Let’s say that you had a time machine and you could bring in one player from Philadelphia Eagles history to play for the team for one season. Just 2011, but you can take the player in his prime.
Who would you pick?
The first thing I determined was which positions on the Eagles could use a lot of improvement.
For example, Michael Vick is not the greatest quarterback in franchise history. But would Donovan McNabb or Randall Cunningham in his prime really make sense over improving another position?
Definitely not, especially since I have complete confidence in Vick turning in the best season of his career this year.
I wouldn’t pick a running back or a wide receiver. LeSean McCoy is arguably the top back in the National Football League. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are both above average starting receivers, and the Eagles have never had a dominant receiver that would make sense in choosing over one of the current starters.
It wouldn’t be a tight end because Brent Celek is a good player. I would consider an offensive linemen, and it would need to be a left tackle because I have confidence in the other positions on the line. The loss of Jason Peters for the 2012 season is a huge blow, but ironically the best offensive linemen in franchise history might actually be Jason Peters from last season (or Bob Brown). But I don’t think Demetress Bell is going to have a bad season, and left tackle isn’t Vick’s blind side anyway, so I wouldn’t choose to improve there.
The Eagles definitely don’t need to improve on the defensive line. They might have more depth than any other team in the league with Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Mike Patterson, Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Graham, not to mention Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon, and Phillip Hunt.
Linebacker is a possibility. DeMeco Ryans is the team’s middle linebacker for 2012, and hopefully for the next few seasons. I’m happy with him. Mychal Kendricks has a lot of upside. Brian Rolle/Jamar Chaney is a question mark. I’d consider improving at linebacker.
You could improve at cornerback by picking a player like Eric Allen or Troy Vincent over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But the Eagles had (or thought they had) a pair of star cornerbacks last season and that didn’t work out.
No, the position I would choose to improve is at safety. Nate Allen is starting at free safety. He had a disappointing year in 2011 but he also wasn’t completely healed from his torn patellar tendon, suffered against the New York Giants in December of 2010. I have confidence in Allen for the 2012 season.
But I don’t have confidence in the combination of Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett at strong safety. So what I would do is move Allen over to strong safety, where he was originally listed at heading into the 2011 training camp.
And at free safety? Let’s go with Brian Dawkins, in his prime.
Imagine that. You’d have the greatest defensive player the Eagles have had in the last 15 years roaming the field, intercepting passes and laying big hits on opponents.
The Eagles were soft last season. Extremely soft. There was nobody on the team who could lay a big hit and Coleman, who was actually the team’s best tackler in his rookie season of 2010, was a major problem last season.
Put Dawkins on the field and offenses will respect this team a lot more. You’d be improving the biggest weakness on the whole team. You’d also be adding the most popular player in franchise history. Oh, and you would completely solve the issues of needing a vocal leader on the defense. That’s exactly what Dawkins did for his entire career.
With a young Brian Dawkins on the 2012 Eagles instead of Kurt Coleman or Jaiquawn Jarrett, I’d have super expectations for the Eagles heading into the 2012 season.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.