It has been quite a while since No. 20 wore midnight green, and the Philadelphia Eagles have been searching for his replacement ever since. They still have not found one, and the truth is, their may never be another Brian Dawkins.
He was a ferocious hitter, he could cover, and he made plays on the ball with deflections and interceptions. He also may have been the best blitzer at the safety position the game has ever seen. He had a knack for timing it up perfectly and getting to the quarterback. Trying to find the next Dawkins is truly like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
The Eagles are going to have to give it a try. The safety position for the Eagles has been woeful the past few seasons. Nate Allen is average at best. Some of the veterans the Eagles have tried to bring in, most recently Patrick Chung, simply have not worked out on the field.
The cold, hard truth is that the Eagles made one huge mistake nearly four years ago — Earl Thomas was staring them right in the face on draft day. Conventional wisdom with a need at safety and such a highly ranked prospect on the board was that it was a no brainer. Even the draft experts locked it in.
Whoops. The Eagles went another direction. Instead of going for the now All-Pro Thomas, they went for Brandon Graham. Big mistake. Graham has turned into a bust, while Thomas has gone on to star in the best secondary in the league.
The Eagles have been paying for that mistake ever since, but no more. Resources both in the draft and free agency need to be spent on the safety position. The truth is, it’s a dying breed. Finding a complete safety is as tough as ever, as the demand far outweighs the supply.
A heavy emphasis needs to be placed on searching for a hard hitting safety that loves the game of football and has instincts for the position. Sound familiar?
If the Eagles could get a safety that is half as effective as Dawkins was in his prime, they have done their job.