Philadelphia Eagles: Is Offensive Tackle the Most Pressing Need in Philly?

Dan PennwynCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08:  Offensive tackle Winston Justice #74 of the Philadelphia Eagles blocks Bradie James #56 of the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Now that the season is officially over with the exception of DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel making their trip to the Pro bowl, it’s time to turn out attention to some areas of need.

I’ve heard a lot of talk from many die-hard Eagle fans that the right tackle position was the biggest sore spot for the Eagles during the 2010 season. I can’t disagree that Winston Justice has some work ahead of him—that much is painfully obvious—but should the Eagles go out and invest the bank on a proven veteran or a high draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft?

If I’m sitting in the hot seat I would have to really put some thought into that. For starters, Justice didn’t come out every game and play horribly. This was his first season as a starting tackle in the NFL and if line coach Juan Castillo and his right tackle really work together during the offseason, he can come out in 2011 a much improved player.

Next, we have to factor in the return of Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver, who prides himself on his blocking ability. Weaver is quarterback Michael Vick’s best friend in the backfield because he will take on anything coming in Vick’s direction without hesitation, and at approximately 250 pounds he can tango with the best of them.

Taking all that into consideration, I would then turn my focus to a defense that relied on its offense to win football games.

I would look at players like right cornerback Dimitri Patterson who, once he got torched by Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, became increasingly exposed by opposing offenses. They were fully aware that the occasional slip-up on Patterson's part was more than just occasional and they cashed in on it.

Unless the Eagles can find a way to reel esteemed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders into town, I would invest highly in the draft this year on Dimitri’s replacement. If that is the case, I would imagine Andy Reid trying to move his way up the draft chart in order to hopefully acquire a player like LSU product Patrick Peterson or Nebraska standout Prince Amukamara.

If it’s at all possible for the Eagles to obtain the rights to Asomugha, then they need to get him. He’s earned Pro Bowl nominations simply for the fact that opposing quarterbacks absolutely fear throwing to a receiver anywhere near him. This would release some of the load off of a young and learning free safety, Nate Allen, who had a respectable rookie season.

If the Eagles somehow manage to get their hands on multiple first round picks, or a talented player slips to the second round, then I say bring in some stiff competition for Justice and may the best man win. His struggles can be corrected and if he wants to be known as a stout tackle then he’ll have to put in the required time, and the best way to bring out the best in any athlete is to greatly challenge him or her.

The Eagles are also in need of a SAM linebacker. They currently have their 2009 seventh round draft pick, Moise Fokou, manning the position. He has stood up to the challenge to the best of his ability, but the Eagles need to find a fundamentally sound athlete at the position.

Stewart Bradley is a good middle linebacker and if he could just stay healthy long enough to allow him to get into a groove with the rest of the defense, he would be even more effective. Ernie Sims was acquired prior to the season but he struggled and unfortunately his play was questionable at best. However, I think with another full training camp in Lehigh Valley he’ll be able to find his niche in the system.

I suppose what I’m trying to stress is I’m hoping for a defensive draft this year. If the Eagles feel the need to replace Winston Justice, then I hope they do so via free agency, but I want to see that the Philadelphia Eagles front office has taken notice that their offense is tremendously explosive—it’s their defense that needs some love!

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