To Say This Draft is Critical is an Understatement
Also, consider a quarterback, who the same team traded four draft picks and three players to acquire and who was then handed the largest contract in team history, is traded away less than five years after they drafted him and less than two years after he signed the massive contract.
All of that while the general manager, who built the roster of the 4-11-1 team, engineered the trades, drafted the quarterback and gave him the contract, remains in his stead and presumably with more power than ever.
This isn’t an episode of The Twilight Zone, although it could be. It’s the current state of the Philadelphia Eagles, who after their worst season since 2012, fired Doug Pederson, their Super Bowl-winning head coach, traded Carson Wentz, their franchise quarterback, and kept Howie Roseman, their embattled general manager, in place.
To say this offseason, and especially this draft, is critical to the future of the franchise is an understatement. The Eagles have the sixth overall pick in the draft and Roseman will be the man making that selection along with the rest of the team’s picks.
That sixth overall player selected better be good, like Pro Bowl good. Roseman, however, has drafted just one Pro Bowl player in his last seven drafts. Oh, and by the way, that was Wentz.
What are the Eagles and Roseman going to do at No. 6? Here are six possibilities.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Taking a tight end with the sixth overall pick could raise eyebrows. Except saying Pitts is “just a tight end’’ would be like saying “Brian Dawkins was just a safety.’’ According to one long-time personnel executive, Pitts “is the best tight end I’ve even scouted in over 20 years.’’ The 6-6, 246-pound Philadelphia native out of Archbishop Wood High School is basically a very big wide receiver who creates all kinds of matchup problems with his size, speed and leaping ability. He starred for a high-flying Gators offense and could do the same in the NFL.
How He Fits the Eagles: The Eagles have always liked to use their tight end, or use multiple tight ends in their offense. Zach Ertz is all but gone and Dallas Goedert is in the final year of his contract. Pitts would add a dimension to the Eagles offense that it sorely needs.
Chance He’s There: Very good. Miami could make a shocking move at No. 3 and take him. If the Dolphins pass, Pitts should be available at No. 6.
Ja’Mar Chase, WR, LSU
Despite the outcry from the fan base, I’m not sure the Eagles are looking for a wide receiver at No. 6. If they are, Chase, who opted out of the 2020 college season, could be the pick. How good is he? For everyone who has complained about the Eagles passing on Justin Jefferson in the 2020 NFL Draft, this guy was a teammate of Jefferson at LSU in 2019 and was quarterback Joe Burrow’s No. 1 target. Yes, at LSU he was better than Jefferson. Chase, 6-0, 208, has great strength, can run and possesses excellent ball skills and great hands.
How He Fits the Eagles: He would be their No. 1 receiver from Day One. And paired with last year’s No. 1 pick Jalen Reagor (don’t give up on him yet) would give whoever the quarterback is a nice set of young and talented receivers.
Chance He’s There: 50-50. He’s going to have to get past both Miami, at No. 3 and Cincinnati, at No. 5.
Davonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Heisman Trophy winner had an incredible season for the national champion Crimson Tide, and in the process turned himself into a top pick in the draft. He’s better than both of his former teammates Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs who went in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to the Broncos and Raiders, respectively. Smith, 6-0, 170, is slight of build and there is some concern if he can handle the rigors of the NFL, but he does so much well that his size will be overlooked by many.
How He Fits the Eagles: Just as Chase would, Smith would be the Eagles No. 1 receiver as soon as steps on the practice field at the NovaCare Complex.
Chance He’s There: Less than 50-50. If the Jets pass on a quarterback, they like him at No. 2 and the same goes for Miami at No. 3.
Penei Sewell, T, Oregon
The 6-6, 330-pound mountain of a man is considered by most (not all, check our sidebar) to be the top tackle in the draft. He moves pretty well for a man his size which is what has the scouts drooling all over him. He played left tackle for the Ducks but could play either side in the NFL.
How He Fits the Eagles: The Eagles did take a left tackle in the first round two years ago, but I’m not so sure the team is still crazy about Andre Dillard. Right tackle Lane Johnson will also be 31 in May, has been suspended twice for PEDs, and hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2015. Any help for the offensive line would be a good thing.
Chance He’s There: Better than 50-50. Cincinnati would be the roadblock, but if Chase is there at No. 5 it might be too tempting for the Bengals to pass on Joe Burrow’s favorite college target.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Would they? “Maybe,’’ a scout for an NFC team said. Could they? “Sure,’’ he said. “After what they’ve already done this offseason would anything surprise you?’’ Fields took Ohio State to the National Championship game last fall and has all the traits you like to see in a quarterback, especially from a leadership standpoint.
How He Fits the Eagles: “He’s better than (Jalen) Hurts,’’ the scout said. “But they are a lot alike.’’ It would just make a crazy offseason even crazier.
Chance He’s There: If the Jets decide to take BYU’s Zach Wilson, then only Atlanta, at No. 4 is in the way. If the Jets pass on a QB, then there’s a real good chance Fields is there.
This actually might be the best move the team could make, especially if they want to help the defense. If Fields is still on the board, a quarterback-needy team (take your pick) might be willing to give up quite a bit to move up for him. The Eagles could move down a few spots still get the cornerback of their choice and a few more picks.
Who Would be a Possible Partner?: Carolina, at No. 8; Denver, at No. 9 and New England, at No. 15 all come to mind. I wouldn’t go any further down than that.
What Would They Get?: A bidding war would be ideal. If they only go to 8 or 9, they could get a second-round pick, or a third-round pick and a player. If they were to drop all the way to 15, they could get multiple picks this year and in 2022.