Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Positions Team Should Target in 2013 NFL Draft

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer INovember 10, 2012

Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Positions Team Should Target in 2013 NFL Draft

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    The Philadelphia Eagles are mired at 3-5 following four consecutive losses, and they’re preparing for a showdown with the division rival Dallas Cowboys.

    Regardless of whether this team wins against the Cowboys, Andy Reid’s Eagles probably won’t make the playoffs. They have too many problems that the team won’t be able to overcome, whether it’s the shoddy play of the offensive or defensive line, the inconsistency from Michael Vick at the quarterback position, or the poor play from the safeties in the secondary.

    Whether he returns in 2013 or not—and he probably won’t—Reid assuredly has his mind on the upcoming draft. Reid or his successor will need to be smart in the draft because the Eagles have a slew of positions desperately needing an upgrade.

5. Defensive End

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    The Philadelphia Eagles have selected a defensive lineman in the first round six separate times during Andy Reid’s reign as head coach.

    Four of those have been interior linemen and just two have been ends. Jerome McDougle was a colossal bust after going in the first round back in 2003. Brandon Graham may develop into a solid player, as he’s finally showing signs of life in his third NFL season.

    But the Eagles may look for another end in the high rounds in 2013.

    The Eagles have Trent Cole signed through 2017 and while he’s not producing this year, he will definitely be back. Jason Babin, on the other hand, may not be back. He is signed through 2015, but he is a one-trick pony who can only rush the passer, and he hasn’t been doing that well this season.

    The Eagles have this year’s second-round pick, Vinny Curry, in the waiting to play end. Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp probably won’t be back and there will be room to develop another young defensive end.

4. Cornerback

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    Entering 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles thought they had the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL in Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    Since then, Asomugha has struggled immensely in pass coverage. Samuel is now in Atlanta and DRC is playing for a new contract.

    For what it’s worth, Rodgers-Cromartie will probably re-sign with the team because he’s a good young player with excellent ball skills. Asomugha is slated to cost the Eagles $16 million against the cap in 2013, so if he doesn’t show something soon, he may not be back. At the very least, he will have to take a pay cut.

    Rookie nickel corner Brandon Boykin looks like a promising young player, although he’s best suited to cover the opposition’s slot receiver. Curtis Marsh is a failed third-round pick from last year’s draft and Brandon Hughes is just an average dime corner.

    The NFL is more of a pass-happy league now than ever before, and the Eagles play six games already against the likes of Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III. They will need solid corners and picking one in the high rounds might be a good move.

3. Offensive Tackle

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    Following last season’s debacle, the Philadelphia Eagles knew one thing for certain—they had a top-notch group of offensive tackles.

    Jason Peters was arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL in 2011, but he tore his Achilles tendon during the offseason. The Eagles haven’t recovered yet in ’12, but they should be able to count on Peters returning in 2013.

    The bigger problem has been Todd Herremans. The Eagles love him at right tackle but he’s been remarkably inconsistent all season, and it might make sense to move him inside to right guard. That would leave the Eagles desperately needing a tackle for 2013, since King Dunlap is nothing more than a backup and Demetress Bell is probably playing his last season in the National Football League.

    Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals is set to hit free agency. He has played much better as of late, but he hasn’t been the player the Bengals thought they were getting when they picked him sixth overall in the 2009 NFL draft. The Eagles could always make a play for Smith in the offseason, which would save them a draft pick.

    But it might be a good idea for the Eagles to spend at least a third or fourth-rounder on a guy that can swing back and forth between right and left tackle in case of an injury.

2. Guard

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    Evan Mathis has been very solid since signing a five-year deal in free agency, and the Philadelphia Eagles should have no immediate plans to move on from his play.

    At right guard, Danny Watkins has been a bust since going in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. He’s currently sidelined with a chronic ankle injury, and the Eagles may not even want to bring him back as the expected starter in 2013.

    Realistically, the Eagles won’t part ways with Watkins after just two seasons. But the team should have its eye on a replacement sometime soon, and a first or second-round pick might be a good idea—as long as the new guard isn’t a 26-year-old rookie.

1. Safety

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    Andy Reid never believed in the position enough, so if he’s still around, the Philadelphia Eagles won’t be spending a first-round pick on a safety.

    But Reid probably won’t be back and it’s time the Eagles have a ballhawking safety again. Reid inherited Brian Dawkins when he took over the team in 1999 and All-Pro strong safety Quintin Mikell was an undrafted free agent who worked his way up to being a star.

    Reid has spent second-round picks on Michael Lewis and Jaiquawn Jarrett. He hit big with Lewis, but whiffed on Jarrett, who was just released earlier in 2012.

    The Eagles can’t possibly expect to go with Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman again for the 2013 campaign. Allen has shown promise as a cover safety, but neither of the two is much help in run defense or in tackling. Coleman would be a fine third safety but he’s strictly overmatched as a starter.

    The Eagles would be wise to invest strongly in a high-caliber safety that can cover the opposing tight ends, contribute in the running game, and roam center field a la Ed Reed or Dawkins.