The Philadelphia Eagles held their mandatory pre-NFL Draft media availability on Tuesday. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas spoke to reporters and gave away all the secrets they’ve been working very hard to protect. They actually told the media who they’re going to draft with all of their picks.
Just kidding, obviously, but Roseman and Douglas did say a few things that caught my attention.
The Eagles continue to express their commitment to Carson Wentz
Howie Roseman on Carson Wentz’s contract: “We want Carson on this team long-term.” #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) April 16, 2019
The Eagles haven’t signed Wentz to an extension just yet but it seems like only a matter of time until it happens.
Bad news for the first round cornerback truthers
Earlier this offseason, Roseman had the following to say about the Eagles’ cornerbacks:
“We’ve used a lot of draft picks at that position and you have to give your young players a chance to grow. You really have to give everyone the chance to grow into their roles. We’re all looking forward to them taking their next step, those young guys.”
Douglas echoed that sentiment on Tuesday.
Joe Douglas: “We feel really good about the DBs we have here.”— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) April 16, 2019
Now, you could suggest the Eagles are merely setting up a #smokescreen to hide their intentions to draft a corner. Given their roster construction, it seems much more likely that they aren’t going to invest a first-round pick in that position. Maybe they address corner on Day 2 or Day 3, sure, but not Day 1.
Part of the reason the Eagles like what they have at corner is because they’re seemingly still high on 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones.
Both Joe Douglas and Howie Roseman raving about Sidney Jones and his potential, and said that they view last season as his rookie year. #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) April 16, 2019
Jones has failed to make an impact to this point in his career. He’s only played in 28% of possible games over the last two seasons.
At the same time, he’ll only be turning 23 years old next month in May. Jones is younger than some corner prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, such as Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye.
2019 is a big year for Jones and a lot of the young guys the Eagles have at corner. There’s pressure to step up and prove themselves.
It’s interesting to see how the Eagles view Nate Sudfeld
When you’re able to find a guy like Nate and develop him, that’s like drafting a quarterback. That was just as good as any quarterback we could have taken certainly in the middle rounds. — NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles didn’t acquire Sudfeld through the draft; they originally signed him to their practice squad after Washington cut him in 2017. Since then, they’ve treated him like a legitimate developmental quarterback. They promoted Sudfeld to the active roster in 2017 when the Colts tried to sign him two years ago. This offseason, they gave him a second-round tender worth over $3 million to likely replace Nick Foles as Carson Wentz’s primary backup.
The Eagles will obviously hope Sudfeld doesn’t have to play this year because they want Wentz healthy. If he is forced into action, though, Sudfeld will have a chance to prove he was worth developing.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles start another developmental project considering Sudfeld is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Philly recently signed former AAF quarterback Luis Perez so maybe he’s the guy. But maybe they still draft a quarterback during Day 3.
There’s no need to draft for need
Howie Roseman on the Eagles' roster heading into the draft:— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) April 16, 2019
"We can go play right now. We think we’re a pretty good team. So we go into the draft knowing we don’t have anything that we have to fill at any position.”
Joe Douglas echoing an Ozzie Newsome expression he learned in Baltimore: "What some people consider a luxury pick today may end up being a necessity tomorrow.”— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) April 16, 2019
This is something the Eagles say every year. I wrote the following last April and it still applies:
The Eagles aren’t going to draft for need. Another surprising takeaway, I know. The reason why I included this here, though, is to remind everyone that the Eagles don’t have any truly pressing needs. [...] There’s no roster spot where there just isn’t a remotely viable starter. There are depth needs, yes, but those are obviously less dire.
Philadelphia’s lack of desperation, then, should truly lend to the concept of taking the best player available. The concept of need should always be considered in context, but not to the extent where it’s entirely dictating the pick.
While the Eagles won’t solely be drafting for need, there are some positions they should address at some point. Those include defensive line, running back, and safety.
The allure of trading up
Howie Roseman: "There’s very few drafts where there’s 32 legitimate first-round grades on guys. …When you look at a lot of our high picks, those are impact players for us, which is what you want, but as you go further along in the draft, that’s where it changes.”— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) April 16, 2019
Back at the NFL owner meetings, Jeffrey Lurie talked about how the Eagles believe in drafting in volume. Essentially: the more picks, the better.
But there is a time for trading up. If you have the opportunity to get a true difference maker, you might just have to be aggressive in order to get that guy. Such a strategy has worked for the Eagles in the past. They traded up for guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and even Dallas Goedert last year.
Trading down isn’t always a great thing. The Eagles moved down in 2014 because none of their preferred players made it to where they were picking. Instead of moving up for someone they really liked, they ended up with a total bust in Marcus Smith.
This isn’t to suggest trading down is always the wrong move. It’s just that there is an allure to moving up and it might be something the Eagles are considering this year. We’ll see.