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December 11, 2020

Mailbag: If the Eagles are drafting top 5, what players could they pick?

Eagles NFL

In our Eagles chat on Tuesday, 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, as well as some commonly asked questions on Twitter and via email.

Question from Birdieboos: Hey Jimmy, if the Eagles land a top 5 pick in the draft, what would be your big board high in the draft?

First, there's going to be the question of whether or not the Eagles should consider a quarterback if they're picking that high. There's a chance that four quarterbacks will go in the top 15 picks. They are Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson, and North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

For now, I think we need to see the rest of the season play out before we go there. However, if the Eagles are picking top 5, and we're just looking at positional players, the following would be my top 3 Eagles big board, on the premise that the Jets and Jaguars will take quarterbacks will the first two picks. Obviously, things will no doubt change as we learn more about these guys.

OT Penei Sewell, Oregon: Many believe that Sewell is the best offensive tackle prospect to come out in a long time. The Eagles have less of a need at offensive tackle than they do at other spots, but if you have a chance to grab something close to a sure thing at a premium position, I think you just go get him, and hope he's an elite player at LT for the next decade.

WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU: Justin Jefferson is already tearing up the NFL, and Chase was better than him when they played together in the same offense at LSU. He is a potential star receiver who would line up as the X receiver, and would pair nicely with Jalen Reagor.

CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama: Surtain has a prototype blend of size and athleticism, with NFL bloodlines. The Eagles' continued need for help at cornerback remains, with Avonte Maddox showing that he is not an outside corner, and Darius Slay aging. To note, if the draft were today and I'm picking 5th, and I'm on the clock here with Sewell and Chase already gone, I'm trying to get a bounty of picks to move out of this spot with a team looking for a QB.

Some of you may wonder where Penn State LB Micah Parsons is on this list. While I believe Parsons is a great player, and that the Eagles cannot continue to devalue the linebacker position to the extreme degree that they have, I also wouldn't overcorrect that philosophy so much that I'd take a linebacker with a top 5 pick. In my view, that would be a poor use of resources.

Question from Zach: I've seen you mention CB2 as a huge need for the Eagles next year. Is there anything that isn't, outside of maybe LG/TE/RB? QB - Question marks, LT - Unknown, C - may retire, RG - aging, major injury, RT - injury prone now? WR1,2,3 - all seem unspectacular, DE - under productive and aging, DT - Aging, LB - jokes, Safety - same. How do we rank CB2 as such a high need when you could make an argument at nearly every position.

You, sir, will be happy to read my "Blow it up" article from a couple weeks ago, in which we went through position-by-position as you have here and concluded that, "It's never great when there's a decent argument to draft any position in the first round, aside from running back, tight end, kicker, punter, and long snapper."

Corner is big need. So are about a half dozen other positions. So we're on the same page there.

Question from Norm Snead: What are the chances that Hurts is no better than a solid NFL backup QB?

I have no idea. We'll get a better idea over the next four games, obviously. But typically, there are more second-round quarterback misses than hits. Here's a look at the 22 quarterbacks drafted in the second round since 2000, sorted by overall draft position:

 PlayerYear Overall pick 
 Drew Brees, Chargers2001 32 
 Andy Dalton, Bengals2011 35 
 Kevin Kolb, Eagles2007 36 
 Colin Kaepernick, 49ers2011 36 
 Derek Carr, Raiders2014 36 
 Geno Smith, Jets2013 39 
 John Beck, Dolphins2007 40 
 Drew Lock, Broncos2019 42 
 Drew Stanton, Lions2007 43 
 Pat White, Dolphins2009 44 
 Jimmy Clausen, Panthers2010 48 
 Kellen Clemens, Jets2006 49 
 Christian Hackenberg, Jets2016 51 
 DeShone Kizer, Browns2017 52 
 Quincy Carter, Cowboys2001 53 
 Jalen Hurts, Eagles2020 53 
 Brian Brohm, Packers2008 56 
 Chad Henne, Dolphins2008 57 
 Brock Osweiler, Broncos2012 57 
 Marques Tuiasosopo, Raiders2001 59 
 Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots2014 62 
 Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings2006 64 

There is one slam dunk (Brees) in that list, a few hits (Kaepernick, Dalton, Carr), and a couple guys that at least brought back a good trade package in return (Kolb, Garoppolo). Five of those six guys went early second round. Beyond them, there are a couple of guys where the jury is still out (Hurts, Lock). The rest? 💩

Question from Bored on Sundays: Does anyone press Doug on the RB split?

