Philadelphia Eagles News

Benoit: Top Five Needs For The Eagles

Andy Benoit of wrote a piece for the New York Times and sized up the Eagles' top five needs heading into the draft and the remainder of the off-season.

At No. 5, Benoit listed the weakside linebacker spot.

"Akeem Jordan is athletic, but there's no one to challenge him," Benoit wrote.

Omar Gaither might have something to say about that. Jordan had a good year that was sidetracked by a knee injury and then he was pressed into action at middle linebacker. Jordan's speed and his willingness to take on blockers make him a good fit for the weak side. Gaither has started on the weak side before, but his 2009 season ended prematurely with a foot injury. Gaither was also put in the middle to replace Stewart Bradley to start the season, so he didn't have a chance to compete for the weakside post.

At No. 4, Benoit put down the center position.

"How quickly can Jamaal Jackson rebound from his torn ACL?" Benoit wrote.

I believe in terms of priority this should be higher on the list. Jackson told our Bob Kent in his first interview since the injury that three months removed from surgery he's on schedule, but he admitted he doesn't know what the timetable for his return is. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters at the Owner's Meetings that he doesn't expect Jackson back until August at the earliest. It looks like Nick Cole will get the first crack at the starting spot with Mike McGlynn and A.Q. Shipley pushing him. Needless to say, the Eagles need to be prepared if Jackson, who Benoit wrote had a career year in 2009 before the injury, isn't ready to start the season.

At No. 3, Benoit has the left tackle position.

"They've invested too much in Jason Peters to dump him," Benoit wrote. "And Peters is too talented to be dumped. But bringing in a veteran to push this underachiever wouldn't hurt."

Benoit also added that Peters made the Pro Bowl on name recognition early, but I'll argue this - who was better than him? And the dropoff between Peters and his backups - Todd Herremans and King Dunlap - was noticeable. Just ask DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys. Peters had to learn a new technique and didn't get all of training camp to do so because of injury. The Eagles got one of the best in the game in the midst of his prime. You could argue depth at the position is needed, although I think Herremans would be fine in a full-time role. But a problem with Peters? Not to me at least.

At No. 2, Benoit stayed with the offense line and pointed to the right guard position.

"Wide-bodied plodder Nick Cole holds up as a starter, but the Eagles would be better off if he were a utility backup," Benoit wrote.

The plan for the start of the 2009 season was to have newly signed Stacy Andrews play right guard. Andrews' knee was not up to the task and Cole took the job. But, of course, that was only after Todd Herremans returned from his stress fracture. And when Jackson went down at center ... Cole played all three interior line positions last year and the line had good chemistry with him at the right guard spot. With Andrews having his eye on winning the right guard spot, Cole will be locked in at center because of Jackson's injury. Max Jean-Gilles also wants to get back in the mix.

And for Benoit's No. 1 need, drumroll please, it's strongside linebacker.

"Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott doesn't seem to be a big fan of Chris Gocong," Benoit wrote. "The other option, Moise Fokou, gets involved in piles but doesn't stand out."

I think Tommy Lawlor summarized the SAM linebacker spot quite well in his Fan-Demonium column. Basically, Fokou showed some potential that the year of experience and an entire off-season should polish up. If the Eagles don't address SAM linebacker the draft, Fokou will be No. 1 going into camp with Gocong looking to win his job back.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:55 p.m., March 30

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