We’ve spent so much time talking about the 6th pick in the draft it’s easy to forget the Eagles have a pretty good 2nd-round pick as well.
The first few picks of the second round have delivered the Eagles some tremendous talent over the years, especially in the 1980s - Wes Hopkins at No. 35 in 1983, Randall Cunningham at No. 37 in 1985, Eric Allen at No. 30 in 1988 and more recently Zach Ertz at No. 35 in 2013.
The Eagles currently have the 37th pick overall, the fifth pick in the second round. This is the highest they’ll draft in the second round since they picked Ertz eight years ago.
The Eagles haven’t taken a defensive player in the first two rounds since 2017 (when they drafted Derek Barnett and Sidney Jones). They’ve gone all offense the last three years, landing Dallas Goedert, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Miles Sanders, Andre Dillard, Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts.
But assuming they do go offense in the first round next month - which seems likely - they pretty much have to go defense at No. 37.
The Eagles’ best defensive players - Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, Rodney McLeod - are all in their 30s and there is very little young talent on this defense.
The Eagles desperately need young defensive backs, linebackers and defensive linemen.
They haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player since Fletcher Cox in 2012 – nine years ago.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared his thoughts on the Eagles’ best options in the second round in a recent conference call.
“There’s going to be some good options there for them,” he said. “When you look at the corner position … at the top of the second round, (that’s the) the range for the Georgia kids with Tyson Campbell as well as Eric Stokes.”
Campbell and Stokes, both Georgia cornerbacks, would make a lot of sense. Stokes certainly helped himself with an unofficial 4.25 40 at the House of Athletes’ Pro Day earlier this week and may have moved himself out of the Eagles’ range at No. 37.
Jeremiah also suggested a couple edge rushers at No. 37, including Washington’s Joe Tryon: “I think that one would make some sense.”
Two other edge rushers he likes early in the second round are Houston’s Payton Turner and Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins.
Depending what happens with Derek Barnett, an edge rusher at No. 37 would make a lot of sense.
The Eagles haven’t drafted a pass rusher who had 10 sacks in a season since Trent Cole in 2005.
“Payton Turner is an interesting player,” he said. “It may be a little bit early from him, but he kind of factors in there. Ronnie Perkins I think would be a home-run pick there in the second round. Those edge rushers to me would make some sense there.”
But Jeremiah also said he expects the Eagles to address the offensive line pretty in the draft as well.
Three of the Eagles’ projected o-line starters - Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce - are in their 30s. Johnson and Brooks are coming off serious injuries and Kelce considers retirement every offseason.
“I can't see them leaving the first two rounds without a big,” Jeremiah said. “And offensive line-wise, when you get to that part, early second round, look at (Dillon) Radunz from North Dakota State. I think he is going to end up moving inside to guard. He is my 44th player, so that's right about the same spot. I went and worked him out in L.A. the other day. He can move. He's an impressive kid who had a really good week at the Senior Bowl.
“And then if you're looking at tackles, I wouldn't sleep on (Liam) Eichenberg from Notre Dame as somebody potentially there. He's a little bit stiff, but really good football intelligence, really good hands, has played a lot of football there at Notre Dame. Those are a couple names I'd keep an eye on.”
The Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl defensive back since Michael Lewis and Lito Sheppard in 2002. They haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter in 1998. They haven’t drafted a 10-sack edge rusher in the first four rounds since Dennis Harrison in 1978.
They desperately need young talent on defense, and No. 37 is a great place to start.
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