So I mentioned this in our snap count analysis, but since those posts typically do crappy numbers, I'll repeat myself here.

I've seen some hand-wringing over Sanders' minimal usage, despite the notion that he's probably their most talented offensive weapon. Ultimately, it's what's best for the team. There's no sense in piling a bunch of touches onto Sanders' odometer in a lost season, so the less he is used, the better. Of course, that's certainly not the Eagles' reasoning for his lack of usage, so please don't mistake the above commentary as me awarding them a gold star.

In the three games after the Panthers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention last season, after they had already fired Ron Rivera, they let Christian McCaffrey average 24 touches per game, despite overwhelming evidence of the negative future ramifications of running backs coming off of extreme usage seasons. That never made any sense to me. The Cowboys have done similar things with Ezekiel Elliott in the past. Like in 2017, in their meaningless Week 17 game against the Eagles, they gave him 30(!) touches for no good reason.

So while giving Sanders the ball might give the team a better chance of winning games, it doesn't really matter at this point. Preserve him.

But also, from a media perspective, there are just so many other bigger picture things to get to and a limited number of questions that we have for Doug, that nobody is going to burn their question on running back usage.

Question from TheGhostofNormVanBrocklin: Is it just me or did it feel like the Eagles signed and promoted Jordan Howard last week against the Packers because they thought he could recreate his 2019 game there? Please tell me it's just me.

I wish I could tell you it's just you, but I could absolutely buy that. We'll see if he's promoted this week. If not, that's a pretty good hint that you might be right.

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Question from Dink: Hi Jimmy, any chance, as stupid as it sounds, that the Eagles keep playing Alshon to showcase him hoping if he signs elsewhere after being cut so that they can get a slightly better salary offset?

I like where your head is at, in that you're searching far and wide for any reasonable explanation as to why Alshon Jeffery continues to get any snaps, at all. But no, that's not the reason. Offsets only apply to guaranteed salary, and Jeffery won't have any remaining guaranteed salary after this season. (His dead money will come via prorated bonus money that he has already pocketed.)

Question from B-dawk: Is there an open competition for LT next year or will they give it to the previous 1st rounder to try to save face?

It should be an open competition. If Howie stays, I believe that Andre Dillard will be given every opportunity to win that job. Personally, I would allow Dillard to push Jordan Mailata for the starting LT job, and not the other way around.

Question from Papale86: If you are out of playoff contention, why not raid some practice squads, see if you can hit on a young player or two for next year?

They did poach a practice squad guy this week, LB Joe Bachie from the Saints. But I do agree. They should be looking to find free young talent, if it's there.

Question from Brent Celek's Cheesecake: Most anticipated Birds game next season? Is it the return of Big Red in Philly?

I suppose it's not too premature to look at the Eagles' opponents next year. In addition to their six divisional games, they'll play the following teams:

Home Away 
Saints Falcons 
Buccaneers Panthers 
Chiefs Raiders 
Chargers Broncos 
NFC West team with same divisional finish as Eagles NFC North team with same divisional finish as Eagles 

Personally, I only care about how appealing the road destinations are, and 2021 is a solid group of cities! Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Denver, with a chance of Chicago? I'll take it. (Hopefully this new administration will take COVID more seriously than the last one did.)

To answer your question about Big Red, he already came back once, in 2013, and won. Of course, that was before he had a ring (and maybe two after this season).

Question from Norm Snead: If you had to choose a different NFL team to a be beat writer for, ignoring family situation, the negatives of moving, etc. etc., what team would it be?

Well, I have a daughter, so the Giants or Jets would be the only other teams I could reasonably cover without disrupting my fatherly duties. Maybe the Ravens, but that would be tough. But ignoring family, etc., it would be heavily weighed on location, with the interest in the team factoring in to a lesser degree since I've already covered the team with the most intense fan base in the NFL for a decade. My top 10:

  1. Cardinals
  2. 49ers
  3. Rams
  4. Chargers
  5. Dolphins
  6. Buccaneers
  7. Titans
  8. Seahawks
  9. Saints
  10. Bears

Bottom five:

  1. Lions
  2. Browns
  3. Texans
  4. Colts
  5. Packers

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