- Phil Sheridan, ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter
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PHILADELPHIA -- The NFL draft is almost here. Finally. All the speculation and conjecture will be over and actual names will be handed over to commissioner Roger Goodell. It will be great. Until then, well, more conjecture will have to get us through.
Let's see what readers wanted to talk about via Twitter:
— jrasmin (@JRasmun) April 17, 2015
That is a good question and I think there's a two-part answer. I think Brandon Boykin, the Eagles' nickel cornerback, would have different values before and after the draft.
Before the draft, teams with holes to fill at cornerback will expect to have a chance to take care of that problem in the draft. They have a handful of cornerbacks on their draft boards and the belief that they'll be able to get at least one of them. Would a team offer the Eagles a fourth-round or fifth-round pick for Boykin? They might, in order to take some of the uncertainty out.
But I think that after the draft, there will be a few teams that weren't able to plug those holes. They will be much closer to desperate to find help at positions they couldn't address in free agency or the draft. A team in that situation might be willing to give up a third-round pick for Boykin. Of course, that would also mean a third-round pick in next year's draft. It might be worth more to Chip Kelly to get a fourth-round pick now than a third-round pick in a year. He tends to be in a hurry with everything.
Finally, I still think Boykin has more value to the Eagles right now as a player than they would be likely to get with a draft pick. Would you rather have Boykin or Josh Huff or Jaylen Watkins, who were third-round and fourth-round picks last year? I'd take Boykin.
@SheridanScribe Beside Ertz and JM, Help me find a receiving threat on this team? and where can they get one who will contribute in 2016?
— crjunkin (@crjunkin) April 17, 2015
It is a real concern. And both Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews have done most of their work in the slot, so there is a real lack of targets at the outside receiver sports. Even if Matthews moves outside, that still leaves a void to be filled.
When asked about this at the NFL owners meetings, Chip Kelly brought up Darren Sproles more than once. I do think the Eagles kind of got away from using Sproles last year. He is fast, tough to cover and able to make things happen once the ball is in his hands. So it will be interesting to see how Kelly develops Sproles as a weapon.
The other current Eagle with potential is Josh Huff. He did not have a great rookie year. He got hurt in the preseason and never really became a factor in the offense. But Kelly does like him and there's a chance that he could develop into a weapon on the outside. I wouldn't want to go into the season with him as your only answer, mind you, but an alignment with Matthews and Riley Cooper outside, Sproles in the backfield and Huff in the slot would certainly present some matchup challenges for defenses.
With all that said, I would be surprised if the Eagles don't come out of this draft with at least one more receiver. There are a bunch of them available again, and it remains the position the Eagles most often invited to the NovaCare Complex for visits. A second-round receiver, Matthews and Huff would give the Eagles some weapons. Throw in Sproles and Ertz (and Brent Celek) and that doesn't look too bad. They were probably still better with Jeremy Maclin, but there's no way to unring that bell.
@SheridanScribe Landon Collins At 20 For The Eagles in 13 Days
— Charlie Hustle 4256 (@74Celtics) April 17, 2015
I think there's a very good chance the Eagles take Landon Collins. I understand the concern that he's more of a standard strong safety than the Eagles prefer in their defensive scheme. But safety has been such a problem for so long for this team, it makes sense to grab the best one available and work around him.
That said, I saw today that NFL Network's Mike Mayock has moved Arizona State's Damarious Randall to the top of his board at safety. Randall is, in the words of ESPN's Todd McShay, "a pure cover safety." That sounds more like what the Eagles covet in a safety. They've also had Randall in for a visit, so we know there's interest there.
Eagles fans would probably like Collins more. But as long as they come away with some who can play safety, that's a good thing.
@SheridanScribe hope this doesnt backfire on Chip.Bradford can walk at the end of this yr.He is getting paid so well this yr no need to sign
— Ed (@twodayslater) April 17, 2015
You're right, Ed. There is definitely a risk here. Sam Bradford has already made somewhere around $50 million from his original rookie contract with the St. Louis Rams. The nearly $13 million he's getting in 2015 is an afterthought to him. So Bradford can retire, play for free or hold out for another big contract with the team of his choice.
The Eagles' only hammer is the franchise tag. For quarterbacks, that was over $18 million for 2015. So it would cost close to $40 million for two years of Bradford's services, which would be rendered under protest. That's not an ideal way to manage your quarterback. On the other hand, it would be hard for the Eagles to commit to a long-term deal for Bradford without seeing him play in Chip Kelly's offense. They are between a rock and a hard place, and Bradford has a pile of money to fall back on.
The one positive: I get the impression Bradford really does want to play quarterback in the NFL and he's excited by what he knows of Kelly's offense. The fact that he wasn't willing to negotiate with Cleveland, if true, shouldn't be held against him. There are plenty of reasons not to want to end up with the Browns at this point. So there is hope that if things go well for him in Philadelphia, Bradford will cheerfully work out a new contract.
Also questions about Sam Bradford's long-term goals and more draft talk.