Eagles pre-2017 draft depth chart: How it stands and what it means

Eagles pre-2017 draft depth chart: How it stands and what it means

We're still a little over a month away from the NFL draft in Philly and the Eagles have some pretty notable holes, while some positions seem good to go. 

The Eagles added three players through free agency -- Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Chance Warmack -- and re-signed several of their own players, while several others walked as free agents. 

Right now, there are 72 players on the roster -- 40 on offense, 28 on defense and four special teamers. (If you're wondering, they have $9,751,328 in cap space, according to the NFLPA.) The Eagles will be able to bring 90 guys to training camp.

We're still months and months away from the season, but here's an updated look at the team's depth chart before the draft:

QB: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
Chase Daniel and his ridiculous backup salary are gone and replaced by Nick Foles and a still-pricey, but not-as-crazy salary. Foles was once the starter in Philly, but there's no QB controversy here; Wentz is the franchise quarterback and it's just Foles' job to help him out over at least the next two seasons. 

Last year, the Eagles didn't carry a third quarterback on the active roster, instead keeping Aaron Murray on the practice squad. Murray is now with the Rams and the Eagles don't have a third. There's a chance they could look for a QB late in the draft or bring in some kind of developmental QB to stash on the practice squad this year. 

RB: Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall, Terrell Watson, Ryan Mathews
You'll notice Ryan Mathews at the tail end of this list. That's because it still seems likely the Eagles will cut him and save $4 million in cap space once he heals from that nasty neck injury he suffered late in the 2016 season. That doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon, though. There's, perhaps, a slight chance Mathews returns, but it still seems unlikely. 

That would leave an aging Sproles, a second-year guy in Smallwood and two undrafted rookies from a year ago left. So the Eagles will need some help. It would be surprising if they didn't draft a running back, although that doesn't mean they'll use a first-round pick on one. Remember, the franchise has had success drafting running backs in later rounds and just last year vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, while with the Bears, took Pro Bowler Jordan Howard in the fifth round. 

FB: Andrew Bonnet
In his first season as head coach, Doug Pederson elected to not use a roster spot on a fullback. He had Ryan Mueller in camp briefly in the spring and then Bonnet was on the practice squad for a little during the season. Pederson elected to use Beau Allen and Isaac Seumalo as lead blockers. It will be interesting to see if that continues or if he'll put more stock into keeping a fullback around. 

TE: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Anthony Denham
The top three guys are back after the Eagles slapped a second-round tender on Burton, who was a restricted free agent. Basically, the second-round value on his tender means that he'll be back in 2017 and the team will likely continue trying to sign him to a long-term contract like it did during the 2016 season. Denham was on the practice squad, which is his best bet again. 

LT: Jason Peters, Matt Tobin, Dillon Gordon
LG: Chance Warmack, Allen Barbre, Darrell Greene, Josh LeRibeus
C: Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski, Josh Andrews, Aaron Neary
RG: Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Dallas Thomas
RT: Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Taylor Hart

The Eagles list 10 players who can play guard on their roster. To put that in perspective, they kept just 11 total offensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster last season. Something has to give, right? Maybe Jason Kelce will eventually be traded or maybe the team will change it's mind and decide to move on from Allen Barbre. But for now, the Birds are extremely deep on the interior of their line. 

The tackle spots are a little different. After Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, the depth isn't great. Big V had an OK rookie season and Matt Tobin kind of is what he is. Barbre and Seumalo offer the flexibility to play tackle, but it's not their strength. The team lists Dillon Gordon as a guard, but his best fit is probably tackle. Though, Gordon is a converted tight end and is still raw. The wild card right now is Taylor Hart, who is converting from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. No one really knows if he can play there yet. 

WR1: Alshon Jeffery, Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Johnson, Rasheed Bailey
WR2: Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Bryce Treggs, David Watford, Dom Williams
WR3: Jordan Matthews, Paul Turner

This looks a lot different than it did a month ago. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith come in and immediately get penciled in as starters, while Jordan Matthews continues to hold down the slot. That means DGB and Nelson Agholor become role players instead of starters. Because of his salary, Agholor will be on the team in 2017; DGB isn't guaranteed. With extra outside receiver, it might also make some sense to see Agholor play some in the slot this season. Also, this depth chart includes training camp All-Stars Paul Turner and Rasheed Bailey -- everyone rejoice! 

