The Philadelphia Eagles had a roller coaster of a year in 2016. The team started the year 3-0, and many in the greater Philadelphia area believed the team was headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The team began struggling due to late game coaching errors, inefficiency at the wide receiver position, and poor play at cornerback on defense. While spiralling in a downward direction, at least they came to the conclusion that they had a franchise player to build around in Carson Wentz, and now all they need to do is acquire more pieces through free agency and the 2017 NFL draft.
The NFL draft has always been a place where teams retool their roster essentially on the cheap. Players coming out of college will not destroy a team salary cap wise, and often times young players play above their value. Each team has specific needs for their teams, and the Philadelphia Eagles biggest needs are: cornerback, defensive end, wide receiver, and running back. There are a lot of intriguing prospects coming out of the 2017 NFL Draft pool. Not every great college player though fits what the Eagles need, and this draft needs to help the team move in a positive direction.
Here are 8 players the Philadelphia Eagles should consider drafting and 7 players they should avoid:
15 Consider: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Philadelphia Eagles are in dire need of an every down running back, and Dalvin Cook would help fill one of the biggest holes currently on the Eagles roster. Cook is a versatile back who can do a little bit of everything on the field. He has the patience of a Le’Veon Bell to wait for blocking up front to open up running lanes, and he has the size and speed to be able to slip through the smallest holes and accelerate to the second level. He is also a viable receiving option at the next level as a guy who can catch balls out of the backfield or even line up in the slot if needed.
The Eagles will more than likely have a chance to grab Cook picking at 14, and if he is available they will have a running attack that can compete with the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott for years of NFC East showdowns.
14 Avoid: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Eagles do need a running back, but Christian McCaffrey may not be the best fit for what they specifically need at the position. McCaffrey was a star at Stanford by doing a little bit of everything for his team. The Cardinal used him as a key player in the passing game, and he was the catalyst for their special team’s success as a return man. Philadelphia needs an every down back, and many see McCaffrey as a guy who can give a team about 10 carries a game. This will not help the Eagles fill the need of and every down running back.
McCaffrey would be a better fit for a team who can use him as a running back and slot receiver, and the Eagles already have a good inside passing game with Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz in the equation.
13 Consider: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Mike Williams is an elite prospect at a position that the Philadelphia Eagles struggled with the most of arguably any NFL team last season. The Eagles made a splash in free agency with the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, but Williams would give Carson Wentz one of the top half wide receiving corps in the NFL after having one of the worst last season. Williams showed a tremendous ability to grab any ball thrown in his direction regardless of if it was on target or an errant throw. Alshon Jeffrey would be a great mentor for the young Mike Williams, and Williams’s 6-foot-4 inch size would make it a challenge for any NFL secondary to contain the Eagles passing attack with all of their size on the outside and inside with Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz.
12 Avoid: John Ross, WR, Washington
There is no doubt about it that John Ross has extraordinary speed, and he proved this by running a 4.22 40 yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine. The Eagles with the 14th selection, are in need of a wide receiver. Before the combine, John Ross was thought of as a late first round and possible second round pick, and the Eagles would be reaching by selecting John Ross with their 14th pick. Ross was already known to have speed prior to the combine so it isn’t really feasible for him to move up draft boards just because he showed off his already known strength at the combine.
The Eagles need a receiver who is more than just a one trick pony, and Ross struggled against physical corners when he faced Alabama in the college football playoff.
11 Consider: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Eagles were seen as an average to slightly above average defensive unit last season, but one of their biggest weaknesses was cornerback play. Currently the Eagles do not have many corners on the roster after cutting Leodis McKelvin and not re-signing Nolan Carroll. Marlon Humphrey could be the strong physical corner the Eagles have been yearning since the Lito Shepherd and Sheldon Brown days, and the team has had inconsistent corner play for quite some time now. Humphrey has the physical make up to be successful at the NFL level. Good coaching will improve his technique, and help him elevate his game to shutdown corner status. His technique is a little sloppy but Humphrey could be the corner that helps the Eagles defense succeed against the pass.
10 Avoid: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Teez Tabor was thought of as one of the top cornerbacks coming out of college football for the 2017 NFL Draft, but a subpar combine where he ran a 4.6 second 40 yard dash has his draft stock plummeting. The Eagles are in desperate need of a cornerback this draft cycle. The depth of the 2017 cornerback class is so great that corners that get taken in the 6th round this year may have as high as a second round grade, therefore the Eagles do not have to reach on taking Tabor with their first round pick. Tabor played better at Flroida with Vernon Hargreaves opposite of him. The Eagles do not have a great cornerback to make Tabor look better like Hargreaves did, and perhaps Tabor would benefit getting drafted by a team with a shutdown corner on the roster.
9 Consider: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Reuben Foster was almost certain to be selected in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft, but after a confrontation that got him sent home from the NFL Combine he may slip to where the Eagles are selecting. The Eagles do not have a major issue with their linebacker core presently. It still does not hurt to select a linebacker when only two of your three starters are viable starting options, and Foster was arguably the best linebacker in college football last season. He has a rare combination of both power and speed. Foster is also outstanding in pass coverage, and this bodes well for an Eagles defense that does not heavily blitz. If Foster is available the Eagles would be getting a top 10 talent and a possible steal in the draft.
