PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a 9-7 roller coaster of a season that saw the team win the NFC East crown but fall in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Eagles fans wanted to see significant changes to the roster. The team that had just won the Super Bowl two years prior had grown old, and it showed in the number of injuries suffered and man games lost during the course of 2019.
General manager Howie Roseman seemed to recognize just this set of facts as well, saying that the team would look to get younger this offseason.READ MORE: Crowds Gather In Haddonfield Township For First Major Rollout Of Fourth Of July Fireworks Since Pandemic
They started that process in free agency by saying goodbye to veterans Jason Peters, Malcolm Jenkins, Nigel Bradham and Vinny Curry. They also let oft-injured or underwhelming players Nelson Agholor, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Timmy Jernigan and Halapoulivaati Vaitai walk.
In their stead, the team re-signed safety Rodney McLeod (29), corner Jalen Mills (26) and brought in corner Darius Slay (29), slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman (28), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (27), safety Will Parks (26) and linebacker JaTavis Brown (26).
Now, the eyes of the fanbase and organization shift to this month’s draft. Though the format will look a bit different, the desires of Eagles fans won’t. The fans want a young, speedy wide receiver to pair with Carson Wentz, and CBS3 sports director Don Bell agrees that is the team’s biggest need.
“The number one thing for the Eagles, and I feel like we have said this for a couple of years now, they need explosive players, particularly on the offensive side of the ball,” said Bell in an interview with CBS Local’s Katie Johnston. “They have Miles Sanders, the now second-year player from Penn State who was tremendous as a rookie. But they need somebody at that wide receiver position because DeSean Jackson is now 33 years old. He had literally one dynamic great game last year, and then he had that core injury and he was pretty much done for the rest of the season.”
“They need some players who can really break the game open on the offensive side of the ball,” continued Bell. “Here’s a fun fact for you. Carson Wentz last year was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards without having a receiver gain over 500. Do you know how hard that is to do?”READ MORE: Wheeler, Hoskins, Realmuto Lift Phillies Over Cardinals 4-0
The current receiving corps of Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside isn’t going to cut it. Ward showed he can be a valuable piece with his play down the stretch last season, while Arcega-Whiteside struggled to adjust in his rookie year.
But this is a historic draft in terms of the depth of wide receivers, so the team should have plenty of options. With picks No. 21, 53 and 103 in the first three rounds, fans will be hoping to see at least one if not two receivers brought in. Who can the team get in those spots? That’s an interesting question.
The top three receivers of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III are all expected to be gone in the top 15. But LSU’s Justin Jefferson has been a frequent mock draft pick to the team at 21. Similarly, there’s been plenty of discussion of Baylor senior Denzel Mims, who has rocketed up draft boards following an impressive combine. Also likely to be available in the 21 range is Clemson receiver Tee Higgins. In the second round, local product K.J. Hamler from Penn State would certainly offer a burst of speed to the team.
All of that said, while the draft gives us fans plenty to be excited about and talk about in the current absence of sports, a question still looms over any discussion of the NFL season. Will the league be able to start on time?
The coronavirus pandemic has paused all major professional leagues and shut down NFL facilities for the foreseeable future. Is it possible that we’ll be able to return to normal quickly enough for the NFL to be on the field come September? Bell isn’t so sure.MORE NEWS: Woman Had Several Valuable Items Stolen While Helping Stranger In West Deptford, Police Say
“It’s all a fluid situation. I thought that it was very fascinating that when President Trump met with the commissioners of various sports leagues, he basically told the NFL you can expect to kick off on time,” said Bell. “I really can’t imagine a scenario in which that would happen. Think about this. At this point we can’t even be six feet from each other. And the CDC is telling people that they should wear masks just generally every day in public. Can you imagine a scenario in four months where you’re going to have 300-pound men lining up inches from each other, hitting each other, sharing a locker room, sweating on each other? It doesn’t sound feasible to me. I would expect a shortened season.”