Following a roller-coaster of a season, the Eagles enter the upcoming draft with the 25th pick. The team of course miraculously qualified for the playoffs then pulled off another miracle thanks to Cody Parkey’s double doink.
At one point, it looked like last season was going to be a lost one. Ultimately, however, the last two games of the season ended up having an effect on their draft position. Had they not made the playoffs they could have been picking seven spots higher, but who cares?
It will be interesting to see who the Eagles will choose with their first round selection. However, it is certain that Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will be looking for someone who can be an impact player. As it stands, the team has several needs on both sides of the ball. Running-back is still a major concern as the Eagles have been mostly working by committee since the team traded away LeSean McCoy in 2015 (thanks Chip Kelly). This draft also has several strong offensive tackles. This is key as the team may be looking to replace Jason Peters. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, at the moment, is the expected future blindside protector for Carson Wentz and the front office may be looking for someone with more upside to fill that role.
The defense also needs help, particularly on the line as well as at linebacker. The defensive line has already lost three key players this off-season in Timmy Jernigan, Michael Bennett, and Haloti Ngata. The team could also soon find themselves without recent Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner Chris Long. The team brought in former Jaguars and Broncos DT Malik Jackson last week the hole as the second starting DT next to Fletcher Cox and are also currently in talks with Vinny Curry. Historically, the defensive line is a group where the Eagles like to have lots of depth on the second unit. Things have become increasingly thin at linebacker since the team parted ways with wolf of wall street Mychal Kendricks last off-season and will now have to replace starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. Hicks recently signed a 4-year deal last week with the Arizona Cardinals and he’s likely to get replaced by the recently signed L.J Fort.
So all that said, let’s look at some likely choices for the Eagles if they remain at the 25th pick.
Josh Jacobs – RB, Alabama
Jacobs is coming off a strong season with Alabama where he racked up almost 900 yards from scrimmage as well as 14 touchdowns. Jacobs is exactly who the Eagles are looking for in a running back, in my opinion. He’s a guy who can move the ball in more ways than one, thus fitting in with the type of backs the Eagles have gone with in recent years.
The red-shirt junior is expected to be selected towards the end of the first round, making him a theoretical strong choice for the Eagles at 25. His stock is rising, however.
Christian Wilkins – DT, Clemson
Wilkins – a three-year starter at defensive tackle for Clemson – is coming off another productive season in which he finished third on the team with 14 TFL and 5.5 sacks. The Eagles are thin at the position behind Malik Jackson and Fletcher Cox and very well may be looking to add depth. Sure, they may very well be bringing back Vinny Curry, but it will be a short term deal and the team could use some upside. Wilkins is someone who can fill that depth and can eventually transition into a starter down the road if all goes well.
Jachai Polite – EDGE, Florida
Polite – who’s name does not match his position – is an edge rusher out of Florida. He is coming off of a career season in which he finished with 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, leading the team in both. Polite’s athleticism shows first round talent but his stock has fallen since his poor performance at the combine. After finishing with a 4.8 – which was much slower than expected – he pulled himself from the remaining drills because he said he had been dealing with a hamstring injury. Polite later told reporters he had issues with personnel from the Packers and said that they were “bashing him” and trying to “figure out his character”.
Nonetheless, adding someone like Polite would be a huge boost to the Eagles edge rush on passing downs, especially if Chris Long is gone.
The Eagles have been known to move up or down in the draft depending on who is available. If they see a player they desire and feel they can move up and acquire for a fair price, they’ll do it.
Ed Oliver DT Houston
Oliver is someone who headed into the 2018 season considered a near lock to be a top 5 pick. He ultimately had an up and down junior season in which he missed several games and also had a heated dispute with his head coach on the sideline. With Oliver, the talent is there but he has been thrown anywhere from 8-18 in mock drafts.
While his talent has clearly shown on the field, many are still concerned with his character issues. The Eagles have been known to select players even if they may have some off the field issues and their locker-room has a reputation for absorbng distractions. If they have the chance to move up to say, the 15th pick to select Oliver, they might do it.
Devin White – LSU, Middle Line-backer
It is a bit of a stretch to think that White has any chance to be on the Eagles radar. He is expected to be a top 10 pick, but, he is the top player at a position the Eagles desperately need help at. White had a strong combine, finishing with the best 40 at his position and is already getting comparisons to players such as Patrick Willis.
Over his last two seasons starting for LSU, White has finished with 256 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. If the Eagles were to acquire White, they would immediately have a top 15 player at the middle linebacker position and one of the youngest stars on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL. It’s a stretch, but we can dream, can’t we?