Showcasing Biggest Strengths and Draft Needs of Philadelphia Eagles

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

Showcasing Biggest Strengths and Draft Needs of Philadelphia Eagles

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    For fans of the disappointing Philadelphia Eagles, the offseason can't come soon enough. In a year marked by injuries to key players, general underachievement and almost certainly the end of the Andy Reid era, the upcoming offseason appears to be the beginning of a new direction for the team.

    Michael Vick almost assuredly won't be back. Jason Babin was already cut, and Trent Cole and Nnamdi Asomugha may soon follow. DeMeco Ryans has played well and should be back but could be taken off of the books, while Jason Peters' future is still up in the air. And it remains uncertain if the team will re-sign cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    In other words, changes are coming in Philadelphia. Let's take a look at this team's roster, showcasing the bright spots and areas of need this team will need to address in the offseason.

Quarterbacks

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    The Eagles will save nearly $13 million in cap space by cutting Michael Vick before Feb. 9, and on a team that will likely be rebuilding, it's hard to imagine Vick being retained. Frankly, his play this season didn't make him indispensable in the first place.

    If he were to re-negotiate his contract to take less money, maybe he would stick around. But with Andy Reid likely on the way out, I think Vick's time in Philly has come to a close.

    That leaves young quarterback Nick Foles as the incumbent. The jury is still out on Foles, who has shown decent athleticism and a strong arm but also the tendency to hold on to the ball way too long in the pocket. Given the team's terrible offensive line, it's hard to fully grade him based on his early starts.

    If the new coaching staff isn't intrigued with Foles, the team could look to target a quarterback such as Geno Smith with the top-10 pick the team is sure to have.

Running Backs

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    The Eagles are set here. LeSean McCoy is one of the NFL's most talented backs, while Bryce Brown opened a lot of eyes with his huge performance on Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers.

    This pair has the potential to be the best one-two punch in the NFL for many years to come, and Dion Lewis is a nice third man on the totem pole. This is one of the team's strongest units.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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    The Eagles are just fine here as well, with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek all very good players that should be retained by the Eagles. With so many other needs, it would be surprising if the Eagles focused much if any attention on these two positions in the offseason.

Offensive Line

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    This is a tough unit to evaluate. On one hand, the offensive line has been absolutely miserable for the Eagles this year.

    On the other, the team lost one of the top left tackles in football (Jason Peters), its starting center (Jason Kelce) and its starting right tackle (Todd Herremans) to injury, while starting guard Danny Watkins has been banged up throughout the season and failed to impress.

    If Peters, Kelce and Herremans return as effective as they were before their injuries, the Eagles offensive line is serviceable once more. I do think the Eagles could use an upgrade at guard over Watkins to pair with Evan Mathis, however. 

    If nothing else, this team needs quality depth at the position—it's become painfully clear this season they don't have backups who can contribute.

Defensive Line

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    Before we talk about who might be gone from this unit, let's praise rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who has truly been a bright spot for this team. He'll be a very, very good player for years to come in Philadelphia.

    After that, uncertainty abounds. Babin is already gone, and Trent Cole and Mike Patterson could possibly follow, though I would be surprised if the team axed Cole, a fan favorite. Young defensive ends Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt give the team good, young depth out wide.

    If Cole is cut, however, the team could use a dynamic pass-rusher to add to the mix. And while they could use another defensive tackle to pair with Cox if Patterson is gone, Cullen Jenkins is already a solid player and Derek Landri give the team nice depth.

    I would expect the defensive line to stay mostly intact, however, meaning this shouldn't be a major area of focus in the offseason.

Linebackers

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    DeMeco Ryans has been excellent this year and, like Cox, has been a rare bright spot on a disappointing defense. He leads the Eagles with 87 tackles and has provided stability at the middle linebacker position the team hasn't seen since the Jeremiah Trotter days.

    He should remain on the team.

    After that, the Eagles could use upgrades. Rookie Mychal Kendricks has been inconsistent this year, but he's talented and has shown enough potential to stick with outside. Akeem Jordan and Jamar Chaney have been major disappointments, however, and this team could use an upgrade at outside linebacker to pair with Kendricks.

Secondary

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    Where to begin?

    Nnamdi Asomugha has been a bust, plain and simple, and since the team can cut him after the season without taking much of a cap hit, I expect he'll be gone. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a young, talented player, but his contract is up after the season and he hasn't played well at all of late.

    If his demands aren't astronomical, however, I'd expect him to be back.

    At safety, the team has been pitiful, plain and simple. Nate Allen has certainly improved from a season ago, but he's average at best. And Kurt Coleman is just bad, no two ways around it.

    Look for the Eagles to draft a safety in the second round and potentially go after a cornerback in the first. One way or another, this team needs upgrades in a secondary that has basically fallen apart in the midst of the team's seven-game losing streak.

Special Teams

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    The good: Kicker Alex Henery is 20-for-21 on field goals and 16-for-17 on extra points attempted. He's a keeper.

    The inconsequential: Mat McBriar is averaging 48.0 yards per punt, though netting just 37.1. I'm sure the Eagles have much larger concerns than punter, however.

    The bad: The special teams unit in general has been pretty poor, and the team lacks a true threat at kick returner. Adding a young, exciting player capable of taking one to the house would certainly be a plus.

     

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