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Jason Babin had a great year for the Eagles, but the rest of the defense wasn't up to par.
The Eagles have a few faults on defense, and can fix them up in this year's draft.
Coming into the 2011-12 season, many expected the Eagles to be playing next week instead of the Giants. They were nicknamed the "Dream Team" before they even stepped onto the field. After the signings of Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the offseason, the Eagles added five Pro-Bowlers in a span of two weeks. Add to that, the lethal offensive combination of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and the quickest wide receiver combination in the league, and this team will be set to win it all. So what happened, why aren't they in the Super Bowl? Injuries, hubris, and chemistry destroyed the Eagles this season, and although they did rally at the end of the year, their early start doomed them.
2011 Record: 8-8
Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receivers, Left Tackle, Defensive Ends, Cornerbacks
Let's be real, if Michael Vick is completely healthy, this offense can compete with anyone. LeSean McCoy was the leading rusher in the NFC this year and also led all rushers in touchdowns. Add a healthy Michael Vick and you then have threats down the field, up the middle, and the possibility of a quarterback scramble. The question with this offense isn't, "can they keep up?", it's "will they be healthy". As for the defense, the Eagles have one of the top pass rushing combos in the league in Jason Babin and Trent Cole. Babin, Cole, and Cullen Jenkins nearly combined for 35 sacks this season, the most between three players in the entire league. And in the backfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can shut down almost any receiver core in the NFL.
Weaknesses: Right side of the Offensive Line, Linebacker, Tight End, Free Safety
Jason Peters did a great job protecting Vick's left side, but remember it's his right side that is his blind side. In order to keep the $100 million man healthy, the Eagles have to protect him and make sure he doesn't hit the deck too many times. Also, improving the offensive line would only make LeSean McCoy even better than he already is. As for the linebackers, the Eagles were really hurt this year on linebacker coverage. While the front four are great, the linebackers struggled to guard tight ends, or drop into coverage. Your defense is only as good as your weakest link. Same goes for the Safety's. While the cornerbacks are guarding their men, the safety's need to be ball hawking in the middle of the field, reading the quarterback's eyes. The Eagles struggled this year in the secondary, and a lot of the responsibility has to go to the safety's. Finally, Brent Celek is a good tight end, but he has been banged up in the past, and it's always good to have a second tight end option.
Possible Options with 1st round pick (15th overall): Zach Brown, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, David DeCastro, Melvin Ingram
Kuechly- Kuechly would add instant help to the linebacking core. He is an inside linebacker that would excel under the Eagles' 4-3 defense. Kuechly has been regarded as the top insider linebackers in this class after finishing up a great year at Boston College Ultimatly, Kuechly can turn out to be the next James Laurinaitis in the NFL, a solid linebacker who can control the middle of the field.Their offense needs little to no help, and both of these players could make immediate impacts on the team.
Barron- The safety out of Alabama is also on the rise, after helping the Crimson Tide win the National Championship Game against LSU. Barron has a great combination of size, strength, and smarts that will help him in the next level. He is a hard hitting safety, but can also be smart in the secondary and read the quarterback's every move. I think Barron would be a good fit for the Eagles, but I wouldn't see them taking Barron with Kuechly still on the board. I think the whole linebacking core is more of an issue than a secondary that already has three great cornerbacks.
DeCastro- As I wrote in the Redskins' profile, DeCastro has the size and determination to be a top guard in the NFL. He excelled at Stanford, protecting Andrew Luck's right side, and helped shut down Oklahoma State's defensive line in the Fiesta Bowl. The All-American would be a great help to the Eagles because he plays on the right side, which is very important to Michael Vick. Not sure if DeCastro would be on the board by the time the Eagles are on the clock, but he would be a good fit for them. I think they will go defense first, but DeCastro wouldn't be a surprise pick.
Brown/Ingram- Both are star outside linebackers that had very impressive seasons at North Carolina and South Carolina respectively. Brown isn't the biggest linebacker on the field, but he makes up for it with his speed that helps him get around tackles on the outside. The Eagles love speed so this pick wouldn't surprise me as well. As for Ingram, many thought JaDeveon Clowney would be the star linemen for the Gamecocks, but Ingram exploded this season. Both of these guys have extreme athleticism, something the Eagles look for.
What the Eagles need in later picks: Safety, depth at Offensive Line (assuming they draft linebacker first round), Tight End, Backup Quarterback,
Recap: No one expected the Eagles to be this bad this season, so the draft isn't that important to them. For the most part, they have enough talent on their team to go to the Super Bowl, it's whether or not they can put the pieces together. That being said, the Eagles could still use an upgrade at linebacker, safety and the right side of the offensive line. If the Eagles can fix their costly mistakes from last season, they won't be picking this early come next year.