- Brian Baldinger
EAGLES WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD AROUND CARSON WENTZ
When the Eagles made two successful trades to move up to the No.2 pick in the 2016 NFL to draft Carson Wentz, they had a mantra in mind as to how to build a team.
Coaches, players, and personnel people have moved on since that monumental day in the Spring of 2016, but the mantra has never changed.
Never Stop Building Around Carson Wentz.
It is the right approach and the Eagles have been successful in going to the playoffs three out of his four years, while claiming their first Lombardi Trophy.
It is year five now for Carson. Looking back on the 2019 season, it had its ups and downs for sure, but the four-game win streak that the Birds put together was a great stretch for Carson with a unit around him that was less than stellar.
But he showed that he could carry a team when their backs were up against the wall, like the man they drafted should when you execute two trades to secure the No.2 pick.
It all ended so suddenly with a controversial hit by Jadeveon Clowney in a home playoff game that was certainly winnable. Nine total snaps and being dinged badly on the game's fourth play.
That's history and that's life in the NFL.
Injuries can get the best of any player at the worst times. But regardless of whether he survived the Wild Card Weekend or not, and whether the Eagles could find a way to win that game or not, did not hide the glaring fact that the Birds roster needed to be retooled.
It was more than appearance. The roster had gotten old, broken and slow and that is a combination that does not hold up over the long haul.
What can the Birds do to continue the mantra that started four years ago? Never stop building around Carson Wentz.
As of today, a week before the start of free agency and the official start to the 2020 season, the Eagles could line-up with two wide receivers that are both 30 years old or older and coming off injury-riddled seasons.
DeSean Jackson is 33 years old and started two games last year. He started with a bang scoring two touchdowns in the opener to comeback and defeat the Redskins and did little else.
Alshon Jeffery never seemed to really get going last year starting only nine games and scoring only four touchdowns.
While there is a chance that both players return, they need an injection of a future No.1 wide receiver to build upon.
And this is the perfect draft to do so. I think their is a real place for Greg Ward Jr.. on this roster as he appears to be the only true slot receiver that the Birds have had in the Wentz era.
He averaged 10 yards/reception over the last four regular season games when the Eagles went 4-0.
I would love to see real development from JJ Arcega-Whiteside now that the Birds fired the receiver coach and have hired Aaron Moorehead.
This draft is deep at wide receiver with a potential for real star power. Juggle any of these four names; Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, Henry Ruggs III, and CeeDee Lamb and they all look dynamic.
Ruggs has the type of speed that Jackson once had with a burst that no one else in this draft can compare to.
All are polished and have played great on a big stage. Right behind those four are a wave of others that come in all shapes and sizes that a team can get starting at around the No.20 pick. Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, and Tee Higgins are all worthy of a first round grade.
All boast impressive resume's with combine results that marry with their tape production.
My favorite receiver in this draft is Ruggs. He blistered the fastest 40 time at the combine in 4.27 with the fastest 10-yard split at the combine in a blurry 1.43. His vertical leap of 42 inches allows him at 5-foot-11 to play above the rim.
In his 60 targets at Alabama this season I saw him drop two.
If for some reason whereby an early run on QB's, OT's and defensive lineman happen and Ruggs falls to No.16 or No.17, I would expect the Birds to package some of their 10 picks and make a trade to try and get him
If the Birds do not go first round at wide receiver and elect to draft a dynamic defensive player, their are worthy selections with their No.53 pick in the second round to target a dynamic player like Denzel Mims from Baylor who played all four years at Baylor and was a big part of Matt Rhule's amazing turnaround in Waco, TX.
Mims goes 6-3, 207 pounds and ran a 4.38 40 with a vertical leap of close to 40 inches. He also played big in some of Baylor's biggest wins.
The Eagles should look at three more positions to continue to build around Carson.
Offensive line is going to be a position of need with Jason Peters being allowed to go explore free agency. While they drafted his replacement a year ago when they traded up to get Andre Dillard, Big V is a free agent who may get plucked away in free agency
Jason Kelce had another strong season but it is no secret that he has contemplated retirement. And the Eagles should begin to plan for it.
If I was Howie and Andy, I would take a look at a prospect right across the Walt Whitman Bridge from Camden in Cesar Ruiz, who has been a star center at Michigan for the last 26 straight starts.
I believe he is the best center in this draft and could be ready to play both guard spots or center right away. You need to probably move up in the second round to secure him. But it could keep the center position one of strength for the next decade.
I also think the Eagles need to address the running back position. They may have three players in this draft that might be secured with a late second-round or third-round selection.
In order I would be interested in LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He is a one-year starter that hasn't much tread off of the tires, but what a season he had for the Tigers in a dual capacity.
We know that Coach Doug P loves to play three backs and I believe that Edwards-Helaire has a skill set similar to Chargers Austin Ekeler. But Maryland's, Anthony McFarland or App State's Darrynton Evans are both explosive dual threat backs that might remind some of what Brian Westbrook became after his 3rd round selection from Villanova.
Finally I believe the Eagles need to think hard about investing in one of my favorite players in this draft, QB, Jalen Hurts. WHAAAAT?
Yes, you read me correctly. This is a dynamic player who has won and lead at two of the best college programs in the Country.
He improved as a passer this year at OU, while running for 43 touchdowns in 42 career starts.
He didn't even think about transferring when Tua beat him out. He gutted it out and became a great backup QB, leading the Tide to a comeback win in the 2018 SEC Championship game vs Georgia.
He reminds me of a bigger and stronger Russell Wilson. I might part ways with my No.53 pick in the second round to get him on my team.
He will make the QB room more competitive while grooming a player to be ready if Carson sustains any kind of injury in the next coming years. He also is a player that you might be able to groom, develop, and eventually trade for a much higher pick than the No. 53 pick.
What would Russell Wilson fetch in draft capital on the open market in today's world? Think about it.
These are some of the moves and players that I would consider if I were the Eagles, and wanted to continue the solid mantra, of never stop building around Carson Wentz.
It has been a solid philosophy that should continue paying dividends entering year No.5 of the Carson Era.
I can't wait to see what this roster looks like two months from now. If done right, they should be the favorites to repeat as division champs. *