NFL Draft and Free Agency: Top 7 Positions the Philadelphia Eagles Must Address

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIApril 29, 2011

NFL Draft and Free Agency: Top 7 Positions the Philadelphia Eagles Must Address

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    The Philadelphia Eagles filled one of their biggest team needs with the selection of guard Danny Watkins—a solid, athletic mauler, who the Eagles can plug in to play on the right side of the line.

    The Eagles will have to address many other needs on defense, though, but with nine picks they can do just that.

    Here are top positions of need, as well as the players to fill those voids.

7. Running Back

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    The Eagles will have to find a proper backup for running back LeSean McCoy, as Jerome Harrison will be gone in free agency.


    1. DeMarco Murray

    Murray ran for over 1,200 yards last season and at 6'0'' 213 pounds, he ran a 4.38 at the Combine.

    Murray also caught 71 balls, proving he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is a speed back who could form a great tandem with McCoy.

    2. Kendall Hunter

    Though he is only 5'7'', Hunter plays big.

    He ran for over 1,600 yards, but will have to work on his blocking and receiving skills if he wants to see the field.

    3. Alex Green

    Alex Green is a bigger running back at 225 pounds, but he has reliable hands out of the backfield.

    He may not have great speed, but he has nice cutting ability, and can also block very well.

6. Right Tackle

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    The right tackle position could be a need, depending on how the Eagles feel about Winston Justice. He is a talented tackle, but his inconsistency could cause the Eagles to take another offensive lineman.


    1. Marcus Gilbert

    At 6'5'' and 320 pounds, Gilbert is one of the more athletic offensive lineman in the draft.

    He has the athleticism to play right tackle in the NFL and is versatile enough to also play guard.

    2. Marcus Cannon

    Cannon was recently diagnosed with cancer, which will cost him a couple of rounds in draft position. The Eagles could be getting a steal with the mammoth tackle, who was expected to be a second round pick.

    3. Joseph Barksdale

    Barksdale was a great tackle for LSU, opening huge holes for their running backs.

    Barksdale is very solid in both run and pass blocking, and at 6'5" 320 pounds, could be an elite left tackle in the NFL, provided he is coached well.

5. Defensive Tackle

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    The Eagles have lacked a consistent inside pass rush for a while now. It is a definite need for a team trying to improve the overall pass rush.


    1. Marvin Austin

    Austin has great potential. Though he took plays off on his junior tape, he was disruptive when he tried.

    He is quick and very explosive as a pass rusher.

    2. Stephen Paea

    Paea is a very powerful interior player.

    He set a combine best 49 reps of 225 pounds in February. He is short and stout, making him very difficult to push back.

    Paea has an explosive first step and plays in the opposing backfield. His disruptive hands allow him to bull rush the opposing guards.

    3. Jarvis Jenkins

    Jenkins is 6'4'' 310 pound quick tackle who can cause havoc in the backfield.

    Jenkins had a solid regular season as a junior and totaled 66 tackles—11.0 tackles-for-loss and one sack.

4. Safety

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    The Eagles are not expected to re-sign Quintin Mikell, which leaves a hole at strong safety.

    Rather than start a rookie strong safety to go along with sophomore Nate Allen, the Eagles would be wise to pursue a free agent strong safety.


    1. Eric Weddle

    Eric Weddle is an underrated safety that not many talk about. The 26-year-old Weddle recorded 96 tackles and two interceptions to go along with 10 passes defensed.

    Weddle is playmaker in the Chargers secondary and is rangy for a strong safety.

    2. Jaiquawn Jarrett

    Jarrett is a local product from Temple University. He is fast enough to cover slot receivers and tight ends, but struggles in deep coverage. Though inconsistent, Jarrett is a big hitter in the run game and could be a presence in the secondary.

    3. DeAndre McDaniel

    McDaniel seems to be falling, mainly due to his character concerns.

    He is a big hitter in the secondary and solid enough in coverage, but most would not characterize this as his best asset.

    McDaniel is 6'1'' and 217 pounds and ran in the mid 4.6's at the Combine.

3. Defensive End

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    Brandon Graham is not expected to start the season, so the Eagles will have to find a defensive end to complement Trent Cole.


    1. Jason Babin

    He is likely to come to Philadelphia, especially after the Jim Washburn hiring. Babin even talked about his future, calling it a "tough decision" on whether to follow Washburn and rejoin the Eagles or stay in Tennessee.

    Jason Babin had 12.5 sacks last year and could be a great complement to star pass rusher Trent Cole.

    2. Da'Quan Bowers

    For a guy who had 15.5 sacks last season, he seems to have the perfect blend of size, strength, and speed to be a successful defensive end in the league.

    He is a natural fit as a 4-3 defensive end, and looked like a man among boys—when healthy—on the field at Clemson.

    Bowers used his hands to gain leverage and has numerous pass rushing moves to disrupt the pocket.

    With a great first step, he sometimes even bull-rushed his way to the quarterback.

    The Eagles would have to trade up in the second round for him.

    3. Justin Houston

    Houston recorded 10 sacks and was up to 6'3'' 270 pounds at the Combine. He still ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash and notched a 36.5-inch vertical.

    He could potentially fall to the third round because of the recent news of his drug use.

2. Linebacker

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    The Eagles have not had a playmaking linebacker for years. Linebacker is not a position the Eagles value, but they may have to take one early this year.


    1. Bruce Carter

    Carter may be the best weakside linebacker prospect in this draft, even though he did not play most of last season.

    He is a fluid athlete that can cover sideline to sideline, making him one of the better fits for the Eagles' quick, aggressive defense.

    2. Akeem Ayers

    Ayers had a great senior campaign—recording 68 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. His overall playmaking skills are second to none in terms of linebackers in this year's draft. Ayers disappointed at the Combine, but he plays much faster than his 40 time.

    3. Casey Matthews

    While Matthews does not have the physical tools, he has a relentless motor and never stops working on and off the field.

    Matthews can play all three linebacking spots, though he would excel in the middle—calling the plays out for the defense.

1. Cornerback

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    The Eagles need a competent starter across from Asante Samuel. The lack of a right corner hurt the Eagles greatly down the stretch last season.


    1. Nnamdi Asomugha

    Nnamdi Asomugha was only targeted 29 times in 14 games last season—an astoundingly low number.

    Teams know the capabilities of Asomugha and are smart not to test him because most of the time the ball would not be completed.

    Asomugha has elite speed and size and can stick with any receiver in the league.

    The Eagles employ man-to-man coverage, where Asomugha is the best in the league.

    He can press and be physical at the line, which nicely complements Asante Samuel, who plays off the receiver.

    2. Ras I-Dowling

    Ras-I Dowling of Virginia was supposed to be a first-round prospect if he declared for last year's draft.

    But in his senior season, Dowling struggled mightily and dealt with lingering injuries all year that kept him out of nine games.

    Dowling is a big corner who could translate to safety at the next level. He is 6'2" 210 pounds and could be a steal in the second round

    3. Davon House

    Davon House is a very underrated corner. House had 10 career interceptions and possesses great ball skills.

    He is 6'1'' 200 pounds and ran a 4.35 at his Pro Day.

    If he had played at a major college program, he would probably be an early second round pick.

    House is underrated in the running game. He can stick his nose in there, hitting a running back coming full steam ahead.