The 2011 season is finally over. The Eagles have been done for a while, but now it's over for everyone. We can put 2011 into the books. Time to move on to the 2012 season.
The Eagles can't start signing unrestricted free agents and making trades until the new league year officially begins on March 13. They can work on contract extensions and internal moves like that, but mostly it will be us speculating about what the team will do and talking about what we think they should do. The tricky part is figuring out where the team needs an upgrade in talent as opposed to where it has young players who are developing.
You must be patient with young players and give them a chance to develop. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck did very little for two years before becoming an impact player. 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman had a quiet rookie year, but exploded in 2011. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo sat for almost three and a half seasons before he became a household name. Not every player shines from day one. Sometimes they have health issues. Other times guys just take longer to adjust to the NFL (schemes/coaching/level of competition).
At the same time, you can't have young players holding your team hostage, so to speak. You need the players to be at a functional level or you must have other starters in place. The Eagles went and claimed Kyle DeVan when they saw that
I see middle linebacker as the biggest question mark on the team.
Strongside linebacker is a bit more confusing. Chaney,
|Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He was a finalist for Philadelphia's Most Influential Blogger Award and is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com|
SAM linebacker is a spot where the Eagles got adequate play in 2011, but the team needs to improve. Also, a long-term answer at the position is needed. That player could already be on the roster, but you can't count on that based on past performance. I don't think the Eagles need to invest a first-round pick at SAM, but they do need to bring in a quality player. At this point, I'm not sure any draft prospect at SAM is worth the 15th pick. There should be good options in the second and third rounds.
Safety is a position that gets a lot of attention. This is a spot where I think the Eagles need to stand pat. The team has invested second-round picks in
One position that could see some change is wide receiver.
I think the Eagles need to add a receiver who is starting caliber so that if the current starters get hurt, there is someone ready to step in. Cooper and Avant have started in the past, but neither has proven to be a player you definitely want as a starter. Cooper lacks the consistency and experience. Avant is very good in the slot, where his quickness and crisp route-running help him to get open. On the outside against top corners, you need speed and/or size.
The good news is that there are plenty of quality free agents to choose from and the receiver class in the draft is outstanding. The Eagles can literally pick the kind of player they want. It is simply a matter of figuring out who fits best and what their draft value is. In an ideal world, the player would also help in the return game.
Beyond these spots, the Eagles are looking for talent upgrades or depth. Cornerback could be a position to watch. The Eagles have good starters in
Jonesin' For A Tackle
The Eagles added offensive tackle
Jones was a rookie in 2011. I went back and re-watched some tape of him from Nebraska's 2010 season. Jones started 17 games at Nebraska, all at right tackle. He has good lateral agility. Jones is a good run blocker. He can play in Howard Mudd's system. Tackles fire off the ball or move laterally. Jones does both well. In a system where he had to make a traditional vertical pass set, I think he'd have some issues. With good pro coaching (which he'll definitely get from Mudd), Jones could become a quality backup tackle. I don't know that I would ever project him starting, but he's good competition for a backup spot on the line. Plus, if he gets Mudd's seal of approval, you can sure bet he'll get mine.