NFL Draft 2012: 7 Positions Philadelphia Eagles Must Address
As constructed, the Philadelphia Eagles have one of the more talented rosters in the National Football League. But there are still some holes that need to be filled.
Some of the holes are larger than others, but there are seven positions in particular that must be addressed in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The obvious positions are on defense. The Eagles struggled on that side of the ball during the first 12 games of the season. But there are issues that need to be addressed on the offensive side as well.
The Eagles pick No. 15 in the first round, which means they will several good options. What they do with that pick will determine the rest of their draft.
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The inside linebackers were pushed around way too much last season.
Because of the wide-nine scheme, inside linebackers have to forcefully fill their gap responsibilities and limit options for running backs.
Casey Matthews struggled with this and forced the Eagles to move him outside and put Jamar Chaney in the middle.
Chaney did a solid job, but it's still an issue that must be rectified if you're the Eagles.
The Eagles have some options at pick No. 15 with guys who have different skill-sets, but will more than likely get the job done.
A lot of hype has been generated about Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State. He would bring a swagger and toughness to the Eagles that hasn't been there since guys like Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter left. He brings that along with considerable skill and ability.
Another great option is Luke Kuechly from Boston College. He led the nation in tackles last season and is not afraid to stick his nose in the hole and clog it up. Kuechly is less flashy than Burfict, but can still get the job done.
Yet another option is Dont'a Hightower from Alabama. He comes from the best defense in the nation last season.
Whichever way the Eagles go with this position, it must be addressed. The Eagles were routinely gashed up the middle and acquiring a young stud linebacker through the draft could help in that regard.
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Although Casey Matthews is probably better suited for outside linebacker, the Eagles still need help in this area.
The problem is that the players they have lack size. Brian Rolle is listed at only 227 pounds. Matthews is listed at 232 and Akeem Jordan at 230.
By selecting Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, the Eagles definitely could bring some size to that position. He is listed on Alabama's roster at 265 pounds and has athleticism to match his size.
With added size on the outside and inside, the Eagles linebackers will be less likely to get pushed around by offensive lineman and fullbacks.
Upshaw also brings pass-rush ability. He had 8.5 sacks last season.
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To play devil's advocate, maybe part of the reason why the linebackers struggled so much in 2011 was because they didn't have big defensive tackles in front of them to take on blockers, thus freeing them up to make tackles.
Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are good, but stuffing the run wasn't necessarily their strong suit.
Jenkins is more of a pass-rushing defensive tackle.He had 12.5 sacks the last two seasons, including seven in 2010.
The Eagles need a big defensive tackle who can keep offensive linemen off their currently undersized linebackers.
At No. 15, Penn State's Devon Still could fall right into the Eagles' lap.
Still is known for his run-stuffing ability. He had 17 tackles for loss last season.
Still would not replace Jenkins or Patterson, but would add depth and another dimension to the Eagles defense.
He will be a great player to have on third-and-short situations and could be quite successful.
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If the Eagles feel as though they do not need to pick a linebacker or a defensive tackle, the next-best option is strong safety.
Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett are solid players, but neither should be the starter.
Alabama strong safety Mark Barron could shore up that part of the defense.
Jarrett and Coleman had their share of highlights and low-lights during 2011, but Barron would make the position a more consistent part of the team.
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The Eagles drafted a guard last season in Danny Watkins, who wasn't a complete disaster. But they still could have done better.
Guard is still a need , and since Stanford's David DeCastro won't be available past the first round, when the Eagles should draft for defense, they could go after Cordy Glenn from Georgia.
The Eagles offensive line steadily improved throughout 2011, but can still use depth. Glenn could provide that.
Depth on the offensive line is always crucial, but is more crucial when you have Michael Vick, who is often injured, under center.
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With Michael Vick often injured, it is important that the Eagles have a solid backup quarterback.
I'm pretty sure Eagles fans do not want to see Vince Young under center again, so the Eagles have to draft a quarterback at some point this year.
The Birds will more than likely wait until the second or third round to do so. That means Brock Osweiler or Brandon Weeden could still be available.
Since Vick never has played a full, 16-game regular season, the Eagles need to be careful with whom they pick , since that player probably will see playing time during the 2012 regular season.
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The Eagles may put the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson, but that does not mean that he will be back in 2012. The Eagles still may have to replace him.
The Eagles could to the free-agent pool and target receivers such as Vincent Jackson or even Randy Moss, or they could to draft a player like Tommy Streeter in the middle rounds.
What the Eagles have been sorely lacking for quite some time s a big, red-zone threat at receiver .
Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are good targets, but both are small and rendered almost completely ineffective inside the 20-yard line.
Streeter, who stands at 6'4", has the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point.
If the Eagles add a big-bodied receiver either through the draft, free agency, or both, it will add a much-needed dimension to the offense.