In our Eagles draft preview, I talk to Jason B from Bleeding Green Nation about potential changes to the Eagles defense…
1. The way I see it, there isn’t a spot on the defense that couldn’t use either an upgrade or added support. Agree or disagree?
In general I suppose I’d agree. I think the greatest area of need is at corner, but there’s certainly not a guy in the linebacker corps who I think should assume his job is safe. If safety Quintin Mikell is allowed to leave in free agency then strong safety is an area that will need addressing. The defensive line is a place where you can never have enough depth or talent, although I think the investment in Jim Washburn will be the biggest addition the Eagles will make to that part of the defense this year.
2. I’ve been hearing a lot about Jimmy Smith. What do you think about this guy? Lots of questions about his character.
I always take that stuff with a grain of salt. We all heard that DeSean Jackson was too cocky and had attitude problems which led teams to outsmart themselves and take guys like Jerome Simpson or Devin Thomas before him. Can Smith play? Yes. He’s got great size and all the measurables you look for.
The Eagles brought him in for a visit recently and that’s where they have to decide what this guy is all about. The Eagles have never been ones to shy away of from guys with character concerns and rumors don’t scare them off.
3. Give me an under-the-radar positional need…
Funny enough, before the rule changes a couple of weeks ago I would have answered kick returner to this … but I don’t really think that’s as significant anymore. So as far as “under the radar needs” I’d actually say running back. LeSean McCoy had a breakout season last year and got a lot of touches. That figures to only go up next season. Behind him, though, there’s really nothing. Jerome Harrison did some good things in limited time last year but he’s a free agent.
Not only did Shady lead the team in rushing last year, but he also led them in receptions. So while the first guys who you think about as far as the Eagles offense are Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, McCoy is really the guy that keeps it churning. I think making sure he has a viable backup is important.
4. Is there a particular player you’re hoping they take?
Jimmy Smith is certainly one. I just don’t think you get a lot of chances to get good cover guys with his kind of size and in this division with tons of 6’4 receivers — size will be important.
I also like local guy Muhammad Wilkerson out of Temple. I was surprised to see in hindsight what a disruptive force that guy was last season. The Eagles have a number of solid, run stopper-like tackles but have really struggled to find a guy that can collapse the pocket from the inside. Last year, this led to them lining up defensive ends inside a lot. Wilkerson could potentially be a guy that you can have be disruptive in the middle, without leaving yourself susceptible to the run.