Philadelphia Eagles team needs: Secondary is at the top of the rebuilding priorities


The combination of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been a disappointing one for Eagles fans.

For the first time since the 1998 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles enter the offseason with a head coach other than Andy Reid after he was relieved of his duties in January. Replacing him at the helm of the team is Chip Kelly, the former Oregon Ducks head coach who is attributed with many offensive innovations and, most notably, a very high-tempo offense during his time as a college coach.

After finishing with the fourth-fewest points scored and the fourth-most points allowed during the 2012 season, the Eagles could certainly use some changes on many aspects of their team and, after finishing with a 4-12 record in 2012, they'll be in the position to do so in the draft in 2013.

Biggest need: Cornerback

What initially looked to be an incredible duo of the young Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and four-time All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha, has been an absolute failure for the Eagles after two seasons. The Eagles allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL in 2012 and neither Rodgers-Cromartie or Asomugha played at a level worthy of their acquisition.

However, Rodgers-Cromartie is an impending free agent and could still be a priority for the team to bring back despite his struggles. Regardless, the position is one that needs upgrading and will likely be the focus of the 2013 offseason.

Mike Kaye of SB Nation's Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation, had this to say about the team's secondary struggles:

The Philadelphia Eagles secondary over the last few seasons has gone from strength to glaring weakness. Some blame failed draft picks that have not lived up to expectations (Jaiquan Jarrett, Nate Allen), while others criticize the underwhelming results from big name veterans (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomaugha), but both are fair reasons for the lack of success. The Eagles need help in the cornerback and safety departments, and adding a quality free agent and/or talented rookie, could make a world of difference.

Other needs: Safety, offensive tackle, defensive tackle

As noted by Kaye, the Eagles have troubles in the secondary beyond just the cornerback position. Plenty of young talent is at the safety position for the Eagles, but that hasn't yet translated into a secondary that has been able to do much of anything.

Perhaps the need most associated with the Eagles due to mock drafts, though, is offensive tackle, as many are projecting the Eagles to take Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the fourth overall selection. While the offensive tackle position was a struggle for the team in 2012, they should see the return of All-Pro Jason Peters in 2013 and help bolster the position, however the depth behind him is still slim.

The Philadelphia defense is also a big question mark at this point in the offseason as it's still unclear whether the Eagles will use 3-4 or 4-3 looks in 2013. If the team elects to switch to a 3-4 at any time, finding a nose tackle for the set will have to be a priority.

NFL Draft outlook: Eagles to select in top 5 for first time in decade

The last time the Eagles selected in the top five of the NFL Draft, they took Donovan McNabb with the second overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. While quarterback is a bit of a question mark for the Eagles in 2013, most expect them to look elsewhere when they select with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

In the latest joint mock draft from SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn and Dan Kadar, the Eagles elect to bolster their offensive line, but instead of selecting Joeckel, they are projected to take Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher:

Fisher's rise up NFL Draft boards is one of the bigger stories of the offseason. Once a fringe first-round pick, Fisher is now firmly entrenched inside the top 10. The Eagles gave up Demetress Bell last week and it may not be wise to rely on Jason Peters coming back healthy. Fisher fits Chip Kelly's offense, which requires offensive linemen to have good stamina and movement skills.

Salary cap situation: Eagles are under the cap, but could make more room

In January, ESPN's John Clayton estimated that the Eagles had $5.2 million in room under the salary cap; however, they opened up some more space by releasing offensive tackle Demetress Bell in early February.

Other players who are due plenty of money and could be in danger of release in order to free of space include Asomugha and Peters, as each are due to hit the Eagles with more than $10 million off their cap in 2013, according to Sportrac.

More in the NFL:

NFL Mock Draft: New names rising in first round

Uffsides: Von Miller talks with SB Nation

Ranking the NFL's top offensive free agents

Joe Flacco and the history of $100 million contracts

The NFL's disappearing middle class

NFL news roundup: Roger Goodell terrified, Shawne Merriman retires and the latest on free agency

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