Not all drafts are created equal. Some drafts have more stars. Others have more depth. Sometimes the team has very specific needs that must be addressed. Other times the team can focus on finding the best players. Each year the personnel people for a team have to map out a strategy for how to attack the draft.
We obviously don’t know what Howie Roseman is thinking right now, but one idea he should consider is trading back to acquire more picks. Why? There are a record number of underclassmen in this draft. That means there will be more good players than usual in this class. It also means there is a decent chance that next year’s draft class will be a bit light, since so many guys who would have been key Seniors won’t be there.
The Eagles were conservative last year and that strategy served them well. They didn’t make any major moves up the board. They didn’t move back, since there were players they wanted at each pick. It was important for Chip Kelly to get very specific players last year. He was laying the foundation for his program. He needed the right guys. Now that the foundation is in place, he’s got a bit more flexibility.
And the Eagles need depth. Think about CB. The starters are okay. Brandon Boykin is a terrific nickelback. After that, the cupboard is basically empty. Roc Carmichael got on the field enough for me to feel like there isn’t a whole lot more there. Curtis Marsh hasn’t shown anything to make us think he’ll pan out. The Eagles could draft 3 CBs and hope that 2 of them pan out.
Safety is wide open right now since so many guys are free agents. If the season started tomorrow, Earl Wolff and Keelan Johnson would be lonely. Patrick Chung is still on the roster, but I’m sure the team would like to cut him and move on. The Eagles probably want to re-sign Nate Allen and Colt Anderson, but there are no guarantees that will work out. The Eagles could very well draft a pair of Safeties.
The Eagles could try to bring in a couple of O-linemen. Three starters are older than 30. Backup Allen Barbre isn’t a young guy. There is a need for some depth here, depending on what the team thinks of guys like Michael Bamiro and Dennis Kelly.
There is room for depth on the DL. At the least, the Eagles need a backup NT and competition for a backup DE spot.
OLB is more of a mystery. We don’t know if Brandon Graham will stick around. Heck, he could be someone you trade to acquire extra picks. Travis Long will have a chance to be the backup to Connor Barwin this year. I can’t imagine Casey Matthews will be back in that role. The Eagles could draft an OLB or two.
WR might need help, even if Mac and Coop come back. I have to think Jason Avant will be cut or dealt. Damaris Johnson seems like a goner. Jeff Maehl was serviceable for 2013, but needs to be upgraded. Brad Smith is a guy I think could be a solid contributor. Arrelious Benn and BJ Cunningham are guys you hope pan out, but simply can’t count on.
TE could be a spot to add to. Brent Celek was terrific, but isn’t getting any younger. Zach Ertz looks like a star in the making. We have no idea what the plans for James Casey will be moving ahead to next year. Emil Igwenagu has a cool name, but has never looked like anything more than a role player.
Spots like QB and ILB could be draft targets.
There aren’t a ton of holes in terms of starters right now and that hopefully will be even smaller after free agency moves, but there is room for depth. The Eagles could load up on 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks. With the underclassmen in this draft, you could get some real interesting players. They may need time to develop, but could possibly be good role players right away.
Roseman could look at this differently. He could see the possibility of trading up to get some really good players. And the UDFA class could be very good with the extra bodies that will be pushed out of the draft.
There is no right or wrong strategy here, just different ways to approach the situation. The execution of the picks is the real key. You can spend 10 picks to find 5 good players or you could spend 6 picks to find 5 good players. It will be interesting to see what Roseman and the Eagles do. I don’t know if Chip Kelly will have much of a say in draft strategy. That’s more of a GM thing. I’m sure Roseman will talk to him about the subject, but I’m not sure Kelly will have strong feelings.
I labeled this as “Part 1” because the strategy discussion could change quite a bit based on who the Eagles do sign/re-sign and who they lose in free agency.