March Madness is winding down, which means baseball is around the corner and the NFL draft is right on its heels. Every fan who loves football turns into a huge draft geek around this time. Those of us who write for Bleacher Report are definitely no exception.
In fact, the featured columnist community is in the middle of a huge NFL draft undertaking. We have grouped together to hold the first-ever B/R community mock draft with each team represented by one featured columnist aided by at least one other featured columnist to form a "War Room."
I've enlisted the help of Dave Stoessel and sought advice from Darren Grossman to determine the needs of the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the 2012 NFL draft. Two things were pretty much unanimous. First, the biggest need was at outside linebacker, preferably strongside. Second, the Eagles were going to draft a defensive tackle with the 15th pick.
Luckily, we all figured that defensive tackle was one of the areas of need. With Derek Landri uncertain to return and Trevor Laws' underwhelming career so far, they may look to draft someone at the position with one of their first two picks.
Outside of those two positions, Dave and I agreed in no specific order that the Eagles need a return man, a backup running back, an inside cornerback, offensive line depth and possibly even a quarterback.
The Eagles were one of the worst teams in the league at returning both kicks and punts. Even if DeSean Jackson had an incredible season as a punt returner, he shouldn't be risked on special teams except in key situations.
As far as returning kicks, Dion Lewis showed absolutely no spark of ability. His longest return in 31 attempts was just 33 yards. The Eagles rarely ever had good field position off a kickoff and never made big plays in those situations. Just the boost in field position alone makes this position worth a draft pick.
At backup running back, it is the same story with Lewis. He had one run of 20 yards all season, and even his 4.4 yards per carry are skewed by a meaningless 12-carry, 58-yard performance against Washington in Week 17.
LeSean McCoy is a great runner, so the Eagles aren't in need of a workhorse. However, you can't count on a full, healthy season from any runner, making an adequate replacement necessary. There are a plethora of backs that could excel in a part-time role as both a runner and receiver.
Along the offensive line, the Eagles have a unit that developed through the season and was a strength by the end of the year. The whole unit returns intact and should continue to improve, but it could use at least another tackle that can develop and that can provide depth in a pinch.
As far as quarterback goes, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Eagles make that position a priority. Michael Vick is only guaranteed through next season and Trent Edwards and Mike Kafka aren't exactly the most intriguing prospects. It could also be a way for Andy Reid to extend his tenure if he wishes.
It would be hard to send a coach on his way if your organization invested a significant draft pick in a quarterback to be groomed into the eventual face of the franchise. However, if Reid wants to win immediately he probably wouldn't want to expend a pick on a player that wouldn't be able to help in some fashion this season.
The last position of need is a corner that can play inside. Clearly, the three big corners didn't mesh well, and no matter what, at least one seemed to be out of place. Asante Samuel is owed significant money for the next two years.
For all the talk of DeSean Jackson's attitude last season, Samuel's poor attitude and lackluster play was far more detrimental to the 2011 team. He needs to be sent packing. He is a one-dimensional player and he wasn't even all that successful in that single phase of the game.
Also at corner, there are quite a few players that can play inside and be explosive return men as well. We are hard at work on this mock draft and hopefully you like how it turns out. Hopefully we have the results for you later this week or early next week.
For everyone in the Eagles community, we are doing all we can to represent you in the best possible light.