Apr 232012

Philadelphia Eagles logoRight now the Eagles have LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis under contract and they haven’t signed a free agent.  Despite how good McCoy is, that’s not good.  While it’s possible they pick up one or even two of the many fungible backs that are still out there on the market, what this really means is that the position absolutely needs to be addressed in the draft.

With McCoy’s contract coming up and Lewis not really anything more than a third or fourth guy on the depth chart at best, it may make sense for them to target the position early, possibly as soon as the second round.  Yes, their needs on defense make it easy to look past the offense, but the running back position is too important, which is ironic since the position has become a bit undervalued across the league.  And for the Eagles it’s almost doubly so, since Andy Reid has never seen a game he couldn’t mismanage by refusing to run the ball when and where appropriate.  

Regardless, there is no doubt that LeSean McCoy drives the Eagles offensive engine.  And while he’s tough and durable despite his size, running back injuries are very common in the NFL.  More and more teams with good backs have added multiple above-average level runners over the years as hedges against the main guy going out and kinking up the entire operation.

If the Eagles were to lose McCoy for any stretch of time they would be in a very bad spot.  So to prevent that from happening they need to find a guy who can at least come close to matching the skill set and production that LeSean provides. 

This isn’t the old cry for a “big back”.  It’s actually more in line with the thinking they used when drafting Ryan Moats in the third round when Brian Westbrook was in the final year of his deal.  Moats was a similar player in that he was a smaller, quicker type back that unfortunately didn’t come close to the talent level needed to be an effective option.  And it won’t be easy to find another guy to come close now as LeSean is an elite player, but he himself was a second round pick.  So guys will be there outside the first round who can give great value.  The Eagles just need to pick the right guy, always a challenge.

And the problem of deciding when to pull the trigger comes back to the defense, where multiple infusions of talent are needed across the board, literally at every position.  Defensive tackle is likely their biggest immediate need, with linebacker and probably safety trailing right behind.  And you can never have too many defensive ends, especially with Trent Cole and Jason Babin getting older and Brandon Graham possibly busting due to injury and/or fatness.

Then there’s cornerback, which we recently talked about as being a bigger need than it maybe should be, especially looking to the future.

With two extra second rounders the Eagles have some flexibility.  They did lose some position in the third round due to the excellent Demeco Ryans trade, but that deal in itself helps to alleviate some of the immediacy at the linebacker position (though they still need to continue to add talent).

One of the biggest draws of the draft is the neverending intrigue and hypothesizing around what teams may do.  It’s an absolute given that the Eagles will draft at least one running back, with the only question being how soon they make it happen.

Then again, Tiki Barber is always available.

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