2021 NFL Offseason: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (Last Year: 4-11-1)

2021 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Nick Mullens, QB Joe Flacco, RB Jordan Howard, RB Kerryon Johnson, DE Ryan Kerrigan, LB Eric Wilson, CB Steve Nelson, S Anthony Harris, S Andrew Adams.
Early Draft Picks:
WR DeVonta Smith, C Landon Dickerson, DT Milton Williams, CB Zech McPhearson, RB Kenneth Gainwell. Eagles Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Carson Wentz, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR DeSean Jackson, OT Jason Peters, DE Vinny Curry, DT Malik Jackson, LB Nate Gerry, LB Duke Riley, S Jalen Mills, P Cam Johnston.

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Offense:
Carson Wentz’s decline last year was extremely shocking. He was the MVP frontrunner in 2017 prior to his injury, and he dragged an injury-ravaged 2019 roster into the playoffs. He was widely considered a top-10 NFL quarterback, but he was one of the worst performers at the position last year, posting similar stats to Drew Lock. The offensive line and receiving corps were destroyed by injuries, but Wentz’s decision-making in the red zone was awful, as he forced so many horrendous passes that were intercepted.

Despite Wentz having just one bad year in his career, the Eagles shipped him off to the Colts in exchange for a couple of draft picks. They’ll hand the reins to Jalen Hurts, who was inconsistent as a rookie last year. He ran extremely well and was sharp in an upset victory against the Saints in Week 14, but he failed to complete more than 56.7 percent of his passes in any of his starts. He struggled mightily versus Dallas in Week 16 and then was benched in the finale against the Redskins when he went 7-of-20 for 72 yards and an interception through three quarters. Hurts is a great scrambler and a hard worker, but he has the passing ability of a third-day draft prospect, which is what some teams projected him as entering the 2020 NFL Draft. The Eagles disagreed, picking him in the second round despite Wentz coming off a great season.

Unlike Wentz last year, Hurts will have an extremely talented receiver at his disposal. That would be DeVonta Smith, who was selected 10th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Known as the “Slim Reaper,” Smith absolutely dominated the opposition in the college football playoffs. He’ll be a dynamic deep threat for Hurts, though it’s unclear if the quarterback will be able to consistently deliver the ball downfield. Otherwise, the Eagles don’t have much at the position. Jalen Reagor was atrocious as a first-round rookie last year, showing no signs that he can compete in the NFL. Travis Fulgham had some bright moments, but he’s not that talented. Slot receiver Greg Ward is consistent, but like Fulgham, he’s not a dynamic athlete. Dallas Goedert will at least provide some stability at tight end. He’ll see more targets with Zach Ertz certain to be traded.

The receiving corps has improved, but Hurts will be hoping that he gets better protection than Wentz did last year. The Eagles suffered countless injuries on the offensive line. All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks missed the entire season, while Lane Johnson, arguably the best right tackle in the NFL, played just seven games in 2020. Brooks and Johnson figure to be on the field way more often in 2021, so they and stud center Jason Kelce will combine to be a great trio.

The other two spots on the offensive line have some question marks. Left guard Isaac Seumalo is just mediocre. A second-round pick was used on Landon Dickerson, who could challenge Seumalo for the job immediately. However, he had major injury concerns entering the 2021 NFL Draft, so it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play at a high level this year. Meanwhile, left tackle is in flux. Former first-round pick Andre Dillard might get another chance after missing all of 2020 with an injury, but the athletic Jordan Mailata did a better job with his opportunity last year.

Barring massive injuries, the Eagles will have better blocking in 2021, which will allow Miles Sanders to have more success. Sanders can go the distance whenever he touches the ball, so he’ll likely be more lethal than usual. The Eagles spent a mid-round pick on Kenneth Gainwell to serve in the Darren Sproles role.

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
A major reason why the Eagles were able to win the Super Bowl in 2017 was their defensive line. They placed relentless pressure on opposing quarterbacks, yet that was hardly the case this past season. They still had some players who could get to the quarterback like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, but there weren’t any other consistent pass rushers.

