Are Eagles divided after not drafting a cornerback in second, third rounds?
The Eagles are through three rounds of the NFL draft, and they have yet to take a defensive back, a glaring position of need.
Instead, they drafted an interior offensive lineman in Alabama's Landon Dickerson in the second round, No. 37 overall, and a defensive tackle in Louisiana Tech's Milton Williams in the third round, No. 73 overall.
The Eagles picked Williams after trading back three spots with Carolina while also getting an extra sixth-round pick at No. 191. The Eagles will have four sixth-round picks Saturday among their eight picks in Rounds 4-7.
But the Eagles' brass didn't seem to be unanimous with the Williams pick especially. After making the pick, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was seen on video from the team headquarters going around the room giving out fist bumps.
When he got to senior football advisor Tom Donahoe and extended his fist, Donahoe gave him a half-hearted fist bump while looking away, clearly perturbed.
"I think when we were at pick No. 70, there were a couple of guys that we liked on the board," Roseman said. "We moved back a little bit to see how it would go. A couple of guys that we liked went as well.
"These guys spend all year scouting these guys, and you get favorites. You get guys that we feel really strongly about. We all do. And that’s the fun part about being in the draft room, is the emotions of it. At the end of the day, Milton Williams is an exciting player for our football team. We’re excited to have him."
In between the Carolina pick at No. 70 and the Eagles pick, the Giants traded up to grab Central Florida cornerback Aaron Robinson and the Lions took North Carolina State defensive tackle Alim McNeill.
A similar feeling of disagreement took place last year in the first round when the Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor at No. 21, while Justin Jefferson, who set an NFL rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards, went to the Vikings with the next pick.
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There were reports during the offseason that the scouting department wanted Jefferson but the coaching staff, and perhaps Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, wanted Reagor.
It's not known if the feeling was similar with the pick of Dickerson, who was taken No. 37 overall. But Dickerson is coming off knee surgery last December and admitted that he's not certain if he'll be ready for the start of the season.
Both Dickerson and Williams don't fill an immediate need, although Dickerson could eventually take over for either Jason Kelce at center or Brandon Brooks at right guard, while Williams can rotate in with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave and eventually take over for one of them.
But the Eagles still have a more pressing need at cornerback opposite of Darius Slay, and there were some available when both picks were made.
In the second round, the Eagles could have taken Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. or Kentucky's Kelvin Joseph. In the third round, it could have been Syracuse's Ifeatu Melifonwu or Minnesota's Benjamin St-Juste.
"We were going with the board," Roseman said. "We got eight picks (Saturday). We don't start the season until September. There are other ways to skin a cat. We just wanted to go into the draft, take the best players and kind of go from there."
After not drafting a player from Alabama since 2002, the Eagles have taken two with their first two picks in Dickerson and wide receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 10 overall in the first round on Thursday night.
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Dickerson has played all five positions on the offensive line, beginning as a tackle at Florida State before transferring to Alabama in 2019. With Alabama, Dickerson played four games at right guard and nine at center his first season, before playing all 11 games at center this past season.
"It’s a tremendous opportunity," Dickerson said about learning from Kelce and Brooks, both of whom have been selected to multiple Pro Bowls. "Both of them are extremely talented players, extremely experienced and I’m really looking forward to be able to talk to them to, number one, to see what the NFL is going to be like for me, but also learn more about offensive line play."
But Dickerson has a long injury history, even before this latest knee injury, which he suffered in the SEC Championship game in December. Dickerson returned only for the final snap of the national championship game, when Alabama was lined up in the "Victory" formation.
Dickerson tore his ACL late in his freshman season at Florida State in 2016. He played only four games the next season because of an ankle injury, and one game the year after that in 2018, again because of an ankle injury.
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Dickerson was healthy for his entire 2019 season at Alabama when he won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center, and played in the first 11 games this season before his latest knee injury.
Roseman said the Eagles were comfortable enough with Dickerson's medical evaluation to draft him. He added that Dickerson would have been taken in the first round without the injuries.
The Eagles had that sentiment about cornerback Sidney Jones, whom the Eagles drafted in the second round in 2017 after a torn Achilles suffered at his Pro Day pushed him out of the first round.
The move backfired as Jones couldn't stay healthy. He now plays for Jacksonville.
"You understand that there's risk, reward," Roseman said. "I think, again, that we rely on our medical staff to try to figure out the best way to handle these. If guys are fails (medically), then they're off the board and they're not discussed anymore after the medical meeting.
"We look at this guy as one of the top talents in this draft, a really talented guy and a culture setter for our organization."
And it's possible that the Eagles see Williams, who's 6-3, 284 pounds, the same way. He had 10 sacks in the last two seasons.
At the very least, head coach Nick Sirianni said it will only benefit Dickerson to learn behind Kelce and Brooks, just like it will benefit Williams to learn from Cox and Hargrave.
"There's no doubt that helps these guys," Sirianni said. "When they go into a place where there are veterans established ... to be able to learn from those guys, that's a big-time advantage.
"Not only do they get to learn from their tape, they get to sit in the meeting room with them, over and over and over again, and pick their brains ... That's a great resource for them."
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.