Logic suggests that an increased accumulation of talent equates to increased output, or, in the case of football, wins.
Last offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles signed nearly every top-rated free agent under the sun, only to end up with as many losses as wins (eight each), and the 15th pick in the forthcoming NFL draft.
Okay, now’s not the time or place to get into everything that went wrong in Philadelphia in 2011, but it’s easy to understand that despite accumulating so much talent last offseason, this team still needs more…talent.
Offensively, the Eagles were in particularly good shape until a recent blow left star left tackle Jason Peters staring at 2012 on injured reserve, as he went down with an Achilles’ rupture suffered in an offseason workout.
The team swiftly pounced on Demetress Bell, who was oddly still without a team, despite playing a premium position and with both youth and talent on his side. He’s more than a band-aid for Philly – he’s just not Peters.
Defensively, however, it wasn’t so pretty for Philadelphia. Particularly up the middle, where the Eagles had nothing in the way of an interior wall of defense. No matter how talented they were in the secondary or how many sacks Trent Cole and Jason Babin would combine for, the fact remained that Philly was pudding-soft up the gut.
Time for that to change.
Will it happen in the first round of the NFL draft?
Here’s my take:
Who they will draft: Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Mississippi State. It’s my belief that Eagles fans – and perhaps the team itself – would prefer to see Dontari Poe picked here, but the chances of him sliding this far given the current infatuation everyone has with him is unlikely. Truthfully, however, that would prove to be a blessing in disguise, as Cox may just be the better overall prospect, and certainly is more ready to contribute immediately. What analysts always talk about with Cox is his versatility in any scheme. That alone separates him from most college defensive linemen prospects.
Who they should draft: Cox. Like we said up top, this defense needs support up the middle. Adding linebacker Demeco Ryans via trade deflates the need for Philly to go after one of the higher rated inside linebacker prospects, but he alone wont be enough to resolve a porous run D. Getting Cox in front of him, along with the presumed improvement of a young linebacking core alongside Ryans will pay dividends for Philadelphia in 2012.
Who they could draft: Michael Brockers, defensive tackle, LSU. One of the beauties of the NFL draft is the variation of opinions you come across. For example, there are those out there that believe Brockers – not Poe or Cox – is the defensive tackle with the most upside at the NFL level. The problem for Brockers in Philly is that he doesn’t project to play inside in a 4-3 scheme, which, of course, the Eagles run. He’s better suited as a 5 technique, but the fact remains that he has immense talent and potential. That may be too good for Philly to pass up at 15.
Who they shouldn’t draft: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M. No, Tannehill wont be around at pick 15, but no, I’m not discounting the possibility of Andy Reid moving up in the draft (his track record suggests that if he covets a player he’ll do what it takes to get him). But why make the splash for Tannehill with Mike Vick recently signed to a mega extension? I know Reid salivates over QB potential and is the best tutor around, but stockpiling talent at the position doesn’t make sense for a roster ready to win now. Truth be told, the Eagles reported interest in Tannehill sounds more like a smokescreen than anything else to me – I’m not buying into it.