Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 positions of need during offseason

Dec 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes an 80 yard touchdown reception in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes an 80 yard touchdown reception in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles need lots of help.

The 2016 season is over for the Philadelphia Eagles, who will be watching the playoffs from home. Despite their magnificent 3-0 start to the season, the Eagles’ lack of depth and talent caught up with them as the season progressed. Carson Wentz had no weapons to throw to, the running game was inconsistent at best and the secondary lacked in coverage. There are several important areas that the Eagles need to address during the offseason to make them a relevant football team again.

Oct 9, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) breaks up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (17) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions win 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver

In 2016, the Eagles’ two best receivers were Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor (very bad at football). Against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11, Agholor singlehandedly cost the Eagles 14 points after a pair of shockingly dreadful gaffes. Despite his horrible play, Agholor still led all Eagles receivers with 883 snaps on the season.

For the Eagles to get the best out of their new franchise quarterback, the team will have to find receivers capable of getting open and making plays. That currently does not exist in the Eagles’ receiving corps. Fortunately, the Eagles will have several opportunities to bring in more talented receivers through free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft. It seems very possible that DeSean Jackson could come back to Philadelphia this offseason. If that happens, the Eagles will already be miles ahead of where they were in 2016.

Oct 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll (22) on the field against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 21-10. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback

Philadelphia’s secondary wasn’t great in 2016. Despite outstanding play from safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll struggled to shut down opposing receivers, ultimately costing the Eagles valuable wins. Rookie Jalen Mills showed flashes of potential, however. Though ranked as the worst cornerback in the league by Pro Football Focus, Mills lined up across several of the game’s best receivers in Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown and, for the most part, was able to hold his own. Unfortunately, Mills’ questionable speed will likely prohibit from being a reliable outside cornerback.

Several big-name corners will be hitting the free agent market this offseason including Stephon Gilmore, Prince Amukamara and Morris Claiborne. The Eagles will almost certainly be in the running to land at least one of those corners in free agency.

Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) hands off to running back Wendell Smallwood (28) during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Running back

With Ryan Mathews having possibly played his last snap in Philadelphia and Darren Sproles set to retire following the 2017 season, it’s time the Eagles start to replenish their group of running backs.

Fifth round draft selection Wendell Smallwood quietly had a solid rookie season despite his minimal workload. However, he is far from a finished product and the Eagles may opt to use one of their early round draft picks on a workhorse running back such as Leonard Fournette or D’Onta Foreman. It’s also possible the Kansas City Chiefs could release running back Jamaal Charles this offseason, but at 30 years old and still recovering from a devastating ACL tear, Charles’ days as a No. 1 running back seem to be coming to a close.

Oct 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) in a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 21-10. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line

Philadelphia’s offensive line struggled at times in 2016. Jason Peters led the NFL in false start penalties and center Jason Kelce looked like a shell of his former Pro Bowl self. Lane Johnson‘s 10-game suspension didn’t do the Eagles any favors either.

Luckily, the Eagles have a solid foundation for the future of it’s offensive line. Rookie Isaac Seumalo showed phenomenal versatility in his first NFL season, taking snaps at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle. Fellow first-year pro Halapoulivaati Vaitai also showed flashes of potential despite a horrific debut against the Washington Redskins in Week 6.

Even though the offensive line isn’t necessarily a dire need, it is certainly an area the Eagles should continue to stock with young talent during the offseason.

Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 32-14. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker

The Eagles have a couple of top-tier linebackers in Jordan Hicks and the underrated Nigel Bradham, but depth is a major area of concern. Mychal Kendricks only played 26.8 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in 2016 and continues to look like the weak link in Philadelphia’s linebacker corps. Backups Stephen Tulloch and Najee Goode are both set to hit the free agent market in March and Kamu Grugier-Hill is nothing more than a special teams contributor. The Eagles will definitely look to add a linebacker or two during the offseason.

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