There are many ways to skin a cat, and even more to lose a football game.
The Eagles learned the hard way what happens when your roster isn’t air-tight, winning just 4 games.
Free Agency opens in four days, and with that, an opportunity for the team to address some gaping holes that landed them in the NFC East basement.
Rumors of creating competition at quarterback mean Jalen Hurts’ clear frontrunner status could be challenged this week, while the defensive tackle position is largely already set for Week 1.
With these differences of need in mind, let’s rank the positions from least need to most (sorry, no special teams!).
10 // Defensive Tackle
Fletcher Cox remains one of the most dominant players in the NFL and second only to Aaron Donald at his position. While Malik Jackson may be released to free up cap space, this position is otherwise quite deep.
Howie Roseman is known to invest heavily here in the Draft, but keep in mind any recruits are just here for the cushion.
“A little depth can go a long way”
9 // Running Back
The Eagles should definitely secure the RB2 position, but this team has always found a way to make that work. With Miles Sanders at the helm still boasting a strong 6.0 YPC, don’t expect the Eagles to struggle to move the ball on the ground.
8 // Offensive Line
Andre Dillard and the arrival of Jordan Mailata are sure to be a headache, but too many tackles is a good problem to have. So long as they don’t ship Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce’s return signals a strong 2021 offensive line group.
If they can stay healthy, the Eagles linemen are some of the best in the league. The Draft will be a great spot to address the successor at the center, but that aside, things are looking up here.
“At least we have someone who can do the job”
7 // Tight End
Zach Ertz is still on the roster, though likely not for long. Assuming he’s out, Dallas Goedert would be in line for significant work. He’s shown he’s capable of playing like a top tight end in the league, so the position isn’t an enormous place of need.
Richard Rodgers and soon-to-be-free-agent Trey Burton are intriguing backups, though the draft could also see this spot addressed.
6 // Quarterback
Whether or not you’re high on Jalen Hurts, over-investing in this position would only hurt the team. Adding a young gun with the 6th overall pick would create unnecessary division, and reeling in a free agent who wants to start is engineering pointless drama. Hurts has a team-friendly contract, and if he sucks, we draft someone next year.
There is no sense in doing anything but bringing in a veteran or drafting a project on Day 3.
5 // Safety
Rodney McLeod is legit, and Jalen Mills adjusted pretty well. K’Von Wallace can be the real deal in good time, so there isn’t much to be done here. Like a watered-down Cornerback situation, the #2 slot could use improvement, but at least the pieces are there to play well enough.
4 // Defensive End
Here’s where we start getting nervous. If Brandon Graham is kept, he and Josh Sweat would be an imposing duo. After them? Crickets. Given that the starter here isn’t even guaranteed to stick around for the 2021 season, the Eagles will assuredly need to bring in help at the defensive end.
With little cap space to work with, expect that help to come via the draft more than anywhere else.
3 // Cornerback
Oy vey. Darius Slay and… who? Until Slay arrived, the Eagles cornerback room was like Congress: the names are unrecognizable, and no one can get anything done. Nowadays, it’s more like the cast of Homer’s The Odyssey: there’s Odysseus, and then a bunch of sailors who still can’t get anything done.
The second round of the draft should see many intriguing prospects, and we will need all the beeswax we can get to not fall victim to these sirens.
“We should, uh, probably do something about this…”
2 // Wide Receiver
It’s no secret the Eagles desperately need help at receiver. Despite being a tight end, Kyle Pitts is an intriguing prospect, along with Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Ja’Marr Chase. Free agency is also ripe with talent at the position. Regardless of how it gets addressed, this receiving corps needs a drastic boost.
The only thing keeping it from being the greatest position of need is Jalen Reagor’s chance at a second-season-surge. Keep in mind, he sat much of his rookie season but has the speed to crucify a secondary.
1 // Linebacker
Nate “The Great” Gerry is gone, leaving crowned-prince Alex Singleton and just about nobody else to lock down the middle of the field. Is Duke Riley going to step up? Can Davion Taylor be the answer? Probably not. Tight ends saw career days last season when they played the Eagles, a symptom of complete mismatches in linebacker coverage.
Singleton has said he wants to break the Eagles’ single-season tackle record, and on the volume of work-alone, he very well might. Until we have talent at linebacker, our defense will always be incomplete.
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