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December 26, 2021

Eagles mailbag: Is Jordan Mailata the best OT from the 2018 draft class?

We didn't have our usual Eagles chat this week (my apologies), but I wanted to still have a gameday mailbag, so I solicited questions via Twitter. Let's just get right to them.

Question from @Davel79: If there were a re-draft of the 2018 offensive tackles, where does Jordan Mailata get picked?

The offensive tackles taken in the 2018 draft:

Player Team Round (Overall) 
 Mike McGlinchey49ers 1 (9) 
 Kolton MillerRaiders 1 (15) 
 Isaiah WynnPatriots 1 (23) 
 Brian O'NeillVikings 2 (62) 
 Brandon ParkerRaiders 3 (65) 
 Geron ChristianFootball Team 3 (74) 
 Martinas RankinTexans 3 (80) 
 Orlando BrownRavens 3 (83) 
 Joseph NoteboomRams 3 (89) 
 Chukwuma OkoroforSteelers 3 (92) 
Rick Leonard Saints 4 (127) 
 Will RichardsonJaguars 4 (129) 
 Tyrell CrosbyLions 5 (153) 
 Jamarco JonesSeahawks 5 (168) 
 Matt PryorEagles 6 (206) 
Greg Senat Ravens 6 (212) 
Jordan Mailata Eagles 7 (233) 
 Korey CunninghamCardinals 7 (254) 

I wouldn't trade Mailata for any of them.

Question from @Jack_Despeaux: If you were a defensive coordinator preparing to play the Eagles, what would your strategy be? How does this reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the offense?

Without knowing what kind of personnel my own defense has, that's tough to determine, but I'll give it shot.

The "easier said than done" answer to loading up and stopping the run, which, you know, is easier said than done. When you look at the Eagles' rushing offense, the weird thing about it is that despite averaging over five yards per carry, they don't have a single rush of 40+ yards. They've been killing teams with consistency in the run game, as opposed to big plays. When they have been at their most successful, they have stayed on schedule and made life easier for Jalen Hurts.

I'd try to shake that up. On early downs, I might incorporate some run blitzes, and try to get some tackles for loss, or for short gains, and make Hurts beat me on 2nd/3rd and long. And when I do get him into those situations, I'm hammering home the importance of rushing him with discipline, and keeping him in the pocket. If my LDE allows him to escape to the right, he's fined. And I might even spy him on occasion. I would make it known to Hurts early in the game that when he drops back to pass, he's not running on me.

And then obviously, I think you give a little extra attention to Dallas Goedert. I would not give DeVonta Smith any added attention other than to have my best corner covering him whenever I'm able, but also prioritizing disguising man/zone coverages. I'd make Hurts beat me by having him throw to his wide receivers, from the pocket. I would not want to discourage that by giving Smith added attention. 

Question from @EaglesLiker: If you could just respond to [ESPN's Bill Barnwell's suggestion that the Eagles trade for Kirk Cousins] in your column...

In case you're not sure what @EaglesLiker is referring to, ESPN published an "offseason quarterback dominos" article that had the Eagles giving up a first-round pick for Kirk Cousins. Here's the reasoning:

By trading Cousins, the Vikings would free up $35 million in much-needed cap space. The Eagles have been spry with Jalen Hurts this season, and without any logical quarterback to go after with all three of their first-round picks in a draft that isn't expected to have superstar QBs -- they could opt to try to surround a very good passer with a talented roster. That formula might not seem terribly enticing, but remember that Philly is only a few years removed from winning a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback.

Cousins would sign a three-year, $105 million extension, and the Eagles would get their man. Philly would send the worst of its three first-round picks in 2022 to the Vikings, who send back Cousins and their third-round pick in the upcoming draft.

So not only are the Eagles giving up a first-round pick for a 33-year-old, unvaxxed dork with one career playoff win, but they're also going to extend his contract by three years, paying him $140 million through 2025.

I think what's funny about that writeup is that Barnwell knows it's dumb, but since the Eagles won with an unlikely Super Bowl hero in the past, they'll give up a first-round pick and just hope it happens again. And then he clicked "Publish" anyway.

Question from @OcaptMyObvious: With what we've seen from Hurts, would you give him another season?

