32 teams. 7 Rounds. 255 picks. Next Thursday’s NFL draft presents the opportunity for teams to introduce an influx of young talent into their roster and acquire franchise players that may help build toward a Lombardi trophy. For the Philadelphia Eagles, this draft is one of the bigger ones in recent history. All offseason, general manager Howie Roseman has spoken about ways to fix and learn from past mistakes, he’s started in the first phase of the offseason by trading for Darius Slay and investing in premium and proven talent at the cornerback position for the first time since the Nnamdi Asomugha debacle, however next Thursday’s draft is where Howie Roseman will make or break the future of this team.
Since Howie Roseman became the Eagles GM in 2010, the only wide receiver he’s drafted and signed to an extension is Riley Cooper. The last time the Eagles had a receiver hit the 1,000 yard mark was 2014. This draft is loaded with receiver talent, many have called it the deepest ever. There are receivers that will be drafted in the 3rd-4th rounds that can develop into number one or two receivers in this draft. However even though this draft is deep at the position, Howie Roseman cannot afford to wait and think the luxury that is the wide receiver position in this draft will allow him to take a defensive or offensive lineman. He must get “his guys” as soon as he can, unlike 2017 with the historic running back class and the Eagles ended up with Donnel Pumphrey and 2019 with the depth of the defensive linemen in that class and the Eagles ended up with Shareef Miller, who didn’t make the 53 man roster, in the 4th round.
Currently as the Philadelphia Eagles stand they are led by 27 year old quarterback Carson Wentz on offense and a veteran combination of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox on defense. The best weapon Roseman has given Carson Wentz is Alshon Jeffery who was playing with a torn rotator cuff. With a QB of Wentz’s caliber, it is crucial that they get him a bonafide number one receiver. Whether it be an X, Y, or Z receiver, they have to get talent at the position for Wentz. Everyone watched down the stretch what Carson Wentz did with the like of Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, Robert Davis and tight end-converted-wide receiver, Josh Perkins. Even looking at 2017 with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Wentz has shown, if you give him average to good level wide receivers he can elevate those around him. It is up to Howie Roseman to get Wentz the talent to grow with him.
Roseman has the chance to dispel many narratives about him, one being his lack of investment into the linebacker position. While it isn’t gonna be the main priority, getting a starting level linebacker should definitely be the next task on the docket for Roseman and company. In my opinion, with the moves made this offseason, one starting level linebacker will take this defense from good to great. Taking a linebacker early shouldn’t be an issue for Roseman when you look at the room currently which consists of: Duke Riley, TJ Edwards, Nate Gerry, Jatavis Brown and Alex Singleton. Adding a young 3 down linebacker in this draft should be a priority for Howie Roseman.
Another narrative Roseman can squash or at least start to squash is that he is his reputation among certain Eagles fans as a talent evaluator. Looking at his the drafts since Roseman was re-entered into power in 2016,
–2016: 3 of 8 picks are still currently on roster (Carson Wentz, Issac Seumalo and Jalen Mills)
–2017: 4 of 8 picks are still currently on the roster (Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas (reported to be on the trade block), and Nate Gerry)
–2018: All picks are currently on roster, however, Jordan Mialata has not played a regular season snap
–2019: 4 of 5 picks are currently on the roster (Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Shareef Miller, who was only on the practice squad)
I understand as a GM or front office in general, you’re not going to hit on every pick, but of the first two drafts, the number of players that remain on the roster, 7-16, is not ideal in my opinion. On the two most recent drafts, they’ve yielded good pieces such as Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and Avonte Maddox, however there are some unknowns as well, specifically Shareef Miller, Jordan Mialata, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside and there are the depth/fringe starter level players such as Matt Pryor and Josh Sweat.
Howie Roseman has spoken throughout this offseason about things he’s learned over the last few years with respect to the draft, including prospect evaluation and value placed into college production and him underestimating the luxury a position may have and waiting to pick, and next Thursday presents the perfect platform for Roseman to put the lessons he’s said to have learned into action and engineer the ship and build the best team to take the Eagles forward.