What will the Philadelphia Eagles be thinking in the 2017 NFL Draft?
Here we break down their five core draft questions and provide our best answers.
1. What is the Eagles' biggest need early?
That's easy: Cornerback. The hard part is whether the Eagles are desperate enough to use a first-round pick on the position. For now, second-year man Jalen Mills (a seventh-rounder) and former Saints and Colts starter Patrick Robinson are the slated starters. Of the five defensive backs Philadelphia has selected over the past three drafts, Mills is the only one remaining on the roster.
The rub is, unless Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore somehow freefalls to their first-round pick at No. 14, corner isn't the best value on the market where the Eagles are picking. There are so many simliar prospects stacked together that as many as a dozen could go from the middle of Round 1 to the end of Round 2. The best plan is to target the likes of USC's Adoree' Jackson, Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie or LSU's Tre'Davious White with No. 43 overall and not reach right away.
2. How early should the Eagles take a running back?
So if the Eagles don't take a corner, they should zone in on their offensive backfield instead. At one point, Florida State's Dalvin Cook was the preferred feature back at No. 14, until his stock started to drop a bit from solid mid first-rounder. Now the hope should be that Stanford's Christian McCaffrey stays on the board. It doesn't take much for that to happen, especially if LSU's Leonard Fournette slides past the Jaguars at No. 4 and to the Panthers at No. 9. When Fournette's gone, it would leave the Saints, at No. 11, as by far the biggest threat to take C-Mac between No. 10 and No. 13. McCaffrey would be a coup for the early-down power running, third-down receiving and return game, all in one great pick for Philadelphia.
3. Where else do the Eagles focus on defense?
The Eagles need to get faster and younger in their front seven. They were both a mediocre run-stopping and pass-rushing team last season. Although linebacker should be addressed at some point, getting help in the line rotation at both tackle and end is a higher priority. Clemson's Carlos Watkins is a pretty good target for the third or fourth round. So is a local product for the Eagles like, Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon. For linebacker, they could get good value as late as the fifth round from a prospect such as Wake Forest's Marquel Lee or Oklahoma's Jordan Evans.
4. Do the Eagles keep addressing wide receiver?
Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were signed by Philadelphia to be the new outside starters for quarterback Carson Wentz, and Jordan Matthews is still around to slide into his comfortable slot role. The Eagles still should add some more depth here late. Florida State's Travis Rudolph, Syracuse's Amba Etta-Tawo and Clemson's Artavis Scott are all considerations in the final two rounds.
5. How will the Eagles think about trading?
Last year, the Eagles were very aggressive in moving up to get Wentz. Don't be surprised if GM Howie Roseman, with that strategy paying off — especially after the bonus of regaining a first-rounder with the late Sam Bradford trade — to try to go after a player they want a few picks ahead of No. 14. Lattimore would make the most sense as that target, with Fournette as a close second. Philadelphia feels it's close to contending, even in the tough NFC East, so it should execute an overall draft plan to reflect that.
SN's 2017 Mock Drafts: Eagles picks
— Eric Galko (from April 11 Mock Draft)
No. 10: McCaffrey: The Eagles are likely to pass on cornerback at No. 14 overall and opt for either a pass rusher or a running back. McCaffrey could be a fun option for an offense still moving on from the Chip Kelly era and needing to ease Darren Sproles out as its featured weapon.
— Vinnie Iyer (from April 20 Mock Draft)
No. 14: McCaffrey: If the Panthers choose not to take McCaffrey at No. 8, the Eagles can start to feel good about getting him. His strong power running combined with gamebreaking ability as a receiver and return man meshes with their offseason theme of supporting Carson Wentz. Pound for pound, McCaffrey offers the most offensive skill in this draft.
MORE: Latest NFL Draft rumors
Eagles 2017 NFL Draft picks
First round: No. 14 overall
Second round: No. 43 overall
Third round: No. 99 overall (compensatory, from Ravens)
Fourth round: No. 118 overall
Fourth round: No. 139 overall (compensatory, from Browns)
Fifth round: No. 155 overall
Sixth round: No. 194 overall
Seventh round: No. 230 overall