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May 03, 2019

Mailbag: Are the Eagles still looking for defensive ends?

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Eagles Chris Long Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles should make decisions this offseason under the premise that Chris Long isn't playing this season, as he suggested they do.

In our Eagles chat this week, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Jimmy#2: Can the D-line be a strength again this year? I get worried about the secondary if the Eagles can’t get to the opposing quarterback.

When you compare what the Eagles were going into the season with a year ago, and what they’re likely going into the season with in 2019, it looks something like this, assuming Chris Long doesn't return to the team:

Position 2018 2019 
 Starting LDEBrandon Graham Brandon Graham 
 Starting RDEDerek Barnett Derek Barnett 
 Backup LDEChris Long  ???
 Backup RDE Michael BennettVinny Curry 
 Maybe they show somethingJosh Sweat Josh Sweat / Shareef Miller / Daeshon Hall / Joe Ostman 


Going from Bennett to Curry is a downgrade, and there's no obvious "feel-good about it" candidate to take over Long's role if indeed he's gone. It’s pretty clear that they got worse this offseason at DE. I think they’ll still look to add someone.

Question from PR fan: Any trades or free agent signings you could see happening before training camp?

• Trade: Darron Lee, LB, Jets.

• Signing: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, formerly of the Lions

(This is pure, “Hey, those guys would make sense,” as opposed to actual info.)

Question: What if Andre Dillard comes in to camp, dominates, and he shows that he’s much better than Peters? Do you bench Peters, trade him, cut him? Would he be cool with a benching, or would it all just explode?

Ha, I hadn’t considered that, but if Dillard is clearly better, you play Dillard. I only included this question because that is indeed an interesting, not totally unrealistic scenario, but I have no idea how that would play out.

Question from 89tremaine: Rank who is likeliest to be on the Week 1 roster between Chris Long, Darren Sproles, Treyvon Hester, Big V, and T.J. Edwards.

Oof, tough question. I like it. Form most likely to least likely:

  1. Treyvon Hester
  2. Big V
  3. Darren Sproles
  4. T.J. Edwards
  5. Chris Long

Question from Shoes: Is it fair to assume the Eagles devalue the safety position in the draft? Maybe because you can find a free agent safety cheaper than a free agent corner?

While I don’t think that the Eagles' failure to address the safety position in this draft is a great reason to believe what you're suggesting since they only had five picks, I do think that your logic makes some sense. Safeties have fared horribly in free agency in recent years.


MORE: A deeper look at the value of the draft picks the Eagles traded away the last two years | Projecting first-year roles for each of the Eagles' five draft picks


Question from Pragmatic: Experts always scream BPA, and as soon as a team does, they think there is an ulterior motive to the pick. For example, the Eagles took a tackle, and Mailata is done?

Here were my thoughts on Mailata after they made the Dillard pick:

The Eagles have consistently said that they like the way Mailata is progressing as a pro, and I don't think the selection of Dillard is an indictment of Maialta's progression (or lack thereof). As noted above, the Eagles simply saw incredible value in a top 10 type of player still available at pick 22, and they made an aggressive move to go get him.

That said, any thoughts of Mailata as the long-term answer at left tackle are now over, unless Dillard is bust.

That is the correct take, ha. I do think you’re right, though, and I wonder if I’m guilty of that theory on the J.J. Arcega-Whiteside ("JJAW") pick. Because his skill set so closely resembles Alshon Jeffery’s, and because they have not restructured Jeffery’s contract at all like they have done with so many of their other slam dunk long-term pieces, I’m convinced that JJAW is Alshon’s successor, unless (a) Jeffery is a star in 2019, (b) JJAW proves that he can’t be counted on in 2020, or (c) both.

It could also just very well be that they think JJAW was the best player available.

Question from Sausage: Who would you compare Dillard to, in a best/worst case scenario? How about Sanders and JJAW?

I’ll have a whole comparison series on all the Eagles’ draft picks. Those will get pre-written, and we’ll run them while I’m on vacation, ha.

Question from Jabostick: Who would you say is the current punt returner? Kick returner?

¯\_()_/¯

Question from Toby: Do you think Mack Hollins’ job is in jeopardy, or will his special teams contributions lock him into a spot on the 53?

He’s safe. I think his special teams ability alone keeps him on the roster.

Question from Tom: Would you trade the Eagles’ draft class for any of the other NFC East teams’ straight up?

I gave the Washington team an A-, the Eagles a B-, the Cowboys a C, and Giants an F. So if there were a team, it’d be the Washington team, but no, I wouldn’t, because Dwayne Haskins does nothing for the Eagles.

Question from superguysteve: What kinds of things do you look for during OTAs and minicamp that will give you insight as to the 53-man roster.

Nothing. They’re just sort of our opportunity to get a first look at the rookies. There's no real talent evaluation until training camp.

In case you're wondering, here are the Eagles' OTA and minicamp dates:

• OTAs: May 21-23, May 28, May 30-31, June 3-6

• Minicamp: June 11-13

Media will likely only get to attend one of the practices from 21-23, one from May 28-31, and one from June 3-6. We get to attend the entirety of the minicamp.


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