WANTED: Defensive Star with ATTITUDE

Posted on February 27, 2012

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By Maurice Brewington

During the Andy Reid era, (’99-’11), the Eagles have made 52 defensive selections in the NFL Draft, enough to fill an NFL 52 man roster. Of those 52 men, I have put together a list of the ones I feel had noteworthy enough careers to mention here, and justify as being “good’ picks. The List Goes as follows in sort of a particular order:

  1. Trent Cole
  2. Lito Sheppard
  3. Sheldon Brown
  4. Michael Lewis
  5. Corey Simon
  6. Broderick Bunkley
  7. Mike Patterson
  8. Raheem Brock
  9. Derrick Burgess
  10. Stewart Bradley

Honorable Mention:

Joe Mays, Chris Gocong, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman

DisHonorable Mention:

Brandon Graham, Victor Abiamiri, Victor “Macho” Harris, Jerome McDougle, (Graham was a first rounder, McDougle,and Abiamiri were both second rounders, Harris, was a fifth rounder, but has to make the list because Reid had the audacity to plug him into Dawkins spot and try to replace the greatest Eagle of all-time!)

*Trivia Time***** When was the last time the Eagles selected first overall in the NFL Draft? Who did they select? (Answer at the bottom of the page…)

So there it is. Out of 52 players selected in 13 drafts, you have 3 pro-bowlers, Cole, Sheppard, and Brown. And that’s it!

I feel it’s fair to call that ineptitude. As you look at the present day defense, a few guys stand out to me as potential leaders, Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi, Samuel, but all of these guys have one thing in common, they’re free agent acquisitions. And free agent acquisitions are expensive! Which is the main reason Samuel is more than likely GONE!

In order for this team to return to defensive dominance, which will be crucial if we want to return to the promised land, especially considering the quick strike offense Andy employs, often giving the defense little time to rest between 60 yard touchdown passes, we will need to rely on our own homegrown defensive stars to carry the load. You just can’t sign enough free agents to field a defensive juggernaut.

Looking back on the ’04 Super Bowl team, you had guys like Dawk, and Trotter carrying the load. If you screwed up on or off the field you would have to answer to these men. You tell me if you want to have to face either of those dudes knowing that you just screwed up and cost the team a crucial first down, or TD, or game?  Ike Reese was holding down the special teams. Lito, Sheldon, and Mike Lewis made up the secondary. In total 7 of the 11 defensive starters in Super Bowl 39  were Eagles draft picks.

So with the 2012 Free agent Frenzy, and Draft about to commence, I make this plea to Eagles management, because surely a no-name blogger could do a  better job scouting players than paid NFL talent evaluators, right? Right!

Sign London Fletcher to a three year contract, and with the 15th pick in the draft, select MLB Vontaze Burflict from Arizona State University.

This is a can’t miss one,two punch, that is sure to solidify your linebacking corp, and give the team the toughness, and leadership it needs for this season, and many more to come.

Fletcher is entering his 14th season in the NFL, after coming into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Rams in 1998. He played in all 16 games his rookie season, and has NEVER missed a game in his career. He was a  member of the Rams Championship team in 1999. London went on to star for the Bills from ’02-’06, and most recently the Redskins from ’07-’11. No player made more tackles than Fletcher during the past decade. Oddly, he has only made three Pro-Bowl appearances(’09, ’10, ’11). London is the consummate professional, and decorated veteran the Eagles will need to help groom their middle linebacker, and defensive quarterback of the future. A three year deal will likely be the most Fletcher could ask for, and this being the NFL, should his wheels fall off somewhere in the middle of next years training camp, peace out.

Burflict is by many accounts, the most physically gifted, impact player on defense in this years draft. After struggling with academic problems in 2010, Burflict found himself second on the team in tackles after the first six games, despite starting only three. He would go on to earn Freshman All-American honors.

His junior season,  Burflict was benched mid-way through the year by ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson for an “unusually high number of personal foul penalties”.  Despite this setback, Burflict ended the season being named an All-American, and PAC 10 Defensive MVP. His talent and nose for the football are unquestioned. What is in doubt is whether he will keep his cool on the next level, or let his competitive juices boil over in a slew of 15 yard fouls that will cripple his team. He is most often compared to Ray Lewis in terms of style of play. For a player of that caliber, I would be willing to take the chance.

This is where having a veteran like Fletcher to help the kid adjust to the pro game becomes so crucial. If Burflict seem overwhelmed to start the season, he will not have to be relied upon to carry the entire load. Fletcher will be there to guide the kid through the learning curve in much the same way teams lean on veteran quarterbacks to mentor young signal callers until it is their time to step into the line of fire.

The Eagles need to find a defensive leader with toughness, and attitude , now! After this past season’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which the 49ers turned a 23-3 halftime deficit into a 24-23 victory, largely by lining up and running the ball through the heart of the Philadelphia defense, running back Frank Gore was quoted as saying, “the Eagles didn’t want to play no more.”…”We just kept pounding and kept pounding and making plays and we kinda knocked the fight out of them.”

This is completely unacceptable to a fan, and I have to believe it is unacceptable to a coach. During the days of Trotter and Dawkins it would have been unfathomable to imagine an opposing  player making those kind of comments.

The time has come to find the next generation of defensive leader who will hold players accountable for their actions on the field, or lack thereof. I believe Burflict is that type player. Hopefully we won’t have to watch him prove it in another teams uniform.

Coach Reid, “The time is yours”…

***Trivia Answer*** Chuck Bedarik, First Overall Selection of the 1949 Draft by your Philadelphia Eagles. The last time Philly had the first pick.

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