The Philadelphia Eagles did a nice job of addressing one of their roster holes in free agency by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. There’s clearly still a lot of work to be done, though. Cornerback is the most obvious need. At this point, that seems like a position the Eagles are waiting to address in the 2017 NFL Draft. The same can be said for one of the biggest needs remaining on offense: the running back position.
According to Matt Miller’s scouting notebook, the Eagles are very serious about upgrading their backfield.
Finding a deep threat for Carson Wentz was a priority, and the team did that in free agency by signing Torrey Smith. The team then added Alshon Jeffery on a one-year deal. Now, look for the Eagles to be very aggressive in looking at a loaded running back class, according to a coaching staff source.
Hard to know what “very aggressive” means for sure. Are the Eagles going to trade up for Leonard Fournette? Not happening. Will the Eagles take a rusher at No. 14? Based on how this front office has valued running backs in the past, I’d say there’s a 99% chance Philadelphia’s first round pick isn’t a rusher. How about a second-round pick, then? Now I think we’re approaching more realistic territory.
Part of the reason why I expect the Eagles to show some kind of patience at running back is because the 2017 NFL Draft features a number of talented rushers. No need to force a pick early when there are a lot of options.
But the Eagles can’t be too patient. They can’t walk away from this draft with a seventh-round running back and think that they’re set. The Eagles desperately need to add a player (or two) who project as true lead backs. Philadelphia doesn’t need any more part-time rushers. They also have enough of those with Darren Sproles (retiring after this season), Wendell Smallwood, and Byron Marshall.
And so it will be important for the Eagles to get serious about adding a legitimate starting-caliber running back to the backfield this offseason. I’ve already written at length how the running game is still very important in today’s NFL. Adam shared the same sentiment earlier this offseason.
The ideal situation is for the Eagles to find a rusher who can handle a lot of carries and take pressure off Wentz. The young quarterback had to throw wayyyyyy too many times last year; he logged the second most passing attempts of any NFL rookie ever. I always like to contrast Wentz’s situation to Dak Prescott’s, who threw the third fewest pass attempts of any quarterback last season. Prescott deserves credit for playing well, sure, but it’s clear his surrounding situation (Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, offensive line, etc.) fostered an environment for success. The same just can’t be said for Wentz. At one point last season the Eagles were relying on a 33-year-old Sproles, who has never been a full-time player in his career, as their main running back.
So here’s hoping what Miller heard is right. It’d be great for the Eagles to have a strong running game once again.