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2018 NFC East Draft Preview: Philadelphia Eagles — can the rich get richer?

The defending champs don’t really need a lot of help

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles Victory Parade Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL Draft is fast approaching. A lot of time has been spent wondering and analyzing what the New York Giants will do with the second overall pick — rightly so. Another important aspect of the draft will be how the other NFC East teams will approach the event. The Giants were last in the division during 2017 and by a significant margin. The three other teams each had at least seven wins and one of them won that important last game of the season that’s typically a pretty big deal.

We’ll finish up with the world champion (yup, still weird to say) Philadelphia Eagles.

2017 season review

The Eagles were good. Carson Wentz got hurt and it didn’t matter. We all know how this ended. Carry on.

Offseason overview

Howie Roseman and the Eagles did not sit quietly and rest on the Super Bowl win. They continued to active on the trade market — a key part in building the Super Bowl roster — and searched the bargain bin for still useful veteran players who can fill a specific role in 2018.

The biggest trade came from the acquisition of Michael Bennett. Philadelphia needed to part with just a fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson to get Bennett and a seventh-round pick. While there’s some off-the-field issues that have popped up, no party appears overly concerned. On the field, Bennett is still a dominant pass rusher who can win both inside and outside. He’ll join an edge rotation that already includes Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Chris Long. That’s alongside a defensive interior featuring Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, and the recently signed Haloti Ngata.

Even the trade that already didn’t work out for the Eagles still made the team better. Philadelphia traded wide receiver Torrey Smith and his $5 million salary to the Carolina Panthers for cornerback Darryl Worley. Worley was just released after an offseason arrest, but to replace Smith’s spot on the roster, the Eagles signed Mike Wallace — a better player — to a one-year deal worth half of what Smith was set to make in 2018.

Two key players (Trey Burton and Patrick Robinson) left in free agency, while another (Vinny Curry) was released. Robinson appears to be the lone member of that group the Eagles might have trouble replacing. Philadelphia also kept one of its own big free agents, linebacker Nigel Bradham.

Roster weaknesses

There’s not a whole lot to dive into here. You could say running back, but the Eagles thrived using a committee throughout the season and the Super Bowl was won with a huge impact from undrafted free agent Corey Clement. They’ll also get a full year of midseason trade acquisition Jay Ajayi. However, LeGarrette Blount did leave for the Detroit Lions, so there is still additional room in the committee. Cornerback could also be an issue for the team. Robinson is the free agent loss that will hurt the most. Philadelphia will be hoping for big contributions from a lot of young players — Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, and 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones, who appeared in just one game last season due to injury. Depth at tight end behind Zach Ertz could be an issue considering the Eagles ran the eighth-most plays with at least two tight ends on the field in 2017.

Draft capital

Round/Pick (Overall)

1.32 (32)

4.30 (130)

4.32 (132)

5.32 (169)

6.32 (206)

7.32 (250)

Because the Eagles have been the league’s most aggressive team in terms of trades, there’s not a lot of draft capital here. Don’t expect the trading to stop here, though. Philadelphia is a prime contender to trade out of the 32nd overall pick up a few more selections in the second and third rounds where there’s more value to be had.

Potential draft targets

LSU’s Derrius Guice has been a popular pick for the Eagles — the most popular, per SB Nation’s tracker — but questions remain whether Guice would still be there at 32 or if the Eagles would consider a running back that high in the draft. Secondary could be a more likely target with versatility being a major factor. Stanford’s Justin Reid could fit as a hybrid safety and slot corner. The second tier of corners could also have a player fall such as Mike Hughes, Isaiah Oliver, or Donte Jackson. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Eagles attempt to build depth and get a future starter on the offensive line given the age of Jason Peters. Kolton Miller and Connor Williams could be targets at tackle, while Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez could be interior prospects the Eagles hope fall down the board.

Prospect Meetings/Visits

Per Bleeding Green Nation’s tracker

Ronald Jones, RB, USC

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Jordan Mailata, OT, Australian rugby player

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland

Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas

James Daniels, OC, Iowa

Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Donte Jackson, CB, LSU