Three rounds in, and the Eagles’ cornerback depth chart looks exactly like it did before the draft began.
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The team has taken a wide receiver, a guard and a defensive lineman, but the Eagles have yet to address their most pressing need, which is cornerback.
They’ve had opportunities, but the value did not match the pick according to the Eagles’ board.
Once Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain went 8 and 9 to the Panthers and Broncos, the Eagles were out of luck in the first round. The next two corners, Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome Jr., went 22 and 26 to the Titans and Browns. They would have been major reaches, and DeVonta Smith is a pretty darn good consolation prize.
The Eagles had the fifth pick in the second round and you thought maybe they had a chance at Georgia’s Tyson Campbell, but the Jaguars picked him four picks earlier, and instead of selecting either Kelvin Joseph or Asante Samuel Jr., the Eagles took guard Landon Dickerson.
Joseph went to the Cowboys seven picks after the Eagles and Samuel three picks later to the Chargers.
In the third round, the Eagles had Central Florida’s Aaron Robinson within range, but that’s when they traded with the Panthers to drop from 70 to 73. Robinson went 71 to the Giants, and that was presumably the source of Tom Donahoe’s now-famous war-room frustration.
Minnesota’s Benjamin St-Juste and Stanford’s Paulson Adebo were available at 73, but the Eagles instead took a defensive tackle, Louisiana Tech’s Milton Williams.
“I think we were going with the board,” GM Howie Roseman said late Friday night. “We’ve got eight picks [Saturday]. We don't start the season until September. There are other ways to skin a cat. We just wanted to go into the draft, take the best players, and kind of go from there and see what happens [in the last four rounds].”
The Eagles no doubt will add a corner or two on Saturday. But your odds of finding a cornerback in the fourth round or later are not good.
As of now, the top of the depth chart has Darius Slay and — by default — Avonte Maddox, who has been banged up most of his career, did not play well at outside corner when he was healthy last year and isn’t signed beyond 2021.
After Slay and Maddox, you have guys like Jameson Houston, Michael Jacquet and Kevon Seymour.
The 17 corners the Eagles have drafted since 2004 are Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Blake Countess, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe, JaCorey Sheperd, Randall Evans, Jordan Power, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Trevard Lindley, Jack Ikegwuonu, Rashard Barksdale, Jeremy Bloom, Matt Ware and Dexter Wynn.
Mills was very good during the Super Bowl season, Boykin had one very good year in the slot. Poyer has played well for the Bills.
But the reality is the Eagles haven’t drafted a consistently above-average cornerback since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown in the first and second rounds in 2002.
There are some veterans available — Bashaud Breeland, Casey Hayward Jr., Steve Nelson, Brian Poole. But at this point there’s a reason they’re still on the street.
Maybe Roseman has something up his sleeve. Maybe the Eagles can trade for a corner. Maybe one of their practice squad guys will blossom into a starter. Maybe they’ll find a late-round diamond in the rough.
But in a division with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, John Ross, Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, being desperate for cornerback help is a scary place to be.
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