By: Steve Johnson
The Eagles are probably going to be selecting somewhere in the mid to late 20s. Are they a Super Bowl contender? Probably. This time last year, it was crazy to think they could compete for a Super Bowl, so I can’t count it out this year. Are they better than the Rams or Saints right now? No, they’re not. Football works in funny ways though, hence the “any given Sunday” saying, so teams can come together at just the right time or completely fall apart. For the sake of this article, we’re assuming mid to late 20s, which equates to one, maybe two playoff wins. Don’t put me on Freezing Cold Takes if they win it all again, or if they fall apart, that’s not the point of this take. This is taking a look at the Eagles long term needs, and how they can solve their current issues in the draft. After the Golden Tate trade, the Eagles are going to have around 9 draft picks. They still own their 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th. They’ll likely receive Compensatory draft picks for the departures of Trey Burton, Beau Allen, and Patrick Robinson (4th, and 2 6ths). They also own a 7th round pick, although unconfirmed, I believe it is Denvers (from the Allen Barbre trade). These predictions are based off of our Draft Projections and Rankings. You can follow along throughout the season and leading up to the 2019 Draft at http://phanaddict.com/category/drafts/2019-nfl-draft/
1. Yodny Cajuste, G/T, West Virginia
Last year, the Eagles drafted two linemen in Mailata and Pryor, both of whom they like as projects. Drafting Cajuste would be an upgrade at either LT (with Peters future unknown) or at LG. At 6’5 318, Cajuste has ideal size to pair with his great agility. He’s a technician both the pass and run game. While not a mauler, Cajuste fits into the scheme the Eagles like to run up front, as he’s able to get into the 2nd level. We will see how he measures at the combine in terms of length, as he may be a better fit inside. Regardless of where he projects at the next level, adding a long term solution, that can start day protecting Carson Wentz would be huge.
2. (via Ravens) DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
(Mid to Late 50s)
You can read my write-up on Baker above, but the Eagles need help at CB. Jalen Mills doesn’t look like the player he has been the past couple of years. He’s always been prone to biting and taking risks, but it seems like this year it’s been worse. Rasul Douglas can’t seem to get on the field. Maddox was a nice value but he may better suited a hybrid slot corner/safety than an outside guy. Obviously a better pass rush can help that, but the Eagles aren’t healthy up front. Adding a player like Baker who fits well into what DC Jim Schwartz likes to run would be a good fit. Georgia corners don’t play if they cant tackle down in Athens, so we know that wouldn’t be an issue. What Baker excels best in is reading plays that are in front of him. He isn’t going to blow anyone by in the combine, but he is technically sound.
2. Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU
(Late 50s/Early 60s)
I think this could be a position the Eagles move back and grab some value, Howie style. Lawrence is a former 5-star recruit that hasn’t lived up to his potential, but he’s starting to come around. At 6’3 300, he’s ideal size, and has a lot of power. Lawrence constantly needs double teams to contain him. He has the quickness to shoot gaps with violent hand movements. Lawrence is still somewhat raw in his counters and his get off could need some work, but taking this type of talent at this spot is great value. The Eagles have not been healthy up front and lack the depth they had during their run last year. Ngata has provided solid depth but his future in the NFL is dwindling. The Eagles desparetely need Timmy Jernigan back, but adding another piece in the offseason to go with Cox, Graham, Jernigan and Barnett would solidify the Eagles front 4 depth next season.
4. Anthony Johnson, WR Buffalo
(Proj. Compensatory for Trey Burton)
Early in the season, the Eagles severely lacked depth at the WR position. Mike Wallace was signed as a free agent but was injured, Mack Hollins went down, and Alshon Jeffery missed the first few games. Although Gibson and Hollins are both signed through 2021, neither have impressed. Both would need to shine in the 2019 training camp to secure a roster spot, as both could be cut on the cheap. Adding a WR like Johnson could be exactly what the Eagles need. Johnson, a late bloomer who had to attend Community College first, is a good athlete who has natural receiver qualities. While the technical aspects of the position are still coming to him, playing the ball in the air comes naturally to him. At 6’2 207 he offers good size and projects to be a good possession WR with upside.
5. Lukas Denis, S, Boston College
The Eagles lack depth at safety and it’s showing. Both Jenkins and McLeod are signed through 2021, but will both be 30+. After them, the Eagles have nothing and haven’t for a few years. Every year they find a guy they like as an UDFA or off waivers, but they never seem to make an impact on defense. Denis could be molded into that role as a 3rd safety and possible future starter. At 5’11 185, he is somewhat below average in terms of bulk, but he isn’t the type of guy that is lining up in the box. Denis is a true centerfielder that always seems to be around the ball.
6. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
As mentioned above, I believe the Eagles need to hammer secondary. Maybe part of it is the bend don’t break strategy but the secondary has been a mess. Taking a couple guys to battle out for 2-3 spots certainly wouldn’t hurt, as it’s arguably their biggest need. Ya-Sin, has impressed in his first season at Temple. At 5’11 190, he isn’t the biggest guy, but he has good length and plays physical. What stands out most on his film is his ball skills, constantly making good quick reads on the ball. He is still completely raw, as only a one year starter in D1, but has the upside of a good zone coverage corner that can turn and run.
6. Drew Lewis, LB, Colorado
(Proj. Compensatory for Patrick Robinson)
The Eagles lack depth at LB, despite Kamu Grugier-Hill stepping up in when asked upon. Jordan Hicks is a free agent after this year, and although I’m sure they have intentions of resigning him, they have a lot of money tied up elsewhere. Lewis reminds me a lot of Hicks, he has the speed to run sideline to sideline, is a good blitzer, and has the upside to become reliable in pass coverage. The mental processing and technical side of his game still needs to come together, but he has starting LB potential.
6. Matt Coburn, RB, Wake Forrest
(Proj. Compensatory for Beau Allen)
The Eagles seriously need to upgrade at RB. This year doesn’t offer any single stud like Saquon Barkley, but does offer a rather deep class with some diamonds in the rough. Jay Ajayi will be coming off a knee injury, and is a pending free agent. Sproles has barely touched the field this year, dealing with injuries. Clement has been a nice weapon out of the backfield, but cannot be counted on to handle a full work load. Wendall Smallwood has been getting the main share of carries, but has barely stuck around for the past few years. Coburn is a well rounded back that can bring a lot to an offense. He offers good size at 5’10 200, good receiving skills, good wiggle and is a competitive runner. Coburn doesn’t have a single trait that shines, but would fit nicely in with the Eagles current backs.
7. (DEN) KaVontae Turpin, WR, TCU
I’ve always said anything in the 7th round is a lottery ticket, hell the Eagles selected a rugby player in the 7th round last year. I thought of going with QB here, as Sudfeld is a upcoming Free Agent, but the Eagles could wait another year to find someone to back up Wentz after Foles time here is done. KaVontae Turpin is one of the fastest players in college football. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He has some red flags (arrested for assault in Oct), and doesn’t have the size or overall WR skill set to be drafted earlier than day three. My mock already has the Eagles adding a WR and a RB to help Wentz, as well as an Offensive Lineman, but adding a gadget weapon could really take the Offense to the next step.