It can be hard to look past this season when it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles are ready for another trip to the Super Bowl.
Plus, it’s pretty exciting to think about what the Birds could do with the pick they acquired from the New Orleans Saints in the 2023 NFL Draft. currently set to be made at #5 overallthough that positioning could change for the better or worse with four games left to play.
How might the Eagles use that selection? Well, I’m very confident in saying they won’t do what Todd McShay suggests might happen in his NFL’s latest draft for ESPN.
5. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
This is a serious luxury pick for the 12-win Eagles after earning this selection from the Saints in the 2022 offseason. According to ESPN’s Stats & Insights research, the last time a team went to a Super Bowl ( as ESPN’s FPI Drafts) and then had a top-five draft pick was 1992, when Washington won the championship and then drafted Desmond Howard fourth overall via a trade-on. I considered Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee here, because GM Howie Roseman appreciates the inside defensive line, and Bresee’s pairing with Jordan Davis in center would give Philadelphia a run-stopping pair. However, Miles Sanders is set to be a free agent, this offense leans heavily on rushing (433 rushes, second-most in the NFL), and Robinson is a special prospect with elite size, speed, power, and elusiveness.
I know the “it’s too soon for a running back” arguments are coming and I agree 99% of the time. But why spend big on re-signing Sanders or getting another one back into free agency when Robinson — who is an upgrade — is available here on a rookie contract? Robinson reached for 1,580 yards and 18 TDs on the ground this season, breaking up 91 tackles. Dropping him to the best offense in the league would be scary for any other team. Philly also has another first rounder on the board…
After facing criticism for this unrealistic choice, which it is, McShay defended himself on the ESPN broadcast:
“Yes, they beat me all day. I understand. It’s a rush back. Why take it to the top five? Well, you have Miles Sanders and Bijan Robinson in an update in the position. And Miles is about to enter free agency after this season. Why not get a younger, better version of Miles for an attack that really focuses so much on the running game? And your job as a running back is to make defenders miss. 91 forced missed tackles is what Bijan had this past year. I mean, and he takes the ball really well, great ball skills. And he’s really good at pass protection. So, he’s a complete player. And I get that, you can go in different directions, but if you’re focusing on Jalen Hurts and this offense and running game, why not bring in someone who has the ability to take you to another level? And that’s why Bijan is for me.
As long as Howie Roseman is around, I have serious doubts about the Eagles never catching a running back in the first round. And if they do, it definitely will NOT happen with a top five pick.
We know by now that the Eagles are not investing large resources in what is considered one of the most fungible positions in the NFL. It’s a position they can afford to try and get more from less considering they have a mobile threat at quarterback, an elite rushing game coordinator/offensive line coach, and a strong offensive line blocking the run.
For much more realistic options for the selection of the Eagles from the Saints, BGN’s Ben Natan recently wrote about logical adaptations. The defensive line seems like a pretty good bet given the combination of talent available and how the Eagles value building through the trenches. Not to mention that Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh are all free agents after this year.
Speaking of the d-line, McShay had a more reasonable pick with the Eagles’ #31 pick in this simulation.
31. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
ESPN’s FPI sees the Eagles win the Super Bowl in this projection and close out Day 1 of the draft. After getting Bijan Robinson earlier, Philly would likely pivot to the defensive end of the ball. Brandon Graham is in the final year of his contract, Derek Barnett tore his ACL in September and Robert Quinn is just a lease on after arriving in town at the trade deadline. So while the Eagles lead the NFL in sacks (49), they will still be looking for pass-rush help alongside Josh Sweat after the season. Foskey uses his big early burst to drive offensive tackles on his heels, and he’s had 11 sacks in each of the past two seasons. Other points to consider for expected champions would be the secondary and linebacker.
For me, it’s hard to have a ton to offer on a potential No. 1 pick. 31 so far from the draft. But the value doesn’t seem out of whack; Foskey is currently the 27th prospect on Pro Football Focus’ big draw. Foskey has forced seven fumbles in the last two years, which is good to see. The location makes sense. I think the Eagles will try to keep Brandon Graham, an all-time Eagle, but there are question marks after him and Sweat. Can they really count on Barnett to play well and stay healthy? Could Tarron Jackson and/or Janarius Robinson be anything?
McShay’s simulation is just one of many simulations we will be reviewing through the end of April. But hopefully the Eagles can stop us from diving also deep into the draft’s mock season until after winning the Super Bowl in mid-February.