8 Avoid: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best safety tandems in the NFL with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCloud, and adding another stud safety just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Jamal Adams is a talented prospect coming out of LSU. Adams could potentially be selected in the top 5 of the draft making him unavailable for the Eagles anyway, but if he were to slide the Eagles would be wise to continue the slide. Safety is a position that the Eagles won’t have to worry about for two or three more years after Jenkins signed an extension with the team. Adams is a hard hitting safety with great leadership qualities that will help him succeed on any team that takes a chance on him.
7 Consider: Haason Reddick, DE, Temple
Haason Reddick was thought of as a second day guy coming into the NFL Combine, but after an impressive showing he is sky rocketing up team’s draft boards and expert’s mock drafts into the first round. Reddick is so versatile in that he can rush the passer as a defensive end, play as an outside linebacker, and play in coverage as an inside linebacker. He was third in the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss in 2016, and that is a skill that every NFL team cannot get enough of.
The Eagles have no depth at the linebacker and defensive end positions, and Reddick would be an impact player who can grow with this young defense if he has the pleasure of suiting up for his hometown team.
6 Avoid: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Ryan Ramczyk will more than likely be available for the Eagles when they pick at number 14, but they would be smart to opt for a player at a different position. The Eagles' offensive line has two great tackles in future hall of famer Jason Peters and Lane Johnson who is the team’s best offensive linemen. It would be foolish of the team to spend their first pick on a backup, and the Eagles need to get talent that can produce on the field right away. Jason Peters may be done with the Eagles after 2017. The 2018 NFL Draft might be a better time for the Eagles to go tackle with their first round selection, or the Eagles cold grab a tackle later in the 2017 draft if they wanted to.
5 Consider: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
In three years as a starter with the University of Tennessee Derek Barnett had 10 or more sacks in all three years, and was rewarded by being named a first team All American his junior season. The Eagles have one good defensive end in Brandon Graham but could use some help on the other side of the line and the depth not being so great. Barnett would be a perfect fit because he can get to the quarterback and cause running plays to be stopped for losses, and this is important because the Eagles are not big on blitzing so they need their D-linemen to get pressure in the backfield. Anyone who breaks Reggie White’s sack record at the University of Tennessee would be welcomed by the Philadelphia Eagles faithful.
4 Avoid: Jabrill Peppers, LB, University of Michigan
Jabrill Peppers was a dynamic player while at the University of Michigan under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage. He did a little bit of everything on the field, and played both offense and defense for the resurgent Wolverines. Peppers is primarily a defensive player who participated at the NFL Combine as a linebacker. Many see Peppers as more of a safety at the NFL level, and the Eagles have one of the best safety tandems in football with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCloud which should make Peppers slide on the Eagles draft board. Being a Heisman finalist proves that Peppers is a talented football player. Not having a true position is a little worrisome, and this could prompt the Eagles to pass on Peppers come April 27th.
3 Consider: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The tight end position is not a primary position of need for the Philadelphia Eagles, but O.J. Howard is such a dynamic player that he has to be considered by a team that struggled in the passing game in 2016. Zach Ertz is a slightly above average tight end who seems to always start seasons slow and comes on towards the end of the season. Many teams such as the Patriots have had success with two tight end sets, and O.J. Howard could easily become an elite receiving option on the Eagles. The Eagles struggled with drops last season by their receivers. Howard rarely drops the ball, and he can run routes as quck if not quicker than a wide receiver. If Howard gets drafted by the Eagles the teams receiving core would on paper be one of the most improved units in all of football.
2 Avoid: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
With the Eagles in need of cornerback help, any top CB prospect available by pick no.14 is going to be tempting, but the Eagles should pass on Florida's Quincy Wilson, should he still be available. It's a little strange that Wilson is being touted as a possible first round pick, even though he played second fiddle to fellow corner Teez Tabor in Florida. Wilson has all the tools to be a solid corner at the NFL level, but the production just wasn't there in college to justify the Eagles drafting Wilson so early. He only managed one interception this past season, so it doesn't seem he'd be a big difference maker for the Eagles who need help in the secondary. A pick at corner could certainly wait.
1 Consider: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The position that the Eagles struggled the most at in 2016 was the wide receiver position, and who better to help with fixing their problem than Corey Davis the Division one all-time leader in receiving yards? Davis has the ability to play physical and be a deep ball threat. He has the size at 6’3 to be able to go up and get the ball, and he has the speed to be able to run under a long ball and beat his defender. Eagles receivers in 2016 were putrid in the red zone and at beating opposing corners. Davis had 19 receiving touchdowns in 2016 showing he can be a quarterback's best friend, and could be mentored by the Eagles newest acquisition Alshon Jeffrey on how to become an elite receiver at the NFL level.