2012 NFL Draft: Top 5 Positions for the Philadelphia Eagles to Target

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer IDecember 22, 2011

2012 NFL Draft: Top 5 Positions for the Philadelphia Eagles to Target

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    The 2011 season leaves the Philadelphia Eagles in shambles, with the team needing to target several key areas for the upcoming NFL draft.

    Andy Reid has assembled a team stocked full of talent at many of the key positions, but he has also neglected several aspects that will be vital to the Eagles making playoff runs for years to come. Reid’s typical draft consists of him taking an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round, or else trading the pick away.

    The Eagles will be picking higher in the draft than usual. Assuming the team misses the playoffs (93 percent chance), the selection will go in the middle to top part of the first round

5. Offensive Tackle

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    Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are arguably the best tackle duo in the league, but it would be nice to have a solid player as a backup. King Dunlap has been that guy, but his contract makes him a free agent, and he will probably want to start somewhere.

    Winston Justice is in the midst of a four-year, $18 million deal that is far too much for a backup. This might get the veteran cut, which would leave the Eagles without any depth at the position.

4. Cornerback

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    This won’t make Asante Samuel happy, but it’s a move the Philadelphia Eagles absolutely have to make. Nnamdi Asomugha is locked in through the 2016 season, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie becomes a free agent after 2012 and Samuel after 2013.

    The Eagles may look to trade Samuel for a linebacker, a move many thought would happen this past offseason. That would leave Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie as the starters. The current backups are Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes. Hanson is solid as a nickel or dime corner. Despite being picked in the third round, Marsh has shown absolutely nothing. Hughes is interchangeable.

    If Rodgers-Cromartie doesn’t turn in a better season in ‘12, the Eagles will likely let him walk and hope their new guy can take over as the team’s starter opposite Asomugha in ’13. 

3. Safety

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    Nate Allen had a promising enough rookie season in 2010 but has struggled to regain his form after a knee injury. Kurt Coleman is a borderline starter and Jaiquwan Jarrett looks lost as a second-round pick this past year.

    A playmaking safety who can tackle and cover well would fit in well for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team has had its fair share of quality safeties over the years but has let all of them walk—Michael Lewis, Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell.

2. Wide Receiver

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    DeSean Jackson’s contract expires after the season—as we all know—and the Philadelphia Eagles have made no attempt to re-sign him. A new contract will likely make Jackson play more than he has been playing in 2011, but the Eagles probably won’t extend him.

    That means Jeremy Maclin will be elevated to the No. 1 receiver. He was a former first-round pick, and he should be ready to take on the role, but the team will need a new receiver to complement Maclin as a No. 2. Jason Avant works best out of the slot, and neither Riley Cooper nor Steve Smith is talented enough to be the No. 2.

1. Linebacker

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    This unit has been the downfall of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. Casey Matthews was benched early on, Jamar Chaney has struggled after a promising late run in 2010, and Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou have been weak spots.

    Andy Reid has never drafted a linebacker in the first round, and his top selections have flopped: Quintin Caver (second round in 2001), Matt McCoy (second round in 2005), Bryan Smith (third round in 2008), and Matthews (fourth round in 2011).

    It is risky to hope that Reid can pick a successful linebacker, but it needs to happen for the Eagles to be much better next year.