This would explain why the Eagles signed Ryan Kerrigan away from the Redskins. Kerrigan would often be a double-digit sack producer, but that has changed in recent years now that he’s in his 30s. He’ll provide the Eagles with some nice depth and locker room leadership, but he won’t be an overly impactful player at 33 years old. Still, he’ll be fine behind Graahm and the inconsistent Derek Barnett. Situational edge rusher Josh Sweat should be able to log around six sacks again.

Philadelphia also added to the interior of the defensive line, selecting Milton Williams in the third round. Williams was a nice pick, but he seems too raw to contribute very much this year. He’ll work behind Cox and Javon Hargrave. Cox is still one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, while Hargrave can put some heat on quarterbacks, but happens to be a liability in run support.

The pass rush will need to improve, given the struggles the secondary endured last year. Darius Slay was a disappointment as the big acquisition last spring. He was just mediocre, perhaps showing some signs of age as he entered his 30s. Avonte Maddox was atrocious opposite of Slay. Philadelphia did nothing to improve this area of the team aside from using a fourth-round pick on Zech McPhearson.

The Eagles at least added a safety, signing Anthony Harris over from the Vikings. Harris had a tremendous 2019 campaign, but struggled mightily in 2020. His declining play coincided with the regression of Minnesota’s pass rush, so perhaps that’s a sign that Harris will not bounce back this year. Then again, it certainly could happen, and if it does, the Eagles will have a nice upgrade at the position next to Rodney McLeod, who did a good job of rebounding from an injury-ravaged 2019 campaign.

Finally, the linebacking corps is a mess. The Eagles typically do not emphasize upgrading this area, and it shows. They had immense issues covering the middle of the field last year, and that will once again be the case, though former Viking Eric Wilson will help a bit, even if he’s just a sub-par player who frequently misses tackles. The other options at the position are T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton, who mediocre talents.

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule and Intangibles:
Jake Elliott made a name for himself when he drilled a 61-yard, game-winning kick against the Giants in 2017. He was just 14-of-19 in 2020.

Cam Johnston is no longer the Eagles’ punter. He has been replaced by someone named Arryn Siposs, who has never punted in the NFL.

The Eagles scored on a return touchdown last year, all while failing to give up one to the opposition.

The Eagles don’t have many easy games outside of the division because they have to battle the NFC and AFC West.

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Rookies:
Go here for the Eagles Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2021 Philadelphia Eagles Analysis: The Eagles have one of the worst teams in the NFL. They’re a step above the Texans and Lions, so it’s unlikely that they’ll claim the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but wins will be hard to come by because of the numerous holes they have on their roster. Luckily for them, it’s possible that they’ll have three first-round choices next April to fix their many problems.

Projection: 4-13 (4th in NFC East)

2020 Projection: 9-7. 2020 Actual Result: 4-11-1.
2019 Projection: 12-4. 2019 Actual Result: 9-7.
2018 Projection: 13-3. 2018 Actual Result: 9-7.
2017 Projection: 12-4. 2017 Actual Result: 13-3.
2016 Projection: 5-11. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2021 NFL Draft: The Eagles have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. They need upgrades at nearly every position, so it would be a mistake if they didn’t draft the best prospects available with each pick.

2021 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Howie Roseman put together a dreadful draft class in 2020, so he needed to make amends for that disaster. I’d say he did quite well, beginning in the first round. He initially traded down to acquire an extra first-round pick and then leapt the Giants to obtain the player he likely would have drafted at No. 6, Devonta Smith. The receiver known as “Slim Reaper” might just make Eagle fans forget about Jalen Reagor.

Including Smith, six of the Eagles’ nine picks scored a B+ or higher. This includes Milton Williams, whom the front office didn’t celebrate very enthusiastically, even though I believed it to be a quality selection. I especially liked the Eagles’ initial third-day picks, as Zech McPhearson and Kenneth Gainwell provided tremendous value. McPhearson could fill a huge need the Eagles have possessed at cornerback in recent years.

