As we've just seen the Eagles decide that the future is now, by replacing experienced veteran MLB Jeremiah Trotter with 2nd-year player Omar Gaither. Well someone asked on the forum: why didn't we draft PSU LB Paul Pozluszny to replace Trotter and the thought occurred to me: just how many players the Eagles drafted THIS year appear to be done with that exact scenario in mind (though perhaps on varying timelines).
Now hear me out, I understand that draft-picks as replacements/eventual starters is nothing new, its actually, duh, the entire purpose. But you see, a lot of teams use picks for immediate help. Roster hole present - spend high pick - roster hole plugged (in theory).
For the Eagles, it seems, picks are primarily about future returns rather than immediate ones. (edit) - Many times this is several seasons into the future (the 2002 picks of Lito, Sheldon and Westbrook and Lewis, or the 2006 picks of Winston Justice/Max Jean-Gilles). But this year seems like the timeline for many of the picks could be a tad accelerated (at least along an Eagles time-scale, not necessarily a normal NFL one).
Consider the draft class of 2007:
2nd rd: Kevin Kolb - duh, basically an insurance policy on McNabb's injury. But given the Eagles calculating business manner regarding player's future, it makes sense. There may come a time (though I think 2008 is a bit early) that the Eagles see a Kolb future as brighter than a McNabb one...hopefully not for a while.
2nd rd: Victor Abiamiri - hmmm, with two pricey, 30-year old DEs in Kearse and Howard on the roster....methinks that this is their year to play together (if possible). You see, it was supposed to be last year (and the two looked good early on) then Kearse was lost for the season and Howard wore down....If they both stay healthy, VA won't see the field much. Either way - at their $$$ - both won't be around next year and Victor will be expected to step-in.
3rd rd: Tony Hunt - Buckhalter is not the long-term answer for a "big back". His history with injury is not that good, but you have to love his heart and determination. He looks like the old "Buck" before consecutive knee injuries robbed us of his contributions for '04 and '05. Still the Birds signed him for another 2 years. The price isn't that high, so I expect him to work out the rest of the contract, then I expect the Birds will be looking another back.
3rd rd: Stewart Bradley - heck the Eagles have already given him some work in the middle - though he's a natural strongside linebacker (SAM). If Gocong can't hack it or OG struggles, look for Bradley to get reps....Bradley could be our future SAM if they want to slide Gocong into the middle, who knows
5th rd: Brent Celek - looks like a steal already. With L.J. hurting and in a contract year, I expect the coaches to carefully gauge Celek. If he keeps progressing...I can see the Eagles taking a pass on L.J.'s contract demands and going with the youngster.
5th rd: C.J. Gaddis - hmmm, haven't heard a whole lot about this kid yet, but with Dawk coming into his final years, he seems like a potential long-term replacement. I truly doubt the Eagles would cut Dawk next year to make way for Gaddis. But you never know.
the others: Rashard Barksdale - a complete project, but the man has skills, I've noticed him a whole lot more that Gaddis. Barksdale is a raw talent. By 2009 he could be our Rod Hood, or perhaps a guy you see the Eagles sign long-term (when they're looking to replace a Sheldon Brown or someone). Or he could be an obscure footnote
Nate Ilaoa - the big Samoan seems destined for the practice squad. None of the Eagles RBs are running much, but I just don't seem them carrying 4 RBs right now.
Well that's the group. And again, its not a big shock that the Eagles would be drafting for the future, but in the wake of Trot's release and the questions about why we didn't go out and target a guy specifically to replace him, it struck me just how many of the guys we DID draft seem like near-term alternatives: I mean I see Abiamiri, Hunt and Celek as almