Eagles

Eagles Mailbag: Most pressing needs in draft and free agency

Eagles Mailbag: Most pressing needs in draft and free agency

We answered the first batch of your Eagles questions Thursday (see story), but we have plenty more to go.

Let’s not waste any time:

I do think the Eagles go heavy on OL and DL in this draft, especially D-line. The Eagles seem to share your philosophy about building their team in the trenches. Howie Roseman has been pretty vocal about that since getting reinstated back to his position of power. It also just so happens the Eagles have some pretty clear needs along the offensive and defensive lines.

On offense, Jason Peters is aging and expensive. Could the Eagles possibly draft his replacement in the first two rounds? I think that’s entirely possible, especially because the Eagles have three picks in the first two rounds.

While I think there’s a chance the Eagles draft an offensive tackle that early, I’d almost be surprised if they don’t go hard after this very deep defensive line class. The Eagles have needs at defensive end and defensive tackle.

I think there will be some overlapping here and it’s a little harder because free agency obviously comes before the draft, but if I have to put them into categories, here’s my best guess:

Free agency: Receiver, linebacker, running back

Draft: Defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive tackle

The Eagles have tried to find speed in free agency over the past couple years, so there’s a pattern there. I think there’s a chance they’ll sign a running back and draft one, so I could have put that in either. I haven’t liked a lot of what I’ve seen from this linebacker draft class, so maybe they sign one, although that position has been devalued in recent years.

As for the draft, I got into it above, but I think they leave with linemen this year. I think that has to be one of their goals too.

Well, this is hard to answer because it would depend on the specific players. The idea of getting Le’Veon Bell is intriguing, but I don’t think that’s likely. And the idea of the Eagles drafting a running back at No. 25 is similarly unlikely.

So, as boring as this answer is, I think the result falls somewhere in between. Maybe the Eagles use one of their two second round picks on a running back and sign a guy like Tevin Coleman. Or maybe they get a guy like Mark Ingram and then draft a Ryquell Armstead or Rodney Anderson in the fourth round. I think either of those two scenarios are more likely.

https://twitter.com/ZipSquad_JihaD/status/1098245908720955397

I just lumped these two together because they’re both about running backs in the draft. I agree with the first tweet that Jacobs is going to be gone by the time the Eagles draft in the second round. Heck, he could be gone before they pick at 25.

I don’t think it’s crazy to think the Eagles might draft a running back in the second round this year. They haven’t done that since 2009, when they took LeSean McCoy. That was 10 years ago and it was also with pick No. 53, which they have thanks to the Ravens this season. The Eagles will really need to be in love with any running back they take in the second round. In a recent seven-round Eagles mock draft, I had them taking David Montgomery in the second round. I like him a lot.

Singletary could be in the mix for one of those second-round picks, but the Eagles have been burned just a couple years ago by taking a prolific but undersized prospect. My problem with Singletary is he wasn’t asked to catch the ball much at Florida Atlantic. That’s an important piece of playing RB in the Eagles’ offense, so I’d need to know he can do it.

Love is a tough one to figure out. Obviously, the medical checks at the combine will be important to see how he’s recovering from the ACL tear.

As for Anderson, he’s another guy with durability issues. As a player, I actually really like him. His 2017 season was really impressive. I’ve actually been watching Anderson since his high school days. Back then, I was living in Houston and he was going to Katy High School in the suburbs. He could be a low-risk, high-reward option in the fifth round area.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

The 2020 wide receiver draft picture got a lot more interesting Thursday night.

Alabama’s Henry Ruggs did his thing and ran 4.28 when the receivers ran their 40's at the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. He didn't break John Ross's record of 4.22, but he certainly did nothing to hurt his draft status. 

Neither did his college teammate, Jerry Jeudy, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. They remain the consensus top three receivers in the draft, and the Eagles, who have the 21st pick in the first round, would likely have to trade up to draft any of them.

But a few receivers helped themselves with their performances in Indy and a few may have hurt their stock as well, and it all could definitely affect the receiver-starved Eagles’ strategy in April.

HELPED THEMSELVES

JUSTIN JEFFERSON,  LSU: Joe Burrow’s favorite target ran much faster than expected with a 4.43. We already know he’s productive - he caught a ridiculous 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns - and he backed that up with a faster 40 time than Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. How much that helps him remains to be seen, but he definitely helped himself.

CHASE CLAYPOOL, NOTRE DAME: There’s been talk about the 6-4, 240-pound Claypool moving to tight end, but then he went out and ran 4.42, which according to the Next Gen Stats twitter feed makes him the first receiver over 230 pounds to run sub-4.45 since Calvin Johnson in 2007. He also caught the ball well and performed well in the other drills. 

DENZEL MIMS, BAYLOR: Mims opened a lot of eyes with a 4.38 Thursday night to cap an overall excellent performance. Only Ruggs and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins ran faster. Mims was generally considered a second-round talent before the Combine but running 4.38 at 6-3, 210 pounds could push him into the first round. 

