Eagles Host Southern Cal RB Ronald Jones on Pre-Draft Visit
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you're reading the tea leaves, it seems more and more likely that the Eagles could take a running back with their first selection in the 2018 draft, whether that's at No. 32 overall or in the second round after trading back.
The reasons are twofold and include the loss of veteran LeGarrette Blount in free agency to Detroit as well as the current landscape at the position on the team which features Jay Ajayi and second-year South Jersey native Corey Clement at the top of the depth chart.
Ajayi, the perceived lead back, is entering the final year of his rookie deal after being acquired from Miami at the trade deadline last season and even if you ignore the concerns over a chronic issue with his knee that requires load management to get through most practice weeks, you have to weigh the current mentality in the NFL with running backs.
While there are a few exceptions, from a salary-cap standpoint most teams churn through their RBs with the thought that they have a short shelf-life anyway so it's always better to have one on a cost-effective rookie deal rather than a second contract which comes with a significant raise, at least for proven players.
In other words, why pay Ajayi a larger stipend past this season if you can have a rookie with fewer injury concerns under control for at least five seasons if he's chosen in the first round or four if you move back to select at the top of the second round?
Days after kicking the tires on LSU's Derrius Guice, the Eagles brought in Southern Cal's Ronald Jones for a pre-draft visit on Tuesday, according to NBC's Josh Norris.
Jones, an explosive back with the receiving ability to eventually turn into a potential three-down answer, might be the perfect candidate for a team looking to trade out and pick up extra draft capital which remains the most likely scenario for Philadelphia if they can find a willing partner.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen