Philadelphia Eagles Draft Needs

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Scott Tunstall from Inside the Iggles and Fan-Sided Blogs weighs in on who the Eagles should be looking at in the upcoming 2009 NFL Draft.

After losing their fourth NFC Championship game in eight years, it’s obvious the Eagles need some help. Since they can’t draft an entire new front-office in April, I guess I’ll have to look at some players who might be able to help them get back to the Big Game. Of course, talking about draft needs for the Eagles can be a futile discussion since they often ignore “need” and do whatever the hell they want. I give you the name Kevin Kolb. At any rate, here are areas the Birds should be looking to improve.

Positions: OT, RB, TE, FB, DT, WR

A lot of what the Eagles do on draft day will depend on what is done in free agency. With both Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas potentially heading elsewhere, offensive tackle is the most critical position of need. Winston Justice (a 2nd round pick in 2006) was supposed to be a future starting tackle but he has been a complete bust. That means back to the ‘ol drawing board. They hold two first round picks, so if they stand pat at 21 and 28, expect one of these selections to be a tackle. Players of interest: Eben Britton, Arizona; William Beatty, Connecticut. A trade-up to acquire one of the elite tackles like Michael Oher is also possible.

Brian Westbrook had an injury riddled 2008 and will be 30 before next season. A bigger, more physical back to complement B-West is a must. Now, Andy Reid has never selected a running back in the first round and I doubt this year will be any different. I love Chris Wells, but the Birds would have to move up to get him and that will not happen. They could stay at 21 and still get a decent back, although waiting until round 2 or 3 is the more likely scenario. Players of interest: Knowshon Moreno, Georgia; LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh; Andre Brown, N.C. State; Marlon Lucky, Nebraska. Both Brown and Lucky are quality receivers, which makes them appealing.

L.J. Smith is on his way out of Philadelphia. For multiple reasons, L.J. never materialized into a star tight end. Nagging injuries and questionable hands ruined his time in Philly. Brent Celek came alive in the post-season and will be given every opportunity to seize the starting job. However, an elite pass catching tight end would greatly benefit Donovan McNabb and an offense that struggles in the red zone. Players of interest: Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State; Jared Cook, South Carolina. Pettigrew is flying up draft boards. If he’s available at 21, it would constitute a major steal.

I’m not certain the Eagles will spend a pick on a fullback, but they have to seriously consider it. Dan Klecko is a converted defensive tackle and would be better suited shifting back to defense. Kyle Eckel, a mid-season acquisition, is in the mix, but a young, punishing lead blocker would do wonders for a suspect rush offense. Players of interest: Brannan Southerland, Georgia; Chris Pressley, Wisconsin. Southerland blocked for Knowshon Moreno. Pressley blocked for P.J. Hill.

The Eagles are pretty stacked at defensive tackle. Starters Bunkley and Patterson are solid. Trevor Laws looks like a keeper. However, none of these guys have shown an ability to collapse the pocket and sack the quarterback. A disruptive tackle that can get into the backfield is needed. Players of interest: Evander Hood, Missouri; Vance Walker, Georgia Tech. Both Hood and Walker lack ideal size, but each is capable of attacking quarterbacks.

DeSean Jackson was a find in the 2008 draft. He is a skilled playmaker with tremendous upside. Wow, I sounded like a “draft expert” there. Take that Mel Kiper! Anyway, it appears after missing on several forgettable wide receivers like Na Brown, Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell and Reggie Brown, Reid finally found a potential star in Jackson. That being said, a tall red zone threat is a must. If they don’t land an elite tight end, they need to turn their attention to receiver. Players of interest: Kenny Britt, Rutgers; Brandon LaFell, LSU; Brian Robiskie, Ohio State. Britt could be an absolute steal in the second or third round. LaFell has size and speed. Robiskie is not fast, but is physical with a great pair of hands.

Predicting what the Eagles might do on draft day is always a chore. For the most part, the brass does their homework and runs the draft very efficiently. Of the 22 starters that finished the 2008 season, 17 were either drafted or signed as undrafted free agents. That’s a pretty good success rate. Let’s hope they continue that success in 2009.