April 26 can't come soon enough for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The date may represent the beginning of the NFL draft, but it represents so much more to their fans. It is the chance to officially bury an abysmal 2011 season and believe that this year is finally "the year."
Unfortunately, the date could also mark the beginning of another disappointing season and the beginning of the end for Andy Reid.
To save his job, Reid must successfully address holes at linebacker while still planning how to fill voids at other positions over the next several seasons.
Michael Vick is going to break down at some point this year. And unless the Eagles go out and sign a veteran free agent QB, Mike Kafka is your backup.
That should scare most Eagles fans.
At the very least, someone needs to step in and push Kafka with the possibility of taking the job from him.
Russell Wilson has the physical tools to play in the NFL. And even though the draft is not rich with quarterbacks, he is projected to go in the middle of the draft. If he is available in the fourth round, he may be someone the Eagles pick up.
How many people outside of Massachusetts watched Boston College this year?
No one really knows much about Luke Kuechly outside of the diehard college football fan and the draft gurus, so don't feel bad about wondering who he is.
Apparently, he's the "Can't-Miss Guy."
Someone from the Eagles better study this guy well if he falls to them.
Anyone remember the last time Philadelphia took a defensive player from Boston College in the first round?
Yep. It was 1995, and the player was Mike Mamula.
Anyone from Alabama's defense can and should be looked at by the Eagles.
The Crimson Tide showed heart and physically dominated LSU In the National Championship Game. Heart and physicality are about as abundant in Philadelphia as Vince Lombardi trophies.
Dont'a Hightower would be considered a reach if he went above Kuechly. But if someone sees something in him to suggest he deserves a mid first-round draft pick, they should go for it.
There is a lot of clamor amongst the fans for Vontaze Burfict to go in the first round. Truth is, Burfict is a third-round pick.
If that's the case, the Eagles might think about going in a different direction early and picking up Burfict in the third round.
Andy Reid has never drafted a linebacker in the first round, so it only makes sense for them to draft other positions in the first two rounds before addressing their needs in the middle of the defense.
Courtney Upshaw stops the run as an outside linebacker.
Is there anything else you need to know? The Eagles need all the help they can get right now against the run, especially in Jim Washburn's wide-nine.
Again, give me a defender from Alabama, and I'll show you a player who makes an immediate impact.
If you want to know more about Upshaw than you may ever want to know, check out this article by Bleacher Report's Alen Dumonjic.
Is it weird to have this many linebackers on the list?
It's the biggest need on this team, and there are too many good linebackers to ignore.
Melvin Ingram is arguably the most versatile defender in the draft. He can line up at tackle, end or linebacker. And given his 6'1", 276-pound frame, the Eagles could use him as a linebacker while also plugging him in as a defensive end in certain defensive packages.
The only thing we ask is that Reid doesn't draft Ingram and convert him to an undersized defensive end.
Jeremy Maclin will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2013, while DeSean Jackson may be playing out a one-year franchise tag.
If both hold true, the Eagles may look to find a replacement. Wright is a good option to fill in for either one in the future as a mid-round selection.
He may be a small receiver, but his speed is ideal for the system Reid likes to implement. And given the way smaller quick wideouts are prospering in the NFL, it only makes sense to start looking for the next Wes Welker.
Offensive line is not a pressing need right now. It doesn't mean the position can go ignored.
Brandon Brooks could give the Eagles some much-needed depth late in the draft and is a project worth investing in. He's a little on the heavy side and could possibly shed a few pounds from his college days.
It seems unlikely he would land in Philly considering offensive line coach Howard Mudd prefers lighter more athletic linemen. With some time, though, Mudd could help Brooks cut some weight and transform him into an ideal guard for the future.
Trent Cole will turn 30 in 2012 and becomes a free agent after the 2013 season.
Now is the time to search for his replacement.
Cole is an elite pass-rusher who utilizes speed to attack to the quarterback. He lacks size and isn't great against the run, but he still plays well enough to lead the defense on a consistent basis.
Vinny Curry is also a small defensive end who possesses tremendous speed while lacking skill against the rush.
Earlier, it was mentioned the Eagles should avoid converting a linebacker to become an undersized defensive end. It's totally different, though, to take an undersized defensive end and keep him at the same position when he enters the NFL.
Curry was a three-year starter at Marshall, and it only makes sense to think he will continue to develop at a position he is already acclimated with.
When you run the wide-nine, you need a wide body in the middle of the line.
Dontari Poe and his 350-pound frame fit that role perfectly.
He is projected as a first or second-round pick, which means the Eagles would have to target him in the second round. If the Eagles pick up a linebacker early, it would only make sense to add more youth and depth up the middle.