Contrary to 2014, this year the Eagles’ first round selection could easily be the rookie who contributes most on the field.
Heading into the draft, it was no secret the Eagles could use some help at wide receiver, following the departures of Pro Bowlers Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in back-to-back off-seasons.
They wasted no time selecting Southern California’s Nelson Agholor, and Agholor should waste no time helping out.
Agholor invoked names like Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald when he spoke about receivers capable of playing outside and inside, and said “Coach (Kelly) does a great job of that because he understands defenses and rotation.”
Chip Kelly echoed those sentiments.
“I think in his situation, you could line him up anywhere,” the coach said,”and I think he can handle that from a mental standpoint.”
If this holds true, Agholor shouldn’t find his aspirations to appear onto the field blocked by Jordan Matthews in the slot.And if the offense puts up the numbers it has in Kelly’s first two seasons, Agholor could challenge Jackson’s rookie record of 912 yards.
While the Eagles are set in the return game with Darren Sproles, Agholor is also a talented punt returner who could step in at a moment’s notice if needed.
Similarly, it was no secret the Birds were in the middle of a complete overhaul of their secondary.Two starters were allowed to leave in free agency and a third cut.
And while Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond have joined the squad, there remains competition to fill spots at safety opposite Malcolm Jenkins and corner opposite Maxwell.
That competition will have a full field, after the Eagles selected three cornerbacks in the draft.The Birds traded up to nab Utah’s Eric Rowe in the second round, and took Kansas’ Jacorey Shepherd and Kansas State’s Randall Evans five selections apart in the sixth.
Based on his draft position, Rowe would seem to be the most ready to step in and help immediately.
He played safety for the first three years of his college career, and while that would appear to be the Eagles greatest immediate need, both the team and Rowe himself appear to see him as a corner.
He has begun practice at the position, and after being drafted said he feels he can grow more there.
“I’ve only had one year experience,” Rowe said, “with more learning and practice, I feel like I’ll get better.”
Third round linebacker Jordan Hicks could be called upon early, dependent upon how Demeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso recover from injuries.
Since the Eagles didn’t address their offensive line in the draft for the second straight year, help on that front could be coming from undrafted free agents.
They have signed four: UCLA guard Malcolm Bunche, New Hampshire center Mike Coccia, UNLV tackle Brett Boyko, and Nebraska-Kearney tackle Cole Manhart.
They’ll be in good company, Jason Peters was undrafted as well.