Philadelphia Eagles: Who Is at RIsk of Losing Starting Role to Draft Prospect?
Even after winning the NFC East, the Eagles still have many holes to fill. After posting the 32nd ranked pass defense, along with the decision to release DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have needs on both offense and defense.
It's a bit of a misconception that the Eagles have a young team. As Sheil Kapadia showed in an article on Phillymag.com, the Eagles are actually the 14th youngest team based on players who see significant minutes.
That, combined with Kelly's draft philosophy of selecting the best player over need, means all positions will likely be addressed. Players who seem safe, for now, could be in danger of losing their starting spot.
These four could potentially be on the hot seat, depending on how the draft plays out.
1. Riley Cooper
Don't be too surprised to see Cooper's name on this list. Sure, he played fantastically last season, nabbing 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns, but he could be succeeded by a young talented wideout.
Cooper has good hands, solid route running, and locates the ball well. But he does not possess elite speed or strength. If the Eagles select a wide receiver in the first or even second round, an explosive player like Marqise Lee or Brandon Cooks could take the outside receiver job from him.
This is not to say Cooper is not a good player, but he would likely be relegated to Jason Avant's old role. He would be used in the slot or in certain situations, rather than every down. In a wide receiving class as talented as this year's, it would not be a huge shock if he was beat out by a rookie in training camp.
2. Trent Cole
Looks can be deceiving. So can stats.
Additionally, Cole failed to get a single sack in the first eight weeks of the 2013 season. He was a great Eagle, but he's running out of gas. The main reason he is a starter is because of his run defense.
However, if the Eagles select a talented pass-rusher early in the draft, it could mean the end of Cole as a starter. Even if they don't, Cole is getting old at 31 years of age. He may be replaced by a later-round rookie based on decline.
3. Cary Williams
Pro Football Focus graded him as the 92nd cornerback out of 110 qualifiers. However, Williams saw the most targets. Clearly, he's not very feared by offensive coordinators.
The Eagles seem to see him as a weak link too, as they signed Nolan Carroll this offseason. Carroll is an underrated corner who was overshadowed a bit by Brent Grimes. He could challenge Williams for the starting corner spot.
If not Carroll, if the Eagles land a talented corner in the draft, such as Jason Verrett, Williams could be riding the bench during 2014.
4. Todd Herremans
Herremans was once the most underrated offensive lineman on the team. Now he may be the most overrated.
He is okay as a run-blocker, but his pass protection is inconsistent at best. He's also getting old, at 31 years of age.
Maybe the Eagles will view securing the O-line as a top priority. Every starter on it except Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson is over 30 years old. If Xavier Su'a Filo falls to the 22nd overall pick, the Eagles will certainly consider him.
At this stage in his career, Herremans is unlikely to improve. If the Eagles bring in O-line help, Herremans could be out of a starting job.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR