NFL Draft: Could the Eagles ignore history and take a RB in first round?

Josh Jacobs is considered the best runner in this year's class, but Birds haven't taken a back since 1986

You should know the history by now.

If not, this is it and it’s simple: The Eagles haven’t taken a running back in the first round of an NFL Draft since 1986 when they made Keith Byars the 10th overall selection.

That means if they were take one on Thursday night when they select 25th overall as the NFL Draft gets underway it would be historic.

I made the case when the season ended in New Orleans on Jan. 13 that the top of the offseason to-do-list for the Eagles was rebuilding the running back room.

The Eagles took a step in that direction by acquiring Jordan Howard in a trade with the Chicago Bears. Howard will help, especially in short yardage situations that always seemed to fizzle without anyone on the roster to capable of doing it.

Still, they must do more.

A three-down back would be nice, someone who can not only be a big-gain threat on the ground but also in the air. Head coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t know what to do with one of those, though, preferring to utilize a running back by committee approach.

And who am I to argue that’s not the right way, especially after seeing the Eagles win a Super Bowl with that exact approach? But they had the personnel to do it in 2017, with LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement melding perfectly together.

Right now, the personnel just doesn’t add up.

Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has constantly defended what he has on the roster, saying that players such as Clement and Wendell Smallwood have helped his team win lots of games. Like Pederson, he is also not wrong, but Clement is coming off an injury and we know what Smallwood is – a good insurance policy in case of injury, and effective in bursts, averaging 4.0 yards per carry in three seasons.

As for Josh Adams and Boston Scott – the other two players on the roster – who knows? Same question can be asked about Darren Sproles and whether or not he decides he wants to return or retire.

Given all of that, it is no wonder that Alabama runner Josh Jacobs (pictured above) has been the selection many mock drafts leading up to this weekend. Jacobs is considered the best running back in the class by far.

Unless the Eagles tweak their philosophy and decide that taking a running back in the first round, especially at the tail end of the first round is OK after all, Jacobs won’t be an Eagle.

They did, however, think enough of him to make him one of the 30 pre-draft visits each team is allowed.

Jacobs wasn’t the only one invited into the team’s inner sanctum. The Eagles also hosted Penn State’s Miles Sanders, Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill, and Michigan’s Karan Higdon. They also spent some time with Memphis’ Darrell Henderson and Iowa State’s David Montgomery.

Any one of them could be on the board in the second round, where the Eagles own picks 53 and 57, or, in Higdon’s case on the third day of the draft, which begins with the fourth round and concludes after seven rounds.

Coming next: My one and only mock draft

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