GRABBING RB Bijan Robinson with the #10 overall pick in the Draft next month, is the fantasy for many Eagles fans. It’s likely to stay just a fantasy. Which is fine by me, because my money (and Owner Jeffrey Lurie’s) is on us taking a defensive lineman.
Why do I say that? Because of CONTEXT!
Perspective can alter how we see facts. So whenever I see a fact, I always make sure I’m looking at it from the correct angle. Take Lurie for example. He met with the media earlier this week, and sold them some song and dance about how (paraphrasing) while it’s nice to have a good defense, it’s offense that actually runs the league.
Nice try, Jeff. Meanwhile during free agency, we let a 1,200 yard rusher walk. We let one-fifth of the league’s best Offensive Line walk. In fact, the only offensive free agent we re-signed, was RB Boston Scott. And no, C Jason Kelce was never really a free agent. It was either us or retirement.
While pulling Kelce back from retirement was huge, it didn’t add to what we had last year. In fact, our only offensive additions were back-up QB Marcus Mariota, and RB Rashaad Penny. Neither of which is expected to supercharge the Offense. Soooo, not a lot of follow through on Lurie’s stated philosophy, right?
That’s because you’re seeing this as moves to improve a roster. That’s the wrong context. Look at it like an owner. Through the lens of an investment. Or better still, as a series of them. You’re about to be on the other side of the magic trick. Let’s continue.
Where Lurie did put money out, was in bringing back DE Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox, and adding S Terrell Edmunds, LB Nick Morrow, and CB Greedy Williams. They even aggressively tried to retain S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
Most importantly, the Eagles committed 80M$ over the next three years, to CB Darius Slay (3yrs 42M), and CB James Bradberry (3yrs, 38M). Again that’s 80M to two defensive players, while the team works on an extension for QB Jalen Hurts, in the area of 45 to 50M$ per year.
This is significant, not because of Hurts money (which will be a bargain in three years); but because of what that 80M means. Lurie didn’t invest 80M to see that investment fail, or to hope that luck makes it pay off. Sports owners don’t like to sit back and wait. They like to control and influence things. Context! Let’s keep going.
The best way to make a CB successful, is with a strong pass rush. So far we’ve lost pass rush with DT Javon Hargrave’s 11 sacks from last year, and we’ve added no pass rusher to the roster. Hadn’t noticed that? Lucky you. I can’t help noticing it. It haunts me, and I’ll bet it haunts the Eagles too. From Lurie to Graham.
Aside from a trade, the best source of an impact, pass rushing, defensive linemen, is in the 2023 Draft. The most talented defensive lineman in this draft, is said to be DT Jalen Carter. He’s supposed to be gone by our pick, but if he falls to us, we should take him. That said, after Carter, the best available fit for us, by a mile, would be Iowa DT Lukas Van Ness.
I say “for us”, because we value versatility, and we have a specific kind of need up front. Taking an Edge/OLB player at 10, would be a mistake. (Later, I hope we do. I like Auburn DE Derick Hall, just not at #10.) We already have OLB Hasson Reddick on the edge (6 position). What’s needed is for a DE/DT tweener, to put at the 4i position.
Van Ness has the raw power, relentlessness and versatility to make double-teaming anyone nearly impossible. Plus, when he meets a ball carrier, they stop moving forward. I happen to love that in a lineman.
Before I wrap up, let me take a moment to discuss DT Jordan Davis. He was not a bust last year. Ignore any talk of that. In 13 games last year, he saw just 224 defensive snaps. That’s just 20% of the 1106 defensive snaps played. After Davis was injured, we signed DT’s Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph, both of whom had a surprising amount left in the tank, so Davis’s snap percentage was impacted.
This year, with no Hargrave and (so far) no Joseph or Suh, Davis will see a lot more action. Putting Van Ness at LDE means the line would look like Reddick, Van Ness, Cox, Davis, and DE Josh Sweat. This is no smart way to double anyone on that line.
With a ton of pressure coming from that line, those expensive CB’s can pay dividends in the form of interceptions. Like they did for Gardner-Johnson last year. In trying to avoid our CB’s last year, opponents forced balls into the middle. Notice who’s in the background of 4 of Gardner’s 6 picks.
Lurie is banking on duplicating THAT! And that won’t happen again if we draft Bijan Robinson.