January 21, 2015
Finishing up our offseason team needs series, we'll look at (gasp!) safety, where the Eagles have been looking for a replacement for Brian Dawkins for 45 years. We identified safety as the second-most glaring need on the team when we began this series. Here's what we said:
Malcolm Jenkins was a quality addition last offseason, bringing stability to one of the safety spots, but the Eagles have to find someone better than Nate Allen, who simply doesn't seem to have good football instincts. Earl Wolff showed some promise as a rookie, but he can't stay healthy. Chris Maragos is a stellar special teams contributor, but nothing more than a backup in the regular defense. Y you not draft Earl Thomas, Eagles?
Let's take a look at some options for the Eagles this offseason in free agency and the draft.
The Bills led the NFL with 54 sacks in 2014, which undoubtedly made life on their defensive secondary much easier. Still, the Bills played outstanding pass defense last year:
Bad safety play in the NFL has become an epidemic in recent years. There isn't much available at the position in free agency, because, well, there aren't many good safeties in the league... period. Searcy is a solid starting safety who would likely be an immediate upgrade over Nate Allen. Searcy had three picks and two forced fumbles in 2014.
Drummond was around the ball all week at the Senior Bowl practices. He's a good cover safety with great hands who can drop down and cover slot corners when opposing offenses go to 3-WR sets. He may fit what the Eagles value in their safeties better than anyone in this class, and could be a late Day 2 pick.
In 2014, Smith had just one INT, but he filled up the stat sheet in 2013, finishing second in the nation with seven INTs, while adding eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He also had six INTs in 2012.
Campbell has nearly identical size as Earl Wolff, and is put together well. He was recruited out of high school as a running back, but switched to safety at Northwestern. Campbell is a big hitter and has a nose for making big plays. In 2014, despite missing four games, Campbell racked up four forced fumbles and three INTs. He's probably a mid-round pick (4-5).
And not that this matters, but I'll include it as a factual nugget... Campbell is from Philly.
Dargan is limited athletically, so he probably projects to the NFL as a depth player. Dargan does have ball skills, as he intercepted seven passes in 2014. He is also a versatile player, in that Oregon asked to him play the slot, in the box, centerfield, and was also a willing special teams player.
We'll include Collins here, because he's the best safety in the draft. If he falls to the Eagles at 20, they'd almost certainly have to have interest, but that seems unlikely.
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