2010 NFL Mock Draft, Fans' Pick Edition: No. 24 - Philadelphia Eagles
The city of Philadelphia is no stranger to busy offseasons for their home team. In recent history, the Eagles have used every avenue possible to bring in more talent and try to find the right combination to unlock the team's Super Bowl drought. In free agency, they have signed marquee talent like the divisive Terrell Owens. The team brought in Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters through a trade with Buffalo last year, one of many trades the Eagles have pulled off in an attempt to "win now." They've also struck gold in the draft with players like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.
Like those in past years, the 2010 offseason is chock full of player movement. Unfortunately for Eagles fans, the talent is moving in the opposite direction for once. The Eagles kicked off the offseason by releasing franchise running back Brian Westbrook, who has spent more time rehabbing various injuries in recent years than he has on the field. They traded away long-time starting cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Then came the bombshell: Donovan McNabb was packing his bags and leaving the only team he's called home in his professional career. What stings the most for Eagles fans is that they'll still get to see McNabb (at least) twice per season, as the team sent him to the division rival Redskins.
When McNabb came to the team as the second overall pick in 1999, the Eagles were more laughingstock than powerhouse. He spent the last decade of his life contributing to changing the atmosphere around Eagle football, helping to turn the team into the winningest NFC team in the 2000s. In his 11 years with the team, he did everything that was asked of him and more, with an air of grace and professionalism that's hard to find in many franchise quarterbacks. As an Eagles fan myself, and a McNabb fan since his days at Syracuse, I thank him for being everything we needed.
This season will mark the end of an era and the turning of a new page in Philadelphia. No McNabb, no Westbrook, no Brian Dawkins, no Sheppard, no Brown. Instead, the team will be built around a group of youngsters that will be given the opportunity to grow together. Kevin Kolb takes over under center, and he'll be throwing to plenty of talent in Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek. McCoy will take over for Westbrook, while fullback Leonard Weaver and free-agent addition Mike Bell will also chip in.
If the team wasn't young enough at that point, it's going to get a whole lot younger in a few weeks. In addition to the 24th overall pick, the Eagles have six more picks in the following three rounds, picking up early-round picks in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds of the draft. They currently have 11 picks in all, positioning them to be movers and shakers on draft day. If a talented offensive lineman or marquee defender starts to slip, the team has the firepower to leapfrog into a position to land him.
For now, let's assume the Eagles will be content hanging tight at number 24. They're content with Kolb as a starting quarterback, and with such good young talent at the other skill positions, we can dismiss them entirely from the discussion here. With tackle Shawn Andrews being given his walking papers, the team will certainly look to bring in offensive line help early and often.
Despite their recent track record, coach Andy Reid and the Eagles also love to spend first-round picks on defensive linemen and cornerbacks, and both areas could use an injection of talent. The team will also be looking to address their patchwork linebacker corps. Remember, starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley will be returning after missing the entire 2009 season with a knee injury, and getting the talented 26-year-old back is akin to landing a free early-round pick.
Previous Pick: Packers -- Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State; Next Up: Ravens
(Note: The poll is now closed. Click here for the latest on the 2010 NFL Mock Draft, Fans' Picks Edition)
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. As we said earlier, the Eagles are hurting on the offensive line. Right now the starter on the right side is Winston Justice, the same guy who acted as a turnstile in the game where the Giants notched 12 sacks against the Eagles. Davis would be a great addition on his talent alone, but maturity concerns have hurt his stock. If there's anyone that can get the most out of a lineman, it's Reid. The talent pool at the offensive tackle position holds a few intriguing second-round options, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the team pass on the position here and add a guy like Vladimir Ducasse or Jared Veldheer a little later.
Mike Iupati, OT, Idaho. Reid loves having versatile lineman to battle the effects of injury. Todd Herremans has spent time at tackle and guard, while Nick Cole has had to shift between guard and center. Iupati brings that same versatility to the field, as he has the talent to play outside but also the ability to excel inside. As the team needs talent on the offensive line above all, they would be well served making their first pick a guy like Iupati.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. A young quarterback's best friend is a talented tight end, and the Eagles have one in place in the form of Brent Celek. The only thing better than a great safety valve in the passing game may be two great safety valves in the passing game. Gresham is a fantastic pass-catcher that would give the team yet another weapon on offense, and with the smorgasbord of picks on hand for the Eagles, they have the luxury of taking a top talent like this before moving to more pressing areas. With 11 draft picks, a team need not worry about missing a position of need.