Dyshae Dixon| staff writer
The Philadelphia Eagles have the 15th pick in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. As usual, fans have no clear guess as to what Andy Reid and the Eagles front office are going to do with the pick. When all signs would suggest picking one position, Reid likes to draft players who will develop in a few years rather than contribute right away. Last season, the Eagles took Danny Watkins, which did not make a major impact on the team. This season, the Eagles really need to rely on their draft pick to come in and make a difference.
When the Eagles pick at 15, there will be several prospective defensive players to choose from. Reid could add to his defense first to help defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, where the team struggled most last season. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was the best player at his position in the NCAA, and he could be there when the Eagles pick. The Eagles need a middle linebacker that will anchor the defense for a long time. Demeco Ryans was recently acquired from the Houston Texans, but his stats have decreased greatly since his first few seasons. Kuechly is much younger and his potential is higher than what Ryans can provide. However, the Eagles can benefit from having more veterans on defense. Last season, all of the linebackers were young and that did not work out so well.
History shows that Reid does not force his draft picks into the lineup immediately. They will play at some point, but it will be a rotational role. In 2010, the Eagles drafted Brandon Graham in the first round. In his rookie year, he played sparingly, but added a few sacks. Since then, Graham has mostly been inactive due to injury. Danny Watkins was also eased into the starting lineup.
If Reid wants to make a big splash, he would go for an offensive player first. The offense is already stacked, but they are short one playmaker to be really dynamic. The team has no red zone threat at any position. Vick is small, McCoy is a long yardage back, and the starting receivers are undersized. For the last two seasons, the Eagles have been inefficient in the red zone. Most of their touchdown plays are 20 yards or longer. Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd would be the perfect fit for that role. He has size and great hands, and his skills would help the team inside the five-yard line. Floyd will likely not be attainable when the Eagles go at 15, but they could package more picks to move up. In 2009, the Eagles made a similar move to acquire Jeremy Maclin.
Recent news has emerged that the Eagles are considering taking a quarterback at some point in the draft. It would make sense because they do not have a third-string quarterback on the roster. The Eagles have Mike Kafka on the roster still, but he looks to be nothing more than a career backup. Mike Vick is often injured, so the team will need three or four total QBs on the roster. How early the Eagles pick a QB would indicate how much stock they put into the position. If they take a QB first or second, then it would suggest that he would be someone they project to start one day. Otherwise, it would just be another backup.
Last season was when the team tried to make major improvements through free agency. They used up a lot of salary cap space, but the team did not get much better. The draft will be crucial this season more than ever. All signs indicate that defensive players will be the most sought after this year, while a few offensive spots will be added on. Look for the team to make some trades as well come draft day to get more picks. Future conditional picks will be traded and maybe even some players. The team will need as many picks as they can get. Andy Reid is nearing the end of his Eagles coaching tenure, so his job could depend on the outcome of this draft.