Week one of free agency is now behind us, and the Eagles have made a few moves that will likely affect their strategy when the NFL Draft rolls around in April. More moves can still be made, but the Eagles are shaping up to have a few needs that can addressed through the draft.

Thanks to the DeSean Jackson trade in which the Eagles dealt one of their 2019 sixth-round picks, the Eagles are set to have seven selections in the draft, including one first-rounder, two second-rounders, two fourth-rounders, one fifth-rounder and one sixth-rounder.

Some of the current needs are running back, linebacker, safety, defensive line and offensive line depth.

Be sure to check out Eagles Mock Draft 3.0 before the newest thinking is unveiled.

Now, here is the latest look at who the Eagles could select in the upcoming NFL Draft:

Round 1, Pick 25: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama

It hasn’t been very often that the Eagles have taken a running back in the first round of the draft. As a matter of fact, the Eagles selected a running back in the first two rounds just once since 2000. However, it also isn’t very often that the Eagles are paying three wide receivers more than $24 million total, ranking second in the NFL, and is a clear sign of the devotion to giving as many assets as possible to Carson Wentz and the offense.

The Eagles passed on Tevin Coleman, who has been a backup his entire career, and Mark Ingram, who was suspended for PEDs last season and is turning 30 next December. With not much left in the running back department in free agency, it looks like this may be the year the Eagles commit to a running back early in the draft. There is also no secret that the Eagles running game significantly hindered the offense down the stretch in 2018, and addressing that position is arguably the biggest remaining need this offseason.

Josh Jacobs of Alabama is arguably the most sought after halfback in the draft. In his three years at Alabama, Jacobs averaged 5.9 yards per carry, and in 2018, he had a career-high 11 rushing touchdowns. Jacobs also is a bit of a receiving threat, averaging 16 catches per season. Jacobs also doesn’t have too much tread on his tires coming into the league, as he’s totaled just 251 carries over his three collegiate seasons.

Jacobs did not participate in the majority of drills at the combine, so his 40-yard dash time is unclear. However, Jacobs showed last season what he possesses as a runner: speed in the open field, the ability to hit the open hole, and he is a very physical runner as well.

Jacobs would be the perfect fit to slide into the Eagles backfield and lead their committee alongside Corey Clement, Josh Adams, and potentially Darren Sproles. Jacobs also has the potential to be the workhorse in years to come if the Eagles draft him.

Here is Jacobs’ highlights from the 2018-19 season.

Round 2, Pick 53: S Juan Thornhill, Virginia

The Eagles solidified the safety position for 2019 after restructuring Rodney McLeod’s deal, but he is now set to hit the open market after next season. The Eagles also frequently use three safety sets, which creates even more of a need at this position.

Virginia’s Juan Thornhill is a prime candidate for the Eagles to target at safety in the second round and his versatility would allow him to thrive in a stacked field of defensive back’s on the team. Thornhill has the prototypical safety size of 6’0 and 205 pounds, with his 40-yard dash of 4.42 seconds allows him to quickly cover opposing receivers, and his 21 bench press reps show his strength as being a physical defender.

In 2018, Thornhill had a whopping 98 tackles, and also had six interceptions and seven pass deflections. Thornhill’s ability to play well in coverage is what’s most important in his game, and being able to learn from Malcolm Jenkins, who is as versatile a safety as they come, would be a great thing for Thornhill in the start of his career.

Here are some of Thornhill’s top plays from 2018.

Round 2, Pick 57: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

The signing of Malik Jackson

helped solidify the starting defensive line for the Eagles, but the depth behind Fletcher Cox and Jackson isn’t too impressive.

Dexter Lawrence is a prime candidate for the Eagles to target in the second round. Lawrence was thought to potentially be a late first-round pick, but it seems the sense lately is that he’ll fall towards the later half of the second-round now. Regardless, Lawrence is one of the better prospects in what looks to be one of the deepest drafts for defensive line talent in recent memory.

Jackson struggles most in the run game, and was even benched last season with the Jaguars due to those struggles, but Lawrence thrives against the run. Lawrence’s size at 6’4 and 351 pounds allows him to clog the lanes, but he’s more than just a big body. Lawrence is skilled in shaking off offensive lineman and instantly penetrating the backfield to get tackles for a loss. In 2018, Lawrence had 36 tackles, and 7.0 of them were for a loss.

