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The Draft Bag: Safeties Are A Big Deal; Tevin Coleman Probably Isn’t

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Mid-free agency Draft Bag! Excited for a signing to totally ruin this.

Kentucky v South Carolina Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

In The News Cycle

Free Agency Additions

The only big add yesterday was L.J. Fort, and I don’t even know if that counts as a big add. I’m just happy that my co-host is happy. (For those who don’t listen to the Kist and Solak Show, Mike is a big L.J. Fort fan.)

Fort doesn’t much move the needle in a linebacker group headlined by a strong starter in Nigel Bradham, some fun young pieces, and some decent veterans. That’s probably good enough, but Philadelphia could decide to take a middle-round ‘backer to fight for the LB2 job.

What’s more interesting is the WR2 job: does that belong to Nelson Agholor or newly-acquired DeSean Jackson? For my money, it’ll be Jackson. We talk about him as the deep threat, but Jackson has always been a three-level threat: great separating underneath, excellent route-runner to win across the middle, and of course, a deep-ball champion.

Agholor simply doesn’t stack up to DJax’s ability deep, and in the short and intermediate areas, they’re in the same ballpark. Agholor may get fed targets, or show out in his contract year — but Jackson is the more trustworthy of the two players at this time. Hopefully the Eagles are willing to put aside the time they’ve invested in Agholor to see that.

Tevin Coleman Question

I got yelled at a lot for this tweet.

Now, I get yelled at for a lot of tweets — but this one was interesting. Because, objectively speaking, this was something we already knew. We knew the Eagles under Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman don’t value running backs. Remarking on that, when a talented FA running back in whom they had confirmed interest got a cheap deal from someone else, seems reasonable.

It’s okay that the Eagles didn’t give Coleman this deal. I would have liked to see it, as I think Coleman’s a snug fit and that’s good value — but I know the Eagles know they need a running back and still have plenty of room, through FA and the draft, to go get one. So c’est la vie.

But it was worthwhile wondering: what was unpalatable for the Eagles on this Coleman deal? Did they think he was unworthy of $5M per? Was their interest in Coleman overstated? Was Coleman really going to, before anything else, going to go to San Francisco with Shanahan — even though there’s more opportunity for touches, a better championship outlook, and another great coach in Pederson?

I’d bet on the Eagles not being as in on Coleman, for whatever reason — but if the Eagles aren’t going acquire even a complimentary piece in free agency, we should expect them to draft a running back right around where they did Pumphrey (132 overall) a few years ago. There’s still a free agent market, of course, but if they want to go committee and keep things cheap, it’ll be another Day 3 back. That’s just the M.O.

Seven Round Mock Draft

Time to juice up the ol’ Mock Draft Machine at The Draft Network and see what we can do for this team.

It’s funny: this is a draft I would have been totally cool with before most of the Eagles’ free agent moves. Nothing that they’ve done — re-signings, additions, or losses — have really locked in any position in Round 1 or Round 2. Still focusing on trenches early, looking for a developmental starter at safety, and middle-round skill position guys if there’s a good value.

As such, the Eagles’ most-frequent first-round selection remains: Christian Wilkins is a high-culture guy with a well-rounded skill-set, and he locks up the defensive tackle rotation — a point of weakness last season. Having a Fletcher Cox is awesome, and seeing him set career highs in a lot of key production points is sick — but Schwartz wants to bring that playing time down to keep him fresh. Wilkins serves that function.

Likewise, so does Chase Winovich do for fellow Michigan product Brandon Graham. I sung the praises of Winovich on the last Draft Bag, and he’s a repeat selection in the seven-rounder because I love him just so dang much. This time, I paired him with Kaleb McGary — yet another high-culture player with a future-oriented outlook. McGary tested strong at the Combine and with technical refinement, has a high ceiling for an NFL offensive tackle.

Speaking of Combine winners, Justice Hill has great agilities and speed numbers and projects nicely to Philadelphia’s inside zone and power runs — he doesn’t catch much, but the other backs do. Edwards wasn’t my dream player for developmental safety, as he’s more of a nickel hybrid player who’s a backup for Malcolm Jenkins, but SAF3 is still a need, and he’s an ideal Big Dime player.

Ben Burr-Kirven? Love his film. He’s what Nate Gerry would be if Nate Gerry was good. Travis Fulgham is a high-effort WR with special teams value in the mold of Mack Hollins, and Michael Dogbe has an angle on DT4 if he can translate some of his power into better pass-rushing reps. Good run defender, though!

Scouting Report

Let’s talk more about Mike Edwards, the stalwart of a talented Kentucky secondary. With 44 consecutive starts under his belt, Edwards has an impossible range of experience for a college prospect — especially a safety. Edwards has significant snaps at almost every alignment, and has found success basically everywhere.

Edwards’ best plays are those on which he can come downhill from a high alignment, playing as a “Rat” or “Hole” player. He has great eyes when reading through the route concept into the quarterback and nice closing burst to attack the catch point.

Edwards is a wonderfully high-motor player; loves him a little contact. In run defense, Edwards is an ideal box player and exactly who you want running the alley as the +1 defender.

Because he has man coverage ability and playmaking prowess as a short zone defender, Edwards’ best coverage deployment is near the line and in the box — but that’s true of a lot of safeties. Only because of his run defense can he survive in that area.

Despite all of his fun film, we have to acknowledge that Edwards is a low-caliber athlete, and that will get tricky in slot coverage. Edwards has some hip tightness and gets grabby when he’s over the slot, as he can be exposed in transition. He had some good reps and some bad reps across his film, but Senior Bowl one v. ones helped show exactly the extent of his ability in that regard.

While Edwards will never be the heir apparent for Rodney McLeod as a deep middle safety, but he does offer a good backup for the Malcolm Jenkins role and accordingly a great option for Big Nickel and Big Dime packages. In the Eagles’ weak safety room, Edwards has an angle at SAF3 early.

Mail Bag

McLaurin, Ratliff-Williams, Johnson, Hardman.

Only would touch one of those before Round 4, though. One guess who.

Gotta be safety.

Right now, where is Philadelphia missing a bonafide starter? Running back is one. Linebacker might be another, if you’re calling LB3 a starting position. Other than that...? All of their starters are currently rostered.

Are the Eagles going to draft a running back in Round 1? Heck no. Linebacker? Just as likely.

If we expand our definition of starter a little wider, deploy it a tad more liberally...SAF3 is kinda like a starting position. You want to have that player available to run in base packages against heavy 11 personnel teams.

Throw in the fact that the 2020 starter needs for Philadelphia likely include a deep free safety, and Bob’s your uncle: Round 1 safety, baby.

Deebo Samuel. Terry McLaurin. Emanuel Hall.

Really, really badly. It’s probably their biggest need.

I agree the quality of safeties falls off after Round 3 — I’d say even earlier. If you aren’t getting one of the Top-5 guys — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Nasir Adderley, Deionte Thompson, Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill — you’re in deep trouble.

The Eagles can fall out of the early rounds, sure — because they don’t need a starter right away. But at that point, you’re just delving into the depths of Day 3 and snagging the developmental guy you like best.

So if they view it as a real need, their biggest need, it’ll be one of those five, and it’ll cost one of 25, 53, and 57.

Heck yeah man! I think once the Eagles locked up EDGE with Brandon Graham, they really got this class where they want it. OT and DT are really good positions early, RB and WR in the middle rounds. S and LB isn’t good for anybody, but that’s okay — just have your targets and when they fall into range, start making calls to trade up.