10 players from PFF’s list of the top-50 2022 free agents who should interest the Eagles

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NFL free agency is just around the corner and even as the Eagles chase a playoff spot, it’s never too early for a look ahead to potential targets.

The Eagles will have three first-round picks in the 2022 draft process, and you can argue that Howie Roseman should use all three picks on defensive players.

Philadelphia will have plenty of cap space as well and that could make for a very action-packed spring full of deals and transactions. PFF recently released their top-50 free agent’s list, and we’ve highlighted 10 players that Howie Roseman should target.

1. WR Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Still only 27 years old, Robinson would complement DeVonta Smith, while helping Jalen Hurts take the next step as a passer.

Robinson has seen just 44 targets through Week 8 after commanding 76 targets through Week 8 of 2020. While the lion’s share of the blame can be placed on the Bears’ offense in general, Robinson is sporting the worst overall grade of his career thus far (64.1). It’s entirely possible the focus is on staying healthy and getting ready for 2022 and beyond outside of Chicago. It’d be hard to blame him if that’s the case.

Strengths:
-Contested catches
-Body control
-Hands

Weaknesses:
-His quarterbacks
-Speed

Scheme Fit/Role:
No. 1 WR: Allen Robinson has a history of balling out despite awful quarterbacks throwing him the football dating back to high school. He isn’t the fastest receiver in the game, but he is good at everything else and can defeat press coverage and beat elite cover corners. He won’t be coming off his best year but is still a No. 1 option. Teams such as Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Cleveland could all use him for that spot.

2. TE Dallas Goedert

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams take pride in holding onto their key free agents and there’s no way Goedert hits the open market while he’s one of the top-6 tight ends in football.

3. WR Courtland Sutton -- Denver Broncos

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Still only 25 years old, Sutton is a physical receiver that will complement DeVonta Smith and upgrade the Eagles’ passing game.

4. CB Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sep 26, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) tries to run past Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (24) during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

A young No. 1 caliber cornerback, Davis could be a player to target if Philadelphia lets Steven Nelson walk, or doesn’t go cornerback in the first round.

Carlton Davis is one of very few good, young cornerbacks set to hit the free agent market and among an even shorter list of cornerbacks with the ability to play man coverage and battle head-to-head with an opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver. This more rare skill set always has a higher earning potential on the open market, but a franchise tag here for around $17-$17.5 million might be the most likely outcome.

Tampa Bay went the franchise tag route with wide receiver Chris Godwin this past offseason, and they may elect to go that route once more as Davis has missed some time to injury just like Godwin did in 2020.

Strengths:
-Reading routes and passing concepts
-Physicality
-Contesting targets

Weaknesses:
-Penalties (often too physical)
-Consistency

5. S Marcus Wlliams -- New Orleans Saints

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Only 24, Williams is one of the NFL’s top young safeties and could be a high-value replacement for Anthony Harris and, or, Rodney McLeod.

Williams has been the one continuous thread in a secondary that has experienced some changes over the years, and perhaps we’re now at the point where we need to give him some more credit for keeping everything in front of him on the backend. The Saints have prioritized free-agent spending and drafting in the secondary, so we’re not suggesting Williams is playing in a weak group, but he has graded above 70.0 for five years in a row now as the free safety manning the deep third of the field. He’ll still be just 26 years old in Week 1 of 2022 after playing on the franchise tag and should have offers to become one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

Strengths:
-Consistency
-Performs well in all facets

Weaknesses:
-Can struggle for physicality
-Inconsistent matched up in man coverage

6. Jessie Bates

Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals · S · Age 24

Elite deep-coverage safeties like Bates are hard to find.

Bates was looking for an extension this past offseason, and the Cincinnati Bengals instead chose to prioritize the player they drafted one round after Bates in 2018 — edge defender Sam Hubbard. The Cincinnati defense has taken a step forward in 2021, with recent free-agent additions such as edge defender Trey Hendrickson and interior defender D.J. Reader wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks and cornerback addition Chidobe Awuzie outperforming the man he replaced in Washington Football Team cornerback William Jackson III. Will Bates get his due from the Bengals, or will he be the latest homegrown player to depart?

Strengths:
-Range in coverage
-Ball skills
-Plays on the ball

Weaknesses:
-Inconsistency
-Tackling

Scheme Fit/Role:
SINGLE-HIGH FS/SPLIT SAFETY: Bates showed in 2020 that he can be an elite center field safety with the range to get to the sideline and make plays on the football. He is an ideal player for the Seattle Cover 1/Cover 3 style of defense, which is becoming increasingly less prevalent. He would also thrive in any system that runs with split safety shells, which makes him an ideal fit for most of the league in some shape or form.

