Trading Sheldon Brown Only Creates More Questions

Written By Bob Cunningham On Friday, April 02, 2010

What do the Eagles do to fill the void left by Brown?

With the Eagles trading cornerback Sheldon Brown and outside linebacker Chris Gocong to the Cleveland Browns, the list of questions for the Eagles heading into 2010 just got a lot longer.

In return, the Eagles acquired a fourth and fifth round pick, as well as third-year outside linebacker Alex Hall. Hall was a seventh-round pick of the Browns back in '08 and, like Gocong, is a bit of a defensive end-outside linebacker 'tweener.

My immediate reaction is that the Birds got fleeced. Brown hasn't been to any Pro Bowls (although he reportedly turned down an offer last season), but he also hasn't missed a single game in his eight-year career and has always been a staple on this defense.

In Sean McDermott's scheme there has to be guys who can be left out on an island, and Brown was certainly one of those guys. His replacement, Ellis Hobbs, is more of a zone-coverage type of guy and might not be able to handle the same responsibilities Brown handled.

Hobbs, by the way, will become Brown's replacement barring a first-round selection at corner.

Right now, I'm failing to see the Eagles' plan. They continue the exodus of veteran players, but aren't getting a whole lot in return other than some extra cap space and, in this case, a couple draft picks and a guy who may or may not be good enough to start at SAM.

"We're trying to win. We're always trying to win," GM Howie Roseman told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "For us, this is a football decision. We're excited about some of the players on our team and we're excited about the quality of the draft."

Apparently the plan is nothing more than to find some starting talent in what is perceived to be the deepest draft in the last quarter-century. Most drafts are touted as the deepest in however many years, but this year seems to be different as several teams are buying into the notion.

But now instead of just needing a defensive end, linebacker, and free safety, the Eagles also need a cornerback. I'm a fan of Hobbs, but I'm just not sure if McDermott's system will bring his strengths to the forefront. Instead, I'm worried the system could expose the flaws in Hobbs' game.

The word is that the Eagles intend to move Macho Harris back to his natural position of cornerback and stick with Marlin Jackson as the starter and Quintin Demps as his backup, but that has yet to be confirmed or denied by the Eagles.

For now, cornerback is a position low on depth and thin on talent. It will most certainly be addressed in the early rounds, but I'm still a proponent of taking a defensive end. If the draft is really as deep as everyone says it is, the Birds should be able to find a starting-caliber cornerback in the second round.

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