Howie Roseman Explains Why Eagles Didn't Draft a Safety Or Linebacker

Nasir Adderley was there. Taylor Rapp was there. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was there.

When the Eagles picked Miles Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round, they bypassed several highly regarded safeties, which certainly opened some eyes.

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With Malcolm Jenkins turning 32 late this season and Rodney McLeod only signed through 2019, the Eagles have a clear need for a young safety. 

And with Jordan Hicks gone, and Nigel Bradham the only linebacker assured of a starting job, they have a clear need for a young linebacker as well.

The Eagles came out of the draft with neither, and Howie Roseman admitted the Eagles would have liked to address both before the weekend was over.

Yeah, I think it's fair to look at those two groups and say that it's probably something that we would have liked to have done. There were a couple times in the draft where we were deciding between a couple guys.

But Roseman and Joe Douglas were adamant about sticking to their board. And that meant taking Sanders at 53 and Arcega-Whiteside at 57. 

And it meant coming out of the draft without a safety or linebacker.

We had a couple of those opportunities where maybe we could have gone in a different direction," Roseman said. "But I think when we sit back down and look at it, maybe that was an area we thought we'd address, but you can't go into a draft and just say you're going to address it.

What do the Eagles have at safety behind Jenkins and McLeod?

They signed Andrew Sendejo, who turns 32 before the season starts. They have former undrafted free agent Tre Sullivan, who played well last year down the stretch. Deiondre' Hall is mainly a special teamer. Then there are corners who could presumably work in at safety, like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, and even Jalen Mills.

What do they have at linebacker behind Bradham?

Kamu Grugier-Hill played 328 snaps on defense and played OK. Nate Gerry is mainly a special teamer. L.J. Fort and Paul Worrilow are 29-year-old veterans. And Dave Zangaro will kill me if I don't mention B.J. Bello, who spent a couple months on the Eagles' practice squad last year.

So there are some interesting names but very little proven depth.

We need some of our young guys to take a step up at both those spots," Roseman said. "They have been here. We are hopeful that that's the case, and again, talent-acquisition season has not ended. We have a long way to go before we play a game, and then we have a long way to go before the trade deadline. We're not going on vacation now. We're going to continue to try to do whatever we can to support coach (Doug Pederson) and his staff.

Did Roseman and his staff handle this the right way?

They were certainly true to their philosophy of taking the highest-rated player on the board instead of addressing an obvious need.

And it just turned out that their highest-rated players at 22, 53 and 57 were on offense.

Only time will tell whether their evaluations will correct. But their approach sure was.

"At the end of the day, we didn't reach on any offensive players here," Roseman said. "We do definitely want to support our quarterback and make sure that he's got the right line around him and the right skill position guys around him, but we also know the defense can help him."

Think back to the 2011 draft, when the Eagles desperately needed a safety and they took one - Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett - in the second round while bypassing some pretty good players, like linebacker Justin Houston, receiver Randall Cobb and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

Jarrett lasted two inconsequential seasons with the Eagles and was out of the NFL before his 27th birthday.

That's why you can't reach at a certain position. You end up without the best possible value at that spot.

Nobody knows what the future holds at any specific position, so you take the best player on the board and go from there.

Whether the Eagles did that we'll know in about 2021.

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