Underrated Needs for the Philadelphia Eagles
It has been a magical season in Philadelphia. From underdogs to Top Dogs, the Eagles have finally gotten the Superbowl victory they have desperately fought for. After two weeks of partying and pandemonium in the streets, topped off with a grand parade and a speech for the ages, it’s time to get back to business. With free agency looming and the draft not far behind, the Eagles will be getting to work on building a roster to repeat as Superbowl Champs. The Eagles are one of the deepest teams in the league, but I’ve come up with some issues that need to be addressed. Here are the underrated needs for the Philadelphia Eagles. First up – Linebacker
The common train of thought among Eagles fans is “We need a LB, Jordan Hicks can’t stay healthy”….I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that is a myth. The Eagles play in Nickel coverage ( 2 LB 5 DB) about 90% of the time. So that is 2 Linebackers on the field at a time. Safety Malcolm Jenkins played Linebacker 42% of the time. I don’t see this trend going away. Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks are both 3 down LBs so they take almost all the snaps. Even with Hicks injured, Mychal Kendricks came in and played well. By my count, that’s three LBs for a team that plays two at a time. I say they are set at the position. Nigel Bradham signs somewhere else? That changes things. Is depth needed? Sure. But this is not the major need in my opinion. The REAL need is……..
I know, I know…..Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McCleod….one of the better Safety tandems in the league. But who is behind them? As stated above Jenkins was at LB for a bulk of the defensive snaps. So who was back there defending the back half? That was Corey Graham. One thing I believe to be a fact: The Eagles don’t beat the Patriots without Corey Graham. His ability to cover enabled Malcolm Jenkins to roam as a chess piece and wreck havoc. Here’s the problem, the 33-year-old Safety is an unrestricted free agent. Behind that….another free agent and a special teams player. So basically the Eagles are two deep at a position that they would like to play 3. The team could bring Graham back or maybe even move one of their young corners to safety, either way, some youth is definitely needed at the position.
The Eagles had the best offensive line in football last season. The worry here is longevity. Some quality depth is needed to take over the job when the older players move on. Despite any rumors you may hear, Jason Peters will be back at LT. It will probably be his final season, so an heir apparent is needed. Hal Vaitai played admirably filling in for Peters, but he by no means should have the job handed to him. On the interior, depth is needed as well with Stephen Wisnewski over 30, backup Chance Warmack heading into the final year of his contract and an unreliable Isaac Seumalo. Not the most threatening need, but a young versatile linemen would help tremendously.
With Torrey Smith likely to be cut, a true deep threat is again a need. Mack Hollins is the front-runner to take Smith’s spot, but someone to challenge him would be ideal. Right now the only proven guys at the position are Nelson Agholar and Alshon Jeffery. Again depth is key.
Another case where the starters are tops in the league, but the backups could use an upgrade. DT Beau Allen is a free agent and the other 2 players are a late round draft pick and an undrafted free agent. The Eagles split the defensive line reps during the season and there was a little bit of a drop off when the second line came in. Defensive pressure is the key to success for this team so keeping the rushers fresh is imperative.
Howie Roseman swung a masterful trade to bring in Jay Ajayi from Miami. Ajayi will get the bulk of the carries next season, but beyond that is in question. Ajayi has well-documented health issues heading into his final contract year which may prevent the Eagles from signing him long term. Hard working Corey Clement provides good depth but in my opinion, he’s more of a rotation guy. Nobody knows what to expect from Wendell Smallwood who was a healthy scratch for much of the season and a severely undersized Donnell Pumphery. The position lacks a dynamic player that score whenever he touches the ball. Adding that element can make a good offense elite.
A lot of these issues will be resolved in some way. Howie does a good job stocking the team with talent. Also, none of these issues will cripple the team. If the Eagles can add to any of these positions Eagles fans will be gearing up for another Superbowl run!