With the 2016 NFL draft a month away, rumors are spiraling out of control regarding the Philadelphia Eagles and their first-round pick. After sending cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso, and the No. 13 overall pick in the draft to the Miami Dolphins for the No. 8 overall pick, the Eagles are pretty much guaranteed to get an impact player. While the Eagles have been rumored to be interested in numerous players, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley appear to be the top choices.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Eagles have been linked to Elliott and Stanley for the past few weeks. While there is still talk that the team should go after quarterbacks Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, if they are available, the Eagles appear to be set at the position after re-signing Sam Bradford and signing Chase Daniel.
While the running back position has been devalued recently in the NFL, Elliott appears to be a special talent. Regardless, drafting a running back in the opening round may not be the most intelligent thing for the Eagles to do. For a team that lacks talent at numerous positions, notably on the offensive line and in the secondary, using the No. 8 overall pick on a running back is something that could set the franchise back a few years.
While Andy Reid focused on the offensive line in the opening rounds of drafts, Chip Kelly opted to select skill positions such as wide receiver. After Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans were released last season, the Eagles offensive line was never really the same. Since Lane Johnson was the only drafted offensive lineman that really worked out for Kelly, the team is in desperate need of help at the position.
The most recent NFL mock draft from CBS Sports believes that the Eagles will pass on Stanley and draft Elliott.
“Looking at the teams on the board here it’s hard to imagine Zeke getting out of the top 10. He’s a worthy candidate with his skills, especially for a team with only Ryan Mathews to lean on.”
And they have a very valid argument. After trading DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles are extremely thin at the running back position. While Ryan Mathews is a dynamic runner when healthy, he is always injured. Darren Sproles was a great addition for the Eagles a few years ago, but he is nothing more than a rotational player at this point in his career. If Elliott is everything everyone thinks he can be, he could be a star in Philadelphia for the next decade.
A recent mock draft at USA Today also believes that Elliott will land with the Eagles.
“They moved up five spots after swapping first-round choices with the Dolphins, who took CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso off Philly’s hands in the deal. Howie Roseman could go in any number of directions for the Eagles, but why not take a highly productive three-down back who could theoretically ease the burden on QB Sam Bradford (or Chase Daniel)”
Much of the Eagles’ success during Andy Reid’s tenure came because of their offensive line. Since new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was mentored by Reid, it is likely that he is at least going to use some of his principles. While Stanley was originally expected to be drafted before the Eagles pick at No. 8, many recent mock drafts have him falling.
A recent mock draft at Sports Illustrated has the Eagles passing on Elliott and taking Stanley.
“Ezekiel Elliott, right? The Eagles no doubt had someone in mind when they moved up from No. 13 to No. 8 and Elliott is—for my money, at least—a top-five prospect in this class. But Stanley isn’t much further down the list, plus he gives Philadelphia the future long-term starting tackle it needs with Jason Peters’ career winding down.”
At 34-years-old, Jason Peters is on the downside of his career. While he had a few solid games last season, his play was often criticized, and many analysts feel as though this may be his last season in Philadelphia. Peters will be in the lineup this season, but the Eagles have to find his replacement. While there is a strong chance that Stanley never becomes the player that Peters was, he still looks like a solid bet to become a productive NFL player.
Now that the draft is getting closer, rumors will continue to link the Philadelphia Eagles to Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. While Elliott is the sexy pick, NFL games are won in the trenches. If both players are on the board at the same time, expect the Eagles to draft Stanley.
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