Walk The Line: Birds Pass On CB, Draft Two Linemen
After failing to address the team's most glaring need in the first round of the draft, Howie Roseman cautioned Thursday that the Eagles wouldn't be reaching for a cornerback or to fill any other positions of immediate need. "We're going to take the best guys," he insisted. The Eagles' executive vice president of football operations backed that promise Friday in Round 2 of the NFL Draft, selecting offensive lineman Landon Dickerson from Alabama in the second, followed by Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Milton Williams in the third.
Dickerson, a versatile interior lineman who can play center and guard who was picked 37th overall, fell into the second round because of multiple surgeries in college. He can be a replacement for All-Pro center Jason Kelce, who is likely to play just one more year with the Eagles, if he can stay healthy at the pro level. Williams, like most Eagles interior defensive linemen, is known for his upfield burst and explosion and should add to a rotation behind starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargave. The Eagles picked him at 74th overall after trading back three spots from Carolina, adding a sixth-rounder to their haul.
Prior to the draft, an AFC personnel source told Geoff Mosher that Dickerson was "a top 25 talent" likely to drop into the second round because of four major surgeries during his Crimson Tide career, two of which ended his season early, including an ACL tear about four months ago. As for Williams, the same personnel source said this of the third-round defensive tackle: "Fan of his. Very, very explosive. Shows up right away on tape." Williams has short arms but has the athleticism and burst to rotate between tackle and end, the source said. Williams' athleticism should benefit his integration into new defensive coordinator Jon Gannon's defensive scheme. A league source told Inside The Birds recently that Gannon's scheme will include more stunting, looping, and line games from the defensive linemen. One year after drawing intense criticism for going off script to target certain draft prospects, the Eagles appeared to reverse course, going back to their roots of addressing positions they historically value or taking the highest-rated prospect on their board. Roseman said Thursday that wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who the Eagles picked 10th overall pick after moving up two spots, was the team's highest-rated player when he made the selection. The selections of Dickerson and Williams came when many expected the Eagles to address their more glaring cornerback and linebacker needs. The Eagles, who started the draft with 11 total picks, still have eight picks on Day 3. More coming ...
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the "Inside the Birds" podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.