The Philadelphia Eagles addressed some roster holes in NFL free agency earlier this month but the team isn't done adding talent just yet. The 2016 NFL Draft will provide the Eagles another chance to add young, home-grown talent to their roster. While most teams will often tout the line about taking the "best player available," there comes a time when "need" is taken into consideration. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who is attending the NFL owners meetings this week, was asked about the weaknesses remaining on Philadelphia's roster.
"Right now we’re still looking at the secondary position and some of the offensive line spots that we have," Pederson said in an interview with NFL Network. "There are some holes there that we need to fix.
"But we’ve got guys on the roster who can fill those spots. You’re always looking to better your roster. You’re always looking to bring in guys that can help you in any of those situations. Those are two areas right now where we probably … if you have to put a pin-point on it, you look at those two areas and you focus on them coming up in the draft."
Asked a similar question later in the interview, Pederson expanded on three different positions the team is focusing on in the draft.
"Again, [we're looking to] secure that offensive line position. You can't have a great quarterback without a great offensive line. You can't have a good running game without a good offensive line. So it all starts there. Obviously this is a good draft going forward with offensive line help. And then again in that secondary. If the passing yards are up in the National Football League, you want guys that can cover.
"The other thing, too, is that you look for guys that can rush the passer. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, guys that can come off the edge and through the middle. You want pass rushers. So, a couple of areas right there that you look for in this draft."
Here are some more thoughts on each position mentioned by Pederson.
Pederson mentioned secondary first (no pun intended) so we'll start there. It's interesting Pederson brings this up because in theory the Eagles are "set" with starters in the secondary. Safety is the least concerning position. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are sure-fire starters. The Eagles could afford to improve the depth behind them.
When it comes to cornerback, however, things are a bit murky. It's largely assumed second-year defensive back Eric Rowe will start at one cornerback spot after playing well late last season. But who will start opposite from him? Is it Nolan Carroll? He's eager to hold onto his starting job after earning it last season. Is Leodis McKelvin in the mix? Who is the nickel cornerback? The Eagles currently have nine cornerbacks on the roster, and that's not counting Jenkins who can play in the slot. The problem is that none of the players other than Rowe really project as No. 1 potential cornerbacks.
Perhaps the Eagles could be interested in using the No. 8 overall pick on Florida's Vernon Hargreaves. If not, here are some other names at cornerback to watch.
This is an obvious position of need and Pederson stressed the importance of good blocking. The Eagles signed Brandon Brooks to play right guard but they currently still have an open starting spot at left guard. Philadelphia also has to consider taking a tackle because the 34-year-old Jason Peters is nearing the end of his Hall of Fame worthy career. The Eagles could also afford to invest in the center position later in the draft because Jason Kelce struggled in 2015. Not to mention that there isn't an actual backup center on Philadelphia's roster right now after David Molk retired.
The Eagles have a lot of money tied up into defensive ends Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and Connor Barwin. They're all expected to play in a three man rotation. When it comes to the interior defensive line, Fletcher Cox is a star and Bennie Logan is a bright spot. As Howie Roseman noted, however, this year's draft class is stocked with talented defensive lineman. And as the Denver Broncos illustrated with their Super Bowl 50 win, your team can never have too many good pass rushers. Philadelphia could look to add more talent here despite not having an immediate need at the position. Adding rotational players to play behind starters Cox and Logan could make sense.
One position notably absent from Pederson's list is running back. The Eagles have a big need there as well. Earlier on Monday, Roseman made a comment that suggests the Eagles won't rule out drafting a running back (Ezekiel Elliott) as high as the No. 8 overall pick.
Pederson is expected to meet with the media during the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday. He'll likely be asked about Elliott and running backs among other topics.