With just ONE MORE DAY remaining until the 2019 NFL Draft, here’s a look at what Bleeding Green Nation staff writers think the Philadelphia Eagles SHOULD do with their No. 25 overall pick in the first round.
Brandon Lee Gowton
The Eagles should think back to how they won the Super Bowl. You know, when they arguably had the best offensive and defensive lines in the NFL? For as exciting as it is to think about Marquise Brown or Josh Jacobs in Doug Pederson’s offense, the priority should be building through the trenches. I’d be very happy with Christian Wilkins at No. 25 but I don’t think he’ll make it there. The Eagles will probably have to trade up to get him. Even if Wilkins isn’t around, there should be a quality defensive or offensive lineman available at No. 25. Take him and call it a night.
Most logical at that pick is dipping into the deep offensive line class. Defensive line reinforcements would be exciting, but a relative luxury considering the team’s immediate need along their offensive trenches. Jason Peters is going into his final year and Brandon Brooks’ future is much in question with injury. Getting guard or tackle help should be imperative.
It seems Howie Roseman does this regularly: use free agency to provide flexibility in the draft. The Eagles entered the offseason with a myriad of needs, and Howie addressed many of them. Re-tool the defensive line? Sign Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry. Deep threat WR? Sign DeSean. Release S Chris Maragos? Sign Andrew Sendejo. Solidify the RB position? Trade for Jordan Howard. Lose Nick Foles? Pick up Luis Perez.(Ok, kidding.) Lacking assets? Sure thing: add compensatory picks. What does all of this mean with regard to the number 25 pick? It means the Eagles can do whatever they want based on how the draft unfolds. They can trade up, trade back, or stay put and pick the best player on their board. They really have no excuse to nail this one.
Much like last year the Eagles find themselves not needing to reach for a glaring hole in the starting twenty-two. This type of flexibility allows them to consider upgrading replacement-level starters or preempt a need by drafting replacements a year early. It’s impossible to know how the draft will fall and who will be available, but I have a hunch that the Eagles could be eyeing a trade up. IF the right talent begins to tumble into the late teens they’ll be working the phones. If that slide continues, the cost to move up to the early twenties is a modest one. Positions of interest would include a top tier offensive tackles and defensive lineman. That means Christian Wilkins, Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell, Montez Sweat, Ed Oliver, Cody Ford, Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams are all names to watch, and rightfully so.
The Eagles have put themselves in a position to draft the best player available the last few years, regardless of position. In that position, I anticipate them reinforcing areas that lack depth - the offensive line and defensive tackle. On the offensive line the Eagles no longer have a player like Wiz they can insert when a player goes down with injury and Brandon Brooks is coming off an Achilles injury. Drafting somebody now would shore up depth while giving you the opportunity to groom them for the future. As far as defensive tackle, I think we saw enough Treyvon Hester and Haloti Ngata snaps to see why that’s important.
The Eagles should draft a Day 1 contributor -- a high-floor, pro-ready player who is ready to add to a Super Bowl winning roster in 2019. They should look to grab this player at a position of high impact, such as defensive tackle, edge, wide receiver, or safety -- linebacker and running back should not be in consideration. Offensive line is a maybe, given where you think Jason Peters is in his rehab. The Eagles should also acknowledge that the safety and wide receiver depth in this class are such that there’s no need to force a pick on Day 1, and I’d like to see them focus on the defensive line. They should look for a third rusher on the interior -- hopefully a player like Christian Wilkins or Jerry Tillery -- to immediately add to the rotation to keep Fletcher Cox healthy and fresh for the playoffs.
The Eagles need to make a list of their top 25 most valuable players and stick to it come draft day. If pick 25 comes and there are still 10 names on the list, look for a trade down of up to 10 spots. While this plan is rather foolproof, the tricky part will be comparing the value of an impact day-one-starter to the value of a long-term future starter at an already filled position. Given the abundance of talent on the roster already and the lack of a roster hole at any starting position, the team should not feel inclined to force a pick. It’s easy to just spew out “Best Player Available!” every year, but for some teams, that is not always the case. While I truly believe that the team should focus on the players they value most and not force positions they “need” the most, it would be nice to see the team hone in on the offensive and defensive lines early in this draft. Conversely, if they take a running back or cornerback in the first round, I would not be very pleased. Either way, it’s a relief to know that the wait is almost over.
Howie Roseman can’t say it’s a “historic” draft for defensive linemen when a defensive lineman is a draft need and then not take a defensive lineman. So they’re taking one. And as I’ve said before, I think they will trade up for one. Both Roseman and Douglas’s history says that if they have a guy that they want and can get, they’re going to go get him. So we should see some excitement on Thursday night, even if you’re not seeing Endgame.
With the depth of the defensive lineman in this year’s draft class, I don’t think there’s as big of a need to trade up to get one, or even get one in the first round -- especially with two solid Round 2 picks. There was a glaring need for offensive lineman depth at the end of the 2018 season, and with Jason Peters nearing retirement, Brandon Brooks still working back from surgery, and Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata still developing, taking an offensive talent in the first round, who can contribute right away, or at least be a suitable No. 2 would be ideal. I wouldn’t hate for them to take a defensive lineman at No. 25, since we still don’t know what Chris Long intends to do, and could use a bit more depth on that side of the ball as well. But knowing Howie, he’ll probably go safety just to irritate me.
What should the Eagles do in the first round?
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Stay put at No. 25
Who should the Eagles draft with their first selection?
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