Philadelphia Eagles at the NFL combine: Team needs, players to watch
Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds (49) tries to work his way out of Arkansas’s Dan Skipper (70) block and for a chance to tackle Rawleigh Williams III (22) during the second half of the Belk Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Virginia Tech won 35-24. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
PHILADELPHIA — The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles aren’t entering the thick of draft preparation with glaring needs across the roster, but they still have work to do at next week’s NFL combine in Indianapolis.
As Philly aims to maintain its talent, balance and depth, success in the draft is crucial. If the Eagles, who own the No. 32 pick in the first round this year, can find young and cheap contributors through the draft, they’ll have the flexibility to use funds to keep their Super Bowl core together and easily replace aging players.
If they fail to select starting-caliber assets, though, it’ll be tough to remain among the NFL’s top tier.
With that said, we’re taking a look at some of the positions the Eagles will want to target in the draft (it’s more about spots at which they could use an infusion of depth or youth than holes on the roster), along with combine participants to keep an eye on.
Eagles leading tackle Nigel Bradham can enter unrestricted free agency next month in a couple weeks and Jordan Hicks has suffered significant injuries in two of his three NFL seasons, leaving the team’s linebacking corps in flux. However things shake out before the draft in late April, it’s clear the Birds would benefit from the addition of young talent at the position.
— Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
— Jason Cabinda (Penn State)
— Micah Kiser (Virginia)
Edmunds is worth watching because he’ll stand out at the combine with his 6-foot-5 frame and blazing speed. CBS Sports speculated that Edmunds could be a part of the wave of the future at linebacker, and NFL.com quoted a scout saying it’s impossible to find an apt player comparison for the former Hokies star — “You’re better off comping him with a basketball player,” the scout said. Edmunds will surely have the attention of the Eagles, a team that prides itself on forward thinking.
Eagles fans might also want to keep an eye on Cabinda and Kiser for the opposite reason. Both players were ultra productive in college, and while analysts don’t expect either to produce mind-blowing combine numbers, solid showings could improve their draft positions and keep Philly interested.