The way Howie Roseman sees it, the Eagles are a “pretty good” team prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. If things break the right way during this draft weekend, the Eagles have a chance, then, to go from “pretty good” to “pretty great.”
You never count too much on rookies in the NFL, and that’s why the Eagles did their due diligence in free agency, adding a starting defensive tackle (Malik Jackson), a starting wide receiver (DeSean Jackson) and a starting running back (Jordan Howard), retaining starting defensive end Brandon Graham and starting cornerback Ronald Darby and making sure that starting safety Rodney McLeod and left tackle Jason Peters had contracts that were acceptable to both the players and the team’s position within the NFL salary cap.
As the roster stands before Thursday’s Round 1 of the draft, the Eagles are all buttoned up and ready to play a game – the first of which is Washington at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 8. But the NFL Draft weekend is where teams set themselves up for the present and the future by nailing their picks. The Eagles are prime examples, having turned the franchise around in 2016 with a series of smart trades that landed them at No. 2 overall, in position to select franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Even with injuries that have derailed the last two seasons, including the Super Bowl run in the 2017 campaign, Wentz’s presence and performance has dramatically altered the trajectory of the franchise.
Now, the Eagles sit as one of the premier teams in the league, having followed up the Super Bowl LII victory with a playoff appearance, two rounds deep, last season. How do they get back to the top? A strong draft would certainly help, and with three picks among the top 57, the opportunity is there.
Where the Eagles might go is a guess for everybody. They plan to stick with the “best player on the board” approach, and because they were able to fill so many gaps in free agency – not just with the starters, but by adding depth players like safety Andrew Sendejo and linebacker L.J. Fort as well – the Eagles don’t need to force anything. They truly are in a position of power, but they also know they have to nail their picks.
“We have an opportunity here to draft some really good players,” vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “I think everybody is excited about this weekend.”
With seven draft picks and with Roseman’s penchant for creating more picks with draft-weekend trades, the Eagles are likely to address several key positions on both sides of the ball. History suggests they will never shy away from a defensive lineman they love. The Eagles are always on the lookout for quality offensive linemen. Howard has a one-year contract, so if a running back the Eagles like is there, he has to be considered. If there is a position group in question on this roster, linebacker would lead the way.
The Eagles can go in any number of directions in this draft, and they probably will. The specifics of whom they might take and when they might take a particular player are up for debate, but this much is not: The Eagles, by making good with their seven draft picks, can upgrade the roster to another level and put the team in position to contend for the Super Bowl in 2019 and years to come. ••