Yes the Flyers are on the brink of elimination and yes that is probably the top sports story to write about. The only problem, I write this column Monday and the Flyers play again Tuesday. So by the time this hits your eyes, the orange and black will either be packing up after another season of disappointment, or getting ready to play game seven in Buffalo.

That being said, the easiest topic to write on is the other big story this week, the NFL Draft and how well the Eagles did.

The entire draft was a bit off from the get-go, especially following the Houston Texans decision to go with Mario Williams out of N.C. State instead of the consensus number one pick, Reggie Bush.

Instead of trading up to get one of the two players the Eagles had hoped to land with the 14th pick, they held their ground and ended up landing both players.

Brodrick Bunkley, a defensive tackle out of Florida State was projected to go in the top 10, as was offensive tackle Winston Justice, out of USC.

Bunkley dropped to the Birds at 14, which they can probably thank Marv Levy and the Buffalo Bills for, as the Bills took Donte Whitner, a defensive back out of Ohio State with the eighth pick. Whitner was projected as a late first round player, but thanks to the Bills foresight, or lack thereof, the Eagles were lucky enough to see Bunkley drop into their laps.

"To be honest with you, I thought we might have a shot at Justice," head coach Andy Reid said. "But Bunkley, no, I didn't think he would fall that far. I feel very fortunate."

So the Eagles got the big defensive tackle that should be able to get a push up the middle and help the defensive front.

After staying put in the first round, the Eagles took a chance and moved up in the second, after seeing that Justice was still on the board seven picks into the round. Andy Reid and company dug into their stash of draft picks and swapped places with the Tennessee Titans, landing Justice with the 39th pick.

Not only did the Eagles land the defensive tackle they coveted, but they also, somehow, pulled a rabbit out of their hats and got Justice as well.

Justice spent his last season at USC covering Matt Leinart's blindside as a right tackle. He will probably learn to play both tackle positions and looks to be the heir-apparent to either Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas.

In the third round they drafted Chris Gocung, a 6-2 defensive end/linebacker out of Division I-AA Cal Poly. Gocung led the nation with 23.5 sacks last season.

With their first fourth round selection, the Eagles took another offensive lineman, this time nabbing guard Max Jean-Gilles out of Georgia. He fits the nasty, mauler type description Reid loves to see out of his lineman. After Jean-Gilles, the Birds took Jason Avant, a wide receiver out of Michigan who looks to be a possession receiver in the NFL. He has decent size but lacks speed and has trouble getting open. We'll see how this pick turns out.

In the fifth round the team addressed the need at kick returner, taking former Colorado wide receiver and return specialist Jeremy Bloom. If that name looks familiar it's because it is the same Bloom that competed in the 2006 Olympics in Turin as a freestyle skier. Bloom should make an immediate impact on the punt and kick return units, which is a something the team sorely lacked last season.

In the final rounds the Eagles added depth, picking up outside linebacker Omar Gaither from Tennessee and defensive tackle, LaJuan Ramsey from USC.

With the draft came the end of the line for two veteran Eagles. Hollis Thomas was traded to New Orleans for picks, as was Artis Hicks, who will start at right guard for former Eagles offensive coordinator, Brad Childress in Minnesota.

All in all it was a very good draft for the Birds as they addressed many of the weaknesses that plagued them last season. If they are able to add a big running back and a top-notch wide receiver they should be good to go for 2006.

If you have any comments or opinions about this column, email Nick Browne at nicholasbrowne@comcast.net.

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