2012 NFL Draft: The Top 5 Positions the Philadelphia Eagles Need to Improve, #5: Defensive End

By Bryn Swartz

Heading into the 2012 NFL draft, I still cling to the belief that the Philadelphia Eagles are a very solid football team, a team much better than it showed in a disastrous 2011 season.

The Eagles are a team that is just one elite player away from becoming a Super Bowl team, and even that may have changed when the team traded for two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans.

The Eagles have just about all the pieces of the puzzle. I really believe that. They don’t have a lot of holes on their team, and they don’t need more than one or two players in the 2012 NFL draft to become starters, at least not right away. What they need is depth, and they need it at a number of key positions.

5. Defensive End
I know a lot of people who say the Eagles should spend a first round draft pick on a defensive end. Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com highlighted his reasons why in this article, and I agree with some of what Didinger said.

But not all of it.

The Eagles have one fantastic defensive end (Trent Cole) and one great defensive end (Jason Babin). That alone is reason enough why the Eagles don’t need a defensive end in the first round. I wouldn’t mind one in a middle round. But not in the first round.

They also have Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt, a pair of key backups. And they have 2010 first round draft pick Brandon Graham, who has been a major disappointment in his first two seasons, and will likely need a solid 2012 season to remain on the team.

Cole and Babin will likely have their usual great seasons in 2012, and I think Tapp and Hunt will be quality backups. Graham, however, is probably the key to the Eagles’ defensive ends in 2012, because if he can emerge as a very good player, the Eagles WILL have the three-headed group of defensive ends that Didinger wrote about.

And in a division with quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Robert Griffin III, getting pressure from defensive ends will be absolutely vital to winning games.

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