Evan Silva of Rotoworld released a list of team needs and roster rankings for all 32 NFL teams. He ranked the Eagles 11th overall and as the 6th best NFC team. The other NFC East teams were all ranked lower: Redskins (17), Cowboys (18), and Giants (21).
As for the Eagles biggest roster needs, Silva highlighted four different positions.
Safety (BGN Position Review)
Defense, defense, defense. The Eagles could use talent injections at all three levels, with safety as the most glaring deficiency. Strong safety Nate Allen's rookie deal is up, and free safety Pat Chung is fully expected to be released. Fifth-round pick Earl Wolff failed to distinguish himself in his first NFL season. Philadelphia may very well open next season with two new safety starters.
It will be interesting to see whether the team re-signs Allen in free agency. Allen was solid in 2013 and the Eagles will have interest in bringing him back, but they won't break the bank to do so. Allen will likely test the free agent market. As for Patrick Chung, yes, he is expected to be released. The problem with releasing Chung anytime soon is that it would leave only two Eagles safeties under contract: Earl Wolff and Keelan Johnson. The Eagles may hold onto Chung until they feel comfortable with how the safety picture is shaping up. Wolff had a decent season for a rookie prior to his knee injury, and he will be in the mix to compete for a starting job in 2014. He won't be handed the opportunity.
Nose Tackle (BGN Position Review)
Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are a formidable duo on the ends, but first-year DC Billy Davis was forced to rely too heavily on undersized rookie Bennie Logan at nose tackle in 2013. Logan can shoot gaps, but gets pushed around against the run. The Eagles turned to Logan because $11 million pickup Isaac Sopoaga flopped on the nose. Sopoaga was traded to New England in October.
First, it looks like Silva flaunts the $11 million number here instead of the actual $3.75M guaranteed number to make Sopoaga's deal look like a bigger failure than it really was.
With that out of the way, Logan was not as much as a problem as some have made him out to be. He showed some real promise as a rookie and the defense was a lot better with him in the middle than it was with Isaac Sopoaga. The Eagles defense only allowed opponents to rush for 3.64 yards per carry when running up the middle, which was the 5th best in the NFL. Logan is expected to add weight to his athletic frame this offseason. The team is very high on Logan, having drafted him in third round and saying they had a second round grade on him. The Eagles don't need to add a starter at the nose, but depth is needed. There isn't a reliable option behind Logan.
Wide Receiver (BGN Position Review)
WR: With Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin's contracts expiring, overpaid slot man Jason Avant is left as Philly's current No. 2 receiver behind DeSean Jackson. Maclin has hinted he'd be willing to accept less money to stay with the Eagles, which would smoothly shore up this hole. Cooper also seems unlikely to break the bank. It's not inconceivable that Philadelphia could bring back both.
The wide receiver situation is the most interesting one to watch. Will the Eagles keep Maclin or Cooper? Or both? Both players have said they want to return to the Eagles. Rumors have emerged about the Eagles interest in re-signing Maclin. It's hard not to see at least one of them back, but what complicates matters is that the 2014 NFL Draft class features a lot of talent at wide receiver. As far as Jason Avant goes, the Eagles could save money by cutting him. Upgrading the slot wide receiver position would make the Eagles offense even that much more dangerous.
Cornerback (BGN Position Reviews)
CB: Offseason free agent addition Cary Williams predictably finished toward the latter end of Pro Football Focus' 2013 cornerback ratings, while bookend LCB Bradley Fletcher was better, but not great. Brandon Boykin is entrenched as Philly's long-term slot corner, but the outside positions are far from settled. Adding an early- to mid-round draft pick to compete for snaps would make sense.
It would be surprising to not see Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher back as the Eagles' starting cornerbacks in 2014. They proved to be capable NFL starters in 2013. That said, neither are likely to be viewed as long term solutions. The Eagles need immediate and future depth at corner.
Overall, Silva's assessments were fair. It was curious to see him leave off pass rush as a big need. The Eagles need a more consistent pass rush than they do a nose tackle, for example.
- Eagles Safety Search: Cornerback Corey Graham
- 2014 NFL Draft Profile: San Jose State QB David Fales
- The Linc - Howie Roseman's Free Agency Strategy
- Missouri DE Michael Sam Could Become NFL's First Openly Gay Player
- How to Improve Home Field Advantage at Lincoln Financial Field
- 2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Complete List of Invited Draft Prospects