It’s Draft season! With the NFL Draft just a day ‘round the corner, many of the narratives are worn and the takes are tired.
But I wanted to get in my final shots: new, relatively undiscussed takes that warrant eleventh-hour discussion. There’s always a significant tectonic shift (or seven) in the waning hours before Roger Goodell actually kicks this party off, and maybe those tremors will unearth new discussion points for Philly.
But even if they don’t, here are my bold takes before Draft Day for the Eagles, in order of ascending hotness.
1) Eagles draft a punter
This one’s the easiest one—which is plainly absurd, because predicting a team drafts a punter should not be a relatively safe prediction. But here we are.
Take a look over the roster and try to circle all the positions at which the starter is currently unclear, for 2018 alone. There isn’t one on offense; there is on defense (nickel corner). Maybe we can bicker about weakside linebacker or WR3 as a position at which you’d like to improve the starter—but that’s about it.
Until you get to special teams. Then the punter and return specialist both don’t have starters.
And here we are. You just may be drafting a punter.
Philly has kept Cameron Johnston on the back burner for a year now, anticipating the departure of Donnie Jones. That being said, there are easily three draftable punters in this class: Johnny Townsend out of Florida; JK Scott out of Alabama; and the greatest college punter to ever live, Michael Dickson out of Texas. And if the roster really is that strong—and it just might be (check Bold Prediction #4)—then perhaps an elite punting prospect (what?!) provides the most value to this team.
And don’t you worry: I will have such a great scouting report up on Michael Dickson, with rigorous film analysis throughout, once the pick comes through.
2) Meek Mill announces a pick. Meek Mill announces every pick.
In case you didn’t hear, the Eagles are so dominant, they’ve circumvented the entire justice system and freed Philadelphia rapper and figurehead Meek Mill.
Is this description entirely accurate? Nope. Does that really matter? Nope again.
There is no reason imaginable to stop reminding the 31 basement teams of the NFL—as well as the fanbase at large—that the Eagles won the Super Bowl. And in the swell of victory, the Eagles will just chalk this one up as another W, regardless of the hand they actually played in it.
We already saw this with the Sixers, who brought in the recently-freed Meek Mill to ring the death knell for the Miami Heat and propel Philadelphia into Round 2 of the NBA playoffs. Bringing in Meek Mill to announce a pick, after his ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ heralded the arrival of the eventual Super Bowl victors almost 3 months ago, would be the ultimate power move.
But if you can’t get Meek—and honestly, kick anybody except Brian Dawkins out to get Meek in—just plays ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ before every selection. I love ‘Fly Eagles Fly’ as much as the next guy, but just jack the PA system and let the all-too-familiar chorus rattle in the ears of the Patriots, Cowboys, and Vikings (SKOL!).
To the victors go the spoils. It’s time to stunt.
3) Eagles don’t draft a RB. At all.
If you’re a frequent listener to the Kist & Solak Show on BGN Radio, then you know I’m not sold on drafting an early running back (and you’re also my best friend). It makes sense in a long-term view for sure: Jay Ajayi is in a contract year, and with LeGarrette Blount out of the building only second-year rookies Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey fill out the ranks behind him—unless you’re still a Wendell Smallwood truther.
But if you’re drafting for 2019—which you would be, if you’re bringing in a running back—then why not go offensive tackle? It’s a more important position, and Jason Peters will be gone. Or linebacker, where Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks could both be on their way? How about EDGE, as only Derek Barnett is secured a contract spot beyond 2019?
I’m not denying the Eagles’ interest in early running backs—nor do I mind it, as it means they’ve known the plan with Jay Ajayi (and likely did before they traded for him).
But let’s say they don’t get the early back they want. Let’s say a desirable target drops to 32, like Stanford SAF Justin Reid, Texas OT Connor Williams, or Louisville CB Jaire Alexander. When you look at the running back stable...is there even room for a later-round back?
The Eagles already have all of the complementary pieces a RB coach could want. If you’re assuming you can get at least decent scatback production from Pumphrey/Smallwood, and continue to use Clement as your primary change-of-pace guy, you don’t need RB depth. You need a player who can take starter reps.
And if the Eagles don’t get that player with their early pick (32 or otherwise, via trade back), it’s tough to imagine them getting him at all.
4) Eagles don’t draft anyone after the fifth round
I’ve already hinted at this idea in regards to the RB and punter predictions, but we’ll fully suss it out here.
The basic premise is this: this team is very good.
We already went through the starter exercise: Philadelphia barely needs any for 2018: nickel CB, punter, maybe WILL. If we go through a similar thought-experiment for 2019, we uncover a few more, as we saw in the previous prediction: LT, EDGE, MLB are all on the table.
These exercises can help us determine where the Eagles should allocate their early picks; if we want to determine where their late-round picks will go, we have to flip the perspective, and look at depth/developmental youth.
When we do, we find that many positions in Philly have the desired complexion. I’d highlight two that could use a jolt of non-starting youth: safety and offensive line. And honestly, Seumalo and Big V aren’t terrible in way of moldable pieces. One more would do the trick.
So why, when you lack the second- and third-round selections that could become heirs for Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, would you hold on to sixth-round picks that may not even make the roster?
Joe Douglas alluded to this in his recent pre-Draft presser. He spoke of the anticipated difficulty for Philadelphia to attract UDFAs because they’ll perceive the roster as difficult to crack. By the same token, late-round selections that will become street FAs or practice squad candidates hardly provide value to a roster this deep.
Trade the sixth; trade the seventh; trade the fifth too if you’re feeling frisky. Move up into the earlier rounds. Draft starters. Win more trophies.
5) NFC Super Bowl nonsense
I hate to disappoint, but this hot take isn’t actually hot. This take is the 12 pc spicy wings at a restaurant you’ve never been to, and it’s listed on the menu with flaming skulls and crossbones, and then they arrive with all of the gusto of old Tabasco.
But this take is inevitable, in that big media’s desperate attempt to fill the May - August dead period with content leads to synthesized hot takes without any foothold in reality. And in the thick NFC, in which there’s been a ton of personnel movement, the conversation is foreseeable, predictable, and already tired:
The Eagles aren’t the favorite to repeat in the NFC.
Why would they be? The Vikings landed the big kahuna of the entire free agent pool in Kirk Cousins, who will be lauded as a significant improvement over Case Keenum (he’s not) that will somehow prevent the Vikings defense from giving up 38 points to Nick Foles (it won’t). The Rams hooked literally every other kahuna, and with that many additions, you can already hear the analyst listing off the names on his or her fingers to prove the point: “Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks, insert Draft pick here, insert next Draft pick here...”
The Saints will be a common pick, because Drew Brees is old so it feels good; the Falcons will be the hipster choice; the Packers will always show up as long as Rodgers has a heartbeat; and someone’s gonna take the cheese on San Francisco. And why will these takes prove so prevalent? Not because these teams have drastically improved their championship talents (even if they have). But because it’s boring to keep talking about the Super Bowl champions.
The Eagles have the best coach, quarterback, and general manager trio in the NFL currently. Miss me with any takes that claim otherwise.