Thoughts On The Eagles Draft Part 1: Biggest NeedsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles Draft, News Monday, April 22nd, 2013
1. Offensive Line
Even with Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans returning from injury, the Eagles still have problems on the offensive line, and could use some fresh blood to upgrade the talent and give themselves more flexibility for this year and beyond.
The left side of the offensive line should be fine with Peters, Evan Mathis, and Kelce at center. Peters and Kelce are expected back healthy, and although I don’t think Evan Mathis is anything more than a serviceable starter, he’s also far from a liability.
The right side of the line is where the team has serious concerns. Even before Herremans went down for the year on injured reserve, he wasn’t playing very well. He’s been in the league for nearly a decade now, and he’s dealt with foot problems throughout his career. He may be at the point where the amount of miles on his body has caught up with him, and I don’t know how many quality years he has left in him. I don’t think it would be wise for the Eagles to count on him to be their answer at right tackle, at least not without a very viable Plan B somewhere on the roster.
They also have no answer at the right guard position. Maybe Danny Watkins can find himself under the new coaching staff, but he can’t be counted on. If the Eagles draft a tackle early, maybe Herremans slides back to the inside and becomes the answer here. But the bottom line that as of this writing, the Eagles have no acceptable option on the roster.
With Dennis Kelly and Dallas Reynolds as the team’s top backups right now, even if the Eagles don’t use their top pick on an offensive lineman, they’ll almost certainly have to use multiple picks in this draft on the line just to rebuild their depth.
The long term answer at the quarterback position isn’t currently on the roster.
Michael Vick is a stopgap, Nick Foles doesn’t fit Chip Kelly’s system (and has questionable upside to begin with), and Dennis Dixon has a roster spot purely because of his history with Kelly at Oregon.
Naturally, the Eagles hold a top-five draft pick in a year without elite quarterback prospects. Geno Smith is the only considerable option in the first round, and if the Eagles aren’t in love with him they could try to fill their need in the second or third round. In the last few years, teams have been able to draft exceptional quarterbacks outside of the first round, with the most notable cases being that of Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco and Russell Wilson of Seattle.
2. Defensive Line
An area of need that hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it should is the defensive line.
When you look at the Eagles front seven, you can safely assume that DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin, and Trent Cole/Brandon Graham are going to be the team’s starting linebackers. But when you look at the defensive line, there’s a great deal of uncertainty right now.
The Eagles have brought in a handful of new linebackers and new defensive backs, but the only addition to the defensive line is Issac Sopoaga, who brings a good locker room presence, but isn’t a game-changer. Right now, the Eagles don’t have nearly enough 3-4 defensive lineman to successfully run that scheme.
I agree with the idea that Fletcher Cox can succeed as an end in the new scheme, but I’m not sold on Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, or any of the other potential starting 3-4 ends.
Yes, the Eagles addressed these positions in free agency by signing Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Kenny Phillips, and Patrick Chung, but other than Williams I don’t know that you can view any of these players as an answer at their respective positions.
There’s a reason Kenny Phillips couldn’t command better than a one-year deal from the Eagles in free agency. He can be an impact player when he’s on the field, but he’s only played a full 16 games once in his career. He’s constantly battling knee issues, and he could very easily give the Eagles just as much as they got from O.J. Atogwe last year. (Nothing)
Chung has been an up-and-down player during his career with New England. He may be better than Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement.
Fletcher was once considered and up-and-coming prospect, but he fell out of favor with a highly-respected defensive coach in Jeff Fisher. With no depth to speak of behind Fletcher, the Eagles would be taking a huge risk to go into the season gambling that the former Ram will develop into a respectable starter over the summer.
The Eagles need to add more fresh blood across the board here.
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