As the draft looms, Eagles fans are running rampant with speculation across social media, and with good reason. Recent draft history has not been kind to the Philadelphia Eagles organization and it is natural to wonder if history is bound to repeat itself this year. But with a changing of the guard within the coaching staff, we may finally be getting some good news at this time of the year.
When the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl 52, many people within the fanbase and media felt that the team was going to be a contender for years to come. Fast forward to 2021, where we stand now makes that Super Bowl victory feel like it was two lifetimes ago. Over the span of the past three grueling seasons, the Eagles franchise has taken a sharp decline, and we do not have to look any further than the recent draft history to understand why.
We can go back and forth until the sun stops shining about Howie Roseman and his sometimes questionable drafting, but to place all the blame on him is foolish. Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, now fired and unemployed, seemed entirely unable to develop players and proved ineffective at game-planning and utilizing his players, namely Miles Sanders, to their strengths.
Reports about owner Jeffrey Lurie meddling in the drafting process have circulated around the internet as well. The organization’s issues go well beyond one man, and getting this team back on track requires accountability by the entire franchise.
Enter newly hired head coach, Nick Sirianni and his exciting coaching staff. The franchise will certainly benefit from a boost of new ideas and a young coach who has a track record of getting the most out of his players.
Over the last three seasons, this roster has been oft-injured at several key positions, aging, and devoid of any elite level talent all over the field. Howie Roseman and the front office have been far from stellar during the last few drafts and it is very difficult for Eagles fans to recall the last draft class that gave this team something to look forward to. Impactful selections and players have been passed up time and time again and the Eagles have continued to choose projects over progress.
But the 2021 draft presents a chance for the franchise to turn it all around. This year, the Eagles have 11 selections, four of which are in the top 100, and plenty of roster holes to fill. In fact, there may not be a single position where the Eagles can look at their depth chart and feel satisfied. There are major needs at cornerback, where they lack any serious talent behind 30-year-old, Darius Slay. The defensive line is aging and while there is some depth at defensive tackle, the team lacks consistent playmakers at defensive end. Safety, Wide Receiver, and reliable depth along the offensive line are all lacking as well.
While it is unreasonable to expect the Eagles to solve every issue in one draft class, there is still potential to get some youthful talent in the NovaCare Complex this week.
However. there are some hurdles this team must overcome in order to achieve that goal.
- Howie Roseman must stop trying to be the smartest guy in the room, his job is likely on the line.
It’s been talked about ad-nauseam, but I’m gonna bring it up again. In 2019, the Philadelphia Eagles selected J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with their 2nd second round pick and passed on players like DK Metcalf, who has become a star receiver with the Seahawks and while JJAW has struggled to get on the field and has 14 career catches in two seasons. In 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles selected WR Jalen Reagor one pick ahead of LSU WR Justin Jefferson, who proceeded to break most of Randy Moss’s rookie receiving records.
Howie Roseman must have a short memory and forget his past mistakes this year and trust the scouts enough to make the selection that makes sense and follows the team’s draft board. Most importantly, it has to be a pick that brings talent into the franchise. Reaching for players and trying to outwit the other teams has failed him numerous times in recent years, and if it continues, Roseman may not be given another year by owner Jeffrey Lurie.
2. Jeffrey Lurie must stop meddling and let the front office and scouts do their jobs
Reports have circulated that the owner has been meddling during the Eagles drafting process and forcing Howie Roseman’s hand on certain picks while overriding the opinions and work of scouts within the franchise. If the Eagles want to have any chance at landing impact players this time around, Lurie must take a step back and allow the scouts to do their jobs and take the players that will provide the most value for this franchise. Egos must be put aside and specific roles must be given. Owners may feel they have a say and sometimes they should, but their opinions should be considered, not dominate those of the scouts and talent evaluators.
3. Nick Sirianni’s first draft as a head coach in the NFL
When Sirianni was hired, many fans did not know who he was. Pierre covered that in great detail here, and it is now safe to say many fans are excited about what Sirianni is bringing to the franchise. He may not have inherited an especially good roster but, he certainly has a chance to make an impact by adding some key pieces this upcoming draft. With his background and ability to tap into the potential of his players, he can influence the selections the Eagles make and get his head coaching career off to a great start. We have yet to see what a Sirianni-inspired draft looks like but we can take a look at the Indianapolis Colts roster in his time there and have an indication of where the Eagles may lean during their selections.
The bottom line: The 2021 draft class is loaded with talent at many positions, all of which the Eagles are lacking premium talent. The Philadelphia Eagles franchise has a chance to turn it all around and get back on track. Adding key pieces and future franchise cornerstones must be prioritized to help Coach Sirianni kickstart the new era. Poor drafting strategies have burned this team with reaches and lapses in judgment (JJAW over DK? Clayton Thorson?) in recent years, but if the Eagles brass can focus on 2021 and the future ramifications of each selection, the results may be more positive this time around.
Drafting the best player available, at positions of need, and being considerate of the talent available at each position in later rounds may be the wisest move. A defensive end at 12 may not be the worst choice ever, but this team needs more and better than “not the worst choice ever” with their first round pick. One draft won’t be able to fix everything, but the front office can try to add premier talent this April and get back to playing football in January/February.
The 2021 draft represents opportunity and hope for the Philadelphia Eagles. We as fans may not get everything we want, but the possibilities are endless and this team needs some sort of spark of hope or sign that things are changing for the better.