Birds Have Needs Coming Into The Draft

Every team has needs and the Phillies are no different. There are three areas where the Birds could stand to upgrade their roster in the draft. Finding the needs is easy; guessing which ones they'll fill is tough.

Basically, there are three areas that the Eagles will try to fill in Saturday's draft. Their early picks will focus on improving a defense that was picked apart in 2006 and is in need of some upgrading.

Safety: It's very possible that the Eagles will start things off by looking for a new member of their secondary. Free safety Brian Dawkins is 33 and can't be counted on beyond the '07 season and the jury still is out on strong safety Sean Considine, who replaced Michael Lewis seven games into last season.

Considine is an adequate cover safety, but needs to add strength and mass to handle the run. Backup Quintin Mikell is an outstanding special-teams player, but isn't viewed as a possible starter at either safety spot, which leaves the Eagles looking for help for the future and maybe even someone who could step in immediately. Odds of them finding a starter out of the 26th spot in the draft aren't good and it's not likely that they'll look to move up in the draft to get one.

At the very least, the Birds will look for someone to replace Michael Lewis who left town for San Francisco via free agency.

Cornerback: The Eagles did not attempt to re-sign highly-regarded nickel back Rod Hood, who wanted to go somewhere where he would have a starting opportunity and felt that he found that opportunity with the Arizona Cardinals.

Both of their starters - two-time Pro Bowler Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown - are undersized. Brown is better suited for nickel. Hood's potential replacement, William James, was a solid corner with the Giants before hurting his back in '05 and having some more injury issues this past season.

With their undersize issue and the injury question marks about James, the Birds will have to find help at the cornerback position at some point in the draft.

Defensive end: A lot of question marks here. Their two projected starters are Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard. But Kearse is coming off a torn ACL and Howard hasn't played worth a damn in three years. Backups Trent Cole and Juqua Thomas are good situational pass-rushers, but are better suited to only play limited snaps. If Kearse and Howard return to form, the Birds pass-rush will be much improved, but there is no guarantee of that happening and in fact, the odds of that happening aren't very good.

The Eagles could use a defensive end who can help both their pass-rush and help stop the opponents' ground game. Again, finding someone who can step in right away may be tough, so it's more likely that the Eagles will find someone to groom for the future.

The Eagles have a long history of drafting linemen for either side of the line and they will probably make at least a pick or two along those lines this weekend. Since Andy Reid took over, the Eagles have used 41% of their draft picks on linemen - 15 offensive linemen and 12 defensive linemen. If they stick to that average, that would mean that at least two of their six picks would be linemen and if that were true, it's very possible that both of those players would be on the defensive side of the line.


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