Experts Believe Building Around Wentz Should be Eagles’ Top Priority
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Can the Eagles really afford to continue to look at the offensive side of the football at No. 14 overall with such a glaring need at cornerback?
NFL Network draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks answered that emphatically earlier this week on their annual pre-draft conference call.
"To me, it's a tough call because you have these needs on defense," Jeremiah said before pivoting. "When you have a young quarterback, you always err on the side of giving him more help."
Brooks later agreed, making the argument that highly-regarded defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could make due with lesser skill sets at the corner position.
"Defensively, Jim Schwartz's scheme allows you to play with lesser players on the corners," Brooks claimed. "They can get by with guys that may be more deficient. Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson. Jim Schwartz has shown that he is willing to play a zone-based defense. So I agree with Daniel. You build up the offense."
Brooks is really agreeing with Howie Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, who has been very consistent in saying the main objective of the team is building up around Wentz, the now second-year signal caller who projects as the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.
In some ways, Philadelphia has already gone that route by adding receivers like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency but with Smith coming off a down year and hardly a sure thing, Jeremiah believes one of the top receivers in the draft class could be earmarked for the Eagles.
"You look for help in this draft, where they're picking at 14, I think from a weapons standpoint, (receivers) Mike Williams, Corey Davis would make a lot of sense if they would be in that range," Jeremiah said.
The lengthy Williams, a Clemson product, seems like a redundancy with the proven Jeffery on hand but the route-running skills of Davis of Western Michigan and the speed of Washington's John Ross would both be solid fits.
Also in the equation has to be running back where Stanford's do-everything Christian McCaffrey and Florida State's Dalvin Cook would be the top contenders to be Wentz's new bell cow.
"Christian McCaffrey, Cook would be the other two guys," Jeremiah said. "I don't know if you go wrong with any of those players."
As for cornerback, Jeremiah agreed with Brooks in that the position is so deep that Schwartz could get still get the help he needs in the second round.
"Obviously corner is a huge need," Jeremiah admitted. "If you don't get one there at 14, I think you're in the market in round number two. You're looking at that group of corners. We'll see who ends up falling down that. I don't know that Adoree' Jackson will be there. Marlon Humphrey, a guy like Quincy Wilson that will be in the mix from Florida."
The theme remains the same, however. Do everything possible to maximize the potential of Wentz.
"Help your young quarterback take that next step," Jeremiah surmised.
"I want to make sure that the franchise quarterback has everything that he needs to be successful," Brooks concluded.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen