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Eagles mailbag: Hurts’ ceiling, Dickerson’s position and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
On Tuesday’s Eagle Eye podcast, we answered a bunch of Twitter questions but we couldn’t get to all of them.
So I figured I’d answer most of the rest here.
Thanks to everyone who submitted.
What’s the biggest need on defense? Should be addressed in the draft or FA?
— Seb Is Thankful (@SebMeetsWorld) November 16, 2021
You can make a strong argument that the biggest need will be in the secondary, but I actually think it’s defensive end. Sure, the Eagles signed Josh Sweat to an extension during this season, but Derek Barnett is set to become a free agent and Brandon Graham will enter next season as a 34-year-old coming off an Achilles injury. It’s time to replenish one of the most important positions on the field.
The Eagles might look at free agency — it comes first, after all — but I think there’s a strong possibility they use one of their three first-round picks on a defensive end. It’s a position we know the Eagles care about, they have a need and if the value lines up where they’re picking, getting a new edge rusher in the building should be at the top of their list.
Does Jalen have a higher ceiling than any of the QBs drafted this year? What is his ceiling?
— Kenny Warren (@kenny1130) November 16, 2021
If by quarterbacks drafted this year, you mean the class of 2020 … maybe a couple. But we’re talking about what was considered to be a great QB draft class with guys like Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones all in the top 15. Hurts’ ceiling might be higher than a couple of those guys, but it’s really hard to compare.
As for what Hurts’ ceiling is … that’s a big question the Eagles need to answer. Not just about what his ceiling is but if he really has the ability to reach it. Because of his dual threat ability, I think Hurts has great potential. The key for him is to become more consistent in the passing game and that key hasn’t changed since he’s been in the NFL. But performances like we saw from him in the first half against the Broncos should be very encouraging. If he plays like that, he has a chance to be very good. His ceiling might not be Lamar Jackson (that seems unfair to compare him to an MVP) but if he can play in that style and be 85% of that, he’ll be a very good player.
Do you believe that Landon Dickerson will move to center next year or Do you feel that he should remain a guard?
— SIMPING4SOUP (@HowieTrumpman) November 16, 2021
I guess there’s still a chance the Eagles could move Dickerson to center next season if Jason Kelce hangs ‘em up, but he should probably be at guard. I really thought that when the Eagles drafted him and now watching him settle in at the left guard position over the last seven weeks has helped cement that belief. He’s 6-5, 330 pounds and that size really helps him in the run game. I don’t know if Brandon Brooks will be back next season but if he is, a line of Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Isaac Seumalo, Brooks and Lane Johnson has the makings to be solid.
Even though Seumalo has played his entire NFL career at guard, I’d still rather move him to center than Dickerson.
if Goedert is out this week, how much of a loss is that to the team and who can maybe fill that role?
— Alex (@notalex98) November 16, 2021
Yeah, if Dallas Goedert (concussion) can’t play against the Saints, it would be a huge loss. Because of his ability as a receiver and a blocker, Goedert is one of the most important Eagles on that side of the ball. Even in the last game, we saw them miss his ability as a blocker, which is often overlooked. Goedert is an absolute weapon even when passes aren’t coming his way.
If Goedert can’t play, the Eagles would go with Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson and then they’d elevate either Richard Rodgers or Noah Togiai from the practice squad to make sure they have three tight ends on the game day roster.
I haven’t seen Tyree Jackson targeted at all. Will he get used this year or are we already looking at next year with him coming off the back injury?
— mindyherman (@lhermanbb) November 16, 2021
I think the Eagles have a plan to get him involved offensively at some point down the stretch. Recently, when asked about Jackson, Nick Sirianni didn’t want to go into too many details because he said the rest of the league didn’t know about Jackson yet. That was a little hint. The Eagles feel like he can be a weapon. And that’s not to say he’s suddenly going to start taking away snaps or targets from Goedert — Goedert is too good for that to happen — but giving Jackson a few targets seems likely to me. The Eagles wouldn’t have kept him on their initial 53-man roster so they could bring him back just to not play him and not see what they have.
Could the long term plan be to move JM to the right side after Lane leaves in 2023 and let Dillard play LT? An OL of Dillard, Issac, Dickerson, Driscoll, and JM could be really outstanding.
— HedleyLamar (@andrewaters2020) November 16, 2021
Lane Johnson is under contract through the 2025 season, but you’re right that the Eagles could get out of his contract without really hurting themselves too much after the 2023 season. The problem is that the timelines don’t really line up.
Since Andre Dillard was drafted in 2019, he is under contract through 2022. The Eagles could exercise their fifth-year option on him for 2023 but are they going to be willing to pay top-level starter money for a guy who’s a backup? And if they let Dillard’s contract expire, he’s probably going to sign somewhere where he will have the possibility of winning a starting job and where they’d be willing to pay him for it.
I get why the Eagles didn’t trade Dillard away for just anything at this trade deadline. Why trade Dillard for, say, a fifth-round pick when he’s more valuable to you as a backup? But if the Eagles get a good offer for him this coming offseason, I’d imagine Howie Roseman will listen.
What do you guys think the coaching staff needs to do to maximize Reagor? Or is he a lost cause
— Sam Lees (@SamLees13) November 16, 2021
First, they should stop giving him the ball behind the line of scrimmage. Those plays simply aren’t working. It’s one thing to be a non-factor … it’s another thing to force-feed a former first-round pick in a way that hurts the offense.
The one thing I’d try a little more is lining Jalen Reagor up in the slot. Try to get him the ball in some quick routes. But there are other guys the Eagles have to prioritize, starting with DeVonta Smith and Goedert. They can’t go into games worried about how they’re going to get Reagor involved.
Does Avery look like the long term answer as Strong side LB?
— Armand Vanore (@KitWor) November 16, 2021
Genard Avery has quietly played pretty well at the SAM position this season. Early in the year, the Eagles were rotating at that spot but Avery has pretty much just won it. Of course, Avery is the the final year of his rookie contract so if the Eagles want him to hold that position long-term, they’ll have to re-sign him. I can’t imagine he’d be very expensive.
But that decision might come down to Patrick Johnson. The rookie from Tulane hasn’t played much on defense recently but the Eagles are still high on him. In training camp, they were impressed enough by his football IQ and versatility that they kept him on the roster. Even on Sunday, he played a couple of snaps on defense and made a big play. If they think he’s ready to fill that SAM position in Year 2, it would make Avery more expendable.
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