Philadelphia's Real Glaring Need in the 2010 NFL Draft

c lContributor IMarch 31, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 27 : Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles hugs Brian Dawkins #20 of the Denver Broncos after the game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 27, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Broncos were defeated by the Eagles with a score of 27 - 30. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The past two off-seasons have seen an undeniable change toward the future of Philadelphia's roster. It began last season with the release of long-time starting tackle tandem Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, but those losses were far overshadowed by that of Eagles legend and possible Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins.

With the further trimming of the elder members of the Eagles team this year, most notably versatile veteran back Brian Westbrook, the front office are trying to emphasize the talented youth prospects such as LeSean McCoy, who stood in admirably for Westbrook whilst he missed time with niggling injuries and concussions. However, experience is needed across the field to help develop the youngsters and provide clutch performance on the field.

For example, it is surely no coincidence that the Eagles' secondary struggled this year more than any in recent times, whilst the Denver Broncos defense had a meteoric rise this year after being mediocre last year. The link between these two defenses? Brian Dawkins. The man was a machine for the Broncos this year, registering 116 tackles and two picks, as well as adding his inimitable ability as a leader.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were plagued by inconsistent safety play from rookie converted corner Macho Harris and newcomer Sean Jones. With no Stewart Bradley, the Eagles defense looked lost in terms of cohesion and leadership down the stretch. Do you think Brian Dawkins would have let the Cowboys romp all over Philadelphia two weeks in a row? The Eagles are lacking leadership across the field. This is their biggest problem on defense, and it could become a big one on offense too.

The McNabb trade rumors only exacerbate the problem. Leaving the offense in the hands of the inexperienced Kolb would mean our offensive leaders in the skill positions would be DeSean Jackson, who's just finished his second (outstanding) year, and FB Leonard Weaver, who's only been on the team for one season.

Teams need leaders and experienced veterans to lead the team. It's hard to find players on defense that can make a difference in the way Dawkins could. Trent Cole and Stewart Bradley are the best fit for those roles, but they aren't outspoken. Which is where the draft comes in to play.

Some mocks have the Eagles picking Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon at No. 24 overall. This makes sense on two levels because it fills a positional need and gives leadership ability. Much was made at the combine of Weatherspoon's character, and his on-field production shows he is a legitimate player. If he's there, I believe Philadelphia should seriously considering injecting some energy to the defense with a man who draw similarities to Ray Lewis. In the unlikely scenario that Texas S Earl Thomas remains on the board, he's a candidate too, with his playmaking ability and presence on the field, as well as filling a big need, would bring some stability to the defense.


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