Looking Ahead to Philadelphia Eagles' Biggest Needs in 2014 NFL Draft
Since then, the Eagles have reeled off three consecutive victories, ended their embarrassing home losing streak and put themselves above .500 for the first time since Week 1. A division title seems imminent if Nick Foles continues his fine play and the defense does the same.
The big question this offseason will be whether Foles has played well enough to prove he can run Chip Kelly’s offense in 2014 and beyond. Considering Foles has totaled 18 touchdowns without a turnover this season, he’s making a strong case. The most surprising aspect has been Foles’ impressive ability to even run with the football, and he’s 5-1 this year in games in which he’s seen significant action.
For now, it seems likely Foles will return as the starter in ’14. That means QB is not one of the Eagles’ biggest needs, but there are a handful of other positions that will make the list.
It will be interesting to see what the Philadelphia Eagles do with the wide receiver position next year.
DeSean Jackson is signed to a five-year deal, one that pays him approximately $10 million per season. If he can continue producing as he is this year, he’s well worth the money. Jackson is on pace for 84 receptions, 1,433 yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which would be career highs for the sixth-year receiver.
Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are both impending free agents. Maclin is still just 25 years old. The former first-round pick could command a sizeable deal even coming off a serious injury. That will ultimately determine whether or not the Eagles can afford to bring him back. And Cooper’s unbelievable chemistry with Foles has led to unexpected production that makes him worth bringing back in 2014.
There’s even Jason Avant and Arrelious Benn in the mix, each of whom will compete for a spot next year.
The Eagles could be in the market for a receiver next season, but it may be that there are more pressing issues for Chip Kelly to consider. Philadelphia will have almost a logjam of receivers to pick from, and the first-round pick can best be spent on a different position.
Conceivably, the Philadelphia Eagles could target either an inside or outside linebacker.
DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks currently man the inside spots, but an upgrade would be beneficial. Ryans is the quarterback of the defense, and he’s playing at an extremely high level. He’s the first Eagles linebacker with multiple interceptions and sacks in the same season since Jeremiah Trotter in 2001.
Kendricks has shown glimpses of brilliance, but he’s ultimately missed too many tackles and struggled in pass coverage (82.2 completion percentage allowed).
Trent Cole has played extremely well as of late as a pass-rushing linebacker on the outside, but he’s a veteran whose play can be expected to decline soon given that he will be entering his 10th season in 2014. Connor Barwin’s deal essentially expires after ’14, and Brandon Graham hasn’t stepped up at all in a move to outside linebacker.
A linebacker in the mix would really help the Eagles, whether the team targets one for the inside or outside.
This is probably the biggest need for the Philadelphia Eagles in the upcoming draft. Cary Williams has played surprisingly well this season, especially this past week, when he held Pierre Garcon to a season-low two catches.
And Brandon Boykin is playing at a near-Pro Bowl level, with four interceptions as a nickel back. But an upgrade over Bradley Fletcher may be needed, and snagging a high-profile corner early in the draft is probably a must for the Eagles.
Look for Chip Kelly to target Ifo Ekpre-Olomu of Oregon. Ekpre-Olomu is a physical corner who plays the ball well in coverage. He faces tough competition week in and week out, and he would push Williams or Boykin for a starting spot in 2014.
It’s long overdue that the Philadelphia Eagles move on from Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen. Each is a free agent after the season, and while Allen has played better, it’s not worth signing either player to a new contract.
Earl Wolff may compete for a starting spot in 2014, but don’t forget that he was a fifth-round pick for a reason. Patrick Chung won’t be back after the way he’s played this season. That means the Eagles will absolutely be in the market for one of the draft’s top safeties.
The Eagles still haven’t recovered from allowing either Brian Dawkins or Quintin Mikell to walk in free agency. Drafting HaHa Clinton-Dix out of Alabama would immediately bolster an Eagles’ secondary that ranks just 31st in yards allowed this season.