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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Vs. The Draft Part 2

After addressing the offensive line and the two aging tackles that may or may not be with the team come the opening of training camp, safety is the next position the Eagles need to address. Despite the Pro-Bowl season of Brian Dawkins last year, it is easy to see that he is on the relative downside of his career. He can no longer be left in coverage by himself with any real sense of security, not that his immediate replacement Quintin Demps can either. Pass coverage is not really the strong point of the Eagles safties in general, aside from perhaps Q. Mikell. They need to be near the line as part of Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson’s scheme, and that creates a one-dimensionality that limits the scheme overall, dictating who the blitzers can be.

This seems to me to be a need that will be addressed through the draft. The last time they signed a safety out of free agency was, I think, Blaine Bishop. Yeremiah Bell is the best guy on the market that plays the same position as B.Dawk, but he is not better. I figure this much, the Eagles will give #20 the contract that will allow him to end his career as one of the most decorated and celebrated Eagles. They will use a high draft pick to select his replacement and will slowly integrate the rookie into the system so that he will be fully ready to take over for a Philadelphia legend. Forget about Demps, Sean Considine, J.R. Reed and the rest of the rabble. They will get fresh young blood to take over for the “old” man.

Now the question becomes, who are they selecting in the Draft and when? If, and I mean if, they trade up in the first round, they’ll be taking a tackle, not a safety. That would leave them to pick over the second tier of guys like Patrick Chung of Oregon or William Moore of Mizzou. I like the prospect of Moore, who was, and maybe still is, a first rounder by most accounts. A step lower and you might find Michael Hamlin from Clemson. Hey! Brian Dawkins went to Clemson. Hmmm. The Eagles must figure what they are going to do in the first round, particularly now that there is speculation that one of their two picks may go in a trade for Anquan Bouldin, but they cannot let the safety position slide. They can’t afford to go with a sixth round pick and expect him to be able to fill in with the capacity of skill required for the spot.

Whatever the case, safety was slightly exposed, not slightly….sorry, glaringly exposed during the NFC Championship. They need a guy who can do a good job in coverage to help the other DBs so that guys like Larry Fitzgerald or T.O. remained as contained as possible. If the guy they pick up can hit like a truck, well, that’s great too. But for now, let’s get a player who is intelligent enough to pick up the system so that when Dawkins decides his time has come, he can leave his spot to someone who is competent, confident, and able to continue the journey started by the great ones before him.

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