A look at the Eagles' Draft
ITE welcomes Scott Thomson to the staff.
It is that time again. The NFL draft is coming and it is time to decide how the Eagles are going to use their first round draft pick. The Eagles have a lot of needs, but only one first round pick. So, who do they take?
It is easy to say just take the best player at the position of greatest need. But, that is not always the answer. Remember Siran Stacy?
It is just as easy to say take the best player available. But, would anyone be happy if we took yet another offensive lineman?
The answer lies somewhere in between. Drafting is a delicate balance of weighing needs versus available talent. It is further complicated by the fact that 25 teams will be drafting ahead of the Eagles this year. Any one of them could disrupt the Eagles plans with a surprise selection. It is not enough to have just a “plan B”. The Eagles must have plans C, D, E, etc., as well.
So, here's a look at some of the Eagles' needs and how and why they might be satisfied via the draft.
LB - Dhani Jones' play was less than spectacular last season. It does not appear that the Eagles have anyone ready to fill in at the strong side linebacker position. Yes, defensive end, Chris Gocong, was drafted to play there. However, he spent the entire season on injured reserve and needs to make the transition from the line to linebacker. Can he step in and play linebacker or will he need a year or two to develop? Most importantly, can we count on anything from him this year? If not, the Eagles will need to sign yet another free agent linebacker or they will need to draft one.
Why it will happen: The Eagles cannot go on forever signing mid-level free agents at this position. Andy Reid has shown a greater willingness to adjust his style when he believes it will benefit the team. (Remember, he did turn over control of the offensive play calling this year.) Sooner or later the Eagles will need to spend a first round pick on a premier linebacker prospect. This is that year.
Why it won't happen: The Eagles just do not value the linebacker position at the same level they do the line and secondary. Average linebackers sandwiched between a great line and a great secondary is the Eagles' apparent philosophy. Face it, Andy Reid has drafted a total of only six linebackers in the last eight drafts. Three of them (Barry Gardner, Quinton Caver and Matt McCoy) were taken in the second round. The other three (Tyreo Harrison, David Bergeron and Omar Gaither) were second day picks. In the meantime the Eagles have filled the roster with a stream of free agents. Carlos Emmons, Shawn Barber, Justin Ena, Nate Wayne, Keith Adams and Dhani Jones have all suited up at linebacker. The Eagles have not taken a linebacker in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979. Look for another mid-level free agent here.
Some potential picks at LB: Patrick Willis, Paul Posluszny, Lawrence Timmons.
S - Michael Lewis' demise this year has left a void at strong safety. Sean Considine filled in, but did nothing to establish himself as the answer to that position. Arguably, Quintin Mikell was the second best safety last year. He is not only a free safety, but a free agent as well. The safety position appears to be one of the strengths in this draft.
Why it will happen: One of the top three safeties in the draft will be the “best player available” when the Eagles select at 26. It will be an easy decision.
Why it won't happen: Many teams are in need of the safety position. There will be a run on safeties and the Eagles will be left out in the cold. They will have to pick a safety later in the draft.
Some potential picks at S: LaRon Landry, Michael Griffin, Reggie Nelson.
DE - Jerome McDougle is a bust. Isn't about time the Eagles severed ties? Jevon Kearse is coming off an injury. Can he return to his old form? Juqua Thomas is a free agent. He could command some serious money in the free agent market. Can the eagles afford to keep him? Can they afford not to keep him? Darren Howard's play suffered in the second half of the year. To boot, Howard is due a pretty sizeable salary if the Eagles retain his services. However, if released, Howard only counts as $800,000 against the cap. Is that money better spent elsewhere? These are very interesting questions and may lead the Eagles to believe that using their first round pick on a defensive end is appropriate.
Why it will happen: The Eagles have spent four of their last eight first round picks on the defensive line. Plus, either Howard or Thomas will be gone. With that said, the Eagles need to ensure that they go into the season with more than just Trent Cole and a recovering Kearse at DE. This is also a good draft for defensive ends.
Why it won't happen: If Thomas can be signed for less than expected and the Eagles believe that Howards' substandard, second-half play was due to extended playing time after Kearse's injury then they will pass on the DL.
Some potential picks at DE: Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson, Quentin Moses, Adam Carriker, Jarvis Moss, Charles Johnson.
CB - With the NFL's pass-happy rules you can never have enough defensive backs. Roderick Hood is a free agent. Like Juqua Thomas, Hood is expected to get a big raise. He should also get an opportunity to start, as well. He is likely to be gone. That leaves the Eagles with Joselio Hanson and Will James. Are they enough?
Why it will happen: Santana Moss, Terry Glenn, Lee Evans, Roy Williams, Mike Furrey, Chris Chambers, Deion Branch, Darrell Jackson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Marquis Colston, Joe Horn, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery and (maybe) Terrell Owens.
Why it won't happen: The Eagles will resign Hood and he will accept his role as a nickel back on a good team as opposed to a starter on a lesser one. Hanson and James will round out the secondary. Plus, the cornerback crop is not as deep this year at the top.
Some potential picks at CB: Leon Hall, Darrelle Revis, Marcus McCauley, Daymeion Hughes.
TE - Huh? The Eagles already have a tight end. LJ Smith has been good at tight end, but not great. His contract expires at the end of the year, too. Smith, for his size, does run over many tacklers. He drops some passes. And, if he started carrying the ball like a loaf of bread it would be an improvement. It is not that he's the worst tight end, just not even the second best in the NFC East. If the Eagles find themselves without any of their top players remaining on the board when they pick at 26 or if they trade down they're going to need to improve at some position. They could take a TE and trade Smith on draft day for a later pick.
Why it will happen: The Eagles' reluctance to give Smith a long term deal leads one to believe that he is not in as much favor with the organization as the fans would believe. They feel he can be replaced with someone more consistent.
Why it won't happen: The Eagles will resign Smith in their own slow and deliberate way. They will not go into next season with just a rookie tight end and Matt Schoebel.
Some potential picks at TE: Zach Miller.
WR - The Eagles still need to resign Donte Stallworth. If they do, they will forfeit a third round pick to the Saints. If they do not, they will need a number one receiver.
Why it will happen: Stallworth appears to be injury prone. The Eagles cannot afford to give up a third round pick to have Stallworth sit in the tub. Plus, there are a number of good receivers coming out this year who could replace him.
Why it won't happen: The Eagles will resign Stallworth. He has made every indication that he wants to play here, too. Also, Reid's West Coast offense is too complicated to be entrusted to a rookie number one receiver.
Some potential picks at WR: Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Jarrett, Ted Ginn Jr., Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem.
So, you are now on the clock. Make your pick.
© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla
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Eagles or the NFL.