The Philadelphia Eagles did a nice job of filling some roster holes in NFL free agency this offseason. The team signed a few clear cut starters at positions of need (Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks) while also creating depth and competition elsewhere (Rueben Randle, Chris Givens, Stefen Wisniewski). The Birds obviously aren't done working on their roster just yet. The 2016 NFL Draft will provide the Eagles with another opportunity to improve their team. The Birds own nine draft picks in total, with four of those selections set to take place in the top 100.
Ideally, the NFL Draft isn't just about teams picking for immediate need. It's about a long-term vision. Short-term needs factor into the equation, yes, but filling roster holes isn't the primary objective. Teams are looking to add the best talent available to them with regard to scheme, culture, etc. So with that in mind, here's a look at some of the biggest needs remaining on Philadelphia's roster.
There isn't a short-term need at this position. Sam Bradford is the starter for the 2016 season. Chase Daniel is the backup. But there's certainly a long-term need at this position, and it's clear the Eagles think so too. They've worked out every top quarterback prospect from this year's class. They might even trade up to No. 2 to take one.
Getting a franchise quarterback should be every team's top priority until they find one. The Eagles do not have one of those. They have not been legitimate contenders since they had one (Donovan McNabb). They will not be contenders again until they find one. There's a big case to be made, then, that quarterback is the team's biggest need.
The injury-prone Ryan Mathews turns 29 in October. Darren Sproles, who is entering the last year of his contract, turns 33 in June. The Eagles' top two running backs are players who aren't reliable full-time players. The Birds need to spend at least one pick on a running back this year. A committee of Mathews, Sproles, and a rookie could work. Only relying on Mathews and Sproles would be irresponsible.
The Eagles have one of the older offensive lines in the NFL. Future Hall of Fame tackle Jason Peters turned 34 in January. He struggled to stay healthy last year and it's fair to wonder just how much good football he has left. Left guard could feature a competition between Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, Malcolm Bunche, and Wisniewski. Jason Kelce is a good center when he's healthy which he clearly wasn't last year. Brooks is starting at right guard. Lane Johnson is an emerging talent at right tackle and will eventually take over for Peters on the left side. When Johnson moves over, the Eagles are going to need a tackle to replace him. The Birds could also use more depth at guard.
Philadelphia has a lot of bodies at cornerback: nine in total. It's unclear who will actually be playing where. One would figure second-year talent Eric Rowe will end up as a starter. Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin could fight for the other starting job, but both of those players might not be around in the long-term. The Eagles don't need depth at this position as much as they need a sure-fire starter.
It's not ideal for the Eagles to still have a need at receiver despite spending significant draft resources on pass catchers in recent years (Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff). The Birds seem to be looking to add a deep threat to their receiver corps, which is something they haven't had since losing DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod combine to form one of the best starting safety duos in the league, but what's behind them? Right now, it looks like a whole lot of nothing. Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin are young (both 24) but they are far from proven commodities. Philadelphia seems to be looking for a third safety to add to the mix.
The Eagles are moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme under Jim Schwartz. How will the linebackers adjust? Nigel Bradham seems like a reliable piece since he played well under Schwartz in Buffalo. Jordan Hicks was on pace to be Defensive Rookie of the Year before getting hurt. Mychal Kendricks has some experience in the 4-3 and played well in 2014 before struggling last season. The Eagles don't have an immediate need here but are they set for the long-term?
There's a lot of talent and youth on Philadelphia's defensive line. The Eagles are paying three defensive ends starting money: Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, and Vinny Curry. Defensive tackle features a dominant star in Fletcher Cox and an underrated starter in Bennie Logan. The team could afford to add depth on the line.
So, which position do you want to see the Eagles attack?