By: Michael Duncan
This is a critical offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year, they were able to secure their franchise QB by trading up in the draft for Carson Wentz. Now they must take the next step in surrounding him with the proper tools and talent needed to build a sustainable title contender they talk about wanting to become. They will be active in Free Agency and trades as they typically are but the key, as always, will be having a successful draft. Joe Douglas, brought in from the Baltimore Ravens, will play a key role in this aspect as he has full autonomy to set the draft board per Howie Roseman.
The positional needs for the team are pretty clear cut and will be heavily talked about in the next few months, with WR and CB being the most focused on. However, I would prefer to focus on acquiring playmakers at any position as the Eagles almost completely devoid in that department.
Offensively, they ranked in the bottom 5 in the NFL in 20+ and 40+ yard gains through the air. They were also 1 of only 6 teams without a 40+ yard gain on the ground and had only 7 gains of 20+ on the ground. Add that to the amount of dropped passes especially in key situations, and it is easy to see why this team did not win many games, including games that were close to the end. WR will need to be completely overhauled. There is no point in elaborating on that. Zach Ertz is a very solid TE but is not a gamebreaking talent. He could be a very effective player with better talent surrounding him. Darren Sproles is probably the best playmaker on offense…And while we all love him, he is not an every down player and this year could very likely be his last. Wentz needs help badly.
Defensively, it is a similar situation. On the defensive line, Brandon Graham is a very good player and while he led the league in QB hurries he only had 5.5 sacks! I think you can make the case that a playmaking pass rusher is as important a need as any on the team. Heck it might be the most important player in the NFL next to QB. At linebacker Jordan Hicks is a young talented guy who had 5 interceptions this year. He is what we are looking for. In the secondary the corners are a complete disaster, with their top 3 of McKelvin, Carroll, and Mills accounting for 3 total interceptions while showing an extreme lack of ball skills in the air in the process of allowing the 4th most 20+ yard completions and 2nd most 40+ yard completions. In fact, the Eagles ranked dead last in the NFL in team passing big play differential per https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/team-passing-big-play-differential/2016/ by a large margin.
The Eagles clearly need to locate players on both sides of the ball capable of making plays for their team to not only put them in position to win games, but come through in clutch situations to win said games. Going forward, especially on articles dealing with the draft, I will be spending a majority of my focus on these type of players.