Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eagles off-season: DBs

I was going to do DL first, but they signed Marlin Jackson today, so by reviewing the defensive backs instead, I can incorporate that news into this post.

The secondary was one of the more interesting positions on the team last year...they were near the top of the league in INTs, but gave up huge plays and too many points. Sheldon Brown looked like a Pro Bowler one week and a rookie the next. Asante Samuel was a Pro Bowler, but he couldn't knock over a house of cards. The safety position was an absolute mess, as Macho Harris, Quintin Demps, and Sean Jones rotated through a carousel of incompetence. Ellis Hobbs got injured, and Joselio Hanson didn't play very well after his suspension.

Samuel and Brown have excellent anticipation and ball skills, but they don't have great cover ability. If the Eagles' blitz scheme generates the pressure it is designed to, they will garner interceptions at an All-Pro rate...but if they are forced to cover for long stretches while the blitz falters, they will continue to be exposed. Hobbs is a solid third corner with the same gambling mentality. Hanson disappointed last season, and hopefully the Eagles will challenge him with a draft pick.

Marlin Jackson played both safety and corner for the Colts, but the Eagles are looking at him as a safety. He has a chance to be the opening-day starter at FS, but he will contribute in the nickel and dime packages regardless. He has good size (6', 200) and good speed, and will be a contributor if he can recover from back-to-back ACL injuries, one to each knee. It's the kind of low-risk, high-reward signing the Eagles favor in free agency...but if he doesn't recover as quickly as anticipated (see: Andrews, Stacy) he may not contribute at all.

Jackson cannot be the only answer. I was hoping they would sign Antrel Rolle, but instead he went to the division rival Giants. Kerry Rhodes would have helped the team, but apparently they weren't willing to give up a fourth-round pick for him. Ryan Clark was a free agent, but didn't even make a trip to Philly. Darren Sharper is still available, but it's highly unlikely the Eagles will bring in a player at his age. That leaves the draft as the only way to improve the position. A lot of draftniks have the Eagles taking Taylor Mays in the first round, but I'd prefer Earl Thomas, who's smaller and slower but has much better cover skills. I'll have more info on potential picks as we get closer to the draft...but it's vital that the Eagles address the safety position in the first three rounds.

Overall, the DBs need a good bit of work. One high-round pick and one mid-round pick must be added, at least, and could be supplemented by another second-tier free agent. How the Eagles address this weakness will go a long way toward determining their success in 2010.


Post a Comment

<< Home