DE: Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Alex McCalister
DT: Fletcher Cox, Aziz Shittu, Justin Hamilton
DT: Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao
DE: Brandon Graham, Steven Means

This defensive line lost two starters from last year's team. Connor Barwin was cut and Bennie Logan walked in free agency. Replacing them, respectively, are Vinny Curry and Beau Allen. Curry signed a big deal last offseason, so he'll get a chance to prove he's worth it. And unless the Eagles use a high pick to take a DT, Allen gets thrown into the starting lineup. Marcus Smith and Steven Means are the top backups at end and we'll see what Alex McCalister offers after a redshirt 2016 season. Undrafted rookies from a year ago, Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittue, provide the depth at interior tackle. 

The Eagles clearly need to draft defensive linemen in April. 

OLB: Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode
MLB: Jordan Hicks, Joe Walker, Don Cherry
OLB: Mychal Kendricks, Kamu Grugier-Hill

As of March 23, Mychal Kendricks is still an Eagle. That could change, though, if the Eagles find a trade partner for him. Kendricks has struggled in recent years, but he's still young and athletic and might bring back some kind of return. Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham both return after working well together in 2016. Bradham enters the final year of his two-year contract. 

There's not much depth after the starters. Joe Walker returns after an ACL tear and a couple of special teamers are the top backups. The Eagles might look to bring in a draft pick to throw into the mix. 

CB: Jalen Mills, C.J. Smith, Mitchell White
S: Malcolm Jenkins, Jaylen Watkins
S: Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Terrence Brooks
CB: Ron Brooks, Aaron Grymes, Dwayne Gratz

The Eagles' biggest need is cornerback and it's not close. Not even close to being close. They can't go into the season without some changes to this part of the depth chart. It would be pretty shocking if they don't add a couple corners in this very deep draft class. Don't be surprised if they add a safety or a corner/safety either. While the starters are set, Chris Maragos is viewed by the Eagles as a special teamer (a great one, by the way) and Jaylen Watkins is a huge drop off from Jenkins or McLeod. 

K: Caleb Sturgis
P: Donnie Jones
LS: Jon Dorenbos, Rick Lovato

The top three guys are set. Sorry, Rick Lovato, you did well filling in last year, but this long-snapper job still belongs to the Magic Man. 

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 210 lbs.

40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Bench press: 22 reps
Vertical jump: 30.5 inches
Broad jump: 116.0 inches
3-cone drill: 7.27 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.53 seconds

2016: 288 ATT, 1,765 YDS, 6.1 AVG, 19 TD
2015: 229 ATT, 1,691 YDS, 7.4 AVG, 19 TD
2014: 170 ATT, 1,008 YDS, 5.9 AVG, 8 TD

There is no denying Dalvin Cook has the talent and versatility the Eagles are seeking at running back. Florida State's all-time rushing leader, Cook gained 3,456 yards and scored 38 touchdowns on the ground over the past two seasons alone. The first-team All-American posted 79 receptions for 935 yards and 2 touchdowns during his college career as well.

Cook is a true dual threat, and a perfect fit for the Eagles. He has the ability and skill set to follow in the footsteps of Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, who made their names in the west coast offense.

At the same time, Cook represents a huge risk with the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ball security is a serious issue, more so than most prospects. Durability is a concern as well, with a history of shoulder injuries that required surgery. Cook, who will turn 22 in August, has also run afoul of the law on numerous occasions, though the charges were either dropped or he was found not guilty in all instances.

Fumbles, injuries, arrests -- each taken individually might be easy to overlook. The combination of the three, on the other hand, is a lot to digest.

Problems with ball security are not uncommon coming out of college, even around the NFL these days. It's an area that can be an improved upon, and is often overlooked if the back is talented enough. Still, with 13 career fumbles, Cook is worse than most. He put the ball on the carpet 6 times in 2016 alone, or once in every 63.8 touches, according to CBSSports.com. That's roughly every 2.5 games.

Keep in mind, fumbles cost the Eagles last season. Ryan Mathews coughed up the rock while trying to put away a win over the Lions. Two weeks later, Wendell Smallwood gave life to the Cowboys with a second-half turnover. The Eagles led both teams with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, and both games ended up as losses. It matters.

Cook's shoulders warrant closer inspection, too, which is no doubt why the Eagles reportedly had the ball carrier to the NovaCare Complex for a visit. Three operations to repair torn labrums -- once in high school, on his left shoulder; and twice at Florida State, one each on the front and back side of the right shoulder, per CBS -- should raise questions as to whether his body can endure the punishment of an NFL workload.

Even if Eagles doctors give Cook a clean bill of health, this is a red flag. We’re not talking about a random or fluke injury here. It's been a recurring theme, requiring surgery as recently as last April.

