It can be difficult to look beyond this season when it feels like the Philadelphia Eagles are primed for another trip to the Super Bowl.
Then again, it’s pretty exciting to think about what the Birds might do with the pick they acquired from the New Orleans Saints in the 2023 NFL Draft. The selection is currently set to be made at No. 5 overall, though that positioning could change for better or worse with four games left to play.
How might the Eagles utilize that selection? Well, I feel very confident saying they’re not going to do what Todd McShay is suggesting might happen in his latest NFL mock draft for ESPN.
5. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
This is a serious luxury pick for the 12-win Eagles after landing this selection from the Saints in the 2022 offseason. Per ESPN Stats & Information research, the last time a team went to a Super Bowl (as ESPN’s FPI projects) and then had a top-five draft pick was 1992, when Washington won the championship and then drafted Desmond Howard fourth overall via a trade-up. I considered Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee here, because GM Howie Roseman values the interior defensive line, and pairing Bresee with Jordan Davis up the middle would give Philadelphia quite the run-stopping duo. However, Miles Sanders is set to be a free agent, this offense leans heavily on the run (433 rushes, second most in the NFL), and Robinson is a special prospect with elite size, speed, power and elusiveness.
I know the “it’s too early for a running back” arguments are coming, and I agree 99% of the time. But why spend heavily on re-signing Sanders or bringing in another back in free agency when Robinson — who is an upgrade — is available here on a rookie deal? Robinson cruised to 1,580 yards and 18 TDs on the ground this season while breaking 91 tackles. Dropping him into the league’s best offense would be scary for every other team. Philly also has another first-rounder down the board ...
After facing criticism for this pick being unrealistic, which it is, McShay defended himself on ESPN’s broadcast:
“Yeah, I’m getting beat up all day on it. I get it. It’s a running back. Why take him in the top five? Well, you’ve got Miles Sanders, and Bijan Robinson in an upgrade at the position. And Miles is about to hit free agency after this season. Why not a get a younger, better version of Miles for an offense that really focuses so much on the run game? And your job as a running back is to make defenders miss. 91 forced missed tackles is what Bijan had this past year. I mean, and he catches the ball extremely well, great ball skills. And he’s really good in pass protection. So, he’s a complete player. And I get it, you can go different directions, but if you’re focusing on Jalen Hurts and this offense and the run game, why not bring in someone who has a chance to take you to another level? And that’s why Bijan is to me.”
As long as Howie Roseman is around, I have serious doubts that the Eagles are ever taking a running back in the first round. And if they do, it will certainly NOT be happening with a top five pick.
We know by now the Eagles just don’t invest major resources in what’s considered to be one of the NFL’s most fungible positions. It’s a position they can afford to try to get more out of less considering they have a mobile threat at quarterback, an elite run game coordinator/offensive line coach, and a strong run blocking offensive line.
For much more realistic options for the Eagles’ selection from the Saints, BGN’s Ben Natan recently wrote about logical fits. Defensive line feels like a pretty good bet given the combination of available talent and how the Eagles highly value building through the trenches. Not to mention that Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph, and Ndamukong Suh are all free agents after this year.
Speaking of the d-line, McShay did have a more reasonable selection with the Eagles’ pick at No. 31 in this mock.
31. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
ESPN’s FPI has the Eagles winning the Super Bowl in this projection and closing out Day 1 of the draft. After getting Bijan Robinson earlier, Philly would likely pivot to the defensive side of the ball. Brandon Graham is in the last year of his deal, Derek Barnett tore his ACL in September and Robert Quinn is just a rental after coming to town at the trade deadline. So while the Eagles lead the NFL in sacks (49), they will still be looking for pass-rush help opposite Josh Sweat after the season. Foskey uses his great initial burst to put offensive tackles on their heels, and he had 11 sacks in each of the past two seasons. Other spots for the projected champs to consider would be the secondary and linebacker.
For me, it’s hard to have a ton to offer on a potential No. 31 pick this far out from the draft. But the value doesn’t seem out of whack; Foskey is currently the 27th prospect on Pro Football Focus’s big board. Foskey forced seven fumbles over the last two years, which is nice to see. The position makes sense. Methinks the Eagles will look to retain Brandon Graham, an all-time Eagle, but there are question marks after him and Sweat. Can they really count on Barnett to play well and stay healthy? Can Tarron Jackson and/or Janarius Robinson be anything?
McShay’s mock is only one of many simulations we’ll examine leading up to late April. But one will hope the Eagles can prevent us from diving too deep into mock draft season until after they win the Super Bowl in mid-February.
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