The Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2023 NFL Draft with two first-round selections.
They acquired additional draft capital in a deal with the New Orleans Saints before the 2022 NFL Draft. Their stockpile of future selections is not just formidable, it is downright genius. The Saints have been atrocious, with their performance netting the Eagles the fifth overall selection if the season ended today.
So, the rich get richer. In a season that has flaunted Philadelphia’s depth and supremely talented roster, they can bolster it significantly once again. This seems almost unfair, as the Eagles are on pace to have a top-five selection as well as another late first-rounder.
We look at a player who could become a casualty of the Eagles’ dearth of picks, as well as their luxurious ability to take the best player available.
The Ground Game Gets Enhanced
Miles Sanders is having a career season.
The fourth-year pro is on fire thus far. He has already racked up 924 rushing yards through 12 contests, as well as nine touchdowns. His 35 broken tackles have almost doubled his total of 18 in 2021, in as many games. Furthermore, he has already had 26 explosive runs of ten yards or more.
This breakout is following a disappointing and difficult 2021 campaign. Hampered by injuries and afflicted with inconsistent volume, the former second-round selection struggled to generate momentum. He failed to reach the end zone once, even though he averaged a blistering 5.5 yards per ground attack. It was his lowest average of yards after contact for his career, achieving a mark of just 2.92 per carry. He was part of a complimentary stable of backs that Nick Siriani deployed to run the ball at nauseam in the back half of the season.
This season, Sanders has been somewhat of a workhorse. Jordan Howard was not retained going into the 2022 NFL Season, while Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell have suffered under reduced roles. Sanders has enjoyed 187 rushing attempts and 20 receiving targets. In comparison, Scott and Gainwell have combined for just 78 rushing attempts for 307 yards, as well as just 23 targets.
It seems that Sanders is the workhorse that Nick Siriani and first-year play caller Shane Steichen have been looking for.
The Lightning Bolt – The Eagles Go Get Generational
So, why are we mentioning all this?
Because the Eagles might just move on from Miles Sanders in the offseason.
Don’t get me wrong, he has talent. Sanders has the explosiveness to explode through the most fleeting of holes, as well as to display fantastic contact balance and elusiveness consistently. He is patient and possesses above-average vision from the backfield.
But the Eagles have the luxury of going after a generational talent in this year’s draft. While the rest of the NFL devalue the running back position, Philadelphia’s roster allows them the flexibility to trade their second selection up to the late teens to select Bijan Robinson.
The Texas Longhorn is more than just explosive. He has achieved an absurd overall grade of 95.2 this season from PFF. In his twelve appearances, he has rushed for 1,575 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. The 6’0″, 220-pound back has reached the end zone 18 times on the ground.
Robinson is also a weapon in the receiving game. He had just 29 targets this season, which he was able to turn into 19 catches for 314 yards. He has broken 56 tackles which leads the nation. He is a truly generational talent that could make the Eagles’ running game unstoppable. With him and Jalen Hurts running the option, it is truly tough to see anyone being able to stop Philadelphia.
What a pleasant thought for Eagles fans, and a quivering thought for every defensive coordinator facing them.
Could They Draft Robinson … And Keep Sanders?
Literally, of course.
Sanders and Robinson could complement each other. The Texas prospect is the more complete player and could be moved around the formation more than the incumbent Eagles starter. While they could technically feature on the same team, it may become too crowded with the receiving contributions of Kenneth Gainwell and the scampering power of the compact Boston Scott.
That being said, the Eagles could employ a dual-back RB room that could keep both players fresh throughout the season. Furthermore, their ground attack with that tandem would have the potential to have two 1,000-yard contributors. That has happened just six times in NFL history.
Even if the Eagles miss out on Robinson, they could take a running back later in the draft. Michigan workhorse Blake Corum is compact and powerful and would provide a change of pace from Miles Sanders in some ways. The 5’8″, 210-pound back has stormed his way to 1,461 yards on just 248 carries this season, and contributed 18 touchdowns also. He could split the backfield with Sanders, as the Eagles decide on his long-term future.
What do you think the Eagles should do? Should Miles Sanders be their feature back once again in the 2023 NFL Season?
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