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Strong Moves Behind, More To Come

Posted Mar 12, 2016

This is not over, by any means, but the heaviest of the free agent action is over for the Philadelphia Eagles, who transition now into the NFL Draft phase of the offseason. There’s a lot going on, and all of it is good as the Eagles weigh the moves they’ve made and what might be ahead ...

  • Offensive line was a huge area of priority for the Eagles, who had guard Brandon Brooks at the top of their free-agency wish list. They went out and got him and added a 335-pound guard to team with tackle Lane Johnson on the right side of the offensive line. Brooks provides more bulk to a line that had trouble with stout defensive lines in 2015, and he helps take some of the pressure off of center Jason Kelce, who defenses tried to blow up off the snap of the ball last season. The Eagles aren’t done with the offensive line, though. They want more depth at guard, someone to challenge Allen Barbre on the left side at guard. If there is a tackle of the future who can step up when left tackle Jason Peters is eventually finished his career, that’s great, too.

  • Nigel Bradham fits into the “attack style” of defense that coordinator Jim Schwartz wants after playing for four seasons in Buffalo, including the 2014 campaign when Schwartz was the coordinator there. Bradham can play either the SAM position or the WILL side, but the guess here is that he starts off on the strong side at 6-2 and 241 pounds. A projection from this perspective: Bradham plays the strong side, Jordan Hicks is in the middle and Mychal Kendricks gets first look on the weak side, away from the tight end.
     
  • I’ve already talked about the quarterback position and how it shapes up at the top, but there is certainly room for another player in the room now that the Eagles dealt Mark Sanchez to the Denver Broncos for a conditional draft pick in 2017. It’s impressive that the Eagles received any compensation for Sanchez, who was a clear target to be released once the Eagles signed Chase Daniel in free agency. Howie Roseman and his team did a wonderful job assessing the market and gaining compensation in the deals that sent cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to Miami and then running back DeMarco Murray to Tennessee. The Eagles now have the eighth pick in the first round and the second pick in the fourth round, No. 100 overall. The team has a total of nine draft picks.
     
  • Speaking of the draft, what do the Eagles do at No. 8? They have plenty of options and are in possession of a very strong selection. The ability to move from No. 13 overall to No. 8 means a lot.

“The way we looked at it, we felt like there were 10 players that really stood out to us,” Roseman said. “Picking 13th, we felt like if we were in position to get one of those top 10 guys, there was tremendous value in that, and to be able to do that before draft day and spend time vetting all those guys, we knew that would really help us doing it before draft day – we’ve seen in the past that you're not always able to do that on draft day – so to be able to do that and put it in our pocket and have it, it would help us with the direction of our offseason.

“We’re very comfortable picking at eight. For us, we know that we’re going to get a really good player. We’re just going to go into it with best available player and we know that whoever falls to that spot is going to have a chance to be Pro Bowl caliber. It’s really exciting for us, but again, we’re open to anything that we think improves our football team. No options are off the table as we go into the draft.”

The Eagles will get what they feel is a prime player at No. 8 and are keeping their options open as to which position they target. That’s a very good scenario.

  • Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have a chance to become an outstanding team at safety for the Eagles, who have added flexibility and playmaking skills to the secondary. McLeod is a physical player who can also cover. With the additions of Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks at cornerback, the Eagles also can keep Jenkins at safety in the nickel, rather than move him into the slot, as they did last year. It still wouldn’t hurt to add more at safety, though, and challenge Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin (Chris Maragos is more of a special teams ace, although he had quality snaps at safety last year).

  • How will it look at running back for the Eagles? Great question. Ryan Mathews is an explosive player, but long-term durability has been his challenge. Darren Sproles is more of a situational player in the backfield. Kenjon Barner has some juice, as he showed last season, and will have an opportunity to earn some reps. And the Eagles can still dip into free agency or the draft to add to the position. There are some outstanding running back prospects in this draft. Coach Duce Staley is busy attending Pro Days and evaluating the prospects.
     
  • What about wide receiver? Yeah, the Eagles are going to add to the group, but they chose not to invest in the top-tier of the free-agency class. And remember this: The Eagles think very highly of Jordan Matthews, they believe that Nelson Agholor is going to take a huge jump in his second season and they are going to look to get Josh Huff into being a more productive, week-in, week-out player.
     
  • What’s next in free agency? There are some good players still out there, many of whom will now opt for one-year, prove-it deals. The Eagles still have some flexibility under the salary cap and can still do some business. The big deal out there is the one for defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, one that requires a lot of attention and time.

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