Eagles depth chart: A pre-draft look

Note: I posted this over at my site, but thought it might make for some good discussion here as well.

Green = Position is set, unlikely to be addressed in the draft. Yellow = Player's spot on depth chart in question, could be addressed in the draft. Red = Highly likely to be addressed in the draft if player is high on the depth chart, unlikely to make the team if low on the depth chart. Also, if the player is 30 years of age or older as of this publish date, his age is noted in parenthesis.

Offensive notes:

  • The starting lineup on offense is pretty much completely set.
  • According to Les Bowen's notes from a sit down that he scored with Andy Reid, "Reid sees Mike Kafka as his No. 2 QB in 2012, with Trent Edwards maybe No. 3, depending on how he does and what else develops, via the draft, for instance." The Eagles have 9 draft picks, so it would make some sense to draft a developmental QB. If they were to take a QB in the mid-late rounds, it would be an endorsement of Kafka as the 2. However, if the Eagles were to take a QB in say, the 2nd round, Kafka should be worried.
  • It's a decent bet the Eagles will take a RB at some point during the draft, unless they sign a vet between now and then. RB's have come off the shelf slowly in free agency this year, so that possibility exists in the next couple weeks. Do the Eagles see Dion Lewis as a legitimate #2? As a compliment to LeSean McCoy, I think they might. But if LeSean McCoy goes down for a few weeks, is Lewis ready to come in and be an every down back that can run, catch, and most importantly, block? That's the real question.
  • Former Na Brown award winner Riley Cooper could be in trouble. This WR draft class is extremely deep and talented, and I'm not just talking about first round talent. If the Eagles are true to their board, there's a good chance that at some point the best player available will happen to be a WR.
  • Tight end is unlikely to be addressed, in my opinion. It's a weak draft class, and the Eagles don't heavily utilize 2 TE sets, as Clay Harbor only saw 369 snaps last season. Harbor has ability.
  • King Dunlap will be the swing tackle, and he has made himself into a good one in that role. D.J. Jones will be fighting for a roster spot, as will guys like Mike Gibson, Steve Vallos, and Julian Vandervelde. I'd be shocked if the Eagles didn't try to draft some depth for the OL, even with some decent reserves in place.
  • I placed Jason Peters off to the side. The NFL is considering the option of placing a player on IR for 8 weeks, as opposed to having the IR automatically ending a player's entire season. If the league implements that rule, Jason Peters could be the first player in the league to ever get that designation. If the league does not implement that rule, expect him to land on the PUP list.

Defense after the jump...

Defensive notes:

  • I was initially mildly surprised that the Eagles didn't cut Darryl Tapp. He's set to make $2.575 million in 2012, but since it's not like the Eagles have their backs up against the cap, they may as well just hang onto him for now. Tapp played well in the opportunities he got in 2011, but the Eagles have a wealth of depth at the DE position. If they draft another one this year, the Eagles could try to trade Tapp for something like a late pick in 2013.
  • Phillip Hunt is the only 3rd stringer to be highlighted in green. He's young, the team likes him, and he too played well in his opportunities last year. He's looking like a lock to make the 2012 roster, even though he's sort of buried on the depth chart.
  • One spot that would make a lot of sense in the first round is UT position, or the "under tackle" position in the Eagles' Wide 9. The two DT positions in the Eagles defense, the UT and the NT, are different. The Eagles like to line up the NT in the gap between the C and the LG. It's his job to shoot that gap and command a double team. The Eagles go three deep at NT: Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, and Derek Landri. The UT, meanwhile, typically lines up on the outside shoulder of the RG. The idea is for the UT to get one-on-one matchups with the RG, while also forcing one-on-one matchups with the LDE on the RT. You want your UT to have some good pass rushing ability. That's the position that Cullen Jenkins plays. Behind Jenkins, the Eagles are thin at the UT spot, and they could use a long term answer there to develop before it's too late and they have to send the 31 year old Jenkins to the glue factory. Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox would be perfect in that role. H/t to Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz for learnin' me up on the difference between the two positions at the Senior Bowl.
  • Note that Derek Landri and Cedric Thornton are listed under both DT positions. They could both probably play either spot, but I think that they're both better suited to play NT. If the Eagles draft a DT, they'll probably have to cut either Landri or Thornton, and I don't think it's a no-brainer that Thornton would be the odd man out. Landri was fantastic last year, but if the training camp battle is close, Thornton is 5 years younger, and let's not forget... Landri didn't make the initial 53-man roster in 2011 and the team was very slow to re-sign him this offseason.
  • The Eagles' linebacker situation was a mess, obviously. DeMeco Ryans should solidify the middle, but work still needs to be done. Jamar Chaney was great at the end of the 2010 season, but he was awful in 2011. If the season started today, he'd be the SAM. Luke Kuechly could still be in play here. While the best fit for Kuechly would be as a 4-3 MLB, he'd also fit in nicely as a 4-3 SAM for a few years, before sliding over to MLB to take over for Ryans whenever he begins to slow down. Brian Rolle, meanwhile, was easily the Eagles' best LB last season, but he's certainly not above being challenged for the starting WILL spot.
  • The last order of serious business for the Eagles this offseason is trading my new best friend, Asante Samuel. I think the Eagles would do the dance of joy for a 3, but it's probably more likely that they'll get a pick in 2013 for him.
  • Nnamdi Asomugha turns 31 in July, and while I believe he still has plenty left in the tank, I can't help but recall the 2003 draft, when the Eagles spent first and second round picks on Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown when they already had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor in place. It's also noteworthy that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a free agent in 2013. Not to mention, take a gander at the immediate depth behind Asomugha and DRC. Not great. Dre Kirkpatrick's game is similar in many ways to Asomugha's. He excels in press coverage, which is something the Eagles want to do more of. If the Eagles like him, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see him come off the board at 15.
  • At safety, Nate Allen is 24 and was recovering from a serious knee injury in 2011, and played well down the stretch. Jaiquawn Jarrett is 22. Kurt Coleman is 23, and while he’s not an athletic marvel by any stretch of the imagination, he’s not going to kill you. None of those 3 players has ever had a complete February-to-September offseason in the NFL. Jarrett is the wildcard here. He had a less-than-ideal rookie season for a 2nd round pick. To be determined what the Eagles think of him. One name that has been linked to the Eagles lately is Mark Barron. I like Mark Barron, but let’s be realistic here. He’s not anywhere near the kind of safety prospect that other guys in recent years have been, like Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Sean Taylor (RIP), LaRon Landry, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, etc. If you’re drafting a safety at 15, you expect him to be a star, not just "the most complete safety" in a terrible safety draft class.
  • Last offseason, the Eagles cut Joselio Hanson and I threw a hissy fit. Hanson had a great 2010 season, and I didn't understand why the Eagles were dumping salary at the slot CB position, even with 3 uber-talented CB's already in place. They wound up re-signing him, and he wasn't nearly as good as he was in 2010. Hanson still probably sees the back of Wes Welker's jersey in his nightmares. Plus, he's 30. Expect the Eagles to find either a long-term or immediate replacement here.

Special Teams notes:

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