It’s Draft Day in Philadelphia! Finally, we get to see how this whole circus act is going to go.
The NFL Draft is weird this year, which means even hotter takes than usual are available and on the table for us. As always, I try to balance my spicy takes with realism, and ensure that each is backed up with at least some logic that translates to the Eagles’ roster or philosophy of team building.
As such, I wanted to drop my five hottest takes for the Eagles’ 2020 NFL Draft, ordered by ascending hotness. If you have one hotter, or find one of these too hot, be sure to leave your takes in the comments below!
5) Eagles draft a RB
I get the vibe that this is a stronger hot take to some Eagles fans, but to me this is pretty tepid. I have it on the list to talk about why.
Boston Scott was awesome last season for the Birds. He stepped into a key role when Howard went down with the Stinger Of A Thousand Lifetimes and helped the Eagles’ unlock their RB passing game, which kept their offense afloat into the playoffs.
But even if Scott is Sproles — and he’s still getting there, in my opinion — he’s an uncertain projection. Remember, Corey Clement was going to be the Eagles’ third-down back after a strong close to the 2017 season, and injuries pulled him out of visibility on the roster. That bottom of the barrel at RB just churns through guys.
The Eagles have a bellcow player in Miles Sanders, as he continues to grow; but I wouldn’t say any spot at RB2 or later is secured, and Scott is ideally a RB3.
The Eagles could use a Howard/Blount style player who can swallow up carries, take on hits, win in short yardage/goal line situations, and keep the backs with more juice sprier. Late, consider targeting TCU’s Sewo Olonilua, Memphis’ Patrick Taylor, or Boston College’s A.J. Dillon.
4) Eagles trade up for CeeDee Lamb
I am certain that the Eagles are making, and will continue to make, calls into the Top-15 to see what the price would be to trade up and snag one of the Big-3 WRs — that’s Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, and Lamb, from Oklahoma. Most teams who need a WR will be doing so, especially in this year, as trade negotiations may take longer over the digital format. You’ll want to have the infrastructure in place before your trade partner even hops on the clock.
When it comes to the receiver the Eagles will target, I think their favorite is Lamb. Jeudy’s health did make a run through Philly media recently, but all that implies is that the Eagles are doing work on him; not that he’s any lower or higher on their board. My sense is the Eagles feel more confident in Lamb’s ability to play on the outside than Jeudy, and they’re in desperate need of an outside receiver.
The team to circle as a trade partner is the Niners at 13. San Francisco doesn’t have a second-, third-, or fourth-round pick as a result of the many trades they used to build their Super Bowl roster — with two firsts in hand, they’ll be looking to trade back and acquire more Day 2 picks. The Eagles have one second-rounder and three fourths to try and get the deal done. Also keep an eye on New York at 11 and Cleveland at 10 as other options, especially if Philly feels they need to get in front of Vegas at 12.
3) Eagles don’t go LB until Day 3
So there’s legit juice on Kenneth Murray in Round 1: Mel Kiper just had the Eagles taking the Oklahoma LB in Round 1 over Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs, which seems shocking; Daniel Jeremiah had Murray after the top 4 receivers leave the board. How serious is this interest in Murray?
My best guess is that the defensive coaching staff loves Murray, who is an infectious personality and consummate leader. Murray’s run-and-hit play style would be attractive to DC Jim Schwartz, who asks his linebackers to flow hard into the line of scrimmage and plug gaps aggressively in the first level.
But I think Murray isn’t the pick at 21 because I think Roseman won’t green-light the pick — the value of a LB at 21 just doesn’t match the value of a cornerback or a receiver or a trench player, even if the need is lesser or the the player is ranked a bit lower. The idea is that you can still get a starter at LB much later in the draft than you can get a starting corner or pass-catcher.
If the Eagles trade up in the first, or double-dip at WR or in the secondary, they won’t be able to grab LB until Day 3 — but that’s where Roseman figures to want to attack this class. Wyoming’s Logan Wilson will be long gone, so keep an eye on Shaun Bradley (Temple), Davion Taylor (Colorado), or Mykal Walker (Fresno State).
2) The Eagles make at least 10 picks
Everyone knows and expects this draft to be extremely weird. Medical issues are unchecked in many players; face to face meetings were drastically limited; the usual war room is now a war chat room. The world is upside-down, and the NFL Draft is accordingly topsy-turvy.
For Howie Roseman, this is likely an advantage. Roseman gets (rightful) criticism for not being a natural talent evaluator and accordingly having a spotty draft history, while his best moments come on low-risk, high-reward deals in free agency.
Well, in the new and untested trade market of 2020 draft picks, there’s going to be low-risk, high-reward deals. If teams really are interested in bailing on the 2020 draft because they have incomplete evals and likely won’t have training camp to develop their rookies, that means that 2020 picks will be at a discount.
“All decisions are bets” for Roseman, and the NFL Draft is always a crapshoot. So if 2020 is gonna be just about uncertain (that is to say, very uncertain) as every NFL Draft in history, and 2020 picks are going to be at a discount because other GMs think they’ll be more certain next year, why not load up on 2020 picks. It’s like buying in bulk when something goes on sale: draft picks aren’t perishable, and the more you make, the more likely you are to hit.
1) The Eagles draft three receivers
This one walks hand-in-hand with the second one, though it does take things up a notch. It’s one thing to make a lot of picks; it’s another to make a ton of them at one position.
This boils down to the math on the Eagles’ 53 man roster. As the roster stands right now, it’s easy to find holes on the starting roster: they need an outside corner, a box safety, and a strong-side linebacker for sure. Those positions should all be of interest with early picks.
But in terms of depth, the Eagles are shored up at corner and safety; they don’t need to spend a late pick there. They could at linebacker, they will at interior offensive line, and likely at RB as well.
When it comes to Day 3 — a day in which the Eagles currently own five of their seven picks — the Eagles figure to address the thinnest part of their roster the hardest: that’s WR.
Only DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are really guaranteed spots on the 2020 roster, with Alshon clearly on the trade block and Ward as a replaceable slot option. So if the Eagles grab a starter at 21, they still have a strong enough need to take a second receiver later to round out the depth chart — and, if they’re abiding by the theory of taking a lot of swings at the plate in 2020, they certainly have enough room for a third as well.