The only pick I didn’t love was the second-round choice on Landon Dickerson, but only because I thought the Eagles took him too early, thanks to his injury history. Otherwise, the Eagles had a great draft, especially when factoring in that they secured an extra opening-round selection in 2022.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

10. Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama – A+ Grade
The Eagles had a chance to trade up with the Falcons for CeeDee Lamb last year. They didn’t pull the trigger, which led to them squandering their first-round choice on Jalen Reagor. It seems as though Howie Roseman learned from his crucial mistake last year, making the jump over the Giants for the dynamic Alabama receiver. When Smith, known as the “Slim Reaper” dominated the college football playoff, I never imagined he would be the third receiver chosen in this class, yet here we are. The Eagles added a dynamic talent to their offense, which they sorely needed.

37. Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama – C Grade
Based on his ability alone, Landon Dickerson is worth this pick. He’s a very smart center with excellent technique. Unfortunately, he suffered countless injuries at Alabama, so he’s a major risk this early in the second round. He makes sense as an eventual replacement for Jason Kelce, but I would’ve tried to obtain Dickerson in the third round.

73. Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech – B+ Grade
The Eagles have a new regime, but they’re not done addressing the trenches. They lost talent at defensive tackle this offseason, and Milton Williams was a third-round prospect all the way, so selecting him makes sense. Williams has great upside, so I like this choice.

123. Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech – A- Grade
I had Zech McPhearson in the third round of some of my mock drafts, so I like this pick for the Eagles. They’re potentially filling a need with an athletic player, which was a must, given all of the receiving talent in their division.

150. Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis – A+ Grade
There was some chatter that the Eagles would pick a running back in the second round, which would have been a dumb decision. This is a much better avenue to address the position. Running back wasn’t a need at all, but Kenneth Gainwell was one of the top players available, so he’ll be a nice insurance policy for Miles Sanders.

189. Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC – A+ Grade
It’ll be interesting to see why Marlon Tuipulotu fell in the 2021 NFL Draft. I had him in the third round, so this is amazing value. Tuipulotu also fills a need, given that the Eagles lost so much talent at defensive tackle recently.

191. Tarron Jackson, DE/OLB, Coastal Carolina – C+ Grade
Tarron Jackson was highly productive at Coastal Carolina, but level of competition is obviously a concern. Jackson is a medicore athlete, and I didn’t have him in any of my mock drafts.

224. Jacoby Stevens, S/LB, LSU – B+ Grade
I wasn’t sure if the team that drafted Jacoby Stevens would designate Jacoby Stevens as a linebacker or a safety. Now, we know. Jacoby Stevens is a tweener, but the Eagles needed help at both positions, so perhaps they’ll be able to mold Stevens into a quality player for them. I had Stevens drafted earlier, so this is a solid value.

234. Patrick Johnson, DE, Tulane – C+ Grade
Doug Pederson is gone, but the Eagles are still spending several picks to address the trenches. This is their third Day 3 pick spent on a defensive lineman. I didn’t have Patrick Johnson in my mock, but the seventh round is the time to scoop up priority UDFAs.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Eagles were considered the favorites to win the NFC East entering the season, yet they finished in last place. Injuries crushed their hopes, but Carson Wentz regressed so much that the team must now wonder what they can possibly do with him.

Offseason Moves:
  • Eagles sign CB Steve Nelson
  • Eagles sign QB Nick Mullens
  • Eagles sign DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan
  • Eagles sign RB Jordan Howard
  • Eagles sign LB Eric Wilson
  • Eagles sign QB Joe Flacco
  • Eagles sign S Anthony Harris
  • Eagles sign S Andrew Adams
  • Colts acquire QB Carson Wentz from Eagles

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Linebackers: Phladelphia had a miserable defense in 2020, and a major reason for that was the dreadful linebacking corps. Two new players are needed at the position. Signed with Eric Wilson

    2. Two Cornerbacks: Another big area of weakness, cornerback has been a liability for the Eagles for quite some time. Signed Steven Nelson

    3. Wide Receiver: The Eagles inexplicably drafted Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson. They can make amends by selecting either Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith at No. 6 overall.

