The NFL draft is three weeks away and Eagles fans seemingly have no idea what direction the team is going to go. Some argue for Ryan Tannehill, others for a defensive tackle and some even argue for another receiver like Michael Floyd. Luke Kuechly is definitely still on the fan’s radar because after so many years of horrible linebacker play we’ve determined that you can never have too many good linebackers. Heck, some are even arguing for the Eagles to spend another high pick on a safety.
The fans are all over the board. But the “experts” have seemingly pinpointed one spot they think the Eagles will try and upgrade: defensive tackle. I looked at 21 mock drafts (see the chart below) and 14 of them have the Eagles taking a defensive tackle. And another two of them have Quinton Coples who undoubtedly has the ability to play defensive tackle, especially under Jim Washburn in a scheme where tweeners like Jason Jones have thrived in the past.
Mock Draft Author:
|Fletcher Cox – DT – Mississippi St.||Mel Kiper (ESPN), Don Banks (SI), Charles Davis (NFL), Walt (Walter Football), Brad Wells (SB Nation), Wes Bunting (National Football Post), Sigmund Bloom (Bleacher Report), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown)|
|Michael Brockers – DT – LSU||Brian Baldinger (NFL), Chad Rueter (NFL), Dane Brugler (CBS), Peter Schrager (Fox)|
|Cordy Glenn – OL – Georgia||Bucky Brooks (NFL)|
|Mark Barron – S – Alabama||Todd McShay (ESPN), Rob Rang (CBS), Charley Casserly (NFL)|
|Quinton Coples – DL – North Carolina||Scott Wright (Draft Countdown), Nolan Nawrocki (Pro Football Weekly)|
|Devon Still – DT – Penn State||Damond Talbot (SB Nation)|
|Dontari Poe – DT – Memphis||Russ Lande (Sporting News)|
But one of the Eagles’ strong points last year was their defensive line (including defensive tackle), why do they need an upgrade? Well…
- Cullen Jenkins is 31 years old and he has missed 19 games in the past four seasons.
- Mike Patterson is a very solid player but no one is going to roll out the red carpet for him. Patterson isn’t a disruptive player and he is going to be 29 heading into the season coming off of brain surgery (which was deemed successful but then again, when was the last time you heard about an athlete have unsuccessful surgery?).
- Antonio Dixon really thrived in 2010 as well he played in 2010 he played equally as bad in 2011 in Washburn’s scheme in limited time before he tore his pectoral muscle. Antonio Dixon is coming off of a down year and a season ending injury
- Cedric Thornton showed well for himself in the pre-season but he spent a majority of the year on the practice squad before being called up late in the year. Personally I like Thornton and I think he is worth the developing but the reality is that he was an UDFA and he should not be counted on in the future plans of the organization. If he develops, great. If he doesn’t, nothing lost.
Those are the only four defensive tackles on the Eagles roster right now. Two older veterans and two young guys who haven’t proven anything. Adding a high profile rookie to the group to help solidify the depth, provide a talented, youthful body and provide a legitimate option for the future would be a really solid move. And we all know that Andy isn’t shy about pulling the trigger on a defensive tackle early, 4 of his first picks have been defensive tackles (Corey Simon, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley and Trevor Laws).
Fans and experts alike seem to be sleeping on this option but don’t be shocked if the Eagles find a way to get Ryan Tannehill in midnight green. Andy has always had a soft spot for quarterbacks and if he thinks he needs one, he’ll pull the trigger. Just look at the Kevin Kolb selection. The Eagles took Kolb when McNabb was 31 and Michael Vick is going to be 32 this season.
Think about the value that a steady (and good) QB situation brings to the table. No other position in football affects the win-loss columns as much as a quarterback does. In the modern day NFL you live and die with your quarterback, just ask the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. All of a sudden the Eagles would have a long term option at QB, a QB of the future if you will. Think about the stability that provides, having the ability to plug in another talented QB after an aging veteran leaves town. Look at what happened to the Packers when they took Aaron Rodgers or the Chargers when they took Phillip Rivers. And look at what happend to the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals when they didn’t have a decent contingency plan at QB when their franchise passers left.
And we all know how fragile Michael Vick is; Vick has only played a full season once in his career. Once. Imagine for a second that instead of having to play Vince Young last year, the Eagles were able to plug in a talented QB that they drafted highly and were grooming to take the reigns. Lets pretend the Eagles had Tannehill last year, do they still lose to the Seahawks in such horrific fashion with a guy like him coming in and taking over? I think not and at the very least I don’t think they’re given quite the shellacking they received if VY isn’t in the game.
If you’re not looking at the big picture, a QB might seem like a bad pick but if you’re looking a few years down the line, a QB pick could be quite smart.
One could easily argue that the Eagles need a talent upgrade at safety and Mark Barron should be on the board when the Eagles pick. Easy pick, right? I don’t think so. The Eagles have already invested two high draft picks into the safety position and adding another highly drafted safety would just create a logjam of highly drafted safeties that would only serve to stunt their growth. At some point you have to let the situation at safety play itself out and see what you’ve got. The young players need not be jerked around and the more reps and playing time they see, the better. And if you draft a safety like Barron highly, it would basically acknowledge that Jaiquawn Jarrett was a wasted pick. Does anyone really think the Eagles are going to give up on second round draft pick one year later? Drafting another young safety would only interfere with the development of young safeties already on the roster in my opinion.
If Luke Kuechly is on the board, I will be on my knees begging the football gods that the Eagles pick him. Why? Because I like him. And I bet the Eagles like him too but do they like him enough to draft him? Kuechly is the only linebacker who would be worth the #15 pick and during his career at Boston College, he was primarily a middle linebacker. I don’t know if you noticed but the Eagles already made a pretty significant investment in a veteran middle linebacker this year (Ryans gets paid over $6 million this year). Could you move Kuechly? Sure but I doubt he’d fit as well at strongside or weakside linebacker. And spending this much money at linebacker in one offseason would represent a huge shift in organizational philosophy. I’d love it but I’m not betting on it.
I’m looking at this team and I don’t see any real immediate needs. I think you could put this team out on the field now and they would compete. So how do you make them better? I certainly have my eyes trained on the defensive line (end or tackle) and quarterback. If I were a betting man, I’d be betting on either Tannehill, Cox, Brockers or Coples. And keep in mind that the Eagles have some picks to play around with; the Eagles have 4 top 100 picks and 3 picks in the top 51. Lots of ammo to do some moving around.
Who do you think the Eagles should draft? Is it the same player you think they will draft?