Wake-Up Call: How Eagles’ Moves Affect Draft Plans

NCAA Football: Tennessee Tech at Oregon

Most draft questions that Howie Roseman fields in the offseason elicit a similar sounding response.

The phrases “best available player” and “stick to our board” are uttered over and over and over again.

Yet every time the team makes moves – re-signing its own players, adding free agents, making trades – questions arise about how draft plans will be impacted. So today, let’s take a look at the moves individually and predict what they might mean come May.

The Riley Cooper/Jeremy Maclin re-signings – I don’t think these moves affect the Eagles’ draft plans one bit. The draft is loaded at wide receiver, and it’s likely that the Eagles end up selecting a pass-catcher at some point. Maclin is on a one-year deal, while Cooper essentially signed a two-year $9 million contract. Wide receiver is not an immediate need, but if the Eagles see one they like, they will pull the trigger. If that means taking one in the first or second round, they can let guys compete for playing time in 2014 and give themselves flexibility beyond that.

The Jason Peters/Jason Kelce extensions – I actually think the Peters extension will influence the draft. Initially, spending an early pick on a versatile offensive lineman who could play guard and eventually move to right tackle when Lane Johnson replaced Peters made sense. And maybe to a degree it still does if the team feels it needs to upgrade from Todd Herremans. But the extension given to Peters suggests they believe he has at least two to three good years left as the starting left tackle. With Johnson on the right side, selecting a tackle early would be pointless. Depth and versatility in the middle and later rounds is more of a possibility.

The Darren Sproles acquisition – I’ve received a lot of questions asking whether this trade reduces the possibility of the Eagles drafting De’Anthony Thomas. Last year, the Eagles signed James Casey in free agency, but saw value with Zach Ertz in the second round and took him. This could be a somewhat similar situation. Sproles turns 31 in June. The Eagles still think he has some good years left, but if Thomas is next on their board in the middle rounds, expect the Birds to pull the trigger.

The Malcolm Jenkins signing – This one doesn’t affect the Eagles’ draft plans at all. Jenkins is a starting-caliber safety, but there’s certainly room to upgrade. Earl Wolff showed flashes last season, but still made his share of mistakes. If there’s a safety available in the early rounds who the Eagles like, they’ll absolutely take him. Kelly preaches competition, and given Jenkins’ versatility, installing three-safety packages is not out of the question.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Have the Eagles made winning or losing moves this offseason? Here’s what they’re saying.

Who are some players still available for the Eagles?

Kelly discusses free agency, DeSean Jackson and more.

It could get real crazy,” said Sproles, when asked about the Eagles’ offensive prospects.

The Eagles signed Sproles to a two-year extension.

An All-22 look at how Sproles fits.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans tells NFL.com he’ll have an official visit with the Eagles:

Projected by all of NFL Media analysts’ mock drafts to be the second wide receiver drafted in May after Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, Evans helped to strengthen his draft value last month at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.53 40-yard dash clocking at 6-5, 231 pounds. He has visited previously with the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots, both clubs that would almost certainly be required to trade up in the first round for a chance to add Evans.

Asked Tuesday where he was hearing he’d be drafted, Evans said, “I’ve been told no lower than 15.”

Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting has the Eagles taking Louisville safety Calvin Pryor:

Even after adding Malcolm Jenkins in free agency, don’t overlook the Eagles looking to add another top safety onto the roster. Chip Kelly already toyed with three-safety looks last year and Pryor can provide help at both free and strong safety in this Eagles defense.

COMING UP

Perhaps some more free agent dominoes will fall.

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