Reid Has Likely Focus For Draft

As the final week before the NFL Draft unfolds, the Eagles appear to have their plans for Draft Day set. The problem now is figuring out what the 13 teams ahead of the Eagles will do and which players will be left on the Eagles' draft board.

For Andy Reid, success starts in the trenches, and that's where the Eagles' early-round attention likely will be focused in the draft.

"We've got to do a better job up front," Reid said. "That's where it starts. Up front. If the playoffs showed one thing, it's that you better be solid on both sides of the ball up front. You do that, you'll usually be OK."

The Eagles missed the playoffs for the first time in six years, and their problems along the offensive and defensive lines were a big reason. They've upgraded the defensive line this off-season, signing free agent end Darren Howard and tackle Ed Jasper. But they still feel they need to get better inside.

The Eagles own the 14th overall pick in the first round, and are believed to be fond of the draft's top two defensive tackles - Haloti Ngata of Oregon and Brodrick Bunkley of Florida State.

The trouble is, both probably will be off the board by the 14th pick, which means if the Eagles really want one of the two, they'll probably have to trade up four or five slots. Without multiple second-round picks, they might be reluctant to do that.

They also are believed to be interested in the Green Bay Packers' unhappy wide receiver, Javon Walker, who could be traded before the draft. If the Packers dealt Walker to the Eagles, they'd almost certainly want a first-round pick.

The Eagles also could use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Left tackle Tra Thomas is coming off major back surgery, and right tackle Jon Runyan, who recently re-signed, is 32. When Runyan exits, the Eagles likely will move right guard Shawn Andrews outside. But the situation at left tackle is much more uncertain, particularly if Thomas isn't able to return to a Pro Bowl level.

They have no shot at getting the draft's top offensive tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson of Virginia. He'll likely be one of the first four players off the board. But they had Winston Justice of USC in town for a visit last week and could get him at number 14, though many personnel people feel that would be a little high for him.

The Eagles also need to upgrade at outside linebacker, particularly the strong side where Dhani Jones was a major disappointment last year. They probably will have a shot at Ernie Sims of Florida State and Chad Greenway of Iowa at number 14. They are the two best linebackers on the board after Ohio State's A.J. Hawk.

Remember that the Eagles have never drafted a linebacker in the first round during the Andy Reid era, and it's unlikely they'll do so now.


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