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Mailbag: Predicting what the Eagles will do in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft

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Eagles Q&A!

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Bleeding Green Nation mailbag! I'll be taking your Philadelphia Eagles questions and answering them here in this post. As always, thanks to everyone who sent in a question. We already answered some of your questions during the BGN Facebook Live session I hosted. (Shameless plug: please like on the BGN Facebook page and the BGN Radio Facebook page.) Watch the Q&A below:

Now it's time for some of the questions I didn’t get a chance to answer (contact me: @BrandonGowton). Let's get started.

@NoVA_Wolverine asks: Are the Eagles more likely to double up (first and second rounds) on defense or offense?

Interesting question.

Personally, I think we see the Eagles pick one player on each side of the ball in the first two rounds. But to answer your question, I’d think defense would be more likely.

For me, it’s hard to shake that rumor about the Eagles planning to draft a defensive lineman in the first round. Crossing Broad broke the Alshon Jeffery signing, the Stefen Wisniewski re-signing, and the Chris Long signing so far this offseason. Plus, taking a defensive linemen fits the “build through the trenches” mantra this organization believes in.

I know everyone wants a cornerback or a wide receiver or a running back, but defensive line is a big position of need as well. Check out the ages of the Eagles’ current defensive ends.

Starters:

Chris Long - 32
Brandon Graham - 29
Vinny Curry - Turns 29 in June

Backups:

Steven Means - 27
Marcus Smith - 25
Alex McCalister - 24 in October

It’s far from certain that Means/Smith/McCalister can be counted on as anything more than backups. The Eagles don’t really seem to believe in Curry as a full-time starter after he only played 40% of the team’s snaps last season. Graham and Long, the expected starters in 2017, are moving past their prime.

So yeah, I think the Eagles could easily go defensive line early as well as cornerback.

@JerryP2375 asks: Reading the tea leaves, based on scheme, need, team interest (visits/workouts), etc., what do you think Eagles do with pick No. 14?

Just answered this one above. I’m of the belief it’s going to be a pass rusher.

The problem is, as some point out, there might not be a pass rusher worth taking there. Or whoever the Eagles are targeting might be off the board by then. So things could always change.

In order of likeliness, I’d say defensive line is the most likely first round pick. Then cornerback. Then wide receiver. I’d still say there’s a 99% chance it won’t be a running back in the first round.

@I_Am_Andy113 asks: Should the Eagles address defensive back and the line early and try to get better value by drafting a running back later on (i.e. James Conner)?

As I just said, I don’t think the Eagles will go with a running back in the first round. But I definitely think a Day 2 ball carrier is in play. And it should be.

I’d love to see the Eagles get serious about fixing the running back position. It has the potential to be a big help to Carson Wentz. Imagine being able to run the ball instead of having to throw 60 times a game.

Defensive line isn’t necessarily a position that’s as deep in this class, which might explain why the Eagles are seemingly leaning that way in the first round. Corner is deep so the Eagles could always choose to be patient at that spot. You could say the same about running back, I suppose, but I hope the Eagles don’t get too cute there. You can’t leave this draft with only another part-time rusher.

@RobIsAWriter asks: What does Doug Pederson need to do to show he deserves the job for the future?

The simple answer is: win football games.

A more nuanced answer includes his role in the development of Carson Wentz. In order for the Eagles to become a better team, they’re going to need their quarterback to take a big step forward. If Wentz doesn’t develop as the Eagles hope he does, Pederson won’t be able to stick around very long.

Things like play-calling, game management, leading the locker room, etc. all factor in as well. But Wentz is the make-or-break factor for Pederson.

@HitEm20 asks: The Eagles starting linebackers for the season opener are ... Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham and … ?

It could just be those two. Take a look at how often Eagles linebackers played on defense in 2016.

Nigel Bradham - 97.1%
Jordan Hicks - 95.2%
Mychal Kendricks - 26.8%
Stephen Tulloch - 6.8%
Najee Goode - 0.2%
Kamu Grugier-Hill - 0.1%

Would you really consider Kendricks a starter last year even though he only played a quarter of the snaps? I wouldn’t.

The Eagles went with a lot of two linebacker sets because the coaching staff didn’t want to put Kendricks on the field. With him expected to be gone, it’s possible the Eagles find a replacement they want to play more. Until then, I would expect Bradham and Hicks to take a majority of the snaps.

@drain222000 asks: I know the Eagles worked out Joe Mixon but do you see it has a realistic chance they draft him?

I wrote about this earlier today.

Before last week, I wasn’t so sure. But after hearing Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson not rule it out, I’m feeling more and more like there’s a decent chance it happens.

@shnryn87 asks: Who would you pencil in to be the Eagles’ starting running back for Game 1?

Joe Mixon.

@Some_Leddy asks: If Jason Kelce and/or Mychal Kendricks aren't traded during the draft do you think they will be released?

I talked about this last week.

I think they’ll both be traded, so I don’t think this will be an issue. But even if they’re still around, there’s still plenty of time for them to be traded before the season starts. The Eagles could always hope for a Sam Bradford situation last year where a team suffers an injury at center or linebacker and gets desperate.

I’m certainly not saying you’re getting a first round pick for Kelce or Kendricks, but they should have some kind of trade value.

@Anthonyhill_74 asks: Would you rather have Mychal Kendricks stay, or Nelson Agholor leave?

Cutting Agholor doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective so I can’t say him with that in mind, but if money wasn’t a factor, get Agholor outta here.

@ReyJGingerbread asks: Eagles and Jamaal Charles made a lot of sense before free agency … do you think the Eagles just decided to draft a running back or is there still a chance they sign Charles?

I think the Eagles have been eyeing up running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft all along. I don’t see them adding Charles unless it’s a very low-risk deal, and I don’t see why Charles would rush into signing that. He can take his time and wait until the right opportunity presents itself.

@professor_Ape asks: How about drafting Chad Kelly in the sixth or seventh round?

I’d kind of rather the Eagles just sign an undrafted rookie free agent quarterback or two than spend a pick on one this year. How about Penn’s Alek Torgersen?

@JuanLGalaviz asks: Bone in or boneless wings?

I like both. But if I have to pick one, I’ll go boneless. Less messy, less work. When I’m hungry, I want to eat. Not take time to eat around bones.

@TriumpMcCloud asks: Is love real or is it just deep infatuation that is heavily rationalized and/or misinterpreted?

As an emotionless robot, I cannot comprehend your question.