Eagles Draft Needs – 2019
Matt Finocchio - Head Writer
Unlike past years, the Eagles don’t have any glaring holes in their roster. However, there are some positions that could use some more depth or added talent.
Left Tackle: Jason Peters (who turned 37 back in January) has dealt with numerous injuries the past two years. This off-season, the Birds signed Peters to a one-year contract, so 2019 will most likely be his last year with the team.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, aka Big-V, is the current back-up at left tackle. Big-V filled in admirably during the 2017 Super Bowl run but was less consistent when stepping in for Peters throughout 2018. While Vaitai could be a serviceable starting tackle in the future, I think the Eagles will look to draft a more promising replacement for Peters. What about Aussie rugby star Jordan Mailata, you ask? Mailiata seemingly has all the tools to become a solid NFL player, but at this point in his career he’s still a multi-year project (luckily, he’s just 22 years old).
Running Back: While Jordan Howard was a nice off-season pick-up, the Eagles could still use a true three-down back. At minimum, they need a pass-catching RB to complement Howard – while I think a healthy Corey Clement could fill that role, it can’t hurt to add another young RB via the draft.
Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Boston Scott will be fighting for roster spots and Darren Sproles’ future is still TBD. With only Howard, Clement (and Sproles) as locks to make the roster, I think the Eagles will pick up a running back in the second or fourth round.
Finally, the Eagles are notorious for avoiding running backs in the first round, but this year, they keep getting linked to Josh Jacobs from Alabama. Could this be the year they take an RB in round 1? Probably not, but I’d be happy with it, if it meant getting Josh Jacobs.
Linebacker – Though linebacker is a less-valued position in the modern NFL, the departure of Jordan Hicks does leave a hole in the Eagles defense. Kamu Grugier-Hill is the most likely candidate to start alongside Nigel Bradham, with Nate Gerry, Paul Worrilow and newly acquired L.J. Fort serving as back-ups. Given the volume of picks the Birds have, I think they address LB with one of their fourth-round picks.
Safety: The Eagles struggled with safety depth when Rodney Mcleod went down for the year early in 2018. While they picked up veteran safety Andrew Sendejo as a short-term fix, I still think they need to address safety in the draft. Additionally, they need to consider how many more years Malcolm Jenkins will be playing at a high level (he is currently 31 years old). Ideally, it would be great if a young safety could learn under Jenkins for a few years before taking the reins.
Defensive line: Historically, the Eagles have always valued defensive linemen and make them a priority in the draft. While the Birds picked up Vinny Curry and Malik Jackson (essentially a swap for Timmy Jernigan) the loss of Michael Bennett hurts. Additionally, the uncertainty of Chris Long’s future with the team is cause for concern. I think the team will look to add depth and get a bit younger along the d-line.
Don’t be surprised if the Eagles trade up a few spots to snag one of the stud linemen from Clemson (Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence).
As a reminder, the Eagles have seven total picks this year:
1 first round pick
2 second round picks
2 fourth round picks
1 fifth round pick
1 sixth round pick