We’ve actually needed one even before Dawk left. If you recall the coaching staff tried to groom Quintin Demps to take over, but he ended up in the doghouse after blowing a tackle on an Adrian Peterson TD run in the 2008 playoffs.
My guess is that in the upcoming draft we may FINALLY address this issue with a stud player at the FS position, (and no, even prior to his being drafted did I ever consider Nate Allen to be that player.)
In any case if I were to play the part of Eagles GM, armed with my handy-dandy off-season schedule, I’d formulate a roster that helped out not just in the short term, but down the road a bit as well.
On March 11th during the initial round of free agency, I’d target Miami CB Brent Grimes and move Bradley Fletcher over to FS. As you saw this season, he has the speed, size, physicality and tackling ability to play Safety.
Add to that his experience playing Safety in St. Louis, and you have an instantly better Secondary with a FS who’d understand exactly what the CB was seeing out there in this system.
It couldn’t hurt to have FS who can man-up like a CB with a slot WR. Why not make one move and upgrade two positions while giving the rookie someone to learn from? Besides that, Grimes is Philly born, so coming back to play for a playoff team, in front of family and friends could be a selling point unique to Philadelphia.
I’d also go out and steal C Alex Mack from the Browns. Aside from being 2 years older, he’s an upgrade IN EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY over Jason Kelce. Once Mack was on-board I’d package Kelce and our second rounder to move up in that round (since a low second round pick carries basically a high third round value).
This is all I’d do in the first round of FA. Just go out and get a couple of tone setters. Then I’d rest until the Draft. I’d sit pat unless a knock-my-socks-off trade popped up, or someone inexplicably cut a player like a Bernard Pierce or an Adrian Clayborn, in which case I’d pounce.
On May 8th during the Draft, my priorities would be: FS (to groom, not start immediately), OLB (who is also fluid in coverage), OT, G, K, and C, in that order. Afterwards in (rookie Free Agency) I’d add some size and brute strength at ILB, a versatile LS, and a DB/KR.
Starting with the June 1st purging of veterans, I’d add “vets with something to prove”, on 1 and 2 year incentivized contracts. I would avoid attempting to sign a guy to play a large role. These veteran’s individual feelings of urgency would permeate my camp.
They’d be living, breathing, talking, teaching, day in and day out examples to the youth. It would also lend gravity to cut-downs when known name after known name found its way to the cutting room floor.
A talented roster playing with a sense of urgency is not a bad way to start a season, or condition the mindset of a roster.