Philadelphia Eagles: Enough Dreams, Time to Build Through the Draft
I think its pretty clear to say that the "Dream Team" was a major disappointment and a bust. I feel that lesson that the Eagles should take from this debacle is that winning teams are built through the draft.
History has generally shown this to be true. Just take a look a few of the recent Super Bowl champions. The Steelers, Patriots, and Packers success throughout this decade has been built on a foundation of successful draft picks.
The key components of these teams were players that the franchises had drafted and developed and a few role players that have been acquired via free agency. There are exceptions to the rule however, like the Saints, but the draft is a blueprint for success.
This year the Eagles have ten picks going into the draft. A good amount. Even better is that six of the picks are in the first four rounds. These picks will allow the Eagles to move around and get players that can take them to the next level and finally bring a Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia.
One key piece to a successful franchise is the quarterback. Don't get me wrong, Michael Vick is an explosive player and a human highlight reel.
But I don't believe that a quarterback with his skill set can lead his team in a Super Bowl victory. Plus his playing style makes him a major injury risk and can't be relied on for an entire season.
Therefore, the Eagles need to start looking in a new direction when it comes to the franchise's quarterback of the future.
The money that is owed to Vick is lucrative considering that he hasn't accomplished much in the post-season. In order for the Eagles to succeed, they need to have the cap space to make acquisitions through the draft.
This means that Vick and his contract are going to need to be sent packing. There are several teams that could use a quarterback and might be willing to compensate the Eagles well-enough for them to pull the trigger.
The compensation could be a couple of draft picks or maybe a quality starting linebacker that would fill a huge hole in the Eagles' porous defense.
With Vick out of the way, there isn't a can't-miss quarterback prospect outside of Andrew Luck. There are several others in the draft though that could project into becoming admirable quarterbacks in the league and the Eagles could take a shot on one in the middle rounds of the draft (specifically Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M or Nick Foles of Arizona).
The Eagles may need to go after a younger free agent quarterback in order to take the reigns. A guy that I think would be an excellent pick up would be Alex Smith of the 49ers. He has come a long way to erase his draft bust status under John Harbaugh and his West Coast offense.
While he has done a great job in being an efficient quarterback, he wont put up Aaron Rodgers-like statistics. But he won't need to with an elite running back like LeSean McCoy on the Eagles roster. Smith's time with San Francisco is pretty much over with their quarterback of the future Collin Kaepernick waiting for his chance.
With all of these stockpiled draft picks, the Eagles can tackle the task of drafting a linebacking core and bolstering the offensive line. There are many solid linebacker prospects in this years draft but there are two in particular that I feel the Eagles would make a huge impact in Philadelphia.
The first is Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly is not the most athletic prospect but his has amazing instincts and has a terrific nose for the football.
The second is North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown. Brown is a terrific athlete that is possibly the most explosive linebacker in the draft. He will make an excellent Wil linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.
While the Eagles offensive line played better than expected this season, there is still room for improvement. With Vick gone, Todd Herremans can move back to his natural guard position.
With Evan Mathis a free agent, that will open a spot for last years first-round pick Danny Watkins. Center Jason Kelce played well but the Eagles could possibly upgrade if they could get Alabama center William Vlachos or Michigan's David Molk.
The real position of interest is right tackle. Winston Justice has disappointed and there is a need for a young lineman to be a keystone along side J.D. Walton on the right side of the line. I think the main guy in the draft for consideration here would be Iowa's Riley Reiff.
Reiff is another exceptional offensive tackle in the great lineage of Iowa linemen. I feel that the line would be in terrific shape for years to come with Peters, Herremans, Watkins and Reiff and whoever mans the center position.
The Eagles need to use this draft to load up the offensive line and defensive front seven. These areas are crucial to the Eagles long term success.
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