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November 23, 2018

Mailbag: Taking a shot in the dark, the Eagles' 2019 first round pick will be...

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112318BrandonGraham Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles need to fill their defensive line pipeline with young talent.

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 BirdGang: Offensive line or defensive line in round 1?

I’m going to sound like a broken record over the next five months, so my apologies in advance, but I believe the Eagles’ first round pick, wherever it lands, will be a defensive lineman, for two reasons:

  1. With Brandon Graham potentially walking in free agency, Chris Long maybe retiring, and Michael Bennett’s future uncertain, the Eagles have an obvious need to restock the edge rusher pipeline with young talent. Also, at defensive tackle, the lack of a complementary disruptive interior presence next to Fletcher Cox has been glaring this season.
  2. The 2019 NFL Draft has the potential to be one of the best defensive line drafts ever, loaded with first round talent. I’d be shocked if at least 10 defensive linemen didn’t go in the first round.

Question from Daryl: I’ve seen you say that Timmy Jernigan won’t be back next season. If he plays well at the end of this season, why wouldn’t they keep him?

To begin, he’s going to count for $13 million against the cap next season. At an average yearly cap hit of $12 million, he’s the eighth-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL. For the Eagles to keep him at that number, he’d basically have to be Aaron Donald down the stretch for the Eagles even consider keeping him.

And even if he IS good to close the season, the Eagles should be wary of what happened the last time they committed a big chunk of their cap to him. He had a great start to the 2017 season, got a big contract, and then faded as the season wore on. They’ll likely have learned from last time that Jernigan tends to run hot and cold.

If Jernigan took a pay cut, could he stay? Sure, but it would have to be a massive one.

Question from SnailWhale: While watching the Eagles get slaughtered by the Saints, I remember thinking that nobody got any pressure on Brees, and then he got hit by, of all people, Josh Sweat. To me, that was an important play because it showed that the young guy was still trying even in a blowout. I think he has a legitimate shot at turning into a good player some day. Do you?

Yeah, the Eagles got precisely one hit on Brees, all game, and as you mentioned, it was by Sweat. I’ll stop short of giving him a gold star for effort, as he better be giving full effort, seeing as he should be excited just to get his first taste of real opportunity on the field, blowout or not.

I still think of Sweat as a project. He has freakish measurables, so he certainly has a chance to be a good player, but he’s still a ways away. As noted above, the Eagles have three thirty-somethings at DE, and there’s a chance all three of them could be gone this offseason. It would be a huge bonus if Sweat could step up and be productive at least as a role player next season, with the chance of being something more than that in the future.

Question from Jerry’s Grin: Your best guess – 2019 first round, the Eagles select…

Taking a shot in the dark, I'll say that Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State, makes a lot of sense. We covered him in our Grocery Shopping series here.

Question from Brian: I feel like the Sidney Jones expectations doesn’t match the eye test. What do you think, Jimmy?

There was a Peter King article about the Saints specifically trying to target him, but that was really only because they felt he was being rushed back from a hamstring injury and they thought they could exploit that. (They were right.)

So I think some are a little more down on Jones this week because of that. There’s been good and bad. Despite his inability to get guys on the ground in the run game last week against the Saints, I actually think that’s been a positive of his game so far this season. He’s been willing to stick his nose in and make tackles more than I had anticipated. In coverage, he’s been up and down, but I think he’s mostly held his own playing a position (the slot) that he has never played.

If I have two gripes, they would be that he has yet to make a big play, and his inability to stay on the field is alarming, to say the least. He’s still only 22 years old, though. There will be guys coming in the 2019 NFL Draft who are older. There’s room to grow.

Question from Office Linebacker: Given the lack of speed and plethora of quality TE’s, why not more 2-TE sets? Can’t they scheme to what the strengths are?

You’d think.


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