2017 NFL draft: Sherman's Round-by-round targets for Eagles, 1.0

2017 NFL draft: Sherman's Round-by-round targets for Eagles, 1.0

Despite their 7-9 record this season, the Eagles took a big step forward with rookie Carson Wentz, who started all 16 games and confirmed that indeed they have a potential franchise QB.

The Birds can now focus on putting the necessary tools around him to ensure he can take the next step to leading this franchise to where the Patriots and Falcons are today.

While we still have a long way to go before the NFL draft, here's an early look at some players the Eagles should be looking at in each round. Keep in mind, the number of their first-round pick is pending a coin flip with Indianapolis, and the later-round numbers could change pending the awarding of compensatory picks.

First Round (No. 14 or 15) - For Paul Hudrick's full first-round mock draft 1.0, click here.

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
It's no secret the Eagles need more talent at wideout, and this draft offers several solid options in the middle of the first round. Davis is the best among the them. With size (6-foot-3/215 pounds), ball skills and excellent route-running ability, Davis has the look of a No. 1 WR. The one potential knock on him is his speed, and with an ankle injury suffered during pre-draft training (and subsequent surgery), there's a good chance he won't be able to put that question to rest during the combine. That might work to the Eagles' benefit, however, because a fast 40-time might put Davis out of range.

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
No surprise there's a corner on this list. Jones is a potential lockdown guy who plays hard every snap and has the swagger and confidence you want in a man-to-man cover guy. His size (6-foot-1/170 pounds) is a bit concerning, but you have to think time in an NFL weight room and lunch table will help that.

Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Birds have a budding star in MLB Jordan Hicks and a solid pro in Nigel Bradham at the SAM position, but with Mychal Kendricks' future up in the air, Foster could make an already good unit a great one. He would be an ideal WILL LB, using his speed to make plays sideline to sideline and delivering the kind of hits the Eagles' defense has lacked since Brian Dawkins retired. Foster stood out to me like Luke Kuechly did when I watched the Panthers' star at Boston College — he's just everywhere.  

Second Round (No. 43)

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
I don't see McCaffrey as an every-down back in the NFL, but I could see Doug Pederson trying to use him in a similar way the Chargers and Pats used Danny Woodhead — especially in the passing game. McCaffrey's size (6-foot/197 pounds) may be limiting in terms of the number of carries he has per game, but his ability to create mismatches in the short passing game could provide Carson Wentz another reliable option and help prepare for the inevitable departure of Darren Sproles.

Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State
Not sexy, but if Jason Kelce is released and Isaac Seumalo is deemed a better fit at OG, Elflein could be an immediate starter for the Birds. The three-time All-Big Ten selection is smart, physically stout and versatile (he earned his first selection as an OG). He could be a 10-year starter.

Budda Baker, S, Washington
I have a feeling Baker will be snatched up by this point, but there's a chance his size (5-foot-10/180 pounds) could cause him to slip a bit. Baker is a tenacious player with fantastic instincts and ball skills. Safety isn't the Eagles' biggest need, but the defense needs more winners and playmakers, and Baker is both, even if it's in a part-time role early in his career.

Third Round (No. 74)

Adoreé Jackson, CB, USC
Jackons is an unbelievable athlete who doubles as a lethal return man. Size (5-foot-11/185 pounds) may keep him in the slot, but the Eagles could use the ball skills and explosive speed Jackson offers.

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
A bowling ball of a back (5-foot-10/235 pounds), Perine has the size to carry a heavy load. More power than finesse, Perine could be a valuable goal-line asset.

Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
Taylor is fast, lightning quick and dangerous on quick outs and bubble screens. His hands are a bit suspect, his route tree was limited, and his size will probably restrict him to the slot, but Taylor's exciting run-after-catch skills are tantalizing.

Fourth Round (No. 108)

Corn Elder, CB, Miami(FL)
On talent alone, Elder could be a first-round pick, but size (5-foot-10/179 pounds) is going to stunt his draft position. Elder is as nasty as they come, and the 2016 All-ACC First Teamer would be an ideal slot corner.

Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
Stout, tough and energetic, Glasgow would add needed interior depth if the Eagles lose Bennie Logan to free agency.

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
A project, Davenport lacks experience against top competition, but his size (6-7/310) is outstanding, and he has the physical tools to develop into a possible backup.

Fifth Round (No. 138)

Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
With Marcus Smith's and Connor Barwin's days numbered, the Eagles may be looking for help at DE. Hendrickson is an effort guy who may have some pass-rush ability with continued coaching.

Jarrod "Chunky" Clements, DT, Illinois
Solid but unspectacular interior lineman who flashes penetration skills. Definitely a rotation guy who can spell the starters when needed.

Sixth Round (No. 168)

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
Conner battled Hodgkin's lymphoma during his college career and was able to make it back to the field and excel. He's the kind of guy you want on your team, and his power and size (6-foot-2/235 pounds) could make him a short-yardage specialist.

Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
Not a huge need for the Eagles, but Brent Celek can't play forever. Roberts is a bigger TE who has experience inline blocking and makes all the catches he should.

Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
Again, not a need, but Chase Daniel is expensive and there's nothing there after that. Evans has interesting measurables and physical skills to work with.

Seventh Round (No. 201)

Sean Harlow, OL, Oregon State
Harlow was a tackle in college but will kick inside to either guard or center in the NFL. Not outstanding in any one area, Harlow could provide versatility and depth.

Derek Griffin, WR, Texas Southern
A total project, Griffin is huge (6-foot-7/225 pounds) and was dismissed by Texas Southern three games into the 2016 season for breaking team rules. The former Miami(FL) recruit also played basketball in college (averaged a double-double during 2015/16 season).

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.