From The Eagles.
This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.
There is a lot of talk, naturally, about which position the Eagles will address with their first-round draft pick in April, whether they move up, stay put at 14, or bounce out of that spot to acquire more selections. It is, easily, the No. 1 question asked with the draft still six weeks away. But maybe that’s not the real issue for a football team that still has some defined needs, and a good handful of them. It’s not about the first pick. And it’s not about a single position, necessarily.
Because for the Eagles to have a really, really good offseason, they have to nail a high percentage of their personnel decisions. Signing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, adding offensive guard Chance Warmack and Quarterback Nick Foles, and retaining offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski and linebacker Najee Goode make sense. Lots of it. The Eagles had a good first week in free agency. Now they need to add to it.
The mood at the NovaCare Complex is extremely upbeat in the aftermath of the early free-agency returns. Alshon Jeffery? I never thought it would happen. Sitting and watching Torrey Smith run past defensive backs last season as a San Francisco 49er, only to see the wobbling, off-target passes not giving him a chance to make a play? Very encouraging. Hoping that Warmack, after playing for three offensive line coaches in Tennessee, will return to his prime form reunited with college line coach Jeff Stoutland? Hey, this offensive line could be really something outstanding. Nick Foles vs. Chase Daniel? Seems like a win at the backup quarterback position. At least that’s what the coaching staff thinks, for sure. Free agency, however, is not the answer to teams’ ills, in general. Free agency fills a need here and a need there. It is not the way to build a roster. It is not the way to put together a championship team. So the Eagles have been judicious in free agency, limited in part by a tighter-than-usual salary-cap situation, and that’s OK.
The draft is where the Eagles need to hit big. And not just with the first pick. They’ve got eight selections, as it stands now. Whatever they decide to do with No. 14 overall, they need to make it a great pick. Missing badly on Danny Watkins in 2011, seeing that Marcus Smith (2014) hasn’t become a starter and watching Nelson Agholor (2015) struggle as he has for two seasons are stark reminders of just how important those first-round selections are to a roster.
But just as telling, only 15 of the 54 players drafted from 2010-2015 remain on this roster, and some of them are battling for roster spots (Taylor Hart, converted from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, safety Jaylen Watkins) or question marks (linebacker Mychal Kendricks) or players who were traded and recently added as an unrestricted free agent (quarterback Nick Foles). The Eagles have to hit with a high percentage of their decisions in the draft and in any other way they acquire players in this offseason. I love what they’ve done in free agency. Jeffery and Smith are major upgrades at wide receiver. A very nice first week.
It’s what they do from this point forward, though, that is going to be every bit as telling. They need good football players across the board – running back, wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker, secondary. They need to be outstanding in this offseason – and next offseason, too – to build this roster back into contending form. It’s not just about the first pick. It’s about a whole lot more than that for the Eagles.
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