Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking the Top 10 Positions of Need This Offseason

Darren GrossmanCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking the Top 10 Positions of Need This Offseason

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    I decided to write a column about the positions of need for the Eagles this offseason, and I have ranked them from 10 down to 1.  Obviously there are more than 10 positions, so some of the positions will not be on the list. 

    I took into consideration the age of the current players occupying the position, the depth at the position, the talent of the guys at the position, and the potential for guys on the current roster to improve. 

    It is important to point out that this list is based on the current roster, meaning if a guy is a free agent, he is counted as being on the team.  So like the WRs include DeSean Jackson, the QBs include Michael Vick. 

    So basically this list assumes that last year's players are all here (I know some of them won't be, but I don't have a crystal ball to figure out who will be and who won't be). 

    So join me as we look at the top 10 positions of need this offseason for the Eagles, based on the current roster.

    Click BEGIN SLIDESHOW to start.

10. Punter

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    While punter is not vitally important, I think it's time to bring in competition for Sav Rocca.  While Rocca's big leg is appealing, he was inconsistent last season, which was really annoying. 

    He would boom one 60 yards, then hit one 25.  I was not impressed with Rocca at all this past season, so if nothing else, I'd like to bring in someone to compete with him during preseason.

9. Safety

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    While this is not a huge need, I think the Eagles need to add some depth at safety.  Nate Allen's injury means you never know how he will bounce back from that.  He was good for the first half of the year, then started declining and got hurt.  Will he bounce back?  I'm not so sure.

    If he doesn't, that leaves Quintin Mikell and Kurt Coleman.  While Coleman played admirably last season, he was a seventh-round pick.  I would like to keep Coleman, but at the same time, adding a solid player here would not be a terrible need. 

    It is not a huge need, but it is an area I expect the Eagles to address, probably with a draft pick in the fourth to seventh round.

8. Kickoff/Punt Returner

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    The reason this position comes in at No. 8 is because we have one of the best returners in the NFL in DeSean Jackson.  However, I do not want Jackson returning kicks regularly, which is why I would like to see the Eagles sign someone to handle the job. 

    While Jackson is explosive, he is far too valuable to the offense to risk injury returning kicks.  While I don't mind him back there for big returns or late in a game if we need a nice run-back, the regular duties need to go to someone else. 

    I was not overly impressed with any other guy the Eagles used last season, so I think they can fill this need through the draft or free agency, as there are a lot of candidates out there for this.

    I expect them to take a CB or two in the draft, so maybe a backup CB or WR can fill this need.

7. Offensive Tackle

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    Jason Peters had a strong second half of the season and made the Pro Bowl.  Winston Justice looked to be improving early in the year, but took a major step back in the playoffs, where he committed so many penalties they are still throwing flags on him. 

    After the starters, the depth is pretty lousy.  King Dunlap is an okay backup, but we need more here.  Ideally, if the Eagles could sign a standout tackle in free agency, Justice and Dunlap would provide nice depth as backups. 

    If they can't get a marque free agent here, then they need to draft a tackle sometime in day one of the draft and start to groom him behind Peters and Justice. 

    I'd always rather see the tackle position addressed through free agency, so even if it's not a marquee guy, a solid lineman to compete with Justice and provide depth would be great. 

    Either way, the Eagles will almost definitely make some sort of move here.

6. Middle Linebacker

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    I will come out and say what we all know already:  Stewart Bradley is the WORST starting middle linebacker in the NFL.  Oh, and it's not even close. 

    The reason this position is not much higher on my list is because I think the Eagles do have a middle linebacker who could be a good player in Jamar Chaney.  In an ideal world, they cut ties with Bradley and bring in a veteran to teach Chaney.  I would like Chaney to start and the veteran backup to get some snaps to spell Chaney. 

    It is also time to say goodbye to Omar Gaither.  The fact he is still in the NFL is mind-boggling to me.  The only way Gaither ever tackles anyone is if they trip over him. 

    This is a really important position to a defense and in the NFL and if the Eagles bring Bradley back as a starter, then it won't matter who the defensive coordinator is, because this defense will struggle. 

    The best-case scenario here is to trade or cut Bradley, get rid of Gaither, and keep Chaney and bring in a veteran backup to Chaney. 

    Either that, or start Chaney and use Bradley as a backup, though to be honest, I'm so sick of looking at Stewart Bradley in an Eagles uniform, I just want him to be gone.

5. Center

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    The Eagles went into the season with Jamaal Jackson penciled in as the starter here and lost him in Week 1.  It's time to give up on the injury-prone Jackson, even though he's a decent center if he is actually healthy. 

    Mike McGlynn filled in admirably this season; he was not terrible, but he was not particularly good either.  Regardless, I would like to see new blood in the center position. 

    This is not a huge need, and honestly, the Eagles may come back with Jackson and McGlynn again.  However, don't be surprised if the Eagles draft a center or try to sign a veteran in free agency.

