The 2017 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, so we’re in that wait and see mode that makes the NFL offseason seem even longer than it is. There are no free agents out there to be signed to dramatically change the team (side note: how the hell is Johnathan Hankins still unsigned?), though a trade is always a possibility. It should be a quiet couple of weeks, which is like sitting in a room doing absolutely nothing: boring as hell. That gives us a lot of time to think though.
1 - I Think The Eagles Are A Little Too Reliant On Familiarity
In year two, like I’ve told several coaches down here already who’ve asked me about year one, is we’re going to look at our players this spring. We’re not going to look at Kansas City, or San Diego where Frank Reich was at. We’re looking at the Philadelphia Eagles and evaluating our personnel that way, and evaluating our schemes to make sure they’re right. So going into year two is obviously a big year for us, and myself, and that’s why we’re down here scouting these players.
Pederson seemed to indicate that the Eagles wouldn’t be looking to sign anyone he or his staff had already coached, that moves like signing four players that had previously played for Jim Schwartz would not be the norm.
Then the offseason happened, and the Eagles signed six players, four that previously worked with someone on the coaching staff or front office and a fifth they had previously pursued.
On one hand, familiarity is a good thing, the more information, the better. One reason players go bust when they change teams is that they aren’t what they thought the team was paying for. Nnamdi Asomugha eating lunch alone in his car is the most extreme example, but Patrick Chung playing terribly for the Eagles but excelling for the Patriots is a better example of how even with small signings you don’t always know what you’re getting. The More You Know™, the better prepared you are.
Bringing in players that a new coaching staff had previously coached isn’t anything out of the ordinary, especially in the NFL. But staying within your comfort zone for too long leads to poor decisions. This is the second straight season where the team signed a handful of players with ties to the staff, after further muscle memory moves of reinstating Howie Roseman as GM bringing back Doug Pederson as head coach and, in a familiar coincidence to Donovan McNabb, drafting Carson Wentz 2nd overall.
The Eagles plan of short term signings was a good one, but if and when it pans out they need to see the forest from the trees as to why they worked. At some point they’ll run out former players to bring in.
2 - I Think We Might Have To Wait For a Cornerback
One of the fun things about drafting at 14 is that the Eagles are going to get a really good prospect and yet we have no idea who it will be. Last year we knew the Eagles were taking Wentz, and that was cool, but the previous two years there was a lot of nervous waiting in the 20s for players to stay on the board, which didn’t happen. The irony is that the nail biting is the envious position as it means you’re (probably) a playoff team. But on draft day, it’s no fun. This year, we won’t have to wait until too long to see who the Eagles pick, in terms of players taken. By the clock, it’ll be a while, the pick will take place around 9:45pm. But we might have to wait longer than we think for the team to grab a much needed cornerback. I’d put it at a 40% chance they don’t draft one in the 1st or 2nd round. I’d probably put it greater if they hadn’t traded for Timmy “Tim” Jernigan and plugged a starting spot with a 24 year old (even though he’s on the last year of his deal). Without that, DT was a decent possibility in those rounds, now, not so much. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they draft a DE or LB in the 1st and then a RB in the 2nd. Which means that barring a trade we’d have to wait an interminable 56 picks until the Eagles are on the clock at 99. More on that later.
3 - I Think The Jernigan Trade Was A+
Speaking of Jernigan, that was a hell of a trade. Moving from 74 to 99 is out of the ordinary, the closest trade to that in recent years was a 2016 trade of the 77th and 141st pick for the 93rd, 129th and 168th, which makes Jernigan the about the equivalent of a late 5th. Which is what the Eagles gave up for Darren Sproles. But they did so without really giving up a pick, they still have the 8 draft picks they started with. Teams love those pick swaps. The rebuilding-but-not-really-rebuilding Eagles added a good young player and still have plenty of picks. That’s how you do it.
4 - I Think The McGloin Signing Saves Themselves From Wasting A Pick
And speaking of eight draft picks, I was going to write about how the Eagles were going to throw one away by using a day three pick on a QB, as they’ve said they want to draft one every year. But then they signed Matt McGloin, giving them a real 3rd QB. They’ll wind up signing a UDFA as a camp arm, and that’s fine, but the McGloin signing should—should—prevent them from feeling the need to grab a QB in like the 6th round who will amount to absolutely nothing and is highly likely to be even worse than McGloin. When the team is better stocked with talent, then they can churn through mid to late QBs and hope to spin them into gold. For 2017, they need to use their picks on players who have a chance to actually contribute.
5 - I Still Think They’ll Trade Up At Some Point
And circling back… I think that 56 pick wait between the 2nd and 3rd round is going to be painful. Howie Roseman is going to make a move at some point. Maybe it’s then, to get in before a run of CBs is over. Maybe it’s to move up in the 1st or the 2nd, which might actually be more likely happen now, as the Eagles pick 99th, 118th and 139th in the 3rd and 4th rounds. With three picks in a 40 pick span, they’ve got some room to maneuver. I also wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Eagles traded for the first pick of day three, possibly by trading back. Howie Roseman loves that pick. In 2013 (up) and 2014 (back) he traded for it, and in 2016 he acquired the second pick in day three in exchange for DeMarco Murray, which he then traded in part for Carson Wentz. Cleveland has the first pick in the 4th round this year, they could be willing to part with it. Howie Roseman has already made a draft pick trade and there’s no way he sits still during the actual draft. Hold on to your butts.