The Linc - Where Do Eagles Rank in the NFC?

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 4/9/2014.

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NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Pre-draft edition - JimmyK, Philly.com
5) With DeSean Jackson being released, much of the conversation surrounding the Eagles of late has been in regard to how badly that will hurt that offense in 2014. Personally, while I do think the loss of Jackson hurts them on the field, I think the Eagles' offense will be explosive again, with or without him. The Eagles still have work to do, but they have already upgraded 5 spots on defense, and there's a reasonable argument to be made that young players like Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, and maybe even Nate Allen will only continue to improve in year 2 in Billy Davis' defense. Keep in mind, at this time last year, the Eagles didn't even know what they were going run on defense. This offseason should be so much different for the defense in terms of preparation.

Lots of Draft News - Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz
WR Kelvin Benjamin was at the NovaCare Complex for a pre-draft visit. Some of you will love this news. Not me. I’m not Benjamin’s biggest fan, as I covered here. Just because I don’t like him doesn’t mean the Eagles agree. Bringing him in means one of two things…the Eagles have serious interest in Benjamin or they want people to think they do. One thing we do know is that the Eagles have serious interest in adding a big WR. They already brought in Mike Evans, another huge target. Cody Latimer visited Philly on Monday as well. He’s got good size at 6-2, 215. Bob Bicknell was at Donte Moncrief’s Pro Day. He’s not huge, but is a big receiver. Chip Kelly was at Jordan Matthews’ Pro Day. Matthews is 6-3, 212.

A look at long-term roster instability, and drafting the 'best player available' - JimmyK, Philly.com
NFL players get hurt. They get suspended. They get old. They lose their talent. They leave in free agency, and sometimes they get traded. Defenses move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 (and vice versa), and talented players no longer fit the new scheme. And on rare occasions, they'd rather be firefighters, they do sit-ups in their driveway, or they throw up gang signs and get cut (I kid!).  The long-term viability of players in the NFL are often complete unknowns. However, one thing is a certainty -- NFL rosters turn over very rapidly.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Spelling DeMeco - Sheil Kapadia, Birds 24/7
The Eagles played a base 3-4 in 2013. Their primary sub package was simple: the nose tackle comes off the field and Brandon Boykin trots out as a fifth defensive back. But Ryans and Mychal Kendricks always stayed put. That could change, however, in 2014. "I think you’d like to develop depth behind those guys so that they’re not playing every snap, but you’re still gonna play your best players," Kelly said. "So you always have to make decisions. Is putting someone else in… is it just to get him out of the game? Or is that a good matchup for us? But I think that’s kind of a priority for us is developing depth behind those two guys [Ryans and Kendricks]."

Mosher's top 5 Eagles draft needs - Geoff Mosher, CSN Philly
This is an under-discussed need for the Eagles. This is probably DeMeco Ryans’ last year and Mychal Kendricks is still a question mark in certain coverage assignments. Ryans is clearly more of a run-down linebacker who played far too many snaps last year. What the Eagles really need is another coverage linebacker who can team with Kendricks and strengthen the Eagles across the middle in the nickel. Just like nickel corners have become starters in the pass-heavy NFL, coverage linebackers have become equally as important. Remember, the Eagles weren’t beaten deep very often last year. Most of the yards they allowed came across the middle and underneath. A big-time coverage linebacker would cure plenty of this defense’s ills, and you can find them down in the draft much easier than you can find pass rushers or shut-down corners. Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp, who visited the Eagles, could do the job.

News, Notes And Things I Think - Dave Spadaro, PE.com
Good observation from NFL Network's Brian Baldinger, who visited the NovaCare Complex this week, as he talked about Foles and his progression in his third NFL season: "The windows are going to be tighter for Nick this year. The Eagles are playing the NFC West this season, and the defenses are outstanding. There aren't going to be a lot of easy throws out there against San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona. St. Louis has a tough defense."

A Perfect Fit in D.C. - Jonathan Tamari, Sports on Earth
We know Jackson struggles when things don't go his way. The last time I covered him in a game, it was in the final week of a season of pouting, in which he admitted he let a contract dispute hamper his play. He held out of training camp, got benched after missing a meeting, short-armed passes and ducked contact, contributing a scowl to a miserable 2011 Eagles season. His contract was up, his future uncertain.

The Notebook: Is Kony Ealy a 1st-round pick? - Stephen White, SB Nation NFL
The Missouri standout is seen by many as one of the top pass rushers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Not so fast, says retired NFL defensive end Stephen White.

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