4. Defensive End

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    The Eagles have been trying to find a pass rusher opposite Trent Cole for years.  They spent their first-round pick on Brandon Graham, thinking they may have finally found the answer.

    Graham was having a so-so rookie season and then suffered a major knee injury.  Anytime a player suffers a major knee injury, they are at best questionable for the next season.  So I don't think we can count on Graham at this point.

    Juqua Parker is a good backup but not a very good starter.  I don't want to go into the season with Parker starting.  He can create a little bit of a pass rush at times, but he is not consistent and seems to get dominated by bigger linemen.

    The biggest thing here is they need to find a formidable enough pass rush to get the double-teams away from Cole.  I saw one game last year where Cole got doubled-teamed throughout the game, and the running back was chipping at him, too. 

    That's not because Cole is amazing.  Don't get me wrong, I like Cole, but it was more that the rest of our line was so pathetic, they could afford to block Cole with three guys.

    A good pass rush will help the secondary and this is definitely a position of need.  Reid has always believed in having a deep rotation on the defensive line, so this position will definitely be addressed in the offseason. 

    I could see a second-round pick being spent on DE if they don't sign a free agent.  If Graham is not going to be ready, they may even spend their first-round pick on this position if there is someone on the board worth taking.

3. Offensive Guard

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    I will continue to tell you that I believe Todd Herramans is one of the most underrated offensive guards in the NFL.  With that being said, the Eagles desperately need someone for the other guard spot.  They have not had a truly elite guard since Jermaine Mayberry, and he only played at an elite level for a year or two.

    Nick Cole is absolutely awful, and so is Max Jean-Gilles.  I am not sure which one is worse, and honestly, I don't care.  Neither of those guys are legitimate starting offensive lineman, and neither are even solid backups. 

    There will definitely be at least one draft pick spent on guard, though guards generally don't go real high, so don't look for a guard till the third round at earliest.  They could also look for a veteran in free agency. 

    Either way, this position MUST be addressed in the offseason, as our offensive line needs to improve to have any chance of keeping our franchise QB Michael Vick healthy.

2. Outside Linebacker

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    See the guy laying on the ground in the picture?  Well, that's Ernie Sims, and that image was all too common last season.  The Eagles tried to address the position by trading for Sims, and I have to admit, I like Sims in a lot of ways. 

    He is a big hitter and he plays with fire.  The real problem is he is just too small.  He gets run over.  He also is not great in pass coverage and is not all that fast.

    The sad part is he is far better than what we have on the other side, where a combination of Moises Foku and Akeem Jordan is about as appealing as banging your head against a wall for hours. 

    Seriously, the fact that those two guys started this season shows you how bad this position is.  I am not even sure these guys would be a backup on most teams.  I think there is some value in Foku as a third OLB, a backup and special teamer. 

    There is no value in either of these guys as a starter and hopefully the Eagles realize this fact.  Expect a high draft pick or a free-agent signing to be used to address linebacker.  I could see their first-round pick going to OLB if the right player is on the board.

1. Cornerback

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    Does anyone know what made the Eagles defense so great for a decade under Jim Johnson?  I'll tell you: elite cornerbacks. We had Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, with Al Harris as a nickelback. 

    Then we had Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown.  Then we had Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown, with Lito Sheppard as a nickelback.

    This team has always had elite cornerbacks.  For the first time under Andy Reid, last season, cornerback was a huge problem.  We have one elite cornerback in Asante Samuel, but the problem is he can only cover one guy. 

    We need two elite cornerbacks, and then we can use a combination of Patterson/Lindley/Hanson as nickel and dime backs.

    The problem here is we have one starting cornerback and a bunch of backups, but no true second starter.  I can honestly tell you this position will most likely be addressed in one of two ways, either the first-round pick, or free agency.

    To be honest, I think this is a position the Eagles will address in free agency, as that is what they have traditionally done.  Asante Samuel? Free agent.  Troy Vincent? Free agent. 

    I know they drafted Brown and Sheppard, but those guys did not start right away.  They sat behind Taylor and Vincent for a couple of years, and Taylor did not start right away, either.

    If they needed depth, I think this would have been addressed in the draft, but considering they need a starter, I think this will be the Eagles' biggest free-agent splash. 

    If I was going to bet, I am thinking a certain Oakland Raider cornerback who recently decided to test free agency will be in Eagles green next season.

    Adding him will give the Eagles two shutdown corners, which will allow whoever the new defensive coordinator is to blitz and blitz and blitz.  That is when the Eagles defense is at its best, and that is what will make this a championship-caliber defense.

    So, Nnamdi Asomugha (yes I cheated to spell his name), we want you in Eagles green in 2011.  So front office, let's make it happen and make this defense return to being among the league's elite. 

    If they sign Asomugha, then this position won't be addressed till later in the draft, where they make take one guy for depth, but I honestly like Lindley a lot and Patterson or Hanson as backups.

    Well, that concludes the positions of needs.  I hope you enjoyed it and leave me comments in the analysis or add me to your favorite writers list!