7. J.C. Jackson

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

New England Patriots · CB · Age 25

A young cornerback, Jackson could excel in Jonathan Gannon’s scheme.

J.C. Jackson is playing in 2021 on the second-round restricted free agent tender at a value of $3.384 million. However, former Patriots cornerback and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, who has since been traded to the Carolina Panthers, was also looking for new money headed into 2021. If Carlton Davis does get franchise tagged, Jackson could become the top man coverage corner available after a full season serving as the No. 1 with Gilmore never playing for the Patriots.

Strengths:
– Receiver-like ball skills
– Experience traveling in man
– Very rarely gets beat deep

Weaknesses:
– Hasn’t been nearly as effective in zone
– Closing on intermediate routes

Scheme Fit/Role:
OUTSIDE CB IN MAN-HEAVY SCHEME: Jackson has been the second fiddle to Stephon Gilmore in New England for much of his career, but he’s still handled his fair share of tough, man-coverage assignments in Bill Belichick’s defense. He’s been one of the position’s best playmakers in that role, rarely squandering an interception opportunity. Dallas and New Orleans stand out as potential non-Patriots landing spots if they’re able to make things work financially.

8. Edge Rusher Haason Reddick, Arizona Cardinals

Eagles Vs Cardinals

A New Jersey native, Reddick would be a gem in Jonathan Gannon’s system.

Reddick has successfully transitioned from off-ball linebacker to edge rusher, so it’s now just a question of how high his ceiling can be. He is a bit undersized as a full-time outside linebacker at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, but he has a knack for bringing the quarterback, and his 22 sacks since 2020 are the fourth-most among edge rushers. Reddick can also set the edge moderately well in run defense and has put up a 70.6 grade halfway through the 2021 season.

Strengths:
– Explosive first step + quickness
– Wins tend to result in big plays
– Speed in pursuit

Weaknesses:
– Size
– Counters after tackles engage

Scheme Fit/Role:
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER IN AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE: Reddick is at his best on blitz-heavy defenses like Carolina’s and Arizona’s that can create unblocked opportunities and pass-rushing reps against tight ends and running backs. Reddick hasn’t matched his 2020 pass-rushing production this year for the Panthers, but he has earned positive grades against the run at one of the highest rates at the position.

9. WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A solid wide receiver with good size, Patrick would fit well with Nick Sirianni.

Patrick is playing the 2021 season on a second-round restricted free agent tender and has already exceeded his contract halfway through the season. His 424 receiving yards through Week 8 are the second-most within the Denver Broncos’ offense, and his 12 explosive receptions lead the way. With 2018 second-round pick Courtland Sutton looking for a big deal and fellow pass-catchers Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy being due new deals in the not-too-distant future, perhaps Patrick gets to field some quality offers around the league.

Strengths:
-Size
-Hands
-Contested catches

Weaknesses:
-Short passes
-Separation vs. man

Scheme Fit/Role:
LOW-END NO. 2/HIGH-END NO. 3 RECEIVER: Patrick has a huge frame and excellent ball skills that make him one of the most productive threats at the deep and intermediate level of the field. He doesn’t separate consistently enough to be more than a complementary weapon, but he’s been a dependable option every time opportunity has presented itself.

10. JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster turned down offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs to stay with the Steelers, and he could become an All-Pro from the slot with Jalen Hurts at quarterback.

Smith-Schuster turned down offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs to stay with the Steelers, who selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Smith-Schuster was once believed to be supplanting Antonio Brown as the best wide receiver in Pittsburgh, but even with Brown no longer in town that still isn’t the case. However, Smith-Schuster plays a very valuable role as a sure-handed slot receiver that quarterbacks can rely on in critical situations. Smith-Schuster ranks top-15 in third-down receptions by a wide receiver since he was drafted in 2017 with 85. That said, he will once again likely be facing one-year flier offers after missing much of the 2021 season to injury.

Strengths:
– Physicality
– Hands
– Still hasn’t turned 25

Weaknesses:
– Explosiveness
– Separating downfield vs. single coverage

Scheme Fit/Role:
PHYSICAL SLOT RECEIVER: Smith-Schuster looked to be one of the NFL’s best young receivers early in his career as a secondary option on an offense that featured Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Brown’s departure highlighted that JuJu isn’t a viable No. 1 option in the passing game, but this version of the Steelers’ offense also hasn’t done him any favors. He can provide quality play as a big slot with sure hands on a talented offense like Tennessee’s.

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