In 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles defense allowed 31 touchdown passes, easily their highest total in the Andy Reid era.
Cornerback Asante Samel had his usual brilliant season, despite missing a few games due to injury. He intercepted seven passes and was probably the best cornerback in the league.
But the combination of Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson failed miserably to provide Samuel with adequate support.
Hobbs is likely retiring after suffering a season-ending neck injury in December. And the Eagles won’t choose to start Patterson again in 2011.
The Eagles might acquire Oakland Raiders free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. But Asomugha is 30 years old ready and will cost a ton of money.
Cornerback is the biggest need for the Eagles heading into 2011. It only makes sense to draft a cornerback, preferably in the first round.
LSU’s Patrick Peterson is easily the best cornerback in the draft but there’s no way he will be available to the Eagles at the 23rd pick. He’ll probably go in the first three picks.
Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara is the second best cornerback and will likely go in the top ten.
I don’t think the Eagles have even strongly considered the possibility of nabbing either of those players.
The third best cornerback, and the player the Eagles should must consider, is Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Smith is 6’2, 211 pounds, and runs a 4.42. He has a 37-inch vertical leap, an incredible wingspan, and fantastic hands. In fact, he says he has better hands than Asomugha.
He also plays very physical football, something the Eagles haven’t experienced since Sheldon Brown left the team after 2009.
But Smith has character issues. He has a poor attitude and reportedly doesn’t take workouts as seriously as he should. He was also arrested twice as a minor for alcohol possession. And he failed a drug test in 2007.
Smith’s biggest challenge will be convincing teams to take a chance on him in the first round.
He definitely has the talent. He was thrown to just 20 times in 2010, and allowed only one touchdown.
But his attitude might scare some teams into not picking him. He could even fall to the second round of the draft.
The Eagles, however, have shown that they are not afraid to select a player with character issues. Just look at Michael Vick, who was signed by the Eagles in 2009 despite spending the previous two years in prison on dog fighting charges.
Had the Michael Vick Experiment failed, the Eagles would be a lot less likely to draft a player like Jimmy Smith, who has all the talent in the world, but is a potential attitude or character issue.
But the success of the Michael Vick signing could make the Eagles much more likely to draft a player like Jimmy Smith with the 23rd pick in the first round.