Eagles Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft Picks

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 19, 2021

Eagles Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft Picks

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Can the Philadelphia Eagles quickly return to being a Super Bowl contender and a top NFC team without a complete multi-year rebuild? That could depend on how the team fares in the 2021 NFL draft.

    The April 29-May 1 talent grab is going to be an important period for the Eagles' future. They didn't have the salary-cap space to be major players in free agency this offseason, so this is going to be their primary opportunity to add to their roster ahead of the 2021 campaign.

    That also means that Philadelphia still has several holes on its roster, ones it likely needs to fix before becoming a legitimate threat in the league once again. If the Eagles draft well, they could add several starting-caliber players to address those areas of need.

    There are also a few players already on Philadelphia's roster who will likely be affected by what the team decides to do in the draft. Here's a look at some names who will be most impacted.

QB Jalen Hurts

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Jalen Hurts should be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2021. The team traded Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in March, which means the second-round pick last year is now the top quarterback on the Philadelphia roster.

    But whether the 22-year-old makes positive strides in his second NFL season could depend on the offense that surrounds him.

    The Eagles still need to improve at wide receiver as Jalen Reagor didn't perform up to expectations in his rookie season. And with veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery gone, Philadelphia needs to bolster a group that would likely have Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward still in starting roles.

    The Eagles could get better and younger on the offensive line, especially with center Jason Kelce, 33, possibly nearing the end of his career. Hurts has the mobility to extend plays, but it will also be important to protect him so he can have a long and successful run as the franchise quarterback.

    The only other signal-caller on Philadelphia's roster is veteran Joe Flacco, so it's possible it will add another in the draft. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler told ESPN's SportsCenter on April 11 (h/t Tim Daniels of B/R) that some insiders believe the Eagles will take a quarterback as either "insurance" or "competition" for Hurts.

    If that happens, perhaps Hurts will need to impress ahead of the season to ensure he keeps his job.

TE Zach Ertz

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    The future of tight end Zach Ertz with Philadelphia seems uncertain amid plenty of speculation and rumors.

    It's possible the Eagles could trade the 30-year-old in order to acquire more picks in this year's draft. He could be a free agent after the 2021 season (Philadelphia holds a team option for 2022), so it could make sense to deal him now.

    If Ertz stays, the Eagles would have him and Dallas Goedert, who is entering the final year of his contract. So Philadelphia could be looking to add a tight end during the draft. It may no longer be able to get Florida's Kyle Pitts (unless it trades up from the No. 12 overall pick back into the top 10), but perhaps it will look to find a sleeper in a later round.

    Should the Eagles have those three tight ends on their roster (Goedert, Ertz and a rookie), it could have a big impact on Ertz's role in 2021—if he is still with the Eagles at that point.

DE Brandon Graham

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    Brandon Graham is 33 years old and entering his 12th NFL season, and while he's been a strong player throughout his time in Philadelphia, it's possible he's going to start slowing down.

    And with the Eagles' starter on the other side of the defensive line being Derek Barnett, who has one year remaining on his contract, the team could address its pass rush early in the draft.

    Philadelphia has bigger defensive needs (linebacker, cornerback), but defensive end shouldn't be a position it ignores in the draft. If there's a top prospect available early who the Eagles can't resist, perhaps they'll even add one on either the first or second day.

    Graham should remain a starter in 2021, but if Philadelphia has a rookie who begins to impress upon arrival, that could impact his playing time moving forward. That would especially be the case if his production levels start to dip.

    It's always possible that an impressive young player enters the picture and pushes a veteran out of a starting spot. That could be something to watch with Graham, depending on how the Eagles' draft unfolds.