I would look to upgrade at quarterback, whether that means trading for a star vet, or drafting one. However, that approach would come with two conditions:

  1. The quarterback I'm replacing him with better be a substantial upgrade, or at least one with clearly better tools (if it's a draft pick).
  2. The cost to acquire can't be absurd.

What I think Hurts has at least given the Eagles is optionality. In my opinion, he wasn't good enough to put a stamp on the starting job in 2022 and beyond, but he was good enough that if the right move at quarterback doesn't materialize, the Eagles also don't absolutely have to panic to address it.

Of course, we'll see what happens down the stretch here, and into the playoffs if the Eagles make it that far.

Question from @JamesPo47417068: With draft season around the corner, now that the new coaching staff/schemes are in place what do you think will be the biggest changes the front office makes on its positional value? Will linebacker and safety finally warrant a premium pick?

It's pretty clear that Gannon's scheme requires more from its linebackers than Jim Schwartz's scheme did, and it's hard to imagine that the Eagles won't bump up their importance. I don't know if you'll see them spend a first-round pick on one, but I do think that is now possible, whereas in the past there was no way.

Safety is a tougher call. There's an argument to be made that Schwartz put more stress/responsibility on his safeties than Gannon does, so I'm not so sure they get a bump in priority.

Question from Stembommel: What should they do at CB2 next season? Keep Steven Nelson? Start McPhearson, sign a free agent, draft?

The CB2 spot will be one of the hard things to predict this offseason. Nelson has been a competent, but unspectacular No. 2 corner, so the Eagles will have to decide his worth, and whether that matches with Nelson's desired price tag. In the past, he has had unrealistic expectations.

The Eagles also have eight cornerbacks on their active roster right now, which feels purposeful. Why so many? Are they hoping that one or two of the back of the roster guys develops over time?

And then there's the valuation of the position. Cornerback has always been a position of high priority for the Eagles. Does that change at all under Gannon, who does not ask as much from his corners as Schwartz did?

Question from @TripleCeePee: You've said you'd prefer not to have to cover Eagles at Green Bay on wildcard weekend (increasingly unlikely) but would you sign up now for a visit to Lambeau in the divisional round? The team will have made the playoffs and won somewhere warm.

Well, I wouldn't mind going to cover a playoff game anywhere, but certainly Green Bay is by far the least appealing option of the four or five possibilities.

On the point that they're increasingly unlikely to be the Eagles' first-round opponent, should they get in, yes, has them as 88 percent to earn the 1 seed and a first-round bye. That's also ideal from the standpoint of spitefully not wanting Dallas to somehow get to the Super Bowl.

Question from @old_chester: Who has more potential to turn into an NFL WR? Jalen Reagor or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside?

I don't like either's chances, obviously. I'd maybe give Reagor the edge because Arcega-Whiteside has been in the league longer.

That said, if the Eagles weren't contending for the playoffs, I'd be curious to see how Arcega-Whiteside looks in a more prominent role. By that I mean, if they allowed him to play a high percentage of the snaps for a game or two, and actually had some plays designed to go his way, could he show something? They haven't asked him to do much this year, but when his number has been called, he has come through. Obviously, that's not going to happen with the Eagles being competitive. 

Question from @phillyaws: Which scenario would you rather have: Eagles with three first-round picks, but in the 11-22 (depending on Colts in playoffs) range, or the Giants with two first-round picks, but in the top 10.

If the season ended today, the Giants would hold the fifth and sixth overall pick, while the Eagles would have the 12th and 13th picks, along with one likely in the 20's.

For the first time this year, let's break out the draft value chart:

 5 (1700)12 (1250)
 6 (1600)13 (1150)
 25 (720) 
 TOTAL: 3300TOTAL: 3120 

The draft value chart aside, the Giants have the better first-round picks, in my opinion. At picks 5 and 6, they're going to be position to take elite prospects at premium positions. Or if they wanted to trade back with one of those picks, they could potentially land a bounty in return, whereas it would harder for the Eagles to do that at picks 11 or 12. 

Question from @joseph_moger: What’s your Christmas dinner spread?

My mom made a delicious lasagna.

Question from @MattGrumbrecht: What’s the worst present you ever got?

My sister got me a bendy California Raisin figurine.

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