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Eagles’ Howie Roseman bolstered previously elusive WR and CB spots

May 21, 2022

How Roseman nailed positions that have eluded Eagles for years originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The NFL is undoubtedly a passing league these days. Because of that, the guys who catch the football and the guys who try to stop them have become increasingly important.

Those are areas where the Eagles have struggled.

While their longstanding franchise philosophy has been to build through the trenches, and they’ve done that quite successfully, the Eagles have had their weaknesses at the receiver and cornerback positions in recent history.

Not this year.

Because now they boast a receiving corps led by A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. And they boast a starting cornerback trio of Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Avonte Maddox.

When’s the last time the Eagles had receivers this good? Probably DeSean, Maclin and Avant.

When’s the last time they had cornerbacks this good? Probably Lito and Sheldon.

When’s the last time they had strengths and these two positions in the same season?

It’s been a long time. And that’s kind of the point.

Now, a big reason for their deficiencies at these positions has been the failure to draft at these spots. Because if Jalen Reagor or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside worked out, Howie Roseman doesn’t need to trade for Brown.

And if Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas became stars here, then Howie doesn’t need to trade for Slay or sign veterans like Steve Nelson last year or Bradberry this year.

That’s all fair and we shouldn’t lose sight of it. Because you should fault the Eagles for putting themselves in this hole to begin with.

But if you do that, then you certainly have to praise them when they climb out of it. And, boy, have they climbed out of it.

Think back to some of the names of receivers who have played a lot over the last several seasons. Since the Super Bowl, the Eagles have used aging Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and have tried with Mike Wallace, JJAW, Reagor, Greg Ward, Jordan Matthews, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower and others.

And now think about some of the names at cornerback. Maddox out of position, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Douglas, Jones and others. Some of them were decent players, but having the combination the Eagles have now is clearly a big improvement.

Just because the Eagles have struggled some to draft these positions, it doesn’t mean they should stop trying. There’s pretty good evidence in that because despite the misses on JJAW and Reagor, they still drafted Smith and Watkins, who were their top two receivers in 2021.

And if the Eagles wanted to draft a cornerback with one of their high-round picks this year, it certainly would have made sense.

But the thing that makes these positions so interesting is that the Eagles, after years of struggling to find receivers and corners, have formed these two groups in several different ways. Of those six players we mentioned earlier, the Eagles drafted Smith, Watkins and Maddox. They traded for Slay and Brown before giving them big contracts. And they signed Bradberry as a free agent. Is it easier to simply draft at every position and build a team that way? Sure. But it’s unrealistic. And at least Howie has creatively found ways to get it done.

One thing is for certain: Training camp is going to be a lot of fun. Nick Sirianni is all about competition and the competition between those six players is going to be electric.

Slay vs. Smith. Brown vs. Bradberry. Maddox vs. Watkins. Sign me up to watch all of it.

And give credit to Howie for making it happen.

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