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Former Eagles scout weighs in on Philadelphia’s potential draft plans

Some insight on what the Eagles could do.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah and former NFL player Bucky Brooks, both now working for NFL Network, held a conference call on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. They answered a ton of draft questions, including a few about the Philadelphia Eagles.

The thing that separates Jeremiah from just any draft analyst is that he used to work with Philadelphia’s front office decision-makers. Jeremiah was a scout for the Eagles while Howie Roseman was general manager. Roseman even wanted to hire Jeremiah for the role currently occupied by Joe Douglas. Speaking of the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, Jeremiah overlapped with Douglas when they were both scouts for the Baltimore Ravens.

Last offseason, Jeremiah’s insight tipped us off on the Eagles’ plans of moving on from Jordan Matthews and featuring Nelson Agholor in the slot instead. Maybe Jeremiah has some hints for us about what the Eagles plan to do in this year’s draft.

Q. The Eagles have done a good job over the past two years in terms of not having to draft for need and not having to draft for immediate need. They’re drafting for the future now every time they go out there. So I guess my question to you guys, I mean, D.J., obviously you know the Eagles pretty well. What areas do you think they might be likely to address -- obviously having a first-round pick and they don’t have one in two or three, although I think at some point they may get them, but what areas do you think, using that philosophy, they could address in this year’s Draft based on need, contracts, the importance of the position? And is there any potential pitfalls to this approach?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Look, I think they put themselves in pretty good shape. I mean, they don’t have a situation where they are in dire need at one position or the other. They have some age, and you mentioned some contracts, I think that definitely factors in.

I would expect the focus to be early on on the offensive side of the ball. You can look at -- I know the signing of Richard Rodgers is a nice move there to kind of be able to complement to Ertz. You’re hoping he goes back to the form he showed a couple of years ago. I still think tight end is a legitimate option there. Running back, having another running back, you don’t know Jay Ajayi, in terms of long term, what you have there. And they showed last year having a bunch of guys you could roll through there was valuable.

So you get a guy -- a Sony Michel, a Derrius Guice or somebody like that. You look at Dallas Goedert, Hayden Hurst, those make sense at those two positions. And the challenge is, look, I think you would love to get a tackle, have another tackle, even though [Halapoulivaati] Vaitai played great last year with Peters out, with Peters’ age, I think you’d like to add another backup swing tackle with some upside there. I just don’t think there’s going to be one with any value where they’re picking.

Those would be the areas I think they would focus. Receiver would be another one. I think the offensive side of the ball makes sense. And truthfully, I believe they’re out of day two, right? They don’t have a 2 or a 3. It might make sense with the depth at those positions that we’re just talking about for them to get out of the first round, trade back a little bit, see if theycan’t get some extra picks to look at those needs.

So it sounds like Jeremiah expects the Birds to either take an offensive player or trade down. That’s not super enlightening or surprising, but it does make sense.

I agree with Jeremiah that offensive tackle is the ideal pick for the Eagles. I also agree that, based on the players available, tackle might not make so much sense at No. 32. There could be a significantly better skill player who falls to that spot, such as someone like Guice.

I know the Eagles value building in the trenches, which I’m on board with, but there’s no need to force a pick on a lesser tackle if they can get a stud play-maker at running back or even wide receiver. Jeremiah seems to think tight end could be in play but I’m less certain on that. I just question the impact that tight end is going to be able to have with Zach Ertz always ahead of him on the depth chart.

Trading down is an obvious option for Philly. It’s the easiest way for them to get into Day 2 ... at the cost of not picking in Day 1. Keep in mind a trade down would likely involve the Eagles acquiring a second-round pick and an early fourth. Perhaps Roseman could then take two of their three fourths at that point to move up into the third.

Another Eagles topic that Jeremiah was asked about was Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

Q: I wanted to ask you two about Boise linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. What are the chances of him being on the board at 32 when the Eagles pick? And while I know both of you seem to be leaning towards them going offense, since they don’t have a pick in the second or third round, what would be your reaction to them taking him at 32 and how he might fit in Jim Schwartz’s defense?

JEREMIAH: I have him as a 28th player overall for me. I think he’s pretty scheme diverse. When you have the size and athletic ability he has, I think you could play him at any defense and he’d fit in and be fine.

There’s a lot of buzz on him. So read into that what you will. I would say less likely that he’s there when they’re picking down there at 32. Seems to be a little bit more buzz on him. It’s just hard to find guys that can run like that, that have that type of size and versatility.

The one thing, I know there’s some durability stuff, some questions that exist out there. I’m not privy to all that medical information. So that would be one reason he could potentially fall to them.

Word on the street is that the Eagles would “love” to pick LVE but they don’t expect him to be there. Bucky Brooks pointed out that teams like the Saints, Steelers, and Patriots could nab him before Philadelphia gets a chance at No. 32.

If LVE does end up falling, you do have to wonder a little why that drop took place. Same goes for any prospect that unexpectedly makes it to the Eagles’ pick.

This year’s draft begins in exactly two weeks from today. The build-up has been unsual since the Eagles won the Super Bowl and we actually had something meaningful to care about instead of an extra two months of mock drafts. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what the defending champs do.

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