In his 13 previous drafts as Eagles head coach, Andy Reid has never selected a linebacker in the first round. As a matter of fact, as a franchise, the Eagles haven't drafted a linebacker in the opening stanza since Jerry Robinson in 1979. Just for reference, that was two George Bush's ago.
If there was ever a time to buck this weird—and in Reid's case—stubborn trend, it's right now, when the Eagles linebackers are about as weak as Jeffrey Lurie's fighting words.
Last offseason, with a boatload of cash and some quality, young free agent 'backers like Stephen Tulloch and David Harris ripe for the free agent picking, the Eagles instead elected to break the bank for such 2011 offensive stalwarts like Ronnie Brown (42 carries) and Steve Smith (11 catches).
Considering how long he's been in the business, Andy Reid should know better than to insert an undersized rookie third-round draft choice in Casey Mathews as his middle linebacker.
Naturally, the Eagles paid a steep and rightful price on the field for their ignorance in the first half of the season. A heartless defense blew five fourth quarter leads on its way to their most disappointing 8-8 season in NFL history.
The defense did play much better in the second half of the season when Jamar Chaney, a player with middle linebacker experience from the season before, was inserted to replace Mathews.
But the speedy Chaney is still more useful at his natural position on the outside. In order to allow him to make the switch, the Eagles need to invest heavily in linebacking depth in this year's draft to create some healthy training camp competition.
The wildly undersized trio of Chaney, Mathews and Brian Rolle would look better on a practice squad than a starting lineup card.
The Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
Their offense is faster than the US Olympic team and their defense has multiple perennial Pro Bowlers on the outside positions like cornerback and defensive end.
The heart of the defense is truly the team's only glaring need. But that still probably won't stop Andy Reid from taking an offensive lineman in the first round. Here's how the Eagles 2012 draft will shake out.