If you’re like me (and every other pro football fan), then you love digesting every possible mock draft you can get your hands on. I spend more time than I’d like to admit scouring the latest mocks to see where some of my favorite college players are going, and what player is mocked to the Eagles. In a year where the Eagles needs have been so clearly on display, I find myself even more intrigued by all these hypotheticals.
I’ve always been a fan of organizations using a “best available” approach rather than drafting by need. For the most part, I think it allows teams to avoid rating someone higher than they should, based on how much they need to fill a particular inefficiency.
It’s more than apparent that the Eagles having glaring needs at WR, and CB. The case could be made for improvements at RB, LB, and o-line depth as well. Many of the mocks I’ve seen have the Eagles taking one of the elite corners in the first round. While this would essentially fill one of the Eagles biggest trouble areas, I disagree with this notion. And, even if a particular corner is very highly rated and available when the Eagles are on the clock, I would argue that the Birds should go strictly offense. Of course, this is assuming one of the talented skill players listed below is still available. If not, then absolutely draft a corner.
I’m not opposed to filling a need, but at this point, I would argue the development of Carson Wentz is more of a priority than strengthening any other position, corner included. I’m sold that Wentz is the franchise quarterback of the future. Sure, he made some boneheaded plays, but for the most part they can be chalked up to rookie mistakes. Even with a hodgepodge offensive line and an embarrassing receiving corps, he was still able to throw for 3,782 yards. The challenge, though, is that his average pass was a measly 6.23 yards, according to ESPN.com. There was minimal down the field presence, which leaves the offense much easier to defend against. In order for Wentz to make strides in his development, he needs better talent around him.
That starts with weapons. Wentz is a hunter and a pretty good one at that. But I would argue that if you replaced his shotgun with a BB gun, he just wouldn’t be as effective. It’s time to load him up with some bigger caliber toys to play with. Thanks to the utter collapse of the Vikings, the Eagles will be picking 14th in the draft. While there isn’t complete consensus, many mocks agree that there should be some real offensive game changers available when the Eagles are on the clock.
Whether it’s Clemson’s Mike Williams or Washington’s John Ross, there could be some immediate upgrades to the wide receiver corps. Both players accounted for over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns this season. Think what Carson would be able to do with talent like this. (I would completely avoid Western Michigan’s Corey Davis in the first round. Even though he’s been skyrocketing up everyone’s big boards, I think Davis is a Day Two talent.)
But helping Wentz develop isn’t solely limited to drafting wide receivers early. There are some really talented running backs who could change the dynamic of the offense and take some off the pressure of Wentz. Sure, the Eagles were pretty productive this season from the running back position, but I wouldn’t put much stock in Ryan Matthews returning. Sproles is a great asset, but not a primary back. If someone like Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is still available when the Eagles are on the clock, Howie would be foolish not to scoop him up. Cook’s numbers speak for themselves, but I’m still going to share a few standout stats. In 2016, Cook’s average run was almost equal to Wentz’s average pass. He amassed 4,446 rushing yards and 935 receiving yards in three stellar seasons. Touchdowns? Oh, he’s had 48 of them. Cook is a monster, and whether it’s with his legs or his hands, he would make an immediate impact on the offense. Oh, and then there’s this stat:
I’m not going to spend too much more time in the next 112 days talking about who the Eagles should draft, but I’ll just say this: Just getting a franchise quarterback isn’t enough, just ask the Colts.