If the 2021 season ended today, the Philadelphia Eagles would be sitting pretty in the 2022 NFL draft. The bevy of moves the team made last offseason – many deemed questionable at the time – have them in prime position to rebuild in a hurry.
That’s assuming Nick Sirianni’s squad keeps losing. Ditto for the Miami Dolphins (1-4) and Indianapolis Colts (1-4). The Eagles (2-3) own the No. 5, No. 6, No. 10 picks in next April’s draft by virtue of the current NFL standings (via Tankathon).
The fifth overall selection comes courtesy of Miami after they jumped back six spots to get it on March 26. The sixth pick is contingent on Carson Wentz as the Colts quarterback must play 70-percent of the snaps for it to turn into a first-rounder. No. 10 is their own pick
All the above outcomes are subject to change, of course. The Eagles could go on a wild mid-season winning streak to ruin their draft position. It’s not a far-fetched proposition with the combined record of their outstanding opponents at 28-32.
The toughest remaining games are: vs. Tampa Bay (4-1), at Las Vegas (3-2), vs. LA Chargers (4-1), at Denver (3-2), vs. New Orleans (3-2), vs. Dallas (4-1). Jalen Hurts has been keeping them in games, a trend not likely to change against softer defenses.
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Possible Playmakers Available in 2022
It’s great to load up on assets, but using them on the right personnel has been a long-standing problem in Philly. Can general manager Howie Roseman turn garbage into gold – happy retirement, Marc Zumoff – and break the cycle of whiffing on picks? Here’s a look at a few potential first-round options for the Eagles:
Derek Stingley, CB, LSU: He’s the highest-rated player at his position and expected to be one of the first six players off the board. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was second in the nation in passes defensed (15) in 2019 and recorded six interceptions. Yes, a foot injury has him sidelined right now but it’s not supposed to linger. He could step in immediately and start opposite Darius Slay. Remember, Steven Nelson only signed a one-year deal.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan: The Eagles have never been shy about taking physical edge rushers, especially guys from Michigan. With Brandon Graham’s future in limbo and Derek Barnett failing to impress, Hutchinson makes sense. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder owns the highest pass-rush win rate in the country (via Pro Football Focus) and has 4.5 sacks through six games.
Christian Harris, LB, Alabama: Roseman went in hard on Alabama players in last year’s draft (see: DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson) and the trend could continue if – and that’s very big if – they want an impact linebacker. It’s a position of need, but one largely ignored. The Eagles haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round since 1979. Harris (6-foot-2, 232 pounds) could be a steak-breaker due to his big-play ability and down-hill speed.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty: There have been multiple reports dating back to training camp that the organization isn’t sold on Jalen Hurts. If the dual-threat quarterback stumbles down the stretch, Willis brings similar athleticism and a bigger arm. He has already rushed for 498 yards and seven touchdowns this season while throwing for another 1,327 yards and 13 scores. He also makes highlight-reel plays on the regular.
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame: The best safety in college football, hands down. Hamilton (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) has three picks in six games for the Fighting Irish, along with 32 total tackles. CBS Sports sent him to Philly in their 2021 mock draft and compared him to Hall of Famer Ed Reed. The Eagles need to start looking toward the future at safety, with Rodney McLeod aging and Anthony Harris not wowing. K’Von Wallace remains a huge wild card.
Davion Taylor Gets Vote of Confidence
The Eagles took a third-round flier on former Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor in 2020. He was used sparingly in 2020 – 210 total snaps, mostly on special teams – and battled a calf injury throughout 2021 training camp. However, Taylor finally looks healthy and ready to contribute. He saw a career-high 24 defensive snaps in Week 6 and recorded three tackles.
“His playing time is going up, and that goes into he did a really good job in training camp,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said, “and then he got hurt, and we want to keep trying to maximize his skill set and get him in the game as much as we can in certain packages, when it fits for him and us. Pleased with him. He did a really good job.”