The next stop in our 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage is the City of Brotherly Love (my old digs). But for the Philadelphia Eagles—a team that was literally one pass away from postseason advancement—settling some glaring issues in the 2011 NFL Draft is a must, if the Eagles want to remain competitive for years to come.
Philadelphia has obvious needs at RG, SS, and OLB, but the Eagles also have issues at DT and WR. Depending on how the Eagles approach their draft, this could wind up being the perfect draft for the birds or a draft comprised of missed opportunities.
Let’s take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles’ needs and what we may see out of the 2011 NFL Draft.
OG/RG/C, Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State: Right Guard was a problem all year long for the Philadelphia Eagles thanks to injuries and instability. But what makes RG so important for the birds is the fact it’s superstar QB Michael Vick’s blindside, and the Eagles are going to do whatever it takes to protect their latest investment.
If the name Stefen Wisniewski sounds familiar, then it should. That’s because Wisniewski’s uncle played RG for the Raiders, and his father played DL for Penn State before being drafted in the second round by the Colts, back in 1982.
Wisniewski is a proven durable, multi-positional player who can, and has, played both sides of the guard position as well as center. He is not only a smart player (Academic All-American) but is also one of the most skilled offensive lineman in the draft in terms of mechanics. Wisniewski has tremendous leverage, can get in and out of his blocks with speed and precision and moves with fluently within the line making him an exceptional selection for a team that utilizes zone blocking for their QB.
S, Rahim Moore, UCLA: A lot of people keep saying the Eagles should target the outside linebacker position with their second pick (some even say with their first), but the Eagles have even more pressing needs at the safety position.
In all reality, it’s a tossup as the Eagles ranked 14th against the pass and 15th against the run (both arguably effected by injuries) but it’s the safety position that is weaker and far more shallow than the LB slot.
Quintin Mikell is 30 and is a free agent who is unclear if he’ll return in 2011. Rookie free safety Nate Allen is coming off a patellar tendon injury and is a slight liability, and rookie seventh-rounder Kurt Coleman is not exactly what I would call an option at the moment.
Rahim Moore is a highly decorated safety capable of playing on the free side and short side at the drop of a request. Moore is an excellent sideline-to-sideline player who is quick on his feet, balanced in coverage and makes for an excellent addition to a team that needs a multi-faceted safety who can play both Cover 2 and 3 and even deep in many situations.
Moore is also a good run supporter who knows where to place his angles when in pursuit and could still be around by the time the Eagles are up again, if the Buccaneers don’t grab him first.
OLB/ILB, Mason Foster, Washington: One of the reasons I mentioned the possibility of the Philadelphia Eagles holding off for a linebacker is their ability to utilize their depth at ILB to conceivably develop one of their players internally to the "will" linebacker spot. Such a move would allow them to target other, more pressing areas…but it’s nothing more than a theory.
But if the Eagles do go with such an approach, there is still plenty of quality left at the backer position, namely in Washington’s Mason Foster.
Foster is just the type of player the Eagles need in terms of mechanics, aggressiveness, and education, but he also possesses the three skills needed to play at the will (outside/weak) slot:
- Must have aggressive yet extraordinary tackling skills
- Must be able to shed scrimmage blockers and pursuit laterally
- Must be able to not only read coverage, but also drop into coverage effectively and quickly
These are all traits that Foster has as shown in his 239 solo tackles, nine forced fumbles and four interceptions over his collegiate career.
But the consensus is that Foster isn’t viewed as an elite athlete which could actually work in favor of the Eagles if—again—they gamble and wait to target a LB with their third selection.
WR, DeAndre Brown, Southern Mississippi: Don’t think for a second that the Eagles aren’t going to target a wideout before their fifth and sixth selection comes rolling around, and the reason for that is depth and dimension.
The Eagles need to add another complimentary receiver who can be developed quickly and utilized at some point in the season because players such as Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Chad Hall and even Sinorice Moss provide roster depth but average collective talent at best.
DeAndre Brown is a tremendous 6’6” receiver who has first round talent, but will inevitably be found in the 2011 NFL draft basement because of his suspected liability.
Brown missed seven games in 2010 and broke his leg back in ’08 but still managed to rack up 2,186 yards and 24 TDs in only 30 games, so the talent is definitely there.
But if the Eagles are willing to gamble a bit, Brown could wind up paying huge dividends if he can remain healthy. If the Eagles go WR and opt to pass on Brown, Kentucky’s Chris Matthews could be another option. The Eagles could also wind up going DT with the fifth selection.