After the Philadelphia Eagles dominated the beginning of free agency last week with a variety of different signings and trades, things have somewhat quieted down over the past few days. With many of the premium free agents now signed, the Eagles are setting their sights on the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. While different mock drafts have the Eagles targeting a variety of positions, the latest reports have the team taking Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
After trading cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins and moving up to the No. 8 pick in the draft, the Eagles are now guaranteed to get one of the top players in the country. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Eagles have recently been linked to quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. They were also linked to quarterback Paxton Lynch at one point, but that is now unlikely to happen after moving from No. 13 to No. 8 in the draft.
While there is still a chance that the Eagles could target a quarterback, they seem to be content moving forward with Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. With a variety of needs including offensive line and the cornerback position, it appears on the surface that the Eagles would be better off going after Ronnie Stanley or Vernon Hargreaves III.
Regardless, running back Ezekiel Elliott appears to be a playmaker, and the team is reportedly interested in selecting him with the No. 8 pick. Bleeding Green Nation explains how and why Elliott could be heading to Philadelphia.
“I know a lot of people are against the idea of taking a running back in the first round, but based on what I’ve seen Elliott is a truly special talent. Some have speculated Elliott might not get out of the top four picks, especially with the Cowboys looming at No. 4. If Elliott makes it to the No. 8 spot, the Eagles should definitely think about taking him. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most realistic pick but it shouldn’t be ruled out just because of his position. The Eagles need more offensive talent. They have a big need at running back. Ryan Mathews is too prone to injury and fumbles to be considered a reliable full-time starter. Darren Sproles is 33 and will be playing on the last year of his contract. Both Mathews and Sproles could be gone by next season, which leaves the Eagles with nothing at running back. Elliott could be Philadelphia’s next great rusher for years to come.”
While running back was once one of the most valued positions in the NFL, it has taken a backseat to other positions such as wide receiver. The NFL is now a passing league, and running backs have had their carries diminished over the past few years. Regardless, the Los Angeles Rams selected running back Todd Gurley with the No. 10 overall pick last year, and he turned out to be one of the top backs in the league.
With DeMarco Murray now a member of the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles are extremely thin at running back. Ryan Mathews will look great when he is healthy, but there is no chance that he makes it through the entire season. Darren Sproles is nothing more than a change of pace running back at this point in his career.
"Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is an explosive three-down player who seems like a logical fit." Eagles draft buzz: https://t.co/4cQmjxgrPB— Birds 24/7 (@Birds247) March 11, 2016
Since quarterback Sam Bradford still has so many question marks, it makes sense to provide him with a strong running game. Despite former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spending a small fortune on the running back position last season, the team struggled to get anything going on the ground. While offensive line was part of the reason for the poor running game, the Eagles did not have an explosive and reliable back in the lineup.
While many analysts believe that Elliott would make sense for the Eagles with the No. 8 pick, others think that there are more pressing needs. NJ Advance Media believes there are a variety of different positions that the Eagles should target over running back.
“In this NFL, you don’t win with big-time running backs, and you especially don’t take one in the first round if you want to win.”
And that has proven to be correct in recent years. While being able to run the football is important, games are won in the NFL by passing and having a strong defense.
With the 2016 NFL draft a little over a month and a half away, rumors will continue to link the Philadelphia Eagles to various positions. While running back is somewhat of a forgotten position, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott could be too enticing for the Eagles to pass up on.
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