The Philadelphia Eagles fell way short of expectations and are looking to bounce back with a strong 2012 season. With that in mind the draft, as well as free agency, are very crucial to them.
The team has a tremendous amount of talent and the right selections could take this team from 8-8 to 12-4 or better. Andy Reid must be very careful with this upcoming draft, as it could very well decide his future in Philadelphia.
If he is looking to stay in Philly for a little while longer, picking the following players in the draft will certainly help him out. . .
Andy Reid rarely drafts a linebacker in the first round, with Stewart Bradley being the only linebacker he has taken in the first three rounds in the past five years.
However, the failings of the 2011 Eagles linebackers are too much to ignore even for one as stubborn as Reid.
At 15th overall, the Eagles could opt to select either Luke Kuechly from Boston College or Vontaze Burfict from Arizona State.
With the exception of DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick, Reid is not much of a gambler. Just as he passed on the freakishly talented Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010 to select Brandon Graham due to character concerns, Reid will take Kuechly over Burfict's far superior athleticism.
Kuechly is not the fastest, strongest or most agile linebacker, but he is a smart one. He has incredible instincts and is a tackling machine.
Hopefully Reid, in coordination with Jim Washburn, can mold him into a suitable linebacker behind the wide-9 system.
Despite the need of the Eagles to select a safety, Reid loves to select linemen early in the draft. Expect the Eagles to take Kelechi Osemele with their first second round pick.
Osemele is not only an excellent linemen, but versatile as well. First-round pick Danny Watkins was a disappointment in 2011 and Osemele may be taken to add depth behind the right guard position.
However, Osemele is also capable of playing right tackle, which could be very important if the Eagles failed to bring back left guard Evan Mathis and had to slide Todd Herremans back to that position.
Another glaring weak-point for the Eagles is the position of safety.
Free safety Nate Allen appeared to have lost a step after returning from his 2010 season-ending knee injury. And strong safety Kurt Coleman has looked at times spectacular and at times dreadful. Some games he would accumulate multiple interceptions and in others he would miss wide open tackles.
An upgrade at safety, or at least some more depth, is a must. Markelle Martin from Oklahoma State could be the guy for Philly.
Martin is a solid tackler and also shows pretty decent coverage ability. He also does not hesitate to get physical, which is a trait many viewed as strongly lacking in the 2011 Eagles defense.
While some project Martin to fall to the third round, the Eagles likely reach for him with their second pick in the second round.
It appears that the Eagles are going to place the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson, which means their dynamic playmaker will likely be in Philly for another season.
Or it could mean that the team will soon trade him.
In either case, the Eagles would be wise to select T.Y. Hilton here. Hilton is an underrated wide receiver who has blinding speed, good hands, and solid route-running.
Furthermore, Hilton's abilities in returning kickoffs and punts would make him a welcome addition in Philadelphia.
Without DeSean Jackson, the Eagles wide receiving corps is significantly less potent, with Jeremy Maclin struggling to fill in as a number-one option and Jason Avant thriving primarily as a slot receiver.
Even if Jackson is retained, the Eagles get some much-needed depth here.
It is essential that the Eagles add more depth to the linebacker position. Reid does not prefer to select linebackers in early rounds and I also believe he will acquire one in free agency.
With that in mind, he will likely wait until the fourth round to select his second linebacker.
Robinson is an underrated player who has great size, speed and strength. He does not always wrap-up when tackling and does not use his hands enough to get past blockers.
But the right coaching staff could eventually develop him into a good player.
Regardless of his flaws, he can still be expected to be an upgrade over most of the Eagles' linebackers.
It can be assumed at this point that Asante Samuel will be traded, as the Eagles failed to find a way to make him, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all coexist. He is simply too expensive to retain on a team with many holes to fill.
To add depth, the Eagles will take Cliff Harris with their second fourth-round pick.
Harris is lacking a bit in physicality and run support, but he is a good player both in man and zone coverage. He is also a very reliable tackler, something that the Eagles corners are not exactly famous for.
Harris would be an excellent player to add to the Eagles secondary and could potentially even be further developed to take on a more significant role someday.
The Ronnie Brown experiment did not exactly work out. And while LeSean McCoy has asserted himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL, he definitely needs a good backup to share the load and change the pace of the offense.
Dion Lewis showed promise at times, but is not quite the player the Eagles need to keep defenses guessing.
Terrance Ganaway could very well be that guy.
Ganaway is a bit slow, but he is a true bruiser and runs with power. Ever since the loss of Leonard Weaver, the Eagles never truly had a go-to player in short yardage situations.
As a result, Ganaway could fill in nicely in this Eagles offense.
Always one to supplement the defensive line, Andy Reid will take a defensive tackle here to add depth.
Jaye Howard is a bit weaker than one would like for an NFL defensive tackle, but he is pretty agile and has good instincts.
He could potentially become a very good role-player in Philadelphia.
With the offensive line not exactly being stable in 2011, the Eagles will elect to add even more depth to it with their second sixth round pick and select Andrew Datko.
Datko has many tools to become a good player with great agility, awareness and work-ethic. The primary knocks on Datko are his pass blocking abilities and his numerous shoulder injuries, which are both causes for concern.
But with a sixth round pick it would be wise for the Eagles to take a chance on Datko if he were still available, as he could potentially develop into a good player.
To add a final piece, the Eagles will improve the depth behind their defensive ends by taking Julian Miller with their final sixth round pick.
Miller is a player who plays with a great amount of effort and hustle. He lacks the strength to bull-rush blockers, as well as the speed to get around them. Due to this, Miller will serve most likely as a backup for the Eagles.