As we approach the official end of the 2013 NFL season, we’re preparing to go into full scout and analysis mode to get you prepared for free agency and the draft. While we’re not there yet, we certainly won’t ignore some of the glaring needs that Howie Roseman and company need to address before the start of 2014.
Here are the top five areas of concern the Eagles need to address in the offseason.
They shouldn’t cut Alex Henery (just yet), but the Eagles absolutely need to bring in some bodies to compete with him. The organization has been adamant in their belief that competition brings out the best in people, and Henery missed too many important kicks this year to consider his roster spot safe. The bad news for the Eagles is that kickers don’t grow on trees — because of this, they’ll likely have to draft a guy or sign an undrafted free agent to potentially replace Henery.
Our own Tyler Bolton-Fuhrman wrote an article recently on whether or not Henery can be considered clutch. You can read it here.
A need for the Eagles for quite some time, it’s probably lower on the list right now than it would have been at the beginning of the year. Nate Allen played well in his fourth season with Philadelphia, and Earl Wolff showed improvement before being limited due to injury. In that sense, I think they Eagles have their two starting safeties back, assuming they re-sign Allen and aren’t in a position to grab a guy they really like in the draft. For me, how this plays out will all be determined in free agency. Jairus Bryd and T.J. Ward are two of the big names on the market, but Howie Roseman has insisted that they’re not out there looking for the newest toy. The Eagles could at the very least add veteran depth during this period.
Corner is a huge need for the Eagles, but it’s not the most important consider they have three serviceable guys on the roster right now. Cary Williams played well in the second half of the season and Brandon Boykin was a pleasant surprise, but Bradley Fletcher isn’t anything special. The Eagles need to find a true No. 1, shutdown cornerback. Their draft strategy isn’t really known at this point, but I’d put some money on the Eagles taking a corner with one of their early picks. Philly’s gambles with free agent cornerbacks in the past haven’t paid off (see Nnamdi and DRC), so the “don’t get burnt twice” philosophy might be in play here.
2. Wide Receiver
While the contract situations of both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper have yet to play out, the Eagles will be in the market for a wide receiver regardless. With either of the two unlikely to return and Jason Avant on the decline, Chip Kelly needs to find a reliable receiver who he can plug in to be either the No. 2 or No. 3 guy. Players like Eric Decker and Julian Edelman could be on the Eagles’ radar if they hit free agency, but expect the Birds to pick up a wideout at some point in the first 4 rounds of the draft.
1. Outside Linebacker
Outside linebacker is the most important need for Philadelphia simply because they barely have anyone who’s comfortable playing in the scheme. Connor Barwin had an exceptional year in 2013, but the Eagles need another natural at the position to compliment him. Trent Cole rebounded from a bland start to turn into a sack machine, but the former 4-3 defensive end isn’t the best when it comes to pass coverage. Brandon Graham also hasn’t turned out to be what the Eagles need, so they’ll need to address this area as best they can. I don’t think they’ll go out and spend big money to get a guy like Brian Orakpo, so the draft is likely where they’ll find this missing piece.