We all know April's NFL Draft is at once not long away but somehow destined to take an age to come around.
The good thing is that means there is plenty of time to consider and reconsider your team's (in this case, the Eagles') best draft strategies.
Philadelphia has four picks in the first three rounds, and there's loads of time to take a look at the possibilities.
2010 looks to be a strong year for talent, and, luckily for the Eagles, there should be some strong candidates that fall at 24 for each of the top need positions.
Here are the probable candidates:
Previously predicted to go in the top 10, a questionable mentality has seen this Dunlap draft projection fall back down to the wrong end of the first round. Having a player of his physicality opposite Tent Cole might be too much to pass up, though taking him would remind me of the Winston Justice pick (even though his story has eventually started to come good).
Another player who seems to have all the physical attribute required but his ability to read the game and poor instincts have seen his stock drop. Another high-risk/high-reward possibility.
Perhaps withoutu the mental drawbacks of the previous two, Griffen also suffers from inconsistency and occasionally a lack of desire. Good size and speed, less risk for perhaps less reward.
OLB could be the Eagles weakest position, though it's probably considered the least important by the Eagles staff. Unlike the previous candidates, Weatherspoon is a very consistent player and is good at all facets of the linebacker position. His natural leadership skill could be the most needed quality that the Eagles D needs.
Jason's been predicted to be taken around this point in the first round for quite some time, but recently his stock has rocketed in the eyes of analysts way above the 24th pick.
Perhaps the most important aspect to consider for the Eagles is not to take the best player but to predict which position will remain stronger into the second and third rounds.
With a strong first round this year, the need or desire to trade up is a little less unlikely.
Nonetheless, jumping a few places could land the Eagles a player like Earl Thomas, who's usually predicted to be taken by the Steelers or Giants. Safety is a rather more coveted need for the Eagles than most teams thanks to Fan favorite Brian Dawkins, whom the team still needs to replace.
Also, if CJ Spiller falls into trading distance, the Eagles might want to jump up and grab themselves another running back. Now that Brian Westbrook has gone, the load falls on LeSean McCoy, who is not considered by everyone to be an every-down back. Spiller may fall for the same reason, and Eagles might be tempted by the McCoy/Spiller combination, though this scenario is a little more unlikely.
People are divided about whether the Eagles should part with McNabb. The fact remains that if he were to stay, instead of receiving a high draft pick, the Eagles could lose him for nothing, and in the past Andy Reid has rarely jeopardized the long-term future for short-term success.
Cleveland (Pick No. 7)
This is the highest draft pick I've seen predicted as a possible trade scenario. The Eagles may wait until draft day to accept such a trade to see if stud safety Eric Berry falls there. If not, cornerback Joe Haden wouldn't be the worst consolation prize to help revamp an aging cornerback group.
Arizona/Minnesota (Pick No. 26/30)
Other possible landing spots for McNabb that would allow the Eagles to take one of the other players from the earlier first-round list.
Michael Vick did just enough to show he could still be a starting quality quarterback in the NFL. This is also helped by the lack of available starting quality QBs at the moment and the financial risk of taking a QB high in the draft.
St Louis (Round Two, Pick No. 1)
This is the trade I hear most often. It's the trade that would allow the Rams to take the top prospect (Suh) in the first round while still getting a starting QB. Occasionally a third-round pick is predicted, but not as often.
Probably ranked fourth-best prospect at a very deep safety class and would be a solid upgrade.
The Vick trade would allow the Eagles a chance to replace Westbrook and Best would perhaps be a better compliment to McCoy than Spiller. A good Combine showing may have increased his stock into the first round.
A top talent with a questionable mentality, still a significant upgrade at outside linebacker.
As said earlier, the hardest job the Eagles may have is predicting who falls at this stop.
It could be the biggest deciding factor in who the choose to take in the first round. As players such as Nate Allen, Jerry Hughes, Branden Spikes and Navorro Bowman could still be available here.
Injuries have bumped Hardy out of the first round. He was considered by some to one of the best defensive ends, but the fact that the Eagles already have injury prone Abiamiri on the roster may make the think twice before taking Hardy off the board.
Another definite upgrade at safety, though safety probably has the more depth than any other position that Eagles need.
Tough to predict where Rolle could be taken; he's a great combination of physical ability and intelligence combined with great instincts. He's proven a lot in the short time he's been back from studying overseas, but the fact he gave up football to study might put some coaches off who want their player to live and breath the game.
The general consensus has him being taken in the first round, but some sports analysts are saying his soaring stock could see him vault into the second (and perhaps even the first) round.
Perhaps not quite the same player as the ones previously mentioned, still a solid upgrade at OLB.
Gerhart would be another back the would compliment McCoy very well. His downhill running style would also help Eagles in those annoying short yardage situations.
Jamal Jackson went down at the end of the season which may need to be addressed in the draft. Expect a mid to late draft choice to be on the safe side.
My best-case scenario is about as set in stone as the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback spot. But, as of today, it looks something like this...
For me, safety is the deepest position in this draft that the Eagles need, so it's a toss-up between defensive end and outside linebacker.
It's a tough call, as OLBs like Bowman could be still be available in the second round, but at DE, Hardy has injury question marks.
Even so, Weatherspoon seems like the most consistent player likely to be available and his leadership skills put him over the top.
Round One—Sean Weatherspoon
Round Two—Greg Hardy
Round Three—Myron Rolle
Round Three—Dominique Franks
McNabb to Cleveland—Eric Berry or Joe Haden
McNabb to Arizona/Minnesota—Carlos Dunlap, even though the idea of swapping McNabb with Dunlap doesn't exactly fill me with joy.
Vick to St. Louis—Jahvid Best or Eric Bowman (Even with the inclusion of Weatherspoon, the chance to completely overhaul the linebacker corp would be great, with Witherspoon rotating in and out).
I'm realistic enough to know that my predictions could be (and probably will be) completely wrong, so no need to burn me with insults.
I'm just going to give a quick shout out to NFL analyst Mike Carlson, who was the only person I know who successfully predicted that Jeremy Maclin would fall to the Eagles last year out of the thousands of mock drafts I'd seen.