HURT THEMSELVES

JALEN REAGOR, TEXAS CHRISTIAN: Reagor, whose father Montae played for the Eagles in 2007, said he planned to run faster than Ruggs: “That’s my plan. He runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”  He also said he expected to run “high 4.2, low 4.3.”  Then he ran 4.47, a full fifth of a second slower than Ruggs. He followed that with a 4.50. How much that hurts him remains to be seen, but it wasn’t what anybody was expecting. 

TEE HIGGINS, CLEMSON: Higgins told reporters at the Combine that he was planning to prove a lot of people wrong with his 40:  “My goal is to hit a 4.4. A lot of guys think I’m gonna run a 4.5 or 4.6, but I’m excited to change people’s minds.” Then without explanation he didn’t run or participate in any drills Thursday night. Not good. 

LAVISKA SHENAULT JR., COLORADO: After a slower-than-expected 4.58 on his first try, Shenault skipped his second 40 and didn’t participate in the other drills, presumably because of the core muscle injury that cost him a couple games during the season. Shenault was considered a late first-round or early second-rounder. He’ll have a chance to bounce back at his pro day, but he didn’t help himself Thursday.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Temple LBs and roommates in heated competition for combine supremacy

Temple LBs and roommates in heated competition for combine supremacy

Temple linebackers Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell know they will have a ton on the line Saturday when their position group gets on the field for drills at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

Their football careers hang in the balance. 

Not to mention bragging rights. 

Throughout the last few months, the two close friends have been in a heated competition and back-and-forth trash talk battle. Bradley was training with EXOS in Phoenix; Russell was training with EXOS in San Diego. The whole time, they kept texting each other performance numbers and egging each other on. 

That competition reached a new level this week when the two found out they were rooming together in Indianapolis. 

“That’s all we do. We sit in the room and talk about who’s going to win the 40, who’s going to have the fastest (time),” Bradley said. “We do it all day. It’s nonstop. We’ll joke, we’ll talk about it. As soon as one thing hits, he’s like, ‘I’m about to run a faster 40 than you.’ ‘No you’re not.’ Back and forth, back and forth.”

At Temple, the pair of starting linebackers lived together in a house on campus, so it’s a familiar feeling to be together this week at the combine. And in such a high-pressure situation, with so much on the line, it’s comforting for both to go through it all with a close friend. 

Bradley and Russell will be rooting for each other on Saturday but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to outperform each other.  

“It’s been cool,” Russell said. “We always talk trash with each other about who’s faster, who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that. The competition between us two has been intense so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when we get out there Saturday.” 

There are plenty of similarities between the two. 

- Russell is listed at 6-foot-2, 236 pounds. Bradley is listed at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. 

- Both feel like they have gotten bigger, stronger and faster over the last couple of months. 

- Both are from New Jersey (Bradley from Mount Holly, Russell from Lakewood). Both became huge parts of Temple’s defense and were awarded single-digit numbers (Bradley got 5, Russell got 3) — an honor for the nine toughest Owls on the roster — in 2018. 

- Both put up big numbers in 2019. Bradley led the Owls with 86 tackles and Russell was second with 72. Bradley had 8 tackles for loss; Russell had 8 1/2. 

- And both feel like they have plenty to prove this week. 

While there are some big-name linebacker prospects in Indianapolis this week, the two Temple linebackers aren’t considered to be in that class. During their interview sessions on Thursday, while the big-name players spoke at podiums, Russell, Bradley and the less highly regarded prospects were crammed in the corner of the room at little round tables. 

“I think we’re going to open a lot of eyes,” Russell said. “…  I feel like when we go out there Saturday, we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Bradley and Russell both said the Eagles were one of the first teams to meet with them this week and each would love the opportunity to stay in Philly and continue to play home games at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s something the Eagles brought up to them in their respective interviews. 

Continuing their football careers in Philly would mean a lot to both men. For Bradley, it would allow him to stay close to home, where his family — including his four siblings, all 13 or younger — would be able to watch him play. 

Bradley joked the one problem he might have if he became an Eagle is remembering to go to the Birds’ locker room at the Linc and not to the Owls’ locker room farther down the hallway.  

But each guy basically said the same thing about the Eagles. 

“If Philly wanted to draft me, I’d be all for it,” Russell said. 

In recent months, Bradley and Russell have been in contact with several former Temple players who have already been through this pre-draft process. Since 2016, there have been 11 Owls drafted — 1 in the first, 2 in the second, 1 in the fourth, 3 in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the 7th. 

A good showing from either Bradley or Russell on Saturday would go a long way in adding one of them to that list. 

Oh yeah, and one of them will earn those bragging rights too. 

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be me,” Russell said. “But that’s the competition between me and him. He’ll say him, and I’ll say me.”

We’ll find out soon enough. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles