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Sunday Problems with Saturday Solutions: Trying to fix the Eagles’ defense

College football recap.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After playing a game on rookie mode against the Jets, the Eagles’ defense got absolutely shredded in Minnesota on Sunday. Not a single cornerback could hang with the Vikings’ wide receiver corps and the defense was marred by a lack of pressure and miscommunication. There’s plenty of blame to go around from coaching to personnel across the defense. One thing is for sure; the unit needs an influx of talent.

The Eagles have drafted three defensive players in their last 10 picks: Avonte Maddox, Shareef Miller, and Josh Sweat. While Maddox and Sweat have shown varying levels of promise, the lack of hits on high value defensive players have marred the team. Derek Barnett has yet to take the next step while Rasul Douglas has been only okay and Sidney Jones has looked disappointing. The inability to add young impact players to the defense is taking a toll in a big way this year with veterans getting injured all over the place.

This week’s Saturday spotlight can take a broad focus then. There are dozens of college players at every level of defense who could be extremely helpful for the Eagles.

I’m particularly intrigued by Wisconsin defender Zack Baun who is an all around nightmare for any team facing the Badgers. The senior linebacker is a do-it-all defender who can defend the run, rush the passer and drop into coverage.

Baun, a former high school quarterback and basketball star, is a phenomenal athlete with a high level awareness on the field. Blend that with a relentless motor and you have one heck of a player. After being a rotational player for much of his career, Baun has six sacks, 10.5 TFLs, two forced fumbles and pick six this season. He is a bit of a true outside linebacker at his size (6’3”, 240) but he’s never had a problem dealing with big linemen in the running game. Teams that prefer bigger, hand in the ground edges might also be intrigued by Baun’s potential as an off-ball linebacker who can blitz and line up as a pass rusher on passing downs. Regardless, his hype will only grow this season.

On the back end, Alabama senior Shyheim Carter deserves recognition as a top cornerback target for any team in the draft. The six footer is not only an athletic cover corner, he is a valuable run defender as well and a heady player all around.

Carter was dominant all day against the run while not letting up any big plays in the passing game. He is a dependable, physical corner who could upgrade any defense that adds him.

Which draft prospects intrigue you?

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