Its time to face the music Eagles fans…. we are officially "rebuilding". After our free agency spending spree and following implosion in which we were only four points, a made FG, and a fourth quarter drive from going 0-16, its time to start over. We are at the end of a 14-year run with Andy Reid and at the beginning of the Chip Kelly era. We face an uphill battle dealing with a change in our defensive scheme, no definitive starter at QB, and division stacked with excellent QB play and playoff contenders. The first step to rebuilding a relevant and feared team is this year’s 2013 NFL Draft. The Eagles don’t have a staggering amount of team needs but they are at some keys positions.
We need a future starter at QB. Michael Vick had his chances and blew all of them. It time to move on. I am also not convinced that Nick Foles is the future of this franchise either. Should we draft a QB this year? If we do I really think EJ Manuel is the answer. If not him we should wait until next year for young talent like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Keith Price, or Tajh Boyd. Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal. He has the mobility Kelly is looking for and he is also a proven leader; taking Louisville to next level this past season. With another season under his belt who knows what kind of talent we could be dealing with.
The Eagles are fortunate enough to be stacked when it comes to offensive skill positions. I can’t see any moves when it comes to running backs or wide receivers. But something that I have consistently heard is Chip Kelly loves his tight ends (better than feet right?). But in all seriousness we have Brent Celek, James Casey, and Clay Harbor and this raises a few questions. Was Casey brought in as a tight end or more of an H-Back? Also this position calls for depth and talent for multiple tight end sets. Clay Harbor has shown some flashes but we can look to the draft for depth.
Possibly our biggest need is the offensive line. Jason Peters is coming back from a ruptured Achilles and most likely won’t be the same considering he’s not getting any younger. Jason Kelce is coming back from a torn ACL but his injury happened early last season and he should be set to go barring any setbacks. Danny Watkins is bust and this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. This is what happens when you draft a 26-year old Canadian firefighter, just saying. We really need to look at the tackle position so we can bump Todd Herremans back to his natural position and send Watkins to the deepest depths of our bench. There's plenty of offensive line talent in this draft. We could go with Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson at number 4 or we could look at Melenik Watson, Kyle Long, and Terron Armstead in the second round.
The trickiest projections for next year are for our front seven as we move to the 3-4 defensive system. Isaac Sopoaga to fill in at nose tackle but he is only a temporary solution. Fletcher Cox will be a starter at one defensive end position but we need to find another 5-technique before the season starts. Some mock drafts have the Eagles taking Star Lotulelei but drafting a 5-tech that early always has boom or bust implications you either get an absolute beast such as J.J. Watt and Haloti Ngata or you get absolutely nothing like the Chiefs got with Tyson Jackson. We can’t afford to take that risk in the first round, especially when there are talented defensive ends in the lower rounds. We have plenty of depth with our outside rush linebackers but not a lot of experience in a 3-4 outside of the recently signed Connor Barwin. Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Philip Hunt, and Vinny Curry all have the ability to get to the quarterback. This could be a deadly rotation if they can adjust to playing in space and get comfortable with rushing without their hand in the dirt. The other thing the Eagles should consider is depth at inside linebacker.
The Eagles easily had the worst pair of starting safeties in the NFL last year. We tried to fix that serious problem with free agent signings Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips, who will mostly be the solution. I could still see the Eagles drafting a young talent in the later rounds in case Kenny Phillips doesn’t work out, considering he’s on a one-year deal. We also had a free agency overhaul of our two "superstar" cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Their replacements, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, seem like great fits for the speedy and aggressive defense the franchise is trying to create. We still have great depth with Brandon Boykins, Brandon Hughes, Curtis Marsh, and Trevard Lindley as well.
We already made a move to get rid of Matt McBriar, whose punting was atrocious, by signing Donnie Jones but I really think we need to take a look at Brad Wing. Jones has a punting average of 45.6 yds per punt and Wing averaged 44.6 in college but his added athleticism and speed could make him a special teams nightmare in the right hands.
LSU Punter Brad Wing Fake Punt for TD before penalty (via jmanselph)
Round 1 Pick 4 – Lane Johnson (OT) – Plenty of mock drafts now have the Jaguars taking Eric Fisher and we seriously need a tackle.
Round 2 Pick 35 – Margus Hunt (DE) – Another freakish athlete that would be an instant starter on our current roster.
Round 3 Pick 67 – Vance McDonald (TE) – Strong, versatile tight end with a majority of his college playing time in the slot.
Round 4 Pick 101 – Kwame Geathers (NT) – He’s a massive space-eater and we recently traded for his brother Clifton.
Round 5 Pick 136 – Luke Marquardt (OT) – Converted basketball player and former tight end with tremendous upside.
Round 7 Pick 210 – Michael Mauti (ILB) – Plagued by injured but when he played, he was special.
Round 7 Pick 212 – Brad Wing (P) – Punter with a strong leg and athleticism.
Round 7 Pick 218 – Jordan Rodgers (QB) – He’s the brother of Aaron Rodgers, a bit undersized but athletic and shifty with a good arm.
Round 7 Pick 239 – Rontez Miles (S) – Tackling machine out of a small college. Could be a great special teams player and adds depth.
Potential Rookie Free Agents
Ray Ray Armstrong (S) – A talented safety who just had some bad luck with the NCAA. Has the build of Sean Taylor… RIP
James Ferentz (C) – Extremely undersized center but has the intelligence to excel. Son of a coach.
Chris Thompson (RB) – Had an impressive senior season before tearing his ACL. Some of his highlights just blow your mind.
FSU RB Chris Thompson Senior Highlights (GET WELL CT!!!!) (via RayFoye Combo)
Please leave comments and criticism! This is my first post!