Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking the Eagles Draft Needs by Position
The news of Jason Peters' likely season-ending injury has opened up a hole on the Eagles roster that must be filled. But despite the multitude of moves the Eagles made in the offseason, re-signing their key players and trading for a Pro-Bowl linebacker, the Eagles still have many areas to address.
Even the most talented teams in the NFL have holes to be filled, which is part of what makes the NFL so great: the constant need for teams to better themselves through the draft, whether it be filling clear-cut areas of concern or adding depth to key positions.
Here are the Eagles top draft needs by position ranked in order.
1. Left Tackle
The loss of Jason Peters is a huge blow for an Eagles O-Line that was improving drastically over the stretch last season. The strong play of the left side of the line (Peters is a left tackle) allowed LeSean McCoy to take advantage of large holes that were opened up. And it gave Michael Vick one less porous hole on the line to worry about when dropping back to pass.
Despite all the talent on defense, this Eagles are still an offensive-based team and the key to a successful offense is almost always a strong O-Line. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that the Eagles address the left tackle position before the end of the offseason.
This list is operating under the assumption that the Eagles will not fill any of their holes in free agency. As a result, with their first-round draft pick the Eagles should undoubtedly select a talented young tackle to fill in for Peters and to potentially replace him someday. After all, Peters is 30 years old and will be 31 by 2013. He was going to have to be replaced someday and now might be the perfect time to do it.
2. Outside Linebacker
Despite the Eagles trading for former Texans middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who is a two time Pro-Bowler, it is still not enough to completely solidify the middle of this Eagles defense. The rest of the Eagles linebackers corps, consisting of Jamar Chaney, Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews and Moise Fokou, have all shown inconsistencies in tackling and in shedding blocks.
A drastic upgrade in talent would be wise here. Few dominant defenses in the NFL lack a strong linebackers corps. And if the Eagles truly have their goals set on once again becoming a dominant defense, they will address this position in the draft.
Andy Reid rarely drafts linebackers in the top three rounds, but he may have to make an exception this season, as his job in Philadelphia may depend solely on his team's ability to win multiple games and/or make a deep playoff run in 2012. With a second-round pick, the Eagles should target an outside linebacker to play alongside DeMeco Ryans.
And as Zach Brown could potentially slip into the second round, this would do wonders for an Eagles defense that struggled mightily in 2011.
3. Strong Safety
Another key problem with the 2011 Eagles was the dreadful play of the safeties. While the unexpected inconsistent play of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie certainly did not help, the safeties provided very little support in pass coverage and in run support.
Similar to the linebackers, the safeties showed poor tackling, slow instincts and overall just looked lost and confused.
While free safety Nate Allen is a talented player and can be expected to recover more from his season-ending 2010 season, the strong safety position must be addressed in some way, shape or form. Kurt Coleman is very inconsistent and certainly does not look like the long-term solution.
The solution of course would be to add superior talent here. Even if the Eagles are not able to obtain Mark Barron, the best safety in the draft, the Eagles should select a safety with a top-three pick. A safety with better instincts, tackling and toughness is in dire need in Philadelphia.
4. Right Guard
While it may be fair to give last year's first-round draft selection Danny Watkins another season to improve, right guard will still be a position of great need.
Even if Watkins has a breakout 2012 season, however, solid depth at the right side of the line is a must. The injury to Jason Peters will likely throw either King Dunlap, a rookie or a veteran new to the scheme into action at left tackle. If whomever the Eagles choose to fill in for Peters struggles, Reid and Howard Mudd may have to experiment with moving players on his line around in an attempt to solidify that spot.
Despite the experience Todd Herremans has playing left tackle, it is unlikely that he will be moved away from protecting Vick's blind side. Instead, it is far more likely Reid and Mudd will experiment with Danny Watkins or Evan Mathis.
Even if Watkins is not moved to the left side, if he struggles in 2012, depth is certainly necessary to ensure that Vick's right side is protected as fully as possible. The right guard spot was a huge liability in 2011, and steps must be made this offseason to ensure that it does not continue to hold this Eagles offense back from achieving its full potential.
5. Defensive Tackle
Not only does Reid love drafting D-Linemen, but if the Eagles are going to continue to run the wide-nine formation they must constantly add depth to their D-Line.
While the current DT starters, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, are certainly excellent players, it is essential the Eagles continue to add key rotational players onto the roster.
Jenkins, too, is already over 30 years of age and has an injury-prone history. If he were to be lost for an extended period of time, it would be necessary to have players capable of stepping in and playing at a high level in his absence.
Therefore, it is essential that the Eagles continue to add depth to their D-Line as they do almost every single draft.