    4. Quarterback: Carson Wentz has been traded. Jalen Hurts will be given the chance to be the starting quarterback, but some competition must be obtained. Signed Joe Flacco

    5. Offensive Line Depth: The Eagles have good starters on the offensive line, but most of them were hurt last year. Better depth is needed up front.

    6. Defensive Tackle: Philadelphia could use another talented player in the defensive interior to improve the pass rush.

    7. Tight End: Zach Ertz is likely gone for financial reasons, so another tight end will be needed to complement Dallas Goedert.

    8. Safety: Safety isn’t as big of a need as the other spots in the back seven, but it should still be addressed, especially if Jalen Mills leaves via free agency. Signed Anthony Harris and Andrew Adams

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2021 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Steven Nelson, CB, Steelers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Steven Nelson is a quality starting cornerback, but the Steelers had to cut him due to financial reasons.

    2. Anthony Harris, S, Vikings. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year, $5 million)

      Anthony Harris was coming off an amazing 2019 campaign when he entered free agency last spring. The Vikings could have given him a huge contract, but they franchised him instead. This turned out to be a good decision because Harris regressed. He wasn’t bad, but he was far from the dominant player he was prior to 2020.

    3. Eric Wilson, LB, Vikings. Age: 26.
      Signed with Eagles

      Eric Wilson performed somewhat positively as the Vikings’ third linebacker (and then second linebacker when Anthony Barr got hurt.) He missed too many tackles, but covered well. He’s only 26, so he should be able to improve.

    4. Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 33.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Ryan Kerrigan’s career is winding down. He logged 5.5 sacks in 2020, as he saw far fewer snaps than usual. Granted, this was because of Chase Young’s presence, but Kerrigan is no longer the dominant edge rusher he once was.

    5. Nick Mullens (RFA), QB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    6. Andrew Adams, S, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Eagles
    7. Joe Flacco, QB, Jets. Age: 36. — Signed with Eagles

    Philadelphia Eagles Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Cameron Johnston (RFA), P, Eagles. Age: 29.
      Signed with Texans (3 years, $8 million)

      Cameron Johnston has ranked 11th and ninth in net punting over the past two seasons.

    2. Boston Scott (RFA), RB, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Boston Scott has proven himself to be a very capable backup behind Miles Sanders. He averaged nearly five yards per carry in 2020, and he caught 25 passes.

    3. Jalen Mills, S/CB, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Signed with Patriots (4 years, $24 million)

      Jalen Mills did a good job of transitioning from cornerback to safety. He performed well in every regard at his new position.

    4. Jason Peters, OT/G, Eagles. Age: 39.
      Jason Peters is obviously no longer the dominant blocker he once was. Despite being 39, however, Peters is still a passable starter.

    5. Nate Gerry, LB, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers

      Nate Gerry played poorly in 2020, but was bothered by an Achilles injury all year. He should be better in 2021.

    6. Malik Jackson, DT, Eagles. Age: 31.
      Signed with Browns

      Malik Jackson used to be a stellar player, but he has slowed down recently. He hasn’t performed well the past two years. He’s now 31, so this decline is likely to be permanent.

    7. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles. Age: 31.
      Alshon Jeffery is set to be released at the beginning of the new league year. Jeffery had a great 2-year run for the Eagles in 2017 and 2018, but he hasn’t been the same since his game-losing drop in the second round of the playoffs versus New Orleans. He can still be a functional No. 2 receiver if healthy, but he can’t seem to stay off the injury report.

    8. Vinny Curry, DE, Eagles. Age: 33. — Signed with Jets (1 year, $1.3 million)
    9. Duke Riley, LB, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    10. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Eagles. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Eagles (1 year)
    11. Richard Rodgers, TE, Eagles. Age: 29.
    12. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Age: 34. — Signed with Rams (1 year)
    13. Corey Clement, RB, Eagles. Age: 26. <> — Signed with Giants
    14. Cre’von LeBlanc, CB, Eagles. Age: 27.
    15. T.Y. McGill, DT, Eagles. Age: 28.
    16. Rudy Ford, S, Eagles. Age: 25. — Signed with Jaguars
    17. Joshua Perkins, TE, Eagles. Age: 28.
    18. Nate Sudfeld, QB, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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