1- Lito Sheppard/CB/Florida, 2-Michael Lewis/S/Colorado,
3-Sheldon Brown/CB/South Carolina, 3- Brian Westbrook/RB/Villanova, 4-Scott
Peters/C/Arizona St, 5-Freddie Milons/WR/Alabama, Tyreo Harrison/ILB/Notre Dame,
After seasons of struggle Philadelphia now finds themselves as a quality team looking to plug a few remaining holes. Unfortunately the players needed to fill those holes are tough to come by as the Eagles are now selecting later and later into the rounds. With that in mind the organization did the next best thing, they drafted the best available player every time they were on the clock and though many on the outside will foolishly "downgrade" this draft because no immediate needs were addressed, an in-depth look will find that is not the situation at all as Philadelphia solved both short and long-term problems.
The defensive secondary was as priority early and often as the Eagles used three of their first four selections on this area to find prospects that would supplement and eventually replace an aging unit. Lito Sheppard is a terrific cover corner with top ball skills and has proven himself to be an explosive punt returner. Should he learn to play a slightly more disciplined and aggressive brand of football he will have a terrific career at the next level. Immediately prior to the draft medical concerns popped-up on Michael Lewis as many pointed to an irregular heartbeat found during combine exams, predicting it would push him down draft boards. The Eagles didn't buy it and nabbed the former Colorado strong-safety whose actual ratings had been on an upswing throughout his senior campaign. Lewis should quickly slide into the starting spot vacated by Damon Moore, a restricted free agent not resigned by the team after a major knee injury last year, and could be one of the league's better defensive rookies next season. Lewis is both hard-hitting and hard-working, which lends to success at the next level. The last twelve months of Sheldon Brown's football career has been a roller-coaster ride; highly ranked after his junior season the former Gamecock struggled as a senior but rebounded nicely the month's preceding the draft. He is a solid cover corner that can effectively play in a variety of situations and at the very least, start off as a nickel back during his rookie campaign with the team.
What the Eagles effectively did was draft quality defensive backs that should slowly slide into starting slots as their aged veterans either end their career's or more then likely, look for employment elsewhere when big-money contracts expire. Philadelphia not only got talent but inexpensive replacements for the future, something not to be sneezed at in this day and age of salary cap football.
Hometown favorite Brian Westbrook was their final selection of the first day and the third down back will be looked on primarily as a special teams player with the hopes that his production will replace Brian Mitchell's impact as a return specialist. Westbrook's offensive duties may now expand with what seems to be a season ending injury to Correll Buckhalter and we fully expect him to be productive in a limited roll handling the ball. Prior to the draft many expected Andre Gurode to be Philadelphia's first choice and fill the roll at center but selecting Scott Peters in round four may provide the team with its' future on the pivot. Peters is not the prettiest or flashiest but a hard-nosed, rough-n-tumble center the Eagles need. Granted, he may not dominate opponents the way Gurode does but Peters does posses both the physical skills and mental intangibles to be productive as a starter.
Freddie Milons was worth a late round choice as early in his career, (his sophomore season to be more specific) he looked as though he was top-45 material. He will offer the Eagles a slot receiver and like a few of the earlier choices, will be given plenty of opportunities to show his meddle as a return specialist, an area he's excelled at in the past. Tyreo Harrison has a slight chance to make it as a back-up while Raheem Brock could surprise as he is an under-sized lineman that makes a ton of plays up the field and has the mentality to be a special teams demon.
The Eagles also brought in several quality undrafted rookie free agents including guards Artis Hicks and Frank Romero, tackle/guard Steve Edwards and linebacker Justin Ena. A good group of players selected by the Eagles both through the draft and rookie free agents as the organization really came away with quality throughout the weekend.