Philadelphia Eagles Rumors: 3 Ways Experts Are Saying Philly Will Rebuild
The Philadelphia Eagles were the NFL's most disappointing team in 2011, as their 8-8 finish fell far below expectations. While the team appears set on offense, the consensus is that the front seven of its defense needs a thorough rebuilding.
Here is a look at what most experts are saying the Eagles should do to rebuild their front seven of their defense, and who I think they should target via free agency and the NFL Draft.
1. Add a Middle Linebacker
The Eagles had serious problems with their linebacking corps in 2011 and virtually everyone agrees they need to upgrade the middle of their defense. Middle linebacker is the team's most pressing need and luckily there are several options available via free agency that could help them immediately.
Stephen Tulloch will probably not re-sign with the Detroit Lions before March 13, which means he's going to hit the open market. While Tulloch has played behind a wide-9 front (like the Eagles run) for his entire career, he will be an expensive option if they go that route.
If Philadelphia can't get any of those three guys under contract before the NFL Draft they could always try to grab Boston College's Luke Kuechly, who tested off the charts at the Combine and is a tackling machine with superb instincts.
The Eagles need to add to a thin linebacking corps and all four of the guys mentioned would be solid pickups that would provide an immediate upgrade.
Meanwhile, local boy Dan Connor could also be a target to help with depth.
2. Add an Outside Linebacker
While middle linebacker is the Philadelphia's top need, outside linebacker isn't far behind. Let's face it: the combination of Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan and Keenan Clayton isn't getting it done.
As with middle linebacker, there are outside linebackers set to hit the market and any of them would be a big-time upgrade over what the Eagles have at the spot.
Hawthorne is not a household name but he has always been productive and at just 26 years old he could be entering his prime.
Johnson has been a key but unheralded part of what the Ravens have done defensively over the past few years and he is the kind of solid locker room guy Philadelphia could use.
If the Eagles were to land one of the top middle linebackers available—either Hawthorne or Johnson—their linebacking corps would be improved exponentially.
3. Add Another Defensive Tackle
While Cullen Jenkins had a decent year during his first season in Philadelphia, the Eagles were far too soft up the middle. The combination of Derek Landri and Trevor Laws just didn't get it done at defensive tackle and the team needs to add someone to take the pressure off of Jenkins at the other tackle spot.
While Mel Kiper thinks the Eagles should target LSU's Michael Brockers with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, I think Philadelphia could turn to the free agent market to fill that position.
While Broderick Bunkley, Paul Soliai, Sione Pouha and Shaun Rogers will be out there making more money on the open market, a guy like Antonio Garay could be a great target for the Eagles.
Garay spent the past two seasons manning the nose tackle spot in the San Diego Chargers' 3-4 front, but is versatile enough to clog space in a 4-3. While he is 32 years old, Garay is playing the best football of his career right now and will come cheaper than the other guys mentioned.
The Eagles don't need a superstar to play next to Jenkins, just someone stronger and more formidable than what they already have. Garay would give them that.