Eagles sorely need to buck an NFL draft trend that's dragged on for almost 45 years

Philadelphia Eagles draft
Philadelphia Eagles draft / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

40 years is a long time to do anything. It truly is. At some point, you've probably seen a relative or a friend of the family celebrate a 40th anniversary. Yep. They've been kicking it for a while now. Heck, look at yourselves. Some of you haven't reached your 40th birthday. You can't even get off the couch without nearly tearing an ACL or pulling a hamstring. What in the world does that have to do with the Philadelphia Eagles, you say? We're glad you asked. Hang out with us for a few ticks.

Time and time again, we check out mock drafts (or write them ourselves), and we often see lines drawn that connect promising young defensive backs to our Birds. And... then, we never see those promising young DBs drafted by our Birds. It shouldn't surprise us. That isn't Philly's business model.

The Eagles haven't drafted a defensive back in Round 1 of any selection meeting since 2002 (Lito Sheppard). Normally, we've seen them take an offensive or defensive lineman or, occasionally, we'll see them draft a wideout.

That's been the trend since Andy Reid was pacing the sidelines. That's what Howie Roseman often does (because he learned the tricks of the trade from Big Red), but there's one trend we'd like to see ended, one that far exceeds four decades of Eagles football.

The Eagles haven't drafted a linebacker in Round 1 of any NFL Draft in almost 45 years. Perhaps, it's time to invest heavily into one.

Where might the Birds be if they took linebacker play more seriously? That question has been asked constantly. We know the answer. We've just never understood why Philly doesn't.

Year in and year out, we always seem to find our way into conversations about Philly's yearly negligence in addressing their needs at the position. Howie Roseman has, at times, told us that the Birds care more about linebackers than they let on. We don't believe him.

We didn't believe that Andy Reid liked linebackers. We don't think Howie cares about them. We believe Jim Schwartz liked them even less. And, this has gone on for a while. The evidence is in their draft strategy.

We mentioned the Eagles ignoring cornerbacks in Round 1 for 22 years. They ignored elite linebackers far longer. Philly hasn't taken one in the first round of any NFL Draft since 1979 when Jerry Robinson was the selection. Yes friends... 45 years is a very long time.

Watch any great NFL team, particularly those Super Bowl winners or runner-ups, and you'll notice something. Most have enjoyed stellar play from their linebacker positions. We can reference the '85 Bears, those great Steelers teams of the 70s, and more recent winners like the Legion of Boom. Those teams enjoyed superior play at their defense's second level.

This year's NFL Draft class is home to elite-level linebackers who play on the inside and outside. Guys like Edgerrin Cooper, Marist Liufau, Dallas Turner, Chop Robinson, and Chris Braswell come to mind almost instantly.

We get it. We won't act like the Birds haven't enjoyed a sound draft strategy. After all, games are won and lost in the trenches, and that's why taking offensive and defensive linemen on night one of the selection meeting makes sense.

In truth, we wouldn't mind seeing the Eagles take an elite edge rusher in Round 1. Heaven knows they need one, but it may be time to end a four-and-a-half-decade drought and take an elite linebacker in Round 1. We could be destined for more mediocre defensive football if theories about the importance of the defense's second level aren't revisited soon enough.

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