Eagles Notes: Defensive tackle on the Eagles' radar

Posted: March 28, 2012

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Eagles have room to add another defensive tackle, with free agents Derek Landri and Trevor Laws still unsigned.

Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Antonio Dixon, and Cedric Thornton are under contract, but the Eagles carried five defensive tackles last season. Thornton, an undrafted rookie, could be expendable.

The Eagles could be targeting one of a number of attractive defensive tackles in the first round of next month's draft. General manager Howie Roseman agreed that it is a position of strength in the draft.

"You might not see the run in the top of the draft like you normally do," Roseman said Tuesday, "but there are players that we like throughout."

Despite investing two second-round picks at the safety position the last two years in Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett, Roseman said that wouldn't preclude the team from drafting a safety early. The Eagles, though, expect Jarrett to benefit from his first full offseason.

The Eagles appear set at defensive end with Trent Cole and Jason Babin as the starters and Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, and Phillip Hunt off the bench, Roseman intimated.

With last week's trade for DeMeco Ryans, Jamar Chaney is no longer the middle linebacker. Roseman was asked whether that meant Chaney was moving back to the strong side.

"He's a versatile guy," Roseman said. "He really can play all three positions."

Kubiak on Ryans

After Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke glowingly of Ryans for several minutes, he was asked, "Well, if he's so great, why didn't you keep him?"

The Eagles acquired the former two-time Pro Bowl linebacker for a fourth-round selection and a swap of third-round picks.

"You have to make decisions - cap decisions, going-forward decisions," Kubiak said at the NFL owners meetings. "There's a lot of things that go into account of why you trade a player or have to release a player nowadays."

When the Texans switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 last year, Ryans' playing time decreased significantly. Houston obviously didn't see the point of paying a part-time linebacker $6 million a season.

Still, if Ryans could beat out Brian Cushing as the Texans' three-down inside linebacker, he still would be in Houston. There are legitimate concerns about his return from a 2010 ruptured Achilles tendon.

"Absolutely no doubt," Kubiak said. "He battled his elbow. He battled his Achilles. But at the end of the year, he played his best football for us."

Eagles draft picks

The NFL set the draft order after compensatory picks were announced. The Eagles have nine picks - one in the first round (15th overall), two in the second (46th and 51st), a third (88th), a fourth (114th), a fifth (153d), and three in the sixth round (172d, 194th, and 200th).

Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane

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