Eagles must maximize impact of three first-round draft picks to go deeper in playoffs

Howie Roseman and the Eagles have an opportunity to really help themselves in the April 28-30 NFL Draft.

With three first-round picks (Nos. 15, 16 and 19) among their 10 selections, Roseman and his staff are seeking to land a bunch of starters/contributors that could increase the chances of advancing deeper in the playoffs. The Birds are coming off of an encouraging 9-8 season in which they lost to the Buccaneers in the wild-card round in Nick Sirianni’s first year as coach.

The good news is nearly all of the collegiate prospects should be in play since the Eagles are looking to upgrade at so many positions. In fact, it’s easier to list where they’re all set – essentially, kicker – since they can use young talent just about everywhere else.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman walks on the field prior to a November home loss to the Rams.

The biggest need area could end up being the secondary, because three of the four 2021 starters there – everyone except Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay – are free agents.

Roseman has yet to choose a defensive back, running back or linebacker in the first round. In fact, it’s been 20 years since the Eagles took cornerback Lito Sheppard (No. 26, 2002) and longer since they opted for a safety (Ben Smith, No. 22 in 1990), running back (Keith Byars, No. 10, 1986) or traditional linebacker (Jerry Robinson, No. 21 in 1979) in the first round.

The organization doesn’t place a great deal of value on running backs or linebackers, but everybody should be considered, regardless if it’s an edge rusher, offensive lineman, receiver or tight end. Offensive playmakers would be wonderful.

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“We don’t go into a draft saying we’re not going to do something,” Roseman said during Wednesday’s yearend Zoom call. “For us, it’s all about the skill set of that particular player and the football character of that player.”

With this not projected to be a strong quarterback class early in the draft, the Eagles probably won’t use a first-rounder on a QB, though they could take a shot with one of the seven remaining picks if there’s somebody they really like. That’s what they did with Hurts in the second round two years ago.

I’m intrigued with the idea of acquiring a second 2023 first-round selection, which would probably mean parting with one of the three this year, to essentially give Jalen Hurts another year to see if management and the coaches think he can be the franchise quarterback.

“It depends on who’s on the board,” Roseman said. “It’s always an equation of if there is a guy on the board we think has incredible value for that pick, whether it’s in the first round or second round (and) if we have a group of guys that we value similarly and we can move back. I think because of the amount of picks that we have in this draft – maybe even getting picks for 2023 and getting in a situation similar to this year where we have a lot of picks – that would be good.”

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If there are three players Roseman and his staff really like and believe should have immediate impacts, then it makes sense to keep all three. Combining two picks to get higher in the draft for a guy who moves the needle could turn out tobe the best move.

Roseman isn’t afraid to trade up or back, which is a good thing because circumstances sometimes dictate doing one or the other. A year ago, he did both to go from No. 6 to 12 and then to No. 10 on draft day.

Roseman traded down from No. 6 to 12 with the Dolphins, acquiring a fourth-round pick (cornerback Zech McPhearson) and a 2022 first-rounder that became No. 15 overall this year.

Once dynamic receiver DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, was still on the board, Roseman moved up from No. 12 to 10 by sending a third-round pick and No. 12, which brought Pro Bowl edge rusher/former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, to the Cowboys.

He could trade up, down or again do both this spring. Whatever results in the most rookies impacting the Eagles as soon as possible, regardless of position, remains the priority.

Tom Moore: [email protected]; @TomMoorePhilly

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Eagles need to address numerous needs with 3 1st-round picks in NFL Draft