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January 12, 2017

Ranking the Eagles' biggest needs from 1-15

Eagles NFL

The 2017 NFL Draft is thought to be loaded at a large number of positions where the Philadelphia Eagles have significant needs. Those positions, according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, are at cornerback, edge rusher, safety, running back and tight end:

Jeremiah is one man with an opinion (and a respected one), but the positions he named seem to be commonly listed as strengths by other college football experts as well.

There's an argument to be made that three of the Eagles' top four needs are positions of strength in this draft. Let's take a moment to rank the Eagles' positions of need, from 1-15:

1) Wide receiver: Duh. The Eagles are a near certainty to address the wide receiver position in free agency, possibly with multiple players. They could also address it in the draft, but immediate help is probably more important.

2) Cornerback: Again, duh. The Eagles' corners were brutally bad in 2016, and their two starters -- Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin -- are unlikely to return. As Jeremiah noted above, this draft class is stacked with quality corners.

3) Defensive end: In my view, defensive end is right there with wide receiver and cornerback, in terms of positional need. The Eagles have a pair of very good defensive linemen in Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. They need more.

4) Running back: The Birds need to add to their stable at running back, which will almost certainly be without Ryan Mathews in 2017, and Darren Sproles in 2018.

5) Offensive tackle: This position will move up the ranks if Jason Peters retires this offseason, which is not expected. Whenever he does, the Birds are going to have to find an extra starter at tackle, that is unless Halapoulivaati Vaitai continues to develop and shows more upside than he has.

6) Defensive tackle: Bennie Logan is a free agent, and could find attractive offers on the open market.

7) Tight end: This may seem a little high to some, however, the Eagles wanted to carry four tight ends this season but didn't have any suitable options. Plus, Brent Celek isn't the receiver (or blocker for that matter) that he once was.

8) Outside linebacker: The Eagles could opt to find a cheaper alternative to Mychal Kendricks, who the team could look to deal this offseason.

9) Guard: This is currently a deep position on the Eagles' roster, with Brandon Brooks, Allen Barbre, and Isaac Seumalo all in the fold, but it won't be for long. Seumalo could be the (eventual) replacement for Jason Kelce at center, and Barbre (33 in June) is probably best suited as a do-it-all reserve. The Eagles could look to add a player who can start at LG whenever Seumalo takes over for Kelce.

10) Safety: The back end isn't thought of as a need because the Eagles have two high-quality starters in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. However, with as many snaps as Jaylen Watkins had to play this season, maybe it should be.

11) Quarterback: Not a terrible idea to draft one every year (or close to it) even if you have a franchise quarterback in place.

12) Middle linebacker: This depends on the recovery of Joe Walker, who the team liked during training camp and the preseason before he tore his ACL. Otherwise, they only need depth here, as Jordan Hicks is a bona fide stud defender in the middle of the defense.

13) Fullback: They want one, and they don't have one.

14) Center: Kelce is the starter (for now), and Seumalo is waiting in the wings. Ideally, if the Eagles add a guard, he will also have some center capability.

15) Kicker/Punter/Long snapper: The Eagles have absolutely no need whatsoever for any of the three.

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