One, the Eagles' general manager obviously no longer needs to look for a middle linebacker. Had he not pulled off the trade with Houston, the Eagles certainly could have drafted a linebacker. But after last years botched experiment with Casey Matthews, they now can relax knowing theyll open the season with a veteran in the middle. Matthews was put in a position to fail, and the Eagles werent about to as head coach Andy Reid admitted last month goof again.
What it changes is us wanting to get somebody who can take over that side of the ball, Roseman said. The leadership ability he brings to our football team gives us flexibility in the draft we dont have to look for specific qualities in a linebacker or at another position because he brings that to our football team.
Had they not added Ryans, the Eagles likely would have looked for a veteran safety to stabilize the back seven. Remember when Quintin Mikell called the defensive signals when Stewart Bradley was green? Now with Ryans quarterbacking the defense, the Eagles dont need to stunt the growth of their young safeties by signing another Jarrad Page.
We have a lot of confidence in the safeties on our roster, Roseman said. We think theyre younger players who are going to be good players in this league. They havent had an off-season with us. They havent had the benefit of our strength and conditioning program. We feel good about that position.
But they shouldnt feel too good about it. Of the four, only Allen has proven worthy of being considered a long-term starter. After his promising rookie season was curtailed by a knee injury, Allen didnt resemble the player whom the Eagles picked in the second round a year earlier until December.
A seventh-round pick, Coleman has been productive but inconsistent. He had four interceptions last season, but three came in one game against Rex Grossman after Coleman had been benched for the previous two games. Hes a perfect third safety.
Jarrett, a second-round pick last year out of Temple, played sparingly on defense last season and is still an unknown. He should benefit from his first full off-season with the team.
As for Anderson, the Eagles hope he can recover from a torn ACL to return as a special teams ace.
So dont be surprised if the Eagles draft a safety.
I think the most important thing is, we want to add competition of good players to our roster and things will sort themselves out, Roseman said. If we take the best player and we add competition that will be only good things for our team.
That said, this isnt considered a deep draft for safeties Alabamas Mark Barron may be the only one to go in the first round and Roseman doesnt advocate selecting a big corner early and moving him to safety.
Ive always thought you want to be very careful taking a projection early, because now youre decreasing your odds on hitting on that pick, Roseman said. Youre taking a player who has never played that position and taking him pretty high and now asking him to do something hes never done before. You can work him out. You can try him out at a position, you can see some of the traits, but thats very hard to do early.
And when you look at the college game, the evolution of the game is that the bigger guys who used to play safety are now playing corner. Theyre not even going to safety. And the bigger safeties are playing linebackers. So its hard to find safeties. Sometimes you look at the draft class, which might not be a strong class, and youre taking the best of a bad group as opposed to the best. And youve got to be careful about that.
E-mail Andy Schwartz at email@example.com.