Filling Needs Through The Draft

There is no way of knowing which direction the Eagles will definitely go on Saturday. The key may be to find players to fill each of the defined holes on the team. Here are some of the candidates.

Defensive tackle
The Eagles drafted DT Mike Patterson in the first round last year, but feel they still need another inside guy who can collapse the pocket and defend the run.

Filling the need: Haloti Ngata (Oregon), Brodrick Bunkley (Florida State), Barry Cofield (Northwestern). The Eagles figure to look to fill this hole early in the draft and may even trade up to do it. If they decide to wait, Cofield is a decent choice.

Strongside linebacker
They upgraded themselves on the weak side with the signing of Shawn Barber, but need to do better than Dhani Jones, who was awful at the point of attack last year and failed to slow up tight ends.

Filling the need: Ernie Sims (Florida State), Chad Greenway (Iowa), Thomas Howard (UTEP). Greenway has been starting to move onto the Eagles radar, especially if they can't move up to fill a hole on the defensive side of the line. Sims may be gone by the time the Eagles pick, but that's not a certainty. Again, if they go in another direction, Howard would be a good choice for a little later in the draft.

Offensive line
One starting tackle is coming off of major back surgery. The other is 32 years old. The center also needs to be replaced.

Filling the need: Nick Mangold (Ohio State), Winston Justice (USC), Daryn Colledge (Boise State), Joe Toledo (Washington), Davin Joseph (Oklahoma), Charles Spencer (Pitt). The Eagles might trade up to get Justice or down to get Mangold. There's a slim, outside chance that Justice could fall to the Eagles or that they could reach for Mangold out of the 14th pick. If the Eagles do move up or down in the draft, they may wind up with Toledo or Spencer in later picks, which wouldn't be bad options.

Wide receiver
The Eagles signed Jabar Gaffney and will get Todd Pinkston back from an Achilles injury. But neither is Terrell Owens.

Filling the need: Chad Jackson (Florida State), Santonio Holmes (Ohio State), Sinorice Moss (Miami), Hank Baskett (New Mexico). If the draft were a couple of weeks ago, Jackson was the sexy choice for the Eagles. Now though, their attention is turning elsewhere and they don't figure to take a receiver in the first round. The Eagles had Baskett in for a visit and were impressed enough and may consider him with a later pick.

Free safety
Brian Dawkins is 32 and appeared to have lost a step last year. He's got one year left on his contract and there is no viable replacement on the roster.

Filling the need: Jason Allen (Tennessee), Darnell Bing (USC), Danieal Manning (Abilene Christian). The Eagles won't use an early pick to fill this need, but they won't have to. Bing is the guy that they would want, but the others could develop with a little patience and work. Since the Eagles don't need someone to step in immediately, a mid to lower round pick would work just fine.

Other lesser names to throw around
The Eagles may take a quarterback with one of their later picks. Kellen Clemens (Oregon), Jeff Mroz (Yale) and Brett Basanez (Northwestern) are all late round options that they could look to groom. Running back Wali Lundy (Virginia) was in Philly for a visit and is a great story. The Eagles are definitely interested. UConn running back Cornell Brockington is another late round possibility.

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