The Eagles’ steep fall in 2012 cost Andy Reid his job and left Philadelphia picking higher (No. 4 overall) than any other NFC team in April’s draft. New head coach Chip Kelly inherits a solid core of talent, but there are still some needs to address:
Offensive tackle: The Eagles could stand pat at this position and might fare well enough in 2013, given the quality of starters Jason Peters and Todd Herremans. Nevertheless, adding a young tackle would give the Eagles some offensive line flexibility this season and beyond. Peters, the left tackle, has Pro Bowl talent, but he’s coming off an Achilles injury, and he’s slated to make close to $10 million in 2014, per Rotoworld. What’s more, he’s 31 years old. Herremans, who’s roughly nine months younger than Peters, has the ability to slide back to guard from right tackle if a promising tackle enters the fold.
Quarterback: Michael Vick enters the final year of his contract, and he will be 33 in June. Nick Foles, the top backup, was drafted for Reid’s scheme, not Kelly’s. While ex-Oregon standout Dennis Dixon is no stranger to Kelly and his offense, he hasn’t been much of a factor on the NFL level. In short, it would make sense for the Eagles to add at this position.
Outside linebacker: The Eagles have some intriguing options at this position, with Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham the top three. That said, the 30-year-old Cole has never played outside linebacker at this level, and his annual compensation is set to soar in 2015, according to Rotoworld figures. Graham is switching positions, too. Barwin notched 11.5 sacks two seasons ago but just three in 2012. Like offensive tackle, the Eagles could logically play their existing hand at this position, but they could also be tempted to add a prospect to the mix.
Cornerback: The Eagles will have two new starters at this position with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signing with Denver and Nnamdi Asomugha landing with San Francisco after his release. While Philadelphia signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher early in free agency to restock the ranks, adding another corner via the draft would not be unwise. If a team’s best-laid plans at this position don’t work out, the results can be tough to watch. The Eagles know this well.
Wide receiver: Yes, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are an above-average wide receiver tandem. However, Maclin is in the last year of his contract, and he will be only 26 at the start of the 2014 campaign. Considering his playmaking ability, production and relatively young age, Maclin could do very, very well for himself next offseason. Jackson, meanwhile, is slated to make close to $10 million in salary in 2014. There is no doubting his ability, but his consistency has sometimes left something to be desired.
How the Eagles approach this draft will be very interesting to watch. The Eagles have undergone some serious organizational change, with Kelly replacing a successful head coach who had a heavy hand in the making of this roster. How will Kelly mesh some obviously skilled veterans with his first group of rookies?