2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Philadelphia Eagles’ Top 5 Needs
2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Philadelphia Eagles' Top 5 Needs
The Philadelphia Eagles had a great first season under new head coach Chip Kelly. The team’s offense was all the buzz last, therefore their needs heading into the draft are on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles secondary got torched last season and is in need of serious change.
Their defense ranked dead last in passing yards in 2013, allowing 289.8 passing yards per game. Because of their inability to slow down the passing attack, teams threw a league leading 670 times on the Eagles but they only recorded 37 sacks (20th in the NFL).
Of the 12 teams with fewer sacks, only the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants had 600 pass attempts against them and the other 10 teams had at least 98 less pass attempts against them. Basically what this means, it was known that opposing teams were going to drop back and throw the ball but the Eagles still failed to get sufficient pressure on the quarterback.
Their defense allowed a 60.9 completion percentage, which is only 5.6 percent behind the league leading Buffalo Bills, but they still allowed the most yards in the league. While they kept completion percentage around a league average, they were allowing 11.4 yards per completion.
That’s right; every completion was good on average for a first down! In fact, they allowed 239 (second most) first downs through the air. That means 58.6 percent of completions allowed were good for first downs.
The focus of the Eagles offseason thus far has been on offense, resigning Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Unless they load up in free agency, the majority of their draft focus should be on the defensive side of the ball.
5. Wide Receiver
Wide receiver may not seem like a need, but it could become a problem soon if they don’t draft one this season. Although the Eagles have recently signed Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, they released Jason Avant. Maclin’s deal is only one year which leaves DeSean Jackson and Cooper as the only wide receivers signed past the 2014 season. Expect them to use one of their first four picks on a wide receiver who can contribute for the next few years.
Possible targets: Allen Robinson Penn State, Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt, Josh Huff Oregon.
4. Pass Rusher
The Eagles ranked 20th with 37 sacks last season. An effective pass rush can make an inexperienced or average secondary look very good. The more pressure you put on opposing quarterbacks, the less you demand out of your coverage. The quicker a quarterback is forced to get the ball out, the more likely he is to make a mistake and the less time his wideouts will have to get open.
Possible targets: Dee Ford Auburn, Anthony Barr UCLA, Jeremiah Attaochu Georgia Tech.
Every team could use a shutdown corner, but the Eagles would take a solid, consistent player at this point. After the Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie experiment went south, the Eagles claim they would like to create a homegrown secondary. Look for them to take a corner in the first or third round to fill the gap.
Possible targets: Bradley Roby Ohio State, Darqueze Dennard Michigan State, Dontae Johnson NC State.
2. Strong Safety
The Eagles have shuffled through several players at strong safety but have yet to find one to stick with. Whether they decide to go after an impact strong safety or free safety, they need to invest in a safety.
Possible targets: Deone Bucannon Washington State, Craig Loston LSU, Jimmie Ward Northern Illinois.
1. Free Safety
The Eagles have had no luck with safeties since Philadelphia legend Brian Dawkins left. They are by no means expecting to find someone to fill his shoes, but they would like to find someone who is competent that they can rely on.
Possible targets: Terrence Brooks Florida State, Marqueston Huff Wyoming, Ed Reynolds Stanford.