The Eagles' 1st-round pick
Here's a look at where the Eagles are slotted to draft in the first round of April's draft, along with a very early look at some of the positions they need to address.
The Eagles' 1st-round pick
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
We don't know a lot about what the offseason landscape in the NFL is going to look like.
But we do know there will be a draft on April 28-30.
And now, since the Eagles got bounced in the first round of the playoffs, we know where they will pick: No. 23.
NFL.com lays out how the draft order is determined. The top 20 picks go to teams that missed out on the playoffs, and the final 12 are slotted by playoff performance. The Super Bowl champ picks 32nd, and the Super Bowl loser 31st.
The championship round losers get 29 and 30. The divisional round losers 25 to 28. And the wild-card round losers 21 to 24.
This year, the wild-card round losers were the Colts, Eagles, Saints and Chiefs. The Saints finished 11-5 so they get No. 24; the Eagles, Chiefs and Colts all finished 10-6. The tiebreak is determined by opponents' strength of schedule. The Eagles' opponents had a better winning percentage than the Colts' or the Chiefs'. That's why they're 23rd.
Of course, none of this means that the Eagles will actually pick 23rd. They've pulled a first-round trade in each of the past four drafts.
Overall, the Birds have eight picks: one in the first round, one in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the seventh. The remaining pick from the Donovan McNabb deal turned out to be a fourth-rounder since he did not reach the goals that would have made it a third-round pick.
While it's probably a little early to begin speculating on who the Eagles might be targeting, it's interesting to note that draft needs seem eerily similar to a year ago. After back-to-back losses to the Cowboys to end last season, the Birds made their pass-rush a priority. They let Darren Howard and Jason Babin go, and traded Chris Clemons (and a fourth-round pick) to Seattle for Darryl Tapp. In the draft, they traded up for Brandon Graham in the first round. The Eagles spent their first five picks on defense and two of their first three on pass rushers.
The issue of who would replace Sheldon Brown at right cornerback wasn't really addressed. The team's philosophy was that it would be OK with Ellis Hobbs as long as the pass rush got to opposing quarterbacks. Well, we all know how that turned out. Right corner was an issue all season and remains an issue this offseason.
As for the defensive line, Graham will be coming off a torn ACL, and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim showed no signs in limited action that he's ready to contribute. In other words, it would not be surprising to see the Eagles draft defensive line early once again.
And, of course, there's the offensive line. The left side is good with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans. The Eagles should be OK at center with either Jamaal Jackson or Mike McGlynn. And the right side is where they need to make decisions. Is Winston Justice the player they rewarded with an extension during the 2009 season? Or the player they benched against the Packers? Could McGlynn fill in at right guard? Max Jean-Gilles showed improvement in 2010. Can he build on that next season? Is Nick Cole anything more than a backup? Those are the questions on the O-line. Some of them existed last season, but the Eagles did not use any of their 13 picks on an offensive lineman.
There are many holes, and with the uncertainty surrounding free agency, April's draft could have added importance. It's entirely possible (and even likely) that the Eagles will have not added a single player to their roster by the time the draft rolls around.
Then again, if the rookie are not allowed to sign or practice with the team in the offseason, it might be unrealistic to expect them to contribute right away anyway.
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