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April 13, 2021

Ranking the Eagles' biggest 2021 draft needs

Back in February, well before the start of free agency, we ranked the Philadelphia Eagles' offseason needs, from most glaring to most stable. Now that we have seen how free agency has played out, and other moves, such as the Birds' move back from the sixth overall pick to pick No. 12, we'll re-rank their biggest needs, specifically in the 2021 draft.

1) Cornerback

The current depth chart:

Eagles CBs 
 CBDarius Slay Michael Jacquet Jameson Houston 
 CBCraig James? Kevon Seymour  
 Slot CBAvonte Maddox Lavert Hill Shakial Taylor 

Our February ranking
: 2nd

Analysis: I mean, just look at the depth chart above. On second thought, it's safer to not look directly at it. The Eagles could still add a corner off the street between now and the start of the draft, but once you're more than a month deep into free agency, that guy won't be an answer in any way, obviously.

The Eagles desperately need a corner opposite Darius Slay, and in reality, they'll soon need a second outside corner to replace Slay. 

2) Wide receiver

The current depth chart:

Eagles WRs 
X WR Travis Fulgham J.J. Arcega-Whiteside  
Z WR Jalen Reagor John Hightower Khalil Tate 
Slot WR Greg Ward Quez Watkins  

Our February ranking: 3rd

Analysis: It was clear last year that the Eagles were going to draft multiple receivers. That's not necessarily the case this year because they do at least have a lot of young receivers who in theory can continue to develop, but it does feel pretty likely that they'll take one with either of their first two picks. And they can't afford to miss... again.

3) Defensive end

The current depth chart:

Eagles DEs 
 LDEBrandon Graham Joe Ostman Matt Leo 
 RDEDerek Barnett Josh Sweat  

Our February ranking: 5th

Analysis: To begin, the Eagles only have five DEs on the roster, and one of them is the international guy who doesn't really even count toward a roster spot. But beyond their sheer lack of numbers, Graham is aging, while Barnett and Sweat are both in contract years. Spoiler: The Eagles are going to draft at least one DE.

4) Defensive tackle

The current depth chart:

Eagles DTs 
 DTFletcher Cox T.Y. McGill Raequan Williams 
 DTJavon Hargrave Hassan Ridgeway  

Our February ranking: 4th

Analysis: After Cox and Hargrave, the Eagles have an injury-prone Ridgeway, and a pair of fringe roster-worthy players in McGill and Williams. They need depth. 

To note, this is a terrible DT draft.

5) Interior OL

The current depth chart:

Eagles iOL 
 LGIsaac Seumalo Nate Herbig Sua Opeta 
 CJason Kelce Luke Juriga Ross Pierschbacher 
 RGBrandon Brooks Matt Pryor  

Our February ranking: 8th

Analysis: Jason Kelce remains a retirement candidate every offseason, and Brandon Brooks is getting up there in age. Jack Driscoll is more useful to the Eagles at OT, and Nate Herbig is better suited as a backup than a starter. The Eagles need to find a future starting iOL, whether that be at guard or center. 

6) Linebacker

The current depth chart:

Eagles LBs 
 LBAlex Singleton Davion Taylor Genard Avery Rashod Smith 
 LBEric Wilson T.J. Edwards Shaun Bradley Joe Bachie 

Our February ranking: 7th

Analysis: Wilson was a perfectly fine signing, and Singleton was a huge improvement over Nate Gerry last season after Gerry went down, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that this is an ideal set of linebackers.

7) Tight end

The current depth chart:

Eagles TEs 
 TEZach Ertz Caleb Wilson Hakeem Butler 
 TEDallas Goedert Jason Croom Tyree Jackson 

Our February ranking: 9th

Analysis: Ertz remains extremely likely to play elsewhere in 2021. Ertz and Goedert aside, the Eagles just have a bunch of developmental guys. The return of DickRod still feels like a decent bet, but it would also make sense for the Eagles to add a Day 3 guy to become a legit No. 2 opposite Goedert in 2022 and beyond.

8) Quarterback

The current depth chart:

Eagles QBs 
 QBJalen Hurts Joe Flacco 

Our February ranking: 1st

Analysis: Back in February, after they dealt Carson Wentz, the Eagles only had one quarterback on the roster (Hurts). And so, there was as obvious a need for addressing that position as any, hence the No. 1 ranking back then. 

Since February, the Eagles overpaid Flacco in free agency, and moved back from pick No. 6 to pick No. 12, thus severely reducing the chances they were going to select a quarterback in the first round. 

The Eagles could take a QB on Day 3, with the intention of developing him into a capable backup. Taking one on Day 2 would, uh, make people very upset, I think.

But for now, it looks like the Eagles will play "wait and see" with Hurts in 2021, and they'll put off a more definitive decision at quarterback until 2022. 

9) Offensive tackle

The current depth chart:

Eagles OTs 
 LTJordan Mailata Andre Dillard Brett Toth 
 RTLane Johnson Jack Driscoll  

Our February ranking: 10th

Analysis: Most NFL teams would gladly trade their OT personnel for the Eagles'. 

10) Safety

The current depth chart:

Eagles S 
Anthony Harris Marcus Epps Andrew Adams Elijah Riley 
Rodney McLeod K'Von Wallace Grayland Arnold  

Our February ranking: 6th

Analysis: The Eagles signed two veterans in free agency, so they feel unlikely to invest any real resources into the position in the draft.

By the way, it's often cited that the Eagles haven't drafted a LB in Round 1 since 1979. Well, they haven't drafted a safety in Round 1... ever*. 

*The Eagles did draft Roynell Young in 1980, who started his career as a corner, and later moved to safety. Also, as many of the commenters are aware, when I was a young lad I had a stuffed animal seal named Roynell, named after Roynell Young. I loved Roynell the Seal, and he loved me, and we didn't care who knew.

11) Running back

The current depth chart:

Eagles RBs 
 RBMiles Sanders Boston Scott Jordan Howard Jason Huntley 
 RB (cont.)   Adrian KillinsElijah Holyfield 

Our February ranking: 10th

Analysis: The Jordan Howard signing lowers the odds the Eagles will take a running back in this draft. On the one hand, Jordan Howard? Really? On the other hand, it's a weak running back class.

12) Kicker / punter / long snapper

The current depth chart:

Eagles STs 
 KJake Elliott 
 PArryn Siposs 
 LSRick Lovato 

Our February ranking: 12th

Analysis: The Eagles should definitely draft a punter (or at least sign a UDFA) so I have a competition to cover in training camp. Otherwise, while Jake Elliott struggled in 2020, he's not going anywhere.

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