Who could Eagles target in 2022 NFL Draft to fill Secondary void?
The Philadelphia Eagles enter their offseason with many roster questions to answer especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles only have one starter from the 2021 team who is under contract for next season; Safeties Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod along with Cornerback Steven Nelson are all Free Agents leaving Darius "Big Play" Slay as the only guy guaranteed to be on the 2022 Team.
The Eagles Defense was ranked 18th in the NFL in Points Per Game Allowed, Tenth Best in Total Yards Allowed, but just 20th in the NFL in Passing Touchdowns Allowed during the 2021 season. With three first-round picks and a deep cache of 2022 NFL Draft assets available, the Eagles must add talent to their roster who can contribute next season. Howie Roseman and the Eagles Front Office selected four players in the 2021 NFL Draft who were all real contributors this past season as rookies: DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams, and Kenneth Gainwell.
Yahoo Sports NFL and NFL Draft Writer Eric Edholm joined Josh Hennig on 973 ESPN talking about 2022 NFL Draft Prospects who could be available for the Eagles where they are currently picking at 15, 16, and 19th overall:
"Safety is a position that I would rather attack early than late, it's not a position that has great depth this year - I think once you get past the top five or six guys at that position...there's a drop-off. So Kyle Hamilton (from Notre Dame) will almost certainly gone (but) if he's somehow there (at 15th overall for the Eagles), take him and don't even think about it. Don't worry about the positional value because like (Falcons Tight End) Kyle Pitts and the debate about taking a Tight End at number four overall (in the 2021 NFL Draft), this is as close to a no-brainer as it gets. - Then you get into a discussion about (Michigan Defensive Back) Daxton Hill, who can play some Nickel (Cornerback) and also can play some Safety. Lewis Cine, (Defensive Back) from Georgia, I'm a big fan, he's a big kid and a hitter, I think he does some stuff (playing) up in the box and also be a matchup Safety. Would I take him with the first (of the Eagles') first-rounder? Probably not, maybe with that last first (round pick), I would consider one of those guys."
The Eagles have not selected a Safety in the first couple rounds of the NFL Draft since 2010 (Nate Allen) and 2011 (Jaiquawn Jarrett). So if the Eagles were to land Kyle Hamilton, that would be a huge upgrade for the organization. But Georgia's Lewis Cine would be a good addition for the Eagles roster also; Cine led the Bulldogs' National Championship Defense in Tackles this past season and he was selected as a member of the All-American Third Team along with All-SEC First team.
Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm also spoke to 973 ESPN about what Cornerbacks could be targets for the Eagles in the 2022 NFL Draft:
"But more likely you are going to look at Cornerback (with the first of the Eagles first-round picks) and it's a good year for Corners - The (three) players who fit best in that range: Derek Stingley from LSU, questions about his health and the fact he hasn't played at an elite level because of injuries and different things, he's had limited experience the last two years. If you watch the player as a Freshman, he looked like a top-five pick (in) 2019 when (LSU won) the National Championship. - Andrew Booth from Clemson is a really good player who, outside of one or two games...that I thought he's a good player but not an exceptional one, other games where you say he's got some real high-end ability, and some playmaking ability. I think Booth from Clemson, is not the biggest (Cornerback), but I would take him safely in that range. Probably the third (Corner), not every team agrees on him, but Ahmad Gardner (nicknamed) Sauce (from Cincinnati), he's going to be a top 20 possibility....He's a long (Cornerback), he fits more of a Zone (Defense), re-route the guy at the line (of scrimmage), using that length. He doesn't really get beat deep, which I appreciate about him, he never gave up a Touchdown in his three years of starting. - Those are the three names that I suggest have the best chance to go in that Eagles First Round Range."
Considering the Eagles' history with players who have a history of injuries, there are some Red Flags with LSU's Derek Stingley as an option to be selected. But Clemson's Andrew Booth and Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner are very appealing options for Philadelphia in the 2022 NFL Draft. Both players have played in the College Football Playoffs and First Team All-Conference Honors in both of their respective leagues. As Edholm mentioned, the biggest difference is Gardner has the size (6'3" tall) and resume (Consensus First Team All-American) while Booth is smaller (6'0" tall) and has played a high level of competition at Clemson.
If Philadelphia walks away from the 2022 NFL Draft First Roud with Georgia's Lewis Cine and Cincinnati's Ahmad Gardner, that would be a way to not just improve the Eagles' Defense and Secondary but also get young at two positions that have been held by mostly Veteran players the last few years.