- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Eagles should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Two weeks ahead of the NFL draft, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Linebacker
They took a close look at this position in last year’s draft, knowing they’d need to restock in 2019. Signing Steelers dime linebacker L.J. Fort to a three-year, $5.5 million contract does not constitute a restocking. With Fort being a passing down specialist, the Eagles need someone on base downs to align alongside Nigel Bradham. Fort’s and Bradham’s ability to take the running back in man coverage means the Eagles can afford to draft an old school thumper if they so desire.
Hidden Need: Cornerback
Starters Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby will be free agents in 2020. Neither is worth breaking the bank for, so re-signing them will come down to a matter of price. Rasul Douglas has played well at times but looks more like a long-term backup than future starter. Having cheap young depth at outside corner gives Philly leverage in future negotiations with Mills and Darby, if not a more appealing player to turn to altogether. The Eagles predominantly play zone coverage, but many of their zones have man-to-man duties for corners outside.
Also Looking For: Offensive Tackle
Preferably a left tackle, so when 37-year-old Jason Peters does finally walk away, Lane Johnson can stay at his familiar right tackle spot (where he faces better pass rushers anyway). Halapoulivaati Vaitai has filled in admirably when Peters has been out but is better suited to remain in that sixth man role long-term.
Who They Can Get
The linebacker class has two first-rounders then a dropoff. LSU's Devin White probably won't get close to them. The Eagles might have to trade up to get Michigan's Devin Bush, who's less of a thumper but a dynamic three-down player. Or they can settle for the steady Mack Wilson of Alabama. At offensive tackle, Washington State's Andre Dillard is the best left tackle prospect in the draft, though someone like Kansas State's Dalton Risner, who has the requisite length but fringy athleticism, might appeal to them in that spot. Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy could contribute in a cornerbacking group that's deep for 2019, or local product Rock Ya-Sin of Temple could give them a longer-term developmental option.
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