The Philadelphia Eagles are still alive in the NFC playoff picture, yes, but their odds of making the postseason certainly aren’t favorable. FiveThirtyEight gives the Eagles an 18% chance while Football Outsiders has them at 12.7%.
With the Eagles likely to miss the playoffs, it’s not too early to take a look ahead to the offseason. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released the 1.0 version of his 2019 NFL mock draft on Wednesday. Here’s who he has the Eagles taking with their first-round pick at No. 16 overall pick.
16 - Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker isn’t the biggest or fastest corner, but he shows the best instincts of the bunch and is a ballhawk. And you might have noticed that the defending Super Bowl champions could use a solid cornerback. Let’s see what he does against those big Texas receivers in the Sugar Bowl.
The 22-year-old Baker is listed at 5-11, 185 pounds. In four years with Georgia, he logged 116 tackles, 23 passes defensed, seven interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
For what it’s worth, BGN’s Benjamin Solak sees Baker as more of a late first-round pick.
Baker picks his spots with great awareness and measured risk. I worry about his deep speed a lot, and I’m not sure how well his physicality will translate against bigger receivers, but his production is hard to argue with at the end of Round 1.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles handle the cornerback position this offseason. Ronald Darby is going to be a free agent but his market could be impacted by the ACL injury he suffered in Week 10. Incumbent starter Jalen Mills, clearly a favorite of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, is still under contract so he’ll be back. Then the Eagles have 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones, who has failed to stay healthy, and 2017 third-round pick Rasul Douglas. It also remains to be seen if the Eagles will move Avonte Maddox back to corner or keep him at safety.
In other words, the Eagles don’t lack options at corner. It’s just a matter of if their guys are actually any good enough.
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. There’s going to be a point in the draft next year where the available talent on defensive line is much better than the draft position. That could start here. Simmons is a potential top-10 player who could slip a little because of class depth. If so, the Eagles could benefit and add someone next to star tackle Fletcher Cox.
Jeffery Simmons, iDL, Mississippi State. Philly needs help on defensive in a few spots. Cornerback and interior defensive line are the two that I see as the most glaring, and with Murphy and Williams off the board, I think they’d rather dip into this stout interior defensive line class rather than reach for a cornerback. Jeffery Simmons is big, strong and fast at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. His talent box says he could go higher than this, but if he doesn’t, putting him next to Fletcher Cox would be a devastating pair for opposing offensive lines.
Simmons racked up 159 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, seven pass deflections, six sacks, five forced fumbles, and one defensive touchdown in three years at Mississippi State. Pretty good.
The Eagles won a Super Bowl by building through the trenches. It’d be nice to see them bolster a defensive line that could really use some help. Fletcher Cox, who is a beast, has been the only viable option at defensive tackle all season long. Adding a player who commands attention next to him would be ideal.
The Eagles can’t just count on Timmy Jernigan, who has only played in one game this season, to return and be that guy next to Cox. Jernigan might not even be on the team next season. He’s set to make $11 million in 2019 but none of that money is guaranteed. It’s possible Jernigan and the Eagles could agree to terms on a lower cap figure.
Defensive line as a whole is a big need for the Eagles this offseason. Three of Philadelphia’s top four defensive ends include 30-year-old Brandon Graham (going to be a free agent), 33-year-old Michael Bennett, and 33-year-old Chris Long (might retire). The Eagles should look to get younger in the trenches through the 2019 NFL Draft.