needs to improve in order to become an elite talent. He fits in better than Lawrence in a 4-3, but still stands tall at 6’5 306 pounds.
Career college stats: 133 total tackles, 23 TFL, 12.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
There isn’t much of a talent pool for linebacker towards the end of the first round, so if the Eagles miss on some defensive line talent, they could look towards a few offensive linemen prospects
Cody Ford, Oklahoma
The Eagles are mostly hurting at the interior guard spots, but with Jason Peters nearing the end of his career, the Eagles could look at a successor to the tackle position, as Lane Johnson probably moves over, leaving a void at right tackle. Ford’s footwork against elite pass rushing talent is worrisome, but he excels at drive blocking in the running game, with great arm extension and pure, brute strength.
Greg Little, Ole Miss
Like Ford, Little struggles in pass protection against speed rushers, and doesn’t have a great first step. However, he has great size, strength, and athleticism, and could transition into a guard position with his elite run blocking ability.
Round 2 Pick 53
The Eagles should look to address the linebacker position in the second round, as the talent pool for offensive line is likely gone, and running back is too shallow
Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame
The second round could seem like a reach for the Notre Dame prospect, however, Coney is a high-IQ player, excels in pass coverage, and doesn’t miss tackles. Coney has an outstanding frame, standing at 6’0 240, but doesn’t use his frame to his ability, often getting overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage. He works better as a sideline to sideline player, covering a lot of field, which could lead him to play outside linebacker at the next level.
Career college stats: 313 total tackles, 23 TFL, 7 sacks, 4 PD
Mack Wilson, Alabama
Wilson is a similar prospect to Coney, as both struggle at the line of scrimmage. Unline Coney, he doesn’t work well in coverage, but he has enough hit power to not miss too many tackles. He takes great angles when pursuing ball carriers, but doesn’t have that top end speed. He likely will need to stay inside to make it in the NFL, and work on his aggressiveness, and likely could have benefited from another year of college ball.
Career college stats: 113 total tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 7 PD
Round 2 Pick 57
With just four picks in between their second round selections, the Eagles have an opportunity to either trade back, so reach on a mid-tier talent. Running back seems like a general concern, with Jay Ajayi likely not getting resigned, leaving the Eagles with a committee of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, and Josh Adams. Clement was a Superbowl hero last year, and has shown to be an excellent pass catcher and pass blocker, but doesn’t look like an every down back. Sproles is, well, a 35 year old scat back who’s only real contribution is his pass catching and return skills. Wendell Smallwood has shown signs of being a tough runner, but doesn’t have much burst past the line of scrimmage, and struggles in pass protection. Josh Adams, the UDFA from Notre Dame last year was by far the most consistent last year, showing his tough, physical run style, and burst past the line of scrimmage. He was decent in pass protection, but doesn’t offer much pass catching ability out of the backfield.
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Montgomery probably isn’t going to become a franchise running back, but until that guy emerges, Montgomery will serve as a stop-gap cheap replacement for Jay Ajayi. He has great balance, and always seems to fall forward, making him a key runner in those short yardage/goal line situations. He does have a lot of limitations, mostly his “one lane” style of running. He lacks vision, and while his footwork is good enough to make all the NFL cuts, he doesn’t see the lanes until it’s too late. He is a pure power rusher, and likely won’t be used in shot gun sets.