Far more difficult to quantify will be Cook's character and discipline, which could make or break the evaluation. Two of his arrests were seven or more years ago in high school, and the charges were dropped in each case, according to NFL.com. However, Cook was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery in 2015 after allegedly punching a woman outside a bar.

What actually happened is unclear. Regardless, Cook was involved in some type of altercation, and the Eagles must ask themselves whether these are the types of situations a young man will find himself again in the future. It's not unimportant, either, especially considering the scrutiny the franchise faced after Nigel Bradham and Josh Huff were in the news for the wrong reasons.

On the field, Cook needs work in pass protection, which along with his fumbling problem, are serious knocks on a prospect at No. 14. Otherwise, there may not be a more gifted running back in the draft. That's not hyperbole, either. In 2015, Cook was named the Jim Brown Award winner for best running back in the nation.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how good a player is if he’s never on the field for one reason or another, or giving wins away when he is. The questions with Cook are more about the finer points than fit or ability, and without clear answers, it's difficult to conclude that he's worth the risk.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
LSU RB Leonard Fournette

Connor Barwin: Eagles wanted me to take 'very drastic pay cut'

Connor Barwin: Eagles wanted me to take 'very drastic pay cut'

Even after he had already said publicly that he'd take a pay cut, when the Eagles cut Connor Barwin on March 9 it wasn't a surprise. 

Barwin's production had dropped and he was set to have a cap hit of over $8 million and the Eagles saved almost all of that space by releasing him. 

Appearing on 94WIP on Tuesday afternoon, Barwin, who has since signed with the Los Angeles Rams, detailed his final couple of weeks with the Eagles. 

"After the season ended, I said that I would take a pay cut," Barwin said. "Obviously, when I signed my deal, which some people don't understand, I signed six-year, $36 million deal that was backloaded with $18 million in the last two years, so I knew whether I was getting 10 sacks or five sacks, we were going to restructure at Year 5. And that's really what I was alluding to when I said a pay cut. The Eagles had only paid me $4 or $5 million a year my first four years, so they weren't just going to start paying me $8 or $9 (million). 

"So I said I would take a pay cut and obviously my agent met with (Eagles de facto GM) Howie (Roseman) and his staff at the combine and they were looking for a very drastic pay cut, so we decided to go our separate ways. Howie was great. He obviously took as long as he could to try to work out a trade to get some value for me and then he did the right thing to release me the day before free agency started and allowed me to kind of continue my career."

When Barwin said he would take a pay cut, it seemed like an overly optimistic thought. From the outside, it was always pretty clear that he wouldn't be on the team in 2017 unless he reduced his salary a ton. That's apparently what the Eagles asked and it's hard to fault Barwin or the Eagles for moving on.  

Barwin, 30, was understanding of the situation and thought the Eagles handled it well. 

"Obviously, I knew things were happening about a week before they happened last Wednesday," he said. "And that still made Thursday, the day I was released, a very hard day for me and my family. But Friday and Saturday, you move on and look to the future."

The future for Barwin is in LA, where he is reuniting with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Barwin played under Phillips with the Texans before he earned the big contract in Philly. 

Barwin seemed excited to be back in Phillips' 3-4 defense. Last season, Barwin had to transition from a 3-4 into Jim Schwartz's 4-3, but has continued to say that wasn't the transition that hurt him the most. Last season he also moved from the left side of the defensive end to the right, which meant going up against the best left tackles in the game. With the Rams, Barwin will be back on the left. 

While he will be living in LA, his foundation, the Make the World Better Foundation, will continue to do charity work in Philadelphia and Barwin said he's made Philly his home. That isn't changing. 

During the interview with Chris Carlin and Ike Reese on WIP, Barwin revealed the the has interest in joining management of a team after his playing days are over. So with that eye, he gave his assessment of where the Eagles are heading. 

"Now, I'm on the outside, I think it's smart what Howie is doing," Barwin said. "I think they've got a great quarterback or what could potentially be a great quarterback in Carson Wentz and they're giving him weapons. They obviously loaded up on the offensive line, which I think is smart. You're always going to get one or two injuries a year. I think that they've got seven or eight guys, good guys on their offensive line and obviously they've added wide receivers. 

"And lastly, I think the future is bright for Doug because just playing for him one year, I know that guys wanted to play for him. Guys enjoyed being around him. He enjoys being around the guys, he loves being around football. And I think that's important. 

"Obviously, as a defensive player, I'm excited to see what Vinny does with this opportunity, what other guys they kind of bring in to fill my hole. Obviously, Jim Schwartz has had a ton of success in this league and I'm excited to see what they do up front, adjusting to me being gone."