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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles: Free Agency Vs. The Draft Part 4

For the past ten years, it has been argued whether the Eagles would have won a championship or more had Donovan McNabb and the offense had they more weapons to work with. More recently this has been used by McNabb apologists as his legacy is being called into question, but regardless, it is a valid question. Since the Andy Reid era began, you can count the offensive “skilled” players drafted in the first round on one hand. There is Donovan, and then there is Freddie Mitchell. Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown, and DeSean Jackson were all second rounders. Westbrook was drafted in third round and Correll Buckhalter in the fourth. Their focus in the first round has really been the O and D lines.

Wide receiver has always been an intriguing position for Eagles fans, most of who know that the group they have had has been slightly below average at best. Philly has gone out on a limb and picked up T.O. via a trade a few years back and went to the Super Bowl, since that time, Kevin Curtis has been the only guy they’ve brought in that has made an impact. Some would argue that the short time Donte Stallworth was in town would qualify, and maybe he would if he stuck around for another year. This year, I would doubt that the Eagles would go after a wideout like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who would command more money than Joe Banner would want to part with. Instead I would expect them to go after a role player like Pittsburgh’s Nate Washington, if they go the free agency route at all. Philadelphia will select one receiver in this draft, probably in the middle rounds, whether that person even makes the team though, is questionable. As long as Greg (G.Lew) Lewis isn’t back, it’s and upgrade. Since one Rutgers alum will be leaving (L.J. Smith), Kenny Britt would look nice running fade routes where his fellow Scarlett Knight seemed to disappear.

Running back would be pretty much the same story. Unfortunately, Buckhalter will probably not be back, especially if he knows he can get more playing time elsewhere. That leaves Westbrook and bust Lorenzo Booker. I’ve seen mock drafts having the Eagles select a running back in the first round, but I can’t imagine that happening. They’ll pick up someone in the third or fourth round. Chris Wells would be great for the Birds but Andre Brown out of NC State is more likely to occur. There are no decent prospects for signing a free agent for the Eagles since Jacobs franchised and both Sproles and Derrick Ward will be looking, again, to make more money than the Eagles will want to spend.

The Eagles do have other priorities other than running back and receiver, I’ll acknowledge. It is just a shame that the flashes of razzle-dazzle come just seldom enough, fans aren’t sure the team is capable of putting on a show. DeSean Jackson, who doesn’t exactly fit “Andy Reid’s type of player mold,” has that potential and talent, so we’ll have to see if he can build on a fine rookie season. B.West seems like he is just out of that stage of his career. Whether the Eagles will use one of their top picks to try to get some of that sparkle back remains to be seen. However, I would not expect them to make too much of a splash in regards to skilled players, either in free agency or the draft.

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