Eagles plan for perfect first round of 2022 NFL Draft: Land another playmaking wide receiver for Jalen Hurts

The Philadelphia Eagles had three first-round picks in the NFL Draft at their disposal before trading one of them and stockpiling more assets for this year and next (they now have two first-round picks in 2023). Philadelphia still has two first-round picks in the 2022 draft to use (No. 15 and No. 18) and five of the first 101 picks, providing an opportunity to field a younger roster with more immediate impact players – building off last year’s surprising playoff team.

Philadelphia is committed to Jalen Hurts for 2022, but needs to add more talent around him on both sides of the ball. There’s another opportunity to add an impact pass catcher in this draft after landing one in DeVonta Smith last season. If the Eagles draft another wide receiver in the first round, they’ll be the first franchise to draft a wide receiver in the first round for three consecutive seasons since the Detroit Lions from 2002 to 2004.

Truth of the matter is, the Eagles could use another wide receiver early in this draft after striking out on a veteran in a free agency. Philadelphia added to its pass rush in signing Haason Reddick and found a good starting linebacker in Kyzir White, but didn’t add much to its roster outside of them – leaving a lot of needs on offense and defense as the draft approaches.

The Eagles won’t fill all those needs in this draft, but there’s a chance for Philadelphia to build upon its playoff roster and take the next step toward building a contender in 2022. Philadelphia appears primed to return to the playoffs, yet has to win a playoff game this year – or have a better record – to show real progress.

There are many different ways general manager Howie Roseman can go in this draft, especially in a first round with impact players in the teens. Here’s the blueprint Roseman needs to read in order to have the perfect first round of the NFL Draft in 2022.

Get Jameson Williams with that first draft pick

This wide receiver class doesn’t have a “big three” like Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith (the Eagles landed Smith in last year’s draft), but there are some very good playmakers for Philadelphia to select that will be available in the teens.

Garrett Wilson is projected to be the top wideout, but he should be off the board by No. 15. Chris Olave and Drake London should be available for the taking for Philadelphia, but the wildcard in this draft is Jameson Williams. A smooth route-runner with the ability to go vertical, Williams is the big-play wideout the Eagles need in the passing game – a perfect compliment to DeVonta Smith. Having Williams at the other wide receiver spot allows Quez Watkins to become a threat in the slot with his breakaway speed as the No. 3 wide receiver.

The issue for the Eagles is the question of how far along Williams is in recovering from the ACL injury suffered during the National Championship Game in January. If Williams is ahead of schedule, he can be off the board before No. 15 – and the Eagles could miss out on a game changer at wide receiver.

Philadelphia needs playmaking wide receivers if it really wants to give Jalen Hurts a fair shot at quarterback. Williams is the player that can make Hurts and the Eagles offense grow. There are other options, but Williams had his game-breaking speed is the ideal candidate here.

What if no Williams?

The Eagles have other needs in this draft, the biggest of which are in the secondary. They don’t have a starting outside cornerback opposite Darius Slay and a starting safety opposite Anthony Harris after the Eagles decided to revamp their secondary in free agency. Rodney McLeod departed to the Indianapolis Colts and Steven Nelson left for the Houston Texans, leaving starting voids at both positions.

Philadelphia can land a starting cornerback in this draft with one of their two first-round picks, as Andrew Booth and Trent McDuffie should be available for both of their first-round selections. Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner are other players for Philadelphia to monitor, even if the Eagles would have to trade up a few spots to land one of them. The Eagles do have draft collateral to move up with their second third-round pick (No. 101), their fourth-round pick (No. 124), or one of their three fifth-round selections (No. 154, No. 162 No. 166).

If the Eagles do trade up and don’t select Jameson Williams, adding an impact cornerback – or Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, if he falls – is the way to go. Philadelphia has to upgrade its secondary for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon if he wants to build an elite defense.

Having a good starting cornerback to pair with Slay on the outside and Avonte Maddox in the slot would be excellent for the Eagles in 2022 and beyond.

It’s time to end the drought

The Eagles haven’t selected a linebacker in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979. While it’s not in Roseman’s philosophy to draft one in the early rounds – nor prioritize them – Gannon’s defensive philosophy makes an off-ball linebacker paramount.

Philadelphia has already made a commitment toward improving the position with the signing of White, but could use a playmaker in the middle of the field to compliment him. This is where Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean come in, two linebackers that are expected to be there when the Eagles make both of their first round selections.

Lloyd is the prototypical fit for the Eagles at linebacker, a former safety in college before transitioning to a position he excelled in at Utah. A player of the Eagles can use in pass-rush situations, Lloyd has a knack for finding the football and getting to the quarterback (his 31 pressures were sixth amongst linebackers last year). Also an excellent tackler in the box, Lloyd plays downhill and locates the runner well.

The Eagles could use a linebacker, an extra pass rusher, a tackler, and another asset in coverage. Lloyd fills all those roles – and it will cost just one draft pick to get him. Dean is one of the smartest players in the draft and plays like a missile, yet it’s hard to translate his game to the league since he’s undersized. Philadelphia still can’t go wrong with the pick since his pass-rushing skills are elite for a linebacker – but Lloyd is the ideal selection here.

Whether it’s Lloyd or Dean, it’s time for the Eagles to end the linebacker drought.

The verdict

For the second consecutive year, it’s going to be very hard for Roseman to mess up this draft in the first round. Roseman made a good selection with DeVonta Smith at No. 10 after trading up to get him last year, but still needs another wide receiver to help Jalen Hurts after another unproductive year from Jalen Reagor.

Getting a wide receiver would be a wise move, but adding a cornerback or linebacker in this first round would also be smart. The Eagles could also use one of these first-round picks on an edge rusher, especially in a deep class with George Karlaftis and Jermaine Johnson in play. If Kyle Hamilton falls to the teens, that’s another potential move for Philadelphia should the Eagles wish to trade up.

There are about 12-18 players that make plenty of sense for the Eagles at No. 15 and No. 18, based on the need at certain positions and the depth of talent in the middle of the first round. Roseman should be able to hit another home run with his first-round picks.

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