Five prospects Eagles should target in first round of NFL Draft

The Philadelphia Eagles lost a bunch of key players to free agency this offseason, and most of the ones they kept tended to be a bit old. They still have a championship-caliber roster, but it’s a little depleted and undeniably aging in several key spots.

They desperately need an influx of youth, which puts even more importance on the NFL Draft.

Good thing for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman that he’s got two first-round picks to play with in a few weeks when the draft kicks off. He’s got the 30th selection that the Eagles earned as the NFC champions, and the 10th pick courtesy of a big swap of draft picks with the New Orleans Saints last year.

That gives Roseman a chance to add at least one elite player and likely two players who could have an immediate impact next season.

[Eagles’ best-worst draft picks from past 10 years: DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders and more]

Here are five prospects they should, and likely will, consider with those two first-round picks:

Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski: He is, by most accounts, the best offensive lineman in the draft and Roseman has made no secret of his desire to continue to build the Eagles through the trenches. They did have the NFL’s best offensive line last season, but they lost left guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency. The 6-4, 313-pound Skoronski was a left tackle for the Wildcats, but many scouts and draft experts project him as a guard. He could compete this season for the starting job with Cam Jurgens, the Eagles’ second-round pick from 2022. His presence would also allow Jurgens to slide over to center whenever Jason Kelce decides to retire. It’s a pick that could solidify the Eagles’ top-tier offensive line for years to come.

Georgia Edge Nolan Smith: Sure, the Eagles had the best pass rush in the NFL last season, but defensive end Brandon Graham is 35 years old and a part-time player. It makes a lot of sense to draft his replacement now and work him quickly into the rotation. Smith is a freakish athlete who ran a 4.39 in the 40 at the combine and was a disruptive player in college. The only real issue is that he’s just 6-2 and 238 pounds. That’s light if they want to play him at defensive end, but it’s not unusual for an outside linebacker. Hasaan Reddick is listed at 6-1, 240 and he’s had 39.5 sacks the last three seasons, including 16 off the edge for the Eagles last year. Maybe Smith will have to bulk up a little, but he’s got the speed and skills to at least be a situational pass-rusher for now. It feels a little high to pick him at 10, but he’ll likely be the best pass-rushing option available when they’re on the clock.

Texas RB Bijan Robinson: This is clearly the most interesting player in the field, especially for the Eagles who need a replacement for Miles Sanders. Taking a running back at 10 goes against what Roseman believes about positional value, even though the 5-11, 215-pounder is easily one of the top-10 players in the draft. Would the Eagles do it at 10? Probably not, though it likely will be tempting. It’s also not inconceivable that he slips all the way to 30, given how most teams and GMs don’t seem to think running backs are worthy of high first-round picks anymore. If he does get to 30 — he’d have to get past Dallas and Buffalo at 26 and 27 — it probably would still pain Roseman to take him. But how can he pass on him then? Robinson ran for 2,700 yards and 29 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Near the bottom of the first round, his value would be too high to say no.

Clemson DT Bryan Bresee: One player the Eagles almost have to replace in the draft is defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who was a dominant interior pass-rusher for them before leaving in free agency. Yes, they drafted Jordan Davis in the first round last year and he’ll start. Maybe he’ll even provide more of a pass rush than he did last season. But their other DT is Fletcher Cox and he’s 32. The 6-5, 298-pound Bresee isn’t a dominant pass-rusher, but he’s got the skills to contribute and the strength to be a decent run-stopper too. He wouldn’t fill the Hargrave hole by himself, but he’d be a valuable piece of the rotation along the defensive line.

No. 1 RB in the draft?

Joel Klatt discusses Texas star Bijan Robinson ahead of the NFL Draft.

Pitt DT Calijah Kancey: If the Eagles want a really good interior pass-rusher, Kancey is the better bet if he’s still on the board. He had 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons for the Panthers and was extremely disruptive on passing downs. His problem, though, is he doesn’t have the size of a typical NFL defensive tackle. He’s just 6-1, 281 and even in college he tended to get pushed around a little when defending the run. That could make him more of a situational part of a rotation than an every-down player. But those pass-rush skills are something the Eagles definitely could use.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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