By all accounts, this year’s wide receiver class is loaded.
With DeSean Jackson gone, the Eagles will undoubtedly end up with at least one new pass-catcher in May’s draft. But according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, the team would be wise to address the other side of the ball in the first round.
"Forget wide receiver and the whole DeSean Jackson thing," Mayock said, per NFL.com. "Whoever is the highest-rated defensive player on their board, they have to draft him."
The conversation illustrates the impact of losing Jackson. A week ago, the Eagles looked like they were set at wide receiver. Sure, they could have drafted one anyway, but they didn't need to select a wide receiver.
Maybe Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman feel like they still don't need to. But the allocation of resources could now be different. We ran through the team's WR depth chart earlier today, and if they go with what they have now, it's a below-average group.
The defense added one starting-caliber player through free agency (Malcolm Jenkins), but is also in need of resources. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network thinks the Eagles could be looking safety at No. 22.
"If one of (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor) is there, they'll probably turn in the card," Jeremiah said on 'Path to the Draft.' "They have a lot of bodies in the secondary, but they don't have elite players in the secondary. I think these two safeties classify."
Roseman talks a lot about taking the best available player. But it should be noted that the Eagles have tiers. In other words, they could easily have multiple players grouped together. At that point, it does come down to need. Again, a week ago, WR would have likely got bumped for another position in the same tier. Now? That's probably not the case.
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Latimer (6-2, 215) had 72 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year. NFL.com projects him as a mid-round pick.
Hart (6-6, 281) played for Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro at Oregon. He would be a backup defensive end in Billy Davis' scheme. The Eagles will address defensive line depth in the draft (and with undrafted free agents). Hart is considered a mid-to-late round pick.
And finally, Hopkins (6-3, 305) was an AP All-Big 12 first team selection last season. The Eagles are always looking for offensive line depth, and Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are both on the plus side of 30. Hopkins could be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.