Lawrence is best in the run game, but he has also showed potential in being a capable pass rusher as well. In 2016, Lawrence had 6.5 sacks. He never got close to putting up similar numbers, but being put in the right system where all eyes aren’t on him would allow him to succeed against the pass.

Here are some of Lawrence’s best plays in his collegiate career.

Round 4, Pick 127: WR Darius Slayton, Auburn

The Eagles traded for DeSean Jackson, filling their deep-threat need, retained Nelson Agholor and obviously still have Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles now have their trio of starting wide receivers, but behind them, the depth is a little cloudy. Mach Hollins didn’t play all of last season due to injury, and Shelton Gibson has been inconsistent in his time as an Eagle.

Round four is a good time for the Eagles to address this need, and Darius Slayton is certainly an option they could look at. Slayton ran a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine, and also had a 40.5″ vertical jump. Slayton’s athleticism alone would allow him to be a nice toy for Carson Wentz to use, especially when all eyes will frequently be on the three-headed monster of receivers, along with the Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert duo that the Eagles have.

At Auburn in 2018, Slayton caught 35 passes for 670 yards (19.1 yards per reception) and also had five touchdowns. Slayton doesn’t have much experience as a returner, but his numbers from the combine may show that he could move into a returner role as well.

Regardless, Slayton is a receiver who wouldn’t have to be depended on too much considering who is in front of him, but being able to develop in the Eagles system, along with learning from Jackson, would allow him the opportunity to fill his potential.

Round 4, Pick 138: OT Tyler Roemer, San Diego State

The Eagles are retaining LT Jason Peters for 2019, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jordan Mailata are respectively behind him in the depth chart. However, Mailata still seems to be a work-in-progress, and Vaitai also is only under contract for one more season. With that being said, left tackle seems to be a position the Eagles will have to target in the draft.

Tyler Roemer’s collegiate career finished in a dramatic way; Roemer was suspended by the team and he later declared for the draft. Roemer said that his experience at San Diego State had highs and lows, but he learned from his dismissal from the team and is focused on proving himself in the NFL.

Character issues aside, Roemer proved to be a fairly trustworthy left tackle at SDSU. Roemer started 23 straight games at left tackle and was named to second-team all-Mountain West in 2017. Roemer has showed NFL-level potential at SDSU, but scouts reportedly say he would greatly benefit from another year or two of development.

As had been said with previous picks, Roemer being able to learn from one of the greats in Peters would only mean good things. Roemer is 6’7 and 315 pounds, and his style of play could benefit from having a great mentor like Peters while he plays out his final season.

Round 5: DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon

The fate of Chris Long will likely determine how long the Eagles are willing to wait for a defensive end in the draft. The Eagles have Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett set to start at DE next season, and Long is unsure about returning for 2019. After trading Michael Bennett to the Patriots, Josh Sweat, who was selected in the fourth round in last years draft, is the only other notable player in a backup role at the position.

If Long does return, the Eagles could feel comfortable enough to wait until round five to select a defensive end, and Jalen Jelks is one player who is worthy of a look.

In 2018, Jelks had 56 tackles for the Oregon Ducks, including 7.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. At 6’5 and 256 pounds, Jelks fits in similarly to the current bunch of defensive ends the Eagles have, but he does need to get stronger to be more effective.

Jelks played well in the senior bowl, though, and got the best of Dalton Risner, who is expected to be one of the top offensive lineman selected in this years draft.

Round 6: LB TJ Edwards, Wisconsin

This is another position where how long the Eagles wait in the draft to select a guy at this spot is dependent on how the remainder of free agency plays out. Currently, after losing Jordan Hicks to the Cardinals in free agency, the Eagles have just Paul Worrilow and LJ Fort at inside linebacker. Both Worrilow and Fort are primarily backup linebackers and special teamer’s, though Fort did show some potential down the stretch last season with the Steelers as a starter. The Eagles have used Nigel Bradham on the inside when they’ve had to, but he’s at his best on the outside.

TJ Edwards is someone who would be most effective against the run for the Eagles, and would be a useful player to target this late in the draft. Edwards is great at filling gaps and plays his best on early downs. In 2018, Edwards had 112 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss, and he even added three interceptions.

Edwards doesn’t seem to have the potential to be an every-down linebacker, but the Eagles using three safety sets would make that need a little less important.


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