The first offseason mailbag!
If you have questions for a future mailbag, you can tweet at me or send an email to bleedinggreeninfo(at)gmail(dot)com.
Let’s get to them...
@SnarkyLorax: Over/under 2.5 first round draft picks the Eagles actually draft in 2022.
@jsileo22: Thoughts on trading one of the first rounders into next year vs. loading up with 3 (hopefully defensive) contributors right away?
@KneeCircles: Any chance the birds go DE, S, LB (yes, I know) if they keep all 3 firsts?
I’m going to tackle all of these together.
For reference, the Eagles have the 15th pick (via Miami), 16th pick (via Indianapolis) and the 19th pick this year.
No, I don’t expect the Eagles to use all three first-round selections in April. There’s been ample talk and discussion about the Eagles moving one of their firsts for a future 2023 first and more draft capital to give the franchise optionality regarding the quarterback position. Even if Jalen Hurts proves to be The Guy in 2022, doing a move like this still works if the Eagles are getting a plentiful return in a deal. Say what you will about general manager Howie Roseman, and I’ve said a lot, but the dude wins trades. I trust him to handle this draft pick maneuverability and would expect him to be very active come Day 1 of the draft.
As for what the Eagles do with their picks, they need help at defensive end. That’s my top offseason priority. Josh Sweat received a contract extension, but Derek Barnett will be gone and Brandon Graham will be returning from an Achilles injury in his age-34 season. Reinforcements are seriously needed. Roseman and this Eagles franchise always prioritize taking players in the trenches early.
Speaking of trenches, it’s reasonable to see the Eagles selecting an offensive lineman here. If Jason Kelce retires this offseason, jumping at his replacement here would make all the sense in the world to me. Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum has already been mocked to the Eagles a million times and I don’t see that stopping until we get confirmation that Kelce will return for 2022. I wouldn’t totally discount the Birds drafting another interior lineman as well given how up in the air the right guard spot is going forward. People may be weary of selecting an interior lineman that early, the Eagles overachieved in 2021 mostly because of the killer offensive line play they got up front.
In a year where the Eagles have multiple firsts, I’d be more okay with selecting a linebacker than in a usual draft cycle, but I’ll believe the Eagles are taking a linebacker that early when I see it with my own two eyes. Don’t get your hopes up.
@Jason_withajay: Should we be more concerned that the Eagles looked pretty much the same on Sunday as they did in weeks 2-7?
I mean, they were road underdogs against the defending champs. They played like a team where the head coach, quarterback and defensive coordinator all had their first taste of the NFL postseason in their current roles. They went against the best player of all time, maybe the best tight end of all time and possibly a Hall of Fame wide receiver. Shit happens. It sucks there aren’t any legitimate positive takeaways from this playoff game, but it’s understandable why they get beat the way they did no matter how much I was hoping and hyping myself up for an upset.
@AgilataJake: What is something you feel 100% confident about after the season that you were unsure about before the season?
I’m going with the combination of Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson.
I was all aboard the contract extension that the Birds handed Mailata before the season started. He performed well given his background and experience in 2020 and his potential was obvious to anyone with the slightest sliver of football knowledge. He played like a guy who’s going to rack up a couple of All-Pro nods in the future.
Dickerson had massive injury concerns going into last year’s draft and it wasn’t clear what specific position he would play along the interior of the offensive line for the Birds. Yes, he’s a possible Kelce successor at center, but the dude was a beast at left guard. Leave him there. I expect to see Dickerson selected to the Pro Bowl roster one day. The Eagles’ offensive line has been aging with Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson, but Mailata and Dickerson are cornerstones who should carry this unit for the next half-dozen years.
@AlwaysJugHead28: If we lose Jonathan Gannon, who should be the first interview for defensive coordinator?
This is independent of my thoughts on Jonathan Gannon as a football mind, but I was impressed back when the Eagles hired Jim Schwartz to be the team’s defensive coordinator when Doug Pederson became head coach. With a first-time head coach focused almost entirely on the offensive side of the ball, having a reputable figure who’s been around the league a bit and has head coaching experience in his own right as the DC was wise.
Hiring two guys who were under 40 at the time in Gannon and Nick Sirianni to be the two biggest voices on the team felt a little off.
Gannon has performed better than the average Eagles fan may give him credit. The rest of the league wouldn’t be giving him these head coaching looks if he was a complete nitwit. Still, it’s not the worst thing ever if he were to get a job elsewhere given the crop of defensive-minded coaches on the market.
The obvious answer would be Vic Fangio, who the Broncos just fired. Fangio has spent 22 years in the NFL as either a defensive coordinator or a head coach, dating back to being the DC for the expansion Panthers in 1995. His teams have finished top 10 in yards eight times and top 10 in points nine times. His defenses have made four NFC Championship Games including one Super Bowl berth with the 2012 49ers.
One qualm Eagles fans might have is that Fangio has predominantly run 3-4 defenses and the Eagles’ front seven, as of right now, is primarily optimized for a 4-3 front. As defenses have evolved in the modern NFL, however, I don’t think that's necessarily an issue with many, many coaches using mixed fronts. The dude is one of the best defensive coaches in the league. Having him in Philly would be a huge boost regardless of the alignment he’s using. I trust him to maximize the talent on the roster, especially if they land some studs in this year’s draft.
On a similar note, perhaps Lovie Smith? He’s still technically the defensive coordinator and associate head coach for the Texans, but with head coach David Culley being fired, it’s possible the next regime in Houston could let Smith go. Smith is a student of Tony Dungy who has run the Tampa 2 defense. He worked with those legendary Tampa Bay defenses in the late ‘90s before leading the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006. Smith’s defenses, across 15 years as a defensive coordinator and head coach, have had four top-five finishes in yards and four top-four finishes in points.
I’m down for those two!