With the 2023 NFL Draft just a couple weeks away, everyone understands the Eagles are a bit of a work in progress.
The departure of some high-profile starters has left the Eagles with a roster that, while still talented, is incomplete. They have needs at multiple positions, most of them on defense, but not all.
Howie Roseman has substantial early-round ammunition with which to add some quality young talent, but with no picks in Rounds 4-6, the odds are much higher he’ll deal away some of those early selections to gain additional picks on Days 2 and 3. Roseman rarely makes picks based on his team’s needs for that coming season, but with a Jalen Hurts mega-contract coming and salary cap issues to work through, he may choose to bring on some players that will help the team in 2023.
So with the draft just a few days away, here are the Eagles’ five biggest positional needs.
The list below is not a list of what I think Howie would, or should, draft. It is simply a laundry list of the positions at which I think the Eagles are the weakest heading into the season and moving forward.
5. Edge Rusher
Haason Reddick is a stud, and while he may not pile up 16 sacks again, he’s a proven force on the edge. Same with Josh Sweat, who emerged as a star last season with 11 sacks, and the ageless Brandon Graham returns as well. Combined, those three players piled up 38 sacks, a ridiculous number for a trio of edge rushers. All three players are back this season. That’s good!
Depth, however, is an issue. Derek Barnett will presumably return from injury this year, but no one should be expecting a major contribution from the former first-round pick. With Graham now 35, the edge rushing room will need some reinforcements. This isn’t urgent, but it’s important.
4. Offensive Line
Even with the departure of Isaac Seumalo to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency, the projected starting offensive line of Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Cam Jurgens and Lane Johnson is still perhaps the best in the NFL. But with Seumalo’s departure seemingly opening a spot for Jurgens at right guard, the Eagles’ depth took a hit, with Andre Dillard joining the Tennessee Titans as a free agent as well. Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta remain as backups, but 2023 will likely be Kelce’s final season as the team’s starting center and Johnson is entering his age-33 season.
So no, this isn’t an immediate need, but Roseman needs to be thinking about that unit’s future. The draft is the time to start adding players who can help you two and three years down the line, and prioritizing that unit now gives Jeff Stoutland an early round pick to mold for a year or two before unleashing him on the NFL.
3. Defensive Tackle
The loss of Javon Hargrave and his 11 sacks from the line’s interior is easily quantifiable. They’re going to miss him terribly in passing downs, and there’s no one on the roster who can adequately replace that production. Jordan Davis will try and Milton Williams is an improving player, but no one knows for sure what the Birds are going to get with those two starters. Fletcher Cox is still around, too, and while he piled up some decent sack numbers last year, his days as an impact player are over.
The tackle rotation is much thinner with Kentavius Street and Marlon Tuipulotu as DTs 4 and 5 on the depth chart. If Jalen Carter is within reach as pick No. 10 approaches, Roseman should seriously consider trading up to nab him, pairing him with Davis to form an all-Georgia stud defensive tackle duo. If he’s not, Roseman should still add another reasonably productive player to the rotation.
The last two needs are especially acute. With Chauncey Gardner-Johnson now in the Motor City, the Eagles enter the draft with undrafted second year player Reed Blankenship and free agent acquisition Terrell Edmunds as the presumed starters. Justin Evans, also picked up on a cheap, one-year deal in free agency, joins incumbent depth piece K’Von Wallace as the back-ups, but it’s a position devoid of a playmaker right now.
Don’t expect Roseman to jump at a safety with one of his early picks, though, as it’s not a strong spot in this year’s draft. It’s likely they’ll select someone in the draft this year who they feel can convert from corner to safety just to give them another body, but it likely won’t be someone you’d expect to start in 2023. Like CJGJ last year, it’s likely the team will add someone as a free agent after the draft. But it’s a gaping hole right now.
A position long ignored by the Eagles, it’s their weakest spot on the field as of right now. T.J. Edwards was not a stud, but he was a viable starting middle linebacker, the guy with the dot on his helmet who called the plays and ran the show. He bolted to Chicago, leaving them with Nakobe Dean as the presumed starter in 2023. Everyone’s excited to see what Dean can do, but he is an enormous question mark.
The Eagles brought in Nicholas Morrow from the Bears, essentially swapping out Edwards for him. Morrow could start if need be, but he’s graded among the lowest linebackers in football over the last couple seasons. Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor and Christian Elliss are the backups, so, yes, linebacker is an extreme need for the Desai’s defense.
I wish the Eagles would value this position more. We’ve seen how tough a defense can be when you have dynamic linebacker play, but it’s simply not something Roseman has ever truly cared about, so don’t expect the Eagles to use one of their premium picks on a starting linebacker. Like safety, it’s more likely they’ll add a player who is cut by another team later this summer than draft an impact linebacker later this month.
Do you agree with this list? Leave your own thoughts below!
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