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Philadelphia Eagles Must Reevaluate SEC Drafting Strategy for 2012 NFL Draft

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The Philadelphia Eagles need a lot of help in key positions on the field. Despite having numerous big-named, talented players on their roster, Nnamdi Asomuga Beat For Touchdown By Victor Cruzthey are still missing a few players on both sides of the ball; a difference that once fixed, could supplant them back where they belong: First place in the NFC East.

The division was up for grabs this year between three teams, but the Eagles’ early defensive woes wound up costing them in the end. Had Philadelphia been blessed with one or two formidable linebackers and a ball-hawking, yet feared safety across the middle, they may have found themselves at the top of the division.

Luckily for the Birds, this nightmare of a season is over with, and their preparations for next season have begun. With that said, the Eagles must improve through the draft. This isn’t to say that they will be rebuilding with the draft, rather they will look to implement solid pieces from this year’s draft class into their starting lineup next season in order to fill their glaring needs.

To do this, the Eagles must reconsider their strategy when it comes to drafting SEC players. Without a doubt the most competitive conference in college football, the SEC features, arguably, the most prepared and matured players in the draft. Yet, the Eagles tend to shy away from taking top talent from the SEC, rather they pick and choose in the later rounds from what is left over from the SEC crop of players.

Since 2008, the Eagles have selected seven SEC products. That seems like a lot, but out of those seven, only three are still on the team and between those three players, only one is a starter: Jamar Chaney. The highest picked SEC player in that timeframe is cornerback Trevard Lindley (105th overall, Kentucky) followed by tight end Cornelius Ingram (153th, Florida). Ingram has been plagued with injuries and was eventually released in training camp this season, while Lindley has been cut and signed throughout his tenure in Philly (he was recently signed by the Eagles last month). Some of their misses include running back Charles Scott (200th overall, LSU) and defensive tackle Jeff Owens (243th, Georgia).

With so many wasted talent coming from their SEC selections, it’s easy to see why the Eagles may avoid taking that route again; yet what they failed to do is select top level athletes from this conference on days one and two of the draft. In 2010, the Eagles drafted Brandon Graham, despite many fans pulling for them to select South Florida’s (ACC) Jason Pierre-Paul. However, the Eagles were also linked to another player who was taken a few picks later: center Maurkice Pouncey (Florida). Pouncey wound up being a Pro Bowl caliber center while Graham has spent more time on the injured reserve than on the field.

With the 2012 draft approaching, the Eagles, who own the 15th pick, have a shot to draft some top-flight SEC talent (unless they go with LB Luke Kuechly of Boston College in the first round). The national champion Alabama Crimson Tide have three players who could all benefit the Eagles: LB Courtney Upshaw, LB Dont’a Hightower, and S Mark Barron. These three players will all be first-round selections and both Upshaw and Hightower are projected top 15 or top 20.

With their second round pick, the Eagles will have a few more SEC products in consideration: South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffrey, LSU WR Rueben Randall, and Auburn OT Brandon Mosley. As for the third round, the Eagles could target Georgia CB Brandon Boykin or South Carolina S Antonio Allen.

The Eagles may have gone wrong before with their SEC selections, but in a time when they have plenty of talent already on their roster, they have to consider bringing aboard rookies that will quickly adapt to the NFL game and be able to step in and make plays early on. There may not be a safer bet in the first three rounds than to select a proven player from a premier SEC school.

Contact Kyle Phillipi at fphlip9@yahoo.com

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Photo of Nnamdi Asomugha and Victor Cruz from NJ.com