Prior to DeSean Jackson‘s outright release by the Philadelphia Eagles, the 2013 NFC East Division Champion was poised to make a strong push for a deep playoff run in 2014 — on paper of course — and following a terrific 10-6 2013 campaign.
Philadelphia’s two biggest needs as the 2014 draft approached was finding an edge rusher and bolstering a secondary that proved to be the league’s worst against the pass. The focus, and rightfully so, was finding a difference-maker in the secondary — either at safety or cornerback. And with the talented depth pool of this year’s first-round hopefuls at said positions, it looked as though the draft was going to seal the deal for Philly.
And then Chip Kelly, for whatever reason(s) he had or has, decided to release Jackson after his most productive season since being drafted in 2008.
Now, DeSean Jackson’s recent signing with division rival Washington Redskins, Philadelphia must enter the draft with a hard-on for a premier secondary player. And they might need to find a way to slide up in the first to ensure they land that player. The problem, however, is due to Jackson being released the Eagles could also be in the market to draft a receiver as well.
It is fair to assume at this point Philadelphia’s receiving arsenal is less talented without DeSean Jackson on the roster. However, all might not be lost here. Sure, the Eagles might not be as explosive in terms of the same kind of big play potential DJax brought to the offense, but the pieces are there for a coach known for finding creative plays to use skill players.
Chip Kelly knows far more about Jeremy Maclin‘s rehabilitation progress to his knee than anyone outside the four walls of NovaCare Complex. Plus, although Riley Cooper didn’t have the yardage DeSean Jackson produced in 2013, Cooper exceeded Jackson’s YPC in 2013 with 17.8 (Jackson had 16.2) and he was nipping at Jackson’s heels in the touchdown department with eight, compared to Jackson’s nine, during the regular season.
The big difference from a production and statistic standpoint is receptions — which was a difference of 35 in favor of Jackson.
So no, I don’t believe the draft plans have altered all to much following Jackson’s release. Many have shifted the attention from the secondary to the wide receiving options entering the draft, and I for one think that would be a big mistake.
Finding stability in the secondary is crucial going forward. Especially since the Eagles will be starring down Jackson twice a season. They need someone who can out muscle him and stay with him step-for-step if need be. And with Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert likely to be off the board, Bradley Roby makes the most sense here
Bradley Roby is a physically gifted talent, however, he needs to focus on improving his technical aspects of playing cornerback in the pros. But a growing sense due to hints that Brandon Boykin just might be Chip Kelly’s answer to DeSean Jackson at cornerback. It is said that Boykin has done been the most consistent defensive back when covering Jackson during practice.
So should Philadelphia draft a cornerback or safety when they are on the clock?
Simple answer, best player available at either position. The draft is stocked with talent and because of that reason Chip Kelly needs to address his defense. If inclined, there should still be some solid receivers available in the second round.