The 2021 NFL Draft is upon us. Months of mock drafts, film analysis and player carousels will culminate in Cleveland on Thursday. A new-look draft process did not stop the prospects— nor the NFL. As NFL hopefuls descend onto Cleveland or prepare for their draft party, analysts are scrambling to create the final, seemingly perfect draft board.
But nothing is perfect in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles are all too familiar with the imperfect science of drafting. Bust after bust. Project after project. Little on-field results have come from the last few drafts. That coupled with off-field drama have spurred the Eagles into a rebuild.
A rebuild a mere four years removed from a Super Bowl victory in 2017.
The Eagles have their work cut out for them come Thursday. A new coach and a (slightly) new quarterback are now running the show.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is still pulling the strings, however.
With so many needs to fill, what should be the Eagles’ plans? What positions should be prioritized? Do any positions need to have a competition? Writers at Last Out Media give their thoughts.
The 2021 NFL Draft could make or break Roseman’s time in Philadelphia. Only one Pro Bowler has been drafted in the last eight years.
The Pro Bowler is now in Indianapolis.
Besides not drafting “proven talent,” the Eagles’ love for positional competition hurts them as well. The front office tends to ignore needs for the sake of competition. Writers here at Last Out Media give their thoughts on positional competition.
Is the Eagles’ love for positional competition making them blind to needs on the field?
AJ Iezzi- Their failure to draft talent trumps whatever BS philosophy/mantra Howie Roseman says they have.
Andrew Petitt- Absolutely. Look at the linebacker position. Outside of Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson, I don’t think any other LB on this roster is safe. The team hasn’t valued the position in decades. You saw how poorly the group performed last season. Whether it’s coaching or lack of feel for the position, Philadelphia had one of the worst units in the league. Putting some capital into the LB core could do wonders for this defense. Another position that comes to mind is safety. Converting Jalen Mills to that spot did not work. Virtually every backup at that position got exposed, and rightfully so. We all want competition within these groups, but at what cost? Let’s hope the new coaching staff can work to find that balance of competition vs “proven player” this season.
Rob Whitney- It can certainly be a detriment. But one way to make players better is to put them on notice that there is someone waiting for their spot. I don’t see the harm.
Ashlee Woods- Competition is great to have. In fact, it’s part of head coach Nick Sirianni’s philosophy.
That does not mean the Eagles need to have that at every position.
The name of the game this year is stability. After a rocky 2020 season that effectively changed the landscape of the Eagles for the future, a stable foundation is needed. Without a stable foundation, this “rebuild” stage the Eagles are in will crumble. The goal is simple: draft needs first, competition later.
The Eagles have a host of needy positions going into the 2021 NFL draft. From wide receiver to linebacker, this team has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese.
The challenge? Prioritizing the needs.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to get the best player available at your pick. However, a secondary goal is to draft needs. The Eagles have a hard time prioritizing proven talent over competition. This year, however, is the year to find that balance. Here are the writers’ thoughts.
What needs do the Eagles need to prioritize?
Iezzi- The “passing league” clichés are constantly used, but they’re often true. The Eagles need to improve through the air on both sides of the ball. There is a woeful amount of playmakers in the secondary and in the receiving core. I’m not sure they are addressed with the utmost urgency, but cornerback and receiver are the two paramount needs. Aside from those two, the Eagles need to; add depth to the offensive line, find real talent at linebacker, and find home run hitters to surround Hurts with.
Petitt- As a whole, I think the Eagles need to stick to their board, and maybe lean off the analytics a bit. They’ve made a few head-scratching picks in the last few seasons (see JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Davion Taylor). Having players such as those graded much higher than the rest of the league is an internal issue, and one that hopefully can get cleaned up in this draft. Positionally speaking, outside of CB, Philly needs more WR, S, developmental players on both sides of the line, DE, QB, and TE. Those 11 picks should fill some holes for this team. In my opinion, Philadelphia’s top three needs are corner, receiver and safety. The hope is the front office can get these first few selections correct. As years past have yielded unsuccessful results.
Whitney- The wide receiver and cornerback positions are two most important things to focus on. The receiving core was terrible last season, as were the corners.
Woods- If a team wants to compete in this league, the skill positions must be filled with the best talent. Ignoring those needs has kept the Eagles from their full potential. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts needs weapons around him to grow. The wide receiver position is of the utmost priority.
As stated before, the best available player should be taken at your pick. With a draft class filled with talent, what players do these Last Out writers think the Eagles should go after?
Is there a player you think the Eagles need to try to go after?
Iezzi- I’ve talked myself into the fact a receiver will not be the choice at 12. Otherwise I’d be all aboard for Waddle or Smith. The two names I keep coming back to are Rashawn Slater and Jaycee Horn. They fit the bill in likelihood and positional need. Slater is a refined, proven grappler on the o-line. He’s got the potential to play nearly every position on the line which is vital to an aging, seldom healthy group. Horn is everything the Eagles have lacked at cornerback. He’s physical, has ball skills, and doesn’t get bullied at the catch point.
Petitt- For me, it’s South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. Philadelphia has one glaring need heading into this draft. Getting another starting caliber CB opposite Darius Slay is a must for this football team. Now, I’ll say this. Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II also looks to be a great prospect in this class. While I’d be happy with either player, this defense needs playmakers. Horn is the superior athlete of the two, so he’s the guy to target in the 1st round.
Whitney- Devonta Smith. I believe the Eagles need another receiver badly. If he is there, you take him
Woods- There are three players that should be at the top of the Eagles’ draft board: Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. All three of these players provide explosiveness to this team. If the goal is to rebuild, however, Rashawn Slater at 12 is not a bad pick. Offensive line was a sore point through 2020. To add some much needed talent and depth there is a win. It also shows that the Eagles are committed to protecting Hurts.
The Eagles are sure to shock, surprise and even anger some fans come Thursday night. One thing is for certain, however. Eagles fans all over the world will be glued to their television, phone or laptop come pick #12 (or wherever the Eagles land).