Dawkins' departure leaves hole in Philly defense

March, 1, 2009
3/01/09
12:11
PM ET

Posted by Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

Saturday, the Denver Broncos signed Philadelphia Eagles legend Brian Dawkins to a five-year contract. He was a fixture in Philadelphia and was a huge reason the Eagles reached five NFC Championship Games. While it seemed Father Time had caught him early in the 2008 season, Dawkins ended the campaign strong. He should be an immediate contributor in Denver.

Fellow safety Sean Considine also is leaving Philadelphia, as he just signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the aggressiveness of Jim Johnson's unit, Philadelphia must find someone to be the last layer of defense who is trustworthy and can get the other defensive backs properly aligned. Johnson's defense is both attacking and complex and it is essential to have intelligent safety play.

Not only was Dawkins the quarterback of the secondary for many years, but he also is a terrific leader who prepares very well. His professionalism rubbed off on his teammates over his 13 seasons. That will be missed and will not be immediately replaceable.

As a player, Dawkins doesn't have the range and overall explosiveness that he had earlier in his career. He still is an intimidator on the back end and is versatile. Dawkins' ability to do just about anything asked of the safety position has given Johnson an awful lot of leeway with his aggressive play calling over the years. Much like Dawkins' intangibles, those qualities also will be very difficult to replace, especially from a safety-starved upcoming draft class.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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