The Eagles should focus on defense in the 2014 NFL Draft, right? Besides getting a Wide Receiver, the rest of their picks should be concentrated on the defensive side of the ball.
Or, at least that’s what most fans have hoped for, anyway.
The logical way to go would be to improve the weakest areas of your team. And defense is precisely where the Eagles were weakest last year given the vast discrepency of where each unit finished the season in the rankings (offense 2nd overall, defense 29th overall).
CB, OLB, ILB, Safety and DL are all positions that nobody would argue about drafting with their highest picks. Hell, the Eagles could use all six picks on defense and nobody would bat an eye because it could easily be justified.
However, there has been some chatter recently that the Eagles could do just the opposite and focus on offensive players. The reasoning is that the draft is bereft of pass rushers and safeties and stacked at wide receiver and offensive line.
Howie Roseman recently said he’d be surprised if he didn’t draft “at least” one wide receiver. Because of that, now there are people mocking receivers to the Eagles in two of the first four rounds.
Furthermore, here are a few other considerations…
According to this handy-dandy “Eagles Prospect Interests Tracker” by Brandon Lee Gowton, the Ealges have shown a ton of interest in not only wide receiver, but also a rather deceptive amount of interest in running backs.
Could they actually be thinking of drafting a running back? Why waste a pick at a position that is your least of needs?
Well, I’m not trying to start a ruckus here, but, LeSean McCoy’s salary jumps to $11,950,000 next season per Eaglescap.com. When he signed his extension back in 2012, only the first three years were fully guaranteed.
The Eagles would incur a cap hit if they cut him after 2014, but it would only be about half the amount of the cap hit they took for releasing DeSean Jackson.
Chip Kelly predicates his offense with the run game. It’s possible that they could look for a talented running back this year to not only improve the RB corps this season, but to also hedge against any potential issue with McCoy.
Such as, if they want McCoy to restructure and he balks.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting the Eagles could part ways with McCoy after 2014, I’m just using some information as justification that they could be looking at drafting a running back, that’s it.
Besides the WR and RB positions, the Eagles also have two aging guards on the offensive line with one being a little upset over his contract earlier this offseason. It stands to reason that they could certainly be looking to add more depth and a future starter at OG.
And what about Tight End? We know that Kelly loves having multiple options at this position. Will he be looking to draft a player to replace Brent Celek and team up with Zach Ertz for the TE duo of the future?
Then we have the whole “take the best player available” approach to the draft that Roseman keeps preaching. There is a decent chance that every time the Eagles are on the clock, an offensive player could very well be the best available.
In any case, all of that leads me to a somewhat philosophical question:
Is it better to try and balance out your team by spreading the wealth and resources across both sides of the ball as evenly as possible? Or do you concentrate really hard on one side and turn a good unit into a truly great one?
For the sake of argument, let’s agree that right now the Eagles’ offense is “good” (I’m sure there won’t be any arguing on that anyway) and that their defense is “average.” Logic says to focus on the defense in order to try and be “good” on both sides of the ball, assuming your offense won’t take a step back.
However, what if you tried to turn the already good into “great” and just simply tried to maintain “average” on defense?
Last year’s Super Bowl contestants were like that. Seattle was great on defense and average on offense while Denver was great on offense and average on defense.
There have been some teams in recent years that have went to the Super Bowl while being primarily dominant on one side of the ball and “efficient” on the other side. The 2012 49ers (defense), 2011 Patriots (offense), and 2009 Saints (offense) come to mind (and maybe the 2010 Steelers on defense).
So, how would you feel if the Eagles used something like four of their six picks this year on offense?
What if they drafted a WR, RB, TE and OL and tried to make their offense something “special” this season while merely “hoping” that the defense maintains or improves with the addition of Malcolm Jenkins and progression of the current players from Year 1 to Year 2 in Bill Davis’ system?
It’s a tough question if you really think about it.
Along with some of the aforementioned Super Bowl teams who were dominant on one side of the ball, there were also several more balanced teams who made the big game as well.
The 2010 Packers, 2012 Ravens, and 2008/2011 Giants I would describe as more balanced and not particularly dominant on one side of the ball. This would support the drafting defense and going for balance argument.
So, what do you think? Load up on offense and become a juggernaut or address the weakest area of the team in an effort to become more balanced?
Which draft looks better to you? *Note: Focus less on the actual players and more-so on the position and round
1. WR Cody Latimer
2. TE Troy Niklas
3. OLB Trent Murphy
4. RB De’Anthony Thomas
5. OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
7. CB Aaron Colvin
1. CB Kyle Fuller
2. OLB Marcus Smith
3. ILB Christian Jones
4. WR Brandon Coleman
5. DE Taylor Hart
7. OT Kevin Graf
The first draft would be going for a dominant offense. The second one is to improve the defense and go for balance.
Which one looks better to you?