Now that the coaching staff is finally in place, and with the 2011 NFL Draft is looming, there are a lot of things for the Eagles to consider. What takes priority? Clearly, the squads needing the most work are the defensive and offensive lines. I've gone over how the Eagles can address defensive line issues in the free agency, but what about young talent?
Philadelphia owns the 23 pick in the first round of the 2011 draft. Assuming they don't collect more first-round picks in a Kolb-unknown team trade, they will be at the lower-end of the first round. Scout Inc.'s draftee-ranking list has plenty of offensive and defensive line players around it's lower-midsection, so the Eagles could really get something out of it.
Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson is ranked 23rd by Scout Inc., but NFL Draft Scout has him pegged as a second-round pick. If picked up by the Eagles, Wilkerson and his Temple MVP trophy could easily move down Broad Street and spend half the season behind or even displace Trent Cole or Antonio Dixon on the right side, and could potentially add power if the Eagle's don't pick up a cornerback in the free agency to complement Asante Samuel on the left.
Missouri's Aldon Smith is could be an interesting choice for the Eagles. He's ranked 16th by Scout Inc., and he's projected to go in the first round, though there's a hitch. He received a leg injury that slowed the beginning of his season, and some teams may decide that entering the draft now is a mistake, like ESPN's Gil Brandt. This could benefit the Eagles if they pass on him early by allowing them to pick him up later. He could fulfill a role similar to Wilkerson as a defensive end, possibly backing up or outright replacing Juqua Parker on the right side. He could also be used to add depth to or help prop up the Eagles linebacker corps, saving the team money in the free agency.
On the offensive side, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, ranked 17th by Scout Inc. and projected to go in the first two rounds could help stop up the cracks defenses found in the Eagles' offensive line as the season dragged on. Having him learn behind Winston Justice or even start next to him, displacing Nick Cole could help protect Vick better from late-season and playoff defensive lines. Strength and depth is not something the Eagles can afford to overlook in this defense-needing offseason.
I'll post more draft preferences, predictions, and analysis as the April 28th event draws nearer, and as things develop in this very fluid offseason for both the Eagles and the NFL as a whole.
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