The Eagles have beefed up their depth chart on two positions of distress ahead of this month’s NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, the Eagles agreed to terms for one-year contracts with running back Jordan Howard and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson.
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The Eagles now have seasoned return insurance and linebacker going into draft, giving them flexibility with their 11 choices during the selection process.
While Wilson’s arrival is remarkable, the Eagles should still consider the linebacker spot a weakness. The same can be said about running back even when Howard returns.
Here are the Eagles’ seven biggest needs – ranked – prior to the NFL Draft:
The Eagles really need to upgrade the cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay. The secondary has routinely been a weak spot for years – especially at cornerback – and players like Avonte Maddox, Kevon Seymour and Michael Jacquet again cannot be addressed this year. Drafting a cornerback in the first three rounds should be paramount to the Eagles, even if they sign a veteran in free agency ahead of time.
2. Wide receiver
While most fans will see a noticeable gap with a wide receiver, the Eagles still have some young pieces they’ve invested in, unlike cornerback. Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and John Hightower have all offered flashes of potential. While potentially dangerous to rely on, the Eagles have at least a positive stance in the position. Still, the depth map at the top needs a real alpha dog.
3. Defensive ending
The Eagles are light on the defensive finishing position. While Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham return to the starting lineup, Josh Sweat is their only proven backup in the rotation. Joe Ostman should not run into the fourth final defensive spot unopposed.
The Eagles made a smart move when they signed Anthony Harris to a one-year deal in free agency. However, his short-term contract still means the Eagles have to plan for the future. With Rodney McLeod likely to start the season on the sidelines as he recovers from knee surgery, the Eagles safety group is still a weak point. Sure, Marcus Epps and KVon Wallace have shown the potential, but the Eagles need to keep tackling the position in the design.
Wilson and Alex Singleton are likely to take two starting places this season. While TJ Edwards has a lot of experience, he may not be the best person for a three-down linebacker role in Jonathan Gannon’s defense. Davion Taylor, Genard Avery, Shaun Bradley, Joe Bachie and Rashad Smith are all strangers at this point.
6. Walk back
Howards re-signing is a bleep on the radar. In fact, the veterans’ return for the season probably isn’t even guaranteed. The Eagles should try to amplify the depth behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott in the design.
7. Defense equipment
The Eagles have little to hang their hats behind starters, Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox, on defensive tackles. TY McGill is a junior veteran, and Hassan Ridgeway has struggled to stay healthy for the past two seasons. Raequan Williams has some advantages, but should be tested out of season.
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