It’s only the middle of March but there’s already panic coming from a handful of fans. The team has yet to upgrade the RB position, and they’re extremely worried. But while not everyone has hit that panic button just yet, something we all are wondering is exactly what Howie Roseman’s plan is to address the team’s obvious need at RB and whether it’s the right plan or not.
First thing’s first; it’s apparent that the team’s philosophy is centered around having a committee of guys as opposed to having a feature/workhorse back, and that’s completely fine. Some people prefer having a feature back (I used to be one of them), but there are plenty of reasons why having a committee works so well. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017-18 with a committee, so it’s a proven method.
However, that doesn’t mean that Howie and Doug Pederson don’t believe in having a lead back. Jay Ajayi has served as the team’s lead back during his time with the team getting 10-15 touches a game, while the rest of the touches have been split amongst the rest of the guys behind him. So, having a player who can serve as the team’s lead back in the committee is still most likely part of their plan.
Most are of the mindset that Howie Roseman prefers to spend lower resources when acquiring RB talent, and that’s been true to this point. Since being promoted to General Manager in 2010 until now as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations, this is a list of the RBs the Eagles have drafted:
2010: Charles Scott, Round 6
2011: Dion Lewis, Round 5
2012: Bryce Brown, Round 7
2016: Wendell Smallwood, Round 5
2017: Donnell Pumphrey, Round 4
In all those years, Roseman hasn’t drafted a RB before Day 3.
Also, Ajayi was acquired via trade for a 4th round draft pick while Blount was a low-cost free agent signing after the draft.
How about the other guys on the 2018 roster?
Darren Sproles: via trade for a 5th round pick
Corey Clement: Undrafted Free Agent
Josh Adams: Undrafted Free Agent
Pederson on if the running back room is strong enough to just add another rookie, or if it needs a veteran presence amid all the youth:
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) February 27, 2019
It is well-known that you can undoubtedly find good RB talent in almost any round of the draft. The chances of hitting on a late round RB are generally higher than the chances of hitting on any other position in the later rounds. However, at the same time, the chances of hitting on a RB prospect in the early rounds of the draft (rounds 1-3) are higher than the chances of hitting on any other position in the early rounds too. It works both ways.
And that is part of the dilemma/argument here. With the lack of success that Howie has had finding a RB on Day 3, is it time that he finally picks one on Day 1 or 2? If you ask me, absolutely!
Of course, it does depend on who is available when they pick. Designating certain positions for certain picks is how you reach for guys and get stuck with bad drafts. But if a talented RB that they like is there in round 1 or 2, I believe Howie should/will take him.
Being able to find a hidden gem late in the draft is wonderful, but it is still tough to pull off, and Howie hasn’t shown the ability to do so. And right now, he can no longer afford to keep missing on guys.
This might come off as an obvious statement, but apparently for some people it’s not: the success rate of drafting a RB early as opposed to drafting one late is much higher. If you want to take a relatively safe pick and have a good chance on hitting on your selection, then take a RB early.
Now, this RB draft class isn’t that strong. It’s littered with guys who have round 3 or 4 grades, with only a couple of prospects arguably having round 1 (Josh Jacobs) or round 2 (Miles Sanders and Darrell Henderson) grades. So, if there’s no one is available that is high enough on their board, then they shouldn’t reach for one. It’s likely that there will be some good talent that is still available in the 4th round when the Eagles pick. But at the same time, there is still risk in waiting.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) March 8, 2019
Also, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that Howie is absolutely opposed to selecting a RB in the 1st or 2nd round. Remember in 2017 when they were ready to take Dalvin Cook with their 2nd round pick before the Minnesota Vikings jumped up to grab him? That makes me believe that if the right guy is there, they have no reservations about taking him, regardless of round.
There’s no one left in free agency that is really appealing. I wouldn’t mind re-signing Ajayi to a cheap 1-year contract, but as of right now he remains a free agent and the Indianapolis Colts have shown interest. Could we bring back Sproles? That is still uncertain. There is no one on the roster that can be slated as the lead back right now, and arguably there is no one that can be slated as the main backup. I’m still skeptical of Clement; to me he’s still good as the 3rd guy, nothing more. Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams, at best, are similar talents.
Now, do the Eagles need an elite talent? No, they don’t. Would having one help? It absolutely would, and it’s silly to say it wouldn’t. Elite talents always help. But at the very least they need to have good talent at the position, whether it be a feature/workhorse back or a committee of guys. And frankly, it doesn’t matter in the how Howie acquires better talent, it just matters that he does acquire it somehow or someway.
No one knows what Howie Roseman’s plan is. All we know is that he has a plan. He always does. “There are multiple ways to skin a cat” were his words at his NFL Combine press conference, meaning there are multiple ways to upgrade that position. And he’s right.
I just know that for fans like me who loved watching Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy be elite weapons in the backfield for the Eagles for so many years, it’s very difficult to see the state of the position right now. And not knowing what Roseman’s plan is has us at the edge of our seat. All we can do is keep waiting. Personally, I’m just hoping we don’t have to wait very long in the draft to find out. 2nd round at the latest sounds nice.