With a solid defensive line, an upgrade at linebacker with the acquisition of DeMeco Ryans and skilled cornerbacks, the Philadelphia Eagles must strengthen the safety position. In my estimation, the right player is Alabama’s Strong Safety Mark Barron. If the Eagles have to move up to get Barron, then so be it. The Eagles have drafted safeties the past two years, both in the second round. Both safeties have been underwhelming, especially concerning physicality.
In the 2010 draft, the Eagles elected to pass on Texas safety Earl Thomas to go after a pass rushing impact player, Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th overall pick. The Eagles did this because they knew Nate Allen would be available with the high second round draft pick they acquired from the Washington Redskins for the Donovan McNabb trade.
Selected 37th overall out of South Florida, Nate Allen has shown he may not be the right man for the job at safety. Andy Reid thought the Eagles had an impact starter, considering Allen graded well with most scouts. Nate Allen came out of college having good size and athleticism. The Eagles never knew that Nate Allen would fall so short of his expectations.
The puzzling trait about Nate Allen is his lack of football acumen. On top of that, Allen plays soft. He has not been the force at free safety the Eagles were looking for. When a team has a player like Nate Allen, the organization must admit that they made a mistake and move on.
The beat kept on in 2011 when, to the surprise of most experts, the Eagles selected Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett with the 54th overall pick in the second round. Jarrett played in twelve games last year accumulating 15 tackles. Jaiquawn is undersized and not ready for the NFL talent level. Jaiquawn should have been drafted around the fifth or sixth round and his transition to the NFL will require enormous improvement.
I believe that Barron would make an immediate impact. At 6’1, 213 pounds, Mark Barron played a physical brand of football in college, leading the nation’s number one overall defense at Alabama. Barron was named first team All-American in 2011. The scouts say Barron’s coverage skills are just adequate. That is fine to me, especially with the Eagles solid cornerbacks. Barron could be the intimidator, ala Brian Dawkins, that the Eagles desperately need.