Why the Eagles have to trade up in the first round of the draft, the free agent the Eagles have to sign, one position the Eagles have a terrific track record at drafting and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!
1. I know there’s speculation about the Eagles going cornerback in the first round or maybe even offensive line. But they're nuts if they don’t target one of this top incredible group of receivers, and if it means trading up into the 12-16 range they sure have the ammo to do it. It's a no-brainer. Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb would be at the top of my shopping list, but he might be out of their realistic range. If they have a chance to move up and get either of the Alabama receivers, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs, they simply have to do it. But I’m also intrigued by LSU’s Justin Jefferson considering his production on the field and Combine performance. Either Lamb, Jeudy, Ruggs or Jefferson HAS to be an Eagle by the end of the day on April 23.
2. And the Eagles need to make Byron Jones their absolute top priority when the free agency tampering period starts on March 16. I know, the whole Cowboys thing. Who cares. You go get the guys who can help your team the most, and that’s Jones. The gap between Jones and the other top free agent corners – Chris Harris Jr., James Bradberry, Logan Ryan – is so huge I almost feel like they have no choice but to make a serious big-money run at Jones. Assuming they go WR in the first round, you can’t guarantee you’re going to get a Day 1 starter at corner through the draft, and that’s something they have to have. They have the money. They have the cap space. How much of a red flag is Jones' lack of interceptions? It’s odd. But he’s 27, he’s an elite shut-down corner and I can live with the lack of INTs in exchange for a lack of 71-yard touchdown passes flying over the Eagles' heads. This has to happen.
3. Imagine if the Eagles could draft wide receivers as well as running backs? In the last 25 years, they’ve drafted Charlie Garner, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Miles Sanders. Can any NFL team match that?
4. Zach Ertz has 11 career games with 10 or more catches. The only tight end in NFL history with more is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (15).
5. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is one of the more intriguing free agents out there. Ngakoue has 37 ½ sacks in four years with the Jaguars and hits free agency at 24, which is crazy. To put that in perspective, only three Eagles have ever had even 10 sacks before their 25th birthday: Reggie White (13), Andy Harmon (11 ½) and Jerome Brown (10 ½). Ngakoue has more combined. He’ll be expensive and he’s not going to give you a whole lot against the run. But if you’re Howie Roseman he’s got to be on your radar.
6. Remember when the Eagles’ were the 3rd-oldest team in the NFL? Average age of 26.7 last year on opening day, according to Spotrac. That figure is now down to 25.7, and according to Spotrac it gives them the 15th-youngest roster in the league considering only players under contract. Among the 12 teams that reached the playoffs last year, they’re 3rd-youngest, behind only the Packers (25.5) and Vikings (25.6) and tied with the Texans. That trend has to continue through free agency.
7. I honestly don’t believe Carson Wentz is injury prone. I really don’t. But his history is his history, and the Eagles have to take that into account when figuring out who their No. 2 quarterback will be in 2020. I feel like it has to be someone who’s been a starter, who has playoff experience and who can come in and win important games. Case Keenum checks all the boxes for me. Yeah, he’s bounced around – six teams since 2014 – but he’s played well, especially over the last three years where despite playing in three different systems he has 51 TDs and 27 interceptions and has completed 65 percent of his passes – which is higher than Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers or Jared Goff during that span. The Eagles have to consider backup QB almost like a starter until Wentz can string together some healthy seasons.
8. The last time the Eagles had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game? Would you believe LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin back on Nov. 27, 2014, in a 33-10 Chip Kelly win over the Cowboys in Dallas? Shady ran for 159 yards and Maclin had 8-for-108 from Mark Sanchez. That was 90 games ago.
9. Pro Football Focus ranked the top 100 free agents about to hit the market in two weeks, and the only Eagle ranked in the top 50 was 38-year-old Jason Peters at No. 48. Rodney McLeod (67), Nelson Agholor (70), Ronald Darby (76), Tim Jernigan (79) and Jordan Howard (91) were also in the top 100. Really, the Eagles could let all those guys go and it wouldn't be the worst thing.
10. It still blows my mind that Andy Reid won a Super Bowl in his 21st year as a head coach. What’s most impressive is how positive Big Red stayed throughout those first 20 years of blown playoff leads, horrible home postseason losses, 14 playoff appearances without a championship, disappointment after disappointment. He had become the NFL poster child for playoff failure, but he just kept bouncing back, kept learning from all of it, kept working to make himself a better coach. And 15 years after getting outcoached by Bill Belichick in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, it was Reid who outcoached Kyle Shanahan in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
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