Commentary

Eagles feel they are contenders in 2008, but McNabb needs help

Scouts Inc. puts the Eagles on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.

Originally Published: March 28, 2008
By Matt Williamson | Scouts Inc.

As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

Free-Agent Tracker
Eagles
For a complete list of all of the Eagles' free agents and all their offseason signings, check out Scouts Inc.'s free-agent tracker.
Who they signed
Who they lost
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This is somewhat of a make-or-break upcoming season for the Eagles. Despite a brutal schedule, they finished 2007 on a strong note and got to .500, and it's apparent that coach Andy Reid feels his team can compete in the NFC. QB Donovan McNabb will enter the season healthy, and the aggressive moves the Eagles made this offseason could pay huge dividends. Philadelphia also has one of the best, most underrated players in the league in versatile RB Brian Westbrook. However, if Reid enters 2008 having misjudged the status of the franchise, the Kevin Kolb era potentially could have a tough start.

Key Additions

The Eagles have been aggressive because they feel they are closer to being a contender than their 8-8 record last season would indicate. Philadelphia locked up playmaking cornerback Asante Samuel for huge dollars early in free agency. Samuel excels at getting his hands on the ball and should fare well against New York's Plaxico Burress and Dallas' Terrell Owens next year, but some of his production in New England surely had to do with the system he played in. It can be argued that the signing of versatile DE Chris Clemons was the better value. Clemons is an up-and-coming edge rusher who also can drop into coverage, giving defensive coordinator Jim Johnson plenty of options. Somewhat surprisingly, the Eagles put the franchise tag on TE L.J. Smith, who has shown glimpses of potential but has yet to put it all together. Still, an injury to Smith last season made the Eagles' red-zone offense much less threatening, and for a team that feels like it is a contender, putting the franchise tag on him does make some sense. Another interesting move was Philadelphia's signing of Dan Klecko, who is a defensive lineman by trade but is going to be tried out as a power lead-blocking fullback.

Mock Draft: Eagles
The Pick (No. 19 overall):
LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee
Insider

Mayo
Todd McShay: Omar Gaither is expected to move outside after the departure of Takeo Spikes, leaving a void on the inside. Mayo is capable of filling that need and giving Philadelphia an insurance policy. Plus, he's is versatile enough to move outside should Gaither struggle there.
Complete mock draft Insider
Vote: Team needs

Key Losses

The Eagles released LB Takeo Spikes and DE Jevon Kearse, but their contributions last year were not substantial enough to be missed. Thomas Tapeh is not a household name, but he is a solid all-around fullback who signed with the Vikings. Backup defensive back William James took his services to the Bills. Overall, the Eagles have a much stronger roster now than they did at the end of 2007 and their losses are far from crippling. They will replenish through the draft and, in most cases, upgrade their talent level.

Remaining Questions

While the Eagles have been very aggressive in free agency, they were unable to land perhaps the biggest prize, WR Randy Moss, who re-signed in New England. The Eagles realize they need to get McNabb another wide receiver, preferably a bigger option who excels in the red zone, where Philadelphia struggled quite a bit in 2007. Philadelphia also knows its window could be closing and that it needs to win now. Settling for a wide out with a high draft pick instead of acquiring an impact veteran is not the ideal solution, since learning Reid's offense while adjusting to the NFL has proven to be more than most rookie receivers can handle. However, it might be the best Philadelphia can do considering the circumstances.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.