Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Team Needs: Take Two

In my last (lengthy) post, I broke down what I felt were the top needs for our Philadelphia Eagles heading into the draft. I highlighted three positions where players are needed: RB, OL, and TE. In a brief recap, I can just state that the areas I’d focus on in these positions are a #2 RB to replace Buck, interior OL (notably Alex Mack or Max Unger to push at C), and 2 TEs (including a blocking TE).

MORE TEAM NEEDS

In addition to these areas of need, there are other areas that can be improved. We’ll start with everyone’s favorite (supposed) Achilles’ Heel of the Andy Reid era Birds… WR. I can already hear the shouts of “We need a true #1” and the cries of “Anquan” and “Braylon” starting up as I type this. As an avid Eagles Message Board user and a follower of Philly sports radio, I know that this town continues to clamor for a top-flight WR because of how effective Donny was with TO. This is valid, but as far as the draft goes, I don’t see us targeting any first day wideouts.

Our depth at WR is the best it’s been in years. Desean Jackson appears to be a real player and possibility a future top-flight WR. Kevin Curtis is a legit starter on nearly any team in the NFL, with great hands, good speed, and strong work ethic. Hank Baskett played well in his spot duty as a starter and has big play potential. Jason Avant was a 3rd down machine down the stretch last year and is slowly creating a name for himself as a great possession receiver. Reggie Brown has ability, but has been streaky to say the least… we’ll see if he’s here much longer.

Looking at this depth, a true stud like Boldin or Edwards would put this corps into discussion of being one of the best in the league. As I type this, it is by far the best in the NFC East (noting that Toomer and Plax have been cut leaving NY no starters at WR, Dallas has to actually start Patrick Crayton, and Randle El still starts in Washington which certainly says something not-so-good about their WR corps). We are unlikely to add anything other than a 5th WR in the draft, unless a big trade comes down on draft day.

Whereas I don’t agree with the masses that WR is such a need, I do see some other needs to target in this draft, one being at the linebacker position. As a huge fan of Omar Gaither, I want to see him win his job back at WILL, but I don’t see it happening. Since he has shown ability at that position and perhaps even more ability at MIKE, I expect him to be moving on to greener pastures if Jordan remains the WILL this season. That said, drafting a solid WILL is not a bad idea. Jordan seems to be more of an Ike Reese who will lead our ST and be a solid plug and play LB at all three spots, but he’s not a starter in my opinion. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Daniels get pushed off the roster if a draft pick of FA at SAM can show more potential as a backup while filling his ST role.

The defensive line is solid. The safety position has been addressed with two signings and last year’s draft. Adding a solid CB isn’t a bad idea, you can never have too many good young defensive backs. I think it’s time for me to quit yammering and get to the mock draft.

MOCK DRAFT

I presume that there will be draft day trades, moving the Eagles up and down in position at certain places, perhaps even acquiring a WR or LT Jason Peters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reggie Brown, Winston Justice, Matt Schobel, or even Juqua Parker or Omar Gaither moved. Despite saying that, I will assume merely that we only use 3 of our 5th rounders and 1 of our 6th rounders, trading the others to get players we are targeting in the other rounds, and select players with our 10 other picks.

1 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia RB

1 (CAR) – Alex Mack, California C

2 – Chase Coffman, Mizzou TE

3 – Gerald McRath, Southern Miss LB

4 – Xavier Fulton, Illinois OT

5 (NE) – Bear Pascoe, Fresno State TE

5 (CLE) – Jason Williams, Western Illinois LB

5 – Clinton McDonald, Memphis DT

6 – Jose Martinez, UTEP K

7 – Kory Sheets, Purdue RB

As I noted in my first installment, I like Jeremiah Johnson a lot at RB, but if Moreno is on the board at 21, the Birds have to take him. I like taking two linebackers that project to be OLBs because White and Daniels are ST guys that provide little depth on defense. If a LB with more defensive prowess can prove himself on ST, I’m all for it. McRath could be the best WILL prospect in the draft, despite playing inside in college. Williams is a sleeper pick by many and is very fluid in coverage, while also being a fumble forcing machine that likes to pass rush.

As for the numbers of people getting ready to scold me for not going after Pettigrew… Coffman is a much better receiver and scouts think he’ll be a willing blocker. The Bear provides an old school TE that could be best blocker at TE in this draft and can help move the chains while not being a downfield threat.

And, one final note. Yes, I want a kicker in the draft. It’s time to Dave to be truly challenged by someone other than some nobody walk on. If Akers wins, good… a 6th rounder is not that big of a loss.

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