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May 09, 2017

A look at the strong positions in the 2018 NFL Draft, and how they match up with the Eagles' needs

After the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, a number of you have asked what positions are strong in the 2018 NFL Draft. I had little idea, other than that the running back class looks good, and I knew a lot of people are high on some of the quarterbacks.

And so, I asked CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler (follow him on Twitter here) for his opinion on which positions are strong in the 2018 NFL Draft. His reply:

It's obviously very early and plenty will change between now and next April. But early forecasts point to quarterback and secondary being two of the deepest and most talented position groups in the 2018 class. Offensive tackle and defensive tackle were the two weakest positions in the 2017 class, but both should make somewhat of a resurgence with several intriguing prospects, including a handful of potential top-25 players.
Thank you for adding the "it's very early..." preface so I don't have to, Dane.

The Eagles' biggest team needs matched up nicely with the strengths of the 2017 NFL Draft, which was considered to be very strong at cornerback, edge rusher, and running back. The Eagles obviously took and edge rusher and two corners with their first three picks, and then a running back in the fourth round.

If it plays out the way Brugler thinks it will in 2018, four of the five positions align with what will likely be need areas for the Eagles in a year. The positions he noted:

Quarterback: The Eagles obviously will not be drafting a quarterback early anytime soon, as long as Carson Wentz continues to progress. The fewer the number of good quarterbacks that enter the league, the better it is for the Eagles, who are seemingly set at the position.

Offensive tackle: Jason Peters may decide to retire at the end of the 2017 season. He might also experience a sharp decline in play for all we know. The Eagles are lucky that Peters elected to play at least one more season, which allowed them to put off reaching for a tackle in the 2017 draft. Now they'll have a chance to monitor Halapoulivaati Vaitai's development, and determine if offensive tackle needs to be a priority next offseason.

Defensive tackle: The Eagles acquired Timmy Jernigan in a trade, but he is on a one-year deal. I would think the team wants him to be a part of team long-term if they were willing to deal for him, but it's to be determined whether they can, and at what cost.

Secondary: OK, so this is more like two positions. Yes, the Eagles drafted two corners in the 2017 draft, but you can bet they'll be shopping for secondary help once again in 2018, whether that be corner or safety. In a league where most teams' offenses heavily utilize 3-plus wide receiver sets, you can never have enough defensive backs, and the Eagles aren't deep at either spot, even if Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones turn out to be good players.

You can see Brugler's top five players at each position here.

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