Eagles mailbag

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

The offseason marches on with your questions. 

I already answered your first bunch, including questions on Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi and running backs in the draft. Now, it’s time for Part 2 of 3. 

Let’s get to it: 

I got a few questions about Nate Sudfeld this week and I certainly understand why. He’s now the Eagles’ backup quarterback and Carson Wentz has finished the last two seasons on the shelf. I think there are legitimate reasons for concern. From the time the Eagles got Sudfeld, I thought he was a possible QB2. The problem here is that he is unproven; we haven’t seen much of him outside of summer practices and minimal game action. It’s somewhat of a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to go into a season with an unproven backup, especially because of Wentz’s injury history. 

But, to be clear, I like what I’ve seen from Sudfeld. He seems to be pretty athletic and has a big arm. The Eagles have shown how much they like him at every turn. This is one of those situations where I’m skeptical, but just kind of trust their evaluation. 

I don’t think the Curry signing affects Long’s decision as much as it tells us the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Long isn’t back. You have to remember, Curry can play inside and outside, so he might not take as many reps from Long as you think. We’ll see what happens soon with the draft. Long has said he doesn’t want to return as just a locker room guy and a high draft pick would take even more playing time away from him. The Eagles should hope he returns, though. Even at his age, he’s still a productive pass rusher. 

This is one of the big ideas I want to ask Doug Pederson about next week at the owners meetings. The Eagles now have a bunch of different pass catching options. They have a really talented trio of receivers to go along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Even though Goedert is a really impressive young player, it’s hard to imagine he would be left out at times. The Eagles didn’t trade for DeSean Jackson to sit him on the bench and they aren’t pay Nelson Agholor over $9 million this season to be a spectator. And Alshon Jeffery is going to play. 

It’s a good problem to have, but Pederson needs to figure out a way to get everyone involved. It might be a nightmare for fantasy football owners, though, because I think the game plan will change based on the matchups from week to week. Some weeks they’ll go heavy 11 personnel, but I wouldn’t rule out heavy 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field sometimes too. 

I don’t. I do agree that running back and linebacker are their two most pressing needs, but I just wouldn’t use a top pick on a linebacker. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I think it’s much more likely they leave the first two days of the draft with a running back instead of a linebacker. I still believe the Eagles will use No. 25 on a lineman (offense or defense) and will then look at running back with one of their second-round picks. I think they use a Day 3 pick on a linebacker unless they really think they found tremendous value. 

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Eagles Mailbag: Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi, early-round RBs

Eagles Mailbag: Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi, early-round RBs

I’ll be in Phoenix next week for the owners meetings, where we’ll hear from the Eagles’ brass for the first time after all of their moves this offseason. 

But until then, you guys had plenty of questions. 

As always, we got too many for one mailbag, so we split them up. Here’s the first batch: 

I don’t think so. I understand the the cornerback room is crowded, especially after the Eagles brought back Ronald Darby. They have Darby, Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc. But Jones is the one I definitely wouldn’t trade. I know his first real season in the NFL didn’t go as planned, but he was pretty much a rookie last year and he got hurt. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on Jones. There’s a reason he was a first-round talent, and there’s a reason the Eagles still drafted him in the second round in 2017 despite the Achilles tear. 

And you have to remember this: Jones is entering his third NFL season, but he’s still just 22 and he has a modest cap hit of $1.67 million in 2019. Even next year, he still counts less than $2 million toward the cap. The Eagles owe it to themselves and Jones to find out if he can live up to his potential.  

Good question, but one that’s hard to answer until we actually have a better sense of who will be on the roster. The Eagles are in better shape when it comes to kick returners. They can have Wendell Smallwood or Corey Clement do it. Even Nelson Agholor can be an emergency kick returner. 

Punt returner? That’s a little trickier. The only guy on the team who returned last year with any regularity was Clement and he wasn’t very good at it. In big moments, DeSean Jackson can be the punt returner, but he hasn’t been an every-time returner in a few years. Maybe Nelly can do it; maybe Braxton Miller if he’s on the roster. There’s also a chance the Eagles’ 2019 punt returner isn’t on the roster yet. 

He’s rehabbing from that ACL injury. He reportedly had a visit set up with the Colts and head coach Frank Reich. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles bring him back on a cheap deal. I don’t think teams are going to line up to break the bank for him. There were already serious concerns about Ajayi’s knees before the ACL injury. He is a good fit in the locker room and the Eagles should have inside knowledge of his recovery. If the Eagles want to bring him back and then draft a running back to complement him, that’s not a terrible option. Which brings us to this … 

I do. I really do. The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first or second round since LeSean McCoy since 2009, so their recent history says they won’t. But I think this is the year to buck that trend. I’m not sold on the idea of them taking one at 25, but with two second-round picks (53 and 57), things are lining up nicely for them to take one of the running backs who will be second-round picks. I have my eye on Miles Sanders from Penn State or David Montgomery from Iowa State. I think either one would be exactly what the Eagles need. 

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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.

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.

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