Philadelphia Eagles: Free-Agency Overview and Draft Predictions

ryan lalalaContributor IMarch 21, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 21:  Offensive lineman Eben Britton of Arizona stands during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 21, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

About three weeks ago, when the start of free agency approached, I took a long, hard look at what free agents were available, their strengths and weaknesses, and then shared my opinions with all of you here in the bleacher report realm.

Now that free agency has come and has almost drawn to a close, let's see how right or wrong I was.


Three Weeks ago

"I believe the Eagles will be active in free agency, although not at the high levels we have seen in previous years. I believe they will miss out on all the free agents I mentioned above but will instead add two players, fullback Leonard Weaver and tackle Stacey Andrews. Both will be solid additions.

"Weaver will finally give the Eagles a real fullback, and one that can both catch and run the ball, two things the Eagles need. Andrews will take Runyan's position and is a young solid player on the upswing.

"Perhaps more important, he is the younger brother of Eagles enigma Sean Andrews. Reuniting the brothers may help get the elder Andrews back on track and take another step forward in solidifying the offensive line.

"I also believe the Eagles will re-sign both Tre Thomas and Brian Dawkins. Correll Buckhalter will leave and will probably go to a team that will finally realize he can run the ball"


Okay, so let's start out with where I was way off the mark. Thinking the Eagles would want to retain both veteran leadership and solid starters, I thought the team would most certainly re-sign Dawkins and Thomas.

I think it is safe to say no one could foresee the great offer Dawkins got by going to Denver, but perhaps more surprising is the loss of Thomas.

His departure leaves the team even thinner at the tackle position then they were before he officially left for Jacksonville.

From all of the banter back and forth including Thomas's recent comments that the Eagles ownership treats players worse then most in the league, leads me to believe the Eagles thought he was on the downside of his career and were thinking his performance in the the NFC Championship game was more indicative of the player they would have gotten in 2009.

Well now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's move on to some of the moves the Eagles made that I hoped they would from the on-set of free agency. First, the addition of Stacy Andrews will be a good move for the team, provided he can recover from a torn ACL and MCL.

On the positive side, I'm sure the Eagles would not have paid him the amount of money they did if they had concerns he would not return at full strength, but any player coming off an injury of that type has to get you thinking a bit.

Secondly, Andrews was not exactly "dominant" last season for the Bengals. The Eagles have a good history of signing young players with upside, so I believe that was also the thinking here.

Also, adding the elder Andrews brother is good news for those hoping Shawn Andrews will return to prime form this season. The extra motivation of playing alongside his older brother should help the younger Andrews rebound.

The signing I like the most this off-season has to be the addition of Weaver. Not only do the Eagles now have a true fullback, but in Weaver they have someone who can catch some passes and even carry the ball on the goal line if needed.

This will turn out to be the team's most valuable signing of 2009, mark my words.

A few of the things I just did not foresee would have to be the Eagles signing of safety Sean Jones. Although necessitated by the departure of Dawkins, I thought either Gerald Sensabaugh or James Sanders would have been better choices.

However, Sanders re-upped with the Patriots, and the Eagles just were not interested in Senseabaugh. Jones brings great run-stopping ability to the Eagles, but despite decent interception totals is not as good in pass coverage as the stats would lead you to believe.

He also is coming off an injury plagued 2008. Although Jones will probably be a fine addition to the team, don't be shocked if he does not exactly conjure up the image of Brian Dawkins.

In another minor move the Eagles signed former Raiders safety Rashad Baker, who I think may or may not make the team this year, especially if the Eagles draft a safety or two in the draft. He fits the Bethel Johnson, Jabar Gaffney mold.

Also, I think Correl Buckhalter will have a fine season in Denver. He was never used right in Philadelphia, and it was not a shock to seem him bolt at the first given chance.


The Draft

With the draft approaching, it's time to make my prediction on as to what the Eagles will do. With two picks in round one, and a ton of picks in round four, the Birds are in position to move up if they so choose. I think that would be a bad choice however.

I believe the team has two major needs entering the draft at the Offensive Line and Running-Back positions. Some of the more minor needs include tight-end, safety, and conerback.

If Andy Reid's drafting history is indeed indicative of what he will do this season, then you can almost be the Eagles will be trading up in this year's draft, against my will.

Two factors point to this. First, the Eagles need a big stud tackle on the line. I don't believe they are confident either Shawn Andrews or Todd Herremans can move out to tackle.

Second, Joe Banner will not want to pay two first-round picks, first-round pick money. It's that simple.

That being said I think the Eagles package a first and third round pick and move up to select either Micheal Oher of Ole Miss, or Andre Smith of Alabama. Since Smith is a problem the Eagles love to avoid, I would place my money on Oher.

I wish the Eagles would select Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton, I believe he actually will be the best tackle selected in the first round. (Yes that includes the much over hyped Jason Smith)

After their selection of Oher, I would look for the Eagles to make another trade and move out of the first round. This fits the Joe Banner theory of economics. They will probably add another second round pick in this trade which should give the team a chance to fill more overall needs.

That being said to close out my draft "preview" here is a meaningless list of the players I think will be Eagles come the end of the draft. (Feel free to keep this close by to laugh at me come draft day.)

Micheal Oher, OT (Ole Miss)

Sean Smith CB/S (Utah)

Paul Kruger DE (Utah)

Rashard Jennings RB (Liberty)

Chase Coffman TE (Missouri)

T.J. Lang OT (Eastern Michigan)

Coye Francies CB (San Jose State)

Every other prediction deeper in the draft would just be me guessing even more then I am now, but look for my draft update next month, maybe I'll nail one of the picks.