With the 2022 NFL Draft only two weeks away, the Eagles still have major holes to fill within their roster. Their most recent trade with the Saints netted them a first round pick in the 2023 draft in exchange for a swap between pick 19 and 18 in this year’s draft, and pick 16. The Eagles will now be selecting at 15 and 18 in the first round on April 28th.
With some near misses on free agent WRs this offseason, the Eagles have shown that they’re desperately looking to upgrade the position. They brought in Zach Pascal on a one-year deal but it’s clear that’s not the only move they’ll make at WR. All signs are pointing to the Eagles spending a third consecutive first round pick on a receiver. So far they’re 1-2, so there’s hope that the Eagles can select someone that can contribute right away like Devonta Smith did in 2021.
Highest graded rookie WR’s on contested catches last season
🥇 DeVonta Smith: 82.2
🥈 Rashod Bateman: 77.4
🥉 Josh Palmer: 74.5 pic.twitter.com/ddbTWmo3yV
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 15, 2022
Most mock drafts have the Eagles using the 15th overall pick on a WR, whether that be Jameson Williams, Drake London, or the best receiver available. I think with how this offseason has gone, it’s the right move to select a receiver at 15. With the WR needy Saints picking right behind the Eagles at 16 thanks to their trade, that might be where they get their guy. But as for the 18th overall pick, I think CB is the position the Eagles should draft.
Defensive line is another worthy position to draft for in this spot, and the Eagles notoriously are much more successful at drafting offensive and defensive line players in the first round. In fact, the last time the Eagles drafted a cornerback in the first round was in the 2002 NFL Draft where they selected Lito Sheppard who made 2 Pro Bowls during his seven years with the Eagles. While it remains unlikely that Howie would draft a corner in the first round for the first time in 20 years, it’s what this team needs.
Eagles were reportedly among the top teams trying to sign former DPOY Stephon Gilmore 👀
With the CB free agency market drying up, I wonder if this interest carries over into the draft.
The last cornerback drafted by the Eagles in the first round was Lito Sheppard 20 years ago. https://t.co/HN5HAJN2LL
— Neer Ray (@NeerRayNFL) April 15, 2022
With Steven Nelson going to Houston in free agency, the only above average corner on the Eagles roster is Darius Slay. With that said, Slay is still playing at an elite level and remains one of the league’s best. Darius Slay once again had a Pro Bowl season where he started all 16 games and totaled 3 interceptions and 48 solo tackles. Slay is a dominant lockdown corner at the age of 31, the problem is the Eagles outside of Avonte Maddox are lacking at the position. They need to get younger and more dynamic in the secondary. And the options available in this year’s draft provide viable options to do just that.
The first option and who I would want the Eagles to draft is Andrew Booth Jr. out of Clemson. Booth Jr. is a 6’0 versatile coverage corner that possesses a unique mix of athleticism, instincts, and competitive toughness that immediately translates to the next level. He can play anywhere on the field, and is most known for his excellent footwork and tackling ability.
What makes him the outlier for me is his alpha-dog mentality that I think would rub off on teammates. He’d immediately be in a position to compete for the number 2 spot, and could be the perfect type of player to line up alongside Darius Slay.
If Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley are gone, bring me Andrew Booth Jr. pic.twitter.com/97uUOPhttc
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 15, 2022
His ability to excel in both man and zone coverage will allow him to zoom around and make plays when targeted. He also will be a willing tackler in the run game which should result in increased playing time. There isn’t much missing from his skillset or his character, and for those reasons I think he projects as a future cornerstone at the position if the Eagles decide to select him.
The 2nd best option in my opinion is Trent McDuffie out of Washington. McDuffie has been a riser on draft board’s after his phenomenal 2021 season. At Washington in his junior year, McDuffie had 35 solo tackles and a career high 6 pass deflections. McDuffie, considered a bit smaller for the position at 5 ’10 makes up for it with lightning quick speed and rare explosiveness.
McDuffie has all the physical tools to become a top corner in the NFL if he can continue to improve in zone coverage and play recognition. The only thing really keeping him from being a top 15 pick in this draft is his size compared to the other options such as Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. who are both over 6’1.
— NFL (@NFL) April 9, 2022
But his athletic profile and next level ball skills project him to be a starting cornerback in the NFL for the foreseeable future. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with the ability to chase athletic receivers across the field and make plays in the backfield. I think Andrew Booth Jr. is a slightly better prospect for the reasons I stated above, but I still think selecting Trent McDuffie at 18th overall would fill the need to get younger and more dynamic at the position.
Overall, there’s a good chance Howie Roseman and the Eagles go chalk in this year’s draft and stick to their bread and butter with line play. Receiver seems likely for at least 1 of the 2 picks, but with how this offseason has played out, I think corner is a more pressing need than a defensive or offensive line.
While this year’s draft doesn’t necessarily have the firepower near the top, it’s a deeper draft on the edge and secondary. I still think my dream scenario is Drake London and Andrew Booth Jr. for the Eagles in the first round, but that might be subject to change as we move closer. For now we’ll have to wait two more weeks to see if the Eagles break their 20 year streak of not selecting a cornerback in the first round.
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