Sun, 31 May 2020

Looking at the roster's bottom line as it stands now

Philadelphia Eagles
27 Mar 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Pivot time.

The NFL Draft is four weeks away and in whatever way, shape, or form the league presents it, the draft is on schedule to happen April 23-25. And the Eagles have to be ready. There are, as Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman says, "no excuses." Every team is in the same situation. At-facility visits are prohibited. Teams can conduct conference calls with prospects and continue to learn as much as they can about the players, but this is uncharted territory and the final few yards of work are being done before the Eagles reach the end zone and the draft is upon us.

"Overall, we're happy with where we are right now knowing that we still have other areas to improve," Roseman said.

The Eagles have done an admirable job managing the salary cap and creating opportunities to add big-time talent - led by cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave - in the new League Year without sacrificing the future. As a result, the roster - particularly on the defensive side of the ball - has taken a significant, and needed, jump.

That said, the roster is not yet complete. The draft preparation - remember, the Eagles have eight picks - is taking a final lap. Here is a look at the team, position by position.

Quarterback

This position is stable, and the Eagles could still add to the group at some point down the line either in the draft or in the days leading into Training Camp. Carson Wentz is the Franchise Player and he's healthy and ready for his fifth NFL season. The Eagles signed Nate Sudfeld prior to the start of the league year and Sudfeld feels he has "unfinished business" in Philadelphia after a rough 2019 season that started with him as the No. 2 option behind Wentz and then devolved into a preseason wrist injury, the addition of Josh McCown that bumped Sudfeld to No. 3, and inactive status for the playoff game against Seattle. Kyle Lauletta is a young player the Eagles want to take a long look at in the spring (we hope!) and summer months (no guarantees there, either!).

Bottom Line: The Eagles aren't likely to have a Training Camp with only three arms, so they're probably going to add someone. Whether that's a young, developmental player they draft or a veteran to compete for a backup position remains to be seen.

Running Back

With only three backs on the roster - Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Elijah Holyfield - Roseman acknowledges that the Eagles are going to add to this position. But they also feel they're in excellent shape at running back with Sanders leading the way and with Scott providing a nice complement. Holyfield needs some work, but the Eagles think he can develop into a power back, similar to Jordan Howard in that regard. More is coming at running back, a position that can be replenished after the draft if need be as the Eagles showed in the past.

Bottom line: Yes, the Eagles will add a running back or three to provide competition, but they feel good about their first and second options with Sanders and Scott, and they think they can work with Holyfield.

Wide Receiver

In a 52-minute conference call with reporters on Thursday - one day after Roseman and I had an exclusive one-on-one interview that covered the entire roster - Roseman was asked a few times about the wide receiver position in the vein of, "Why didn't you address wide receiver in free agency?"

The first part of the answer is that Roseman and the Eagles directed their resources in free agency, for the most part, toward the defense. The second part of that answer is that, in the minds of the Eagles, the cupboard isn't exactly bare at wide receiver. The Eagles plan to get Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson healthy and they know that those two have plenty of high-level football in them. They understand that second-year man J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has to take a sizeable leap for 2020. They know that Greg Ward showed some good things out of the slot last year and that there are young receivers here to work with and that, yes, they have to improve the position.

Bottom line: The previews for the draft suggest the wide receiver class is loaded. The Eagles are going to have options up and down the draft should they choose to address the position there.

Tight End

Nothing to worry about here as the Eagles have an enviable 1-2 situation with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Those two are going to be featured a lot in 2020, as they were in 2019. There isn't a better two-deep picture in the league. The Eagles also have Joshua Perkins, who played a valuable role as a hybrid tight end/receiver last season, and they want to see more from Alex Ellis, a developmental player who took big strides quickly last summer before suffering an injury.

Bottom line: This looks like a post-draft position to add to. The Eagles are in good shape, but it's always smart to have developmental players in the pipeline.

Offensive Line

There is a lot to like about the makings of the offensive line as it stands now with four of the five starting positions returning in left guard Isaac Seumalo, center Jason Kelce, right guard Brandon Brooks, and right tackle Lane Johnson. Being healthy all season is the key. The Eagles allowed Jason Peters to test free agency and he remains out there. Roseman has always kept the door open for players, so you never really know with Peters. In the meantime, the Eagles have a lot of confidence that Andre Dillard will make the transition to the starting role at left tackle. There is a need for depth and young players like Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta and Matt Pryor and, yes, Jordan Mailata are ready to provide quality, trustworthy depth, and versatility.

Bottom line: There is some age among the starters, so that's a concern, and the recent injury past is certainly something the Eagles want to avoid in 2020, but the Eagles are in a better position than most offensive line-starved teams. The Eagles will add numbers as they continue to develop young, talented players for depth and competition, but it's not likely to be a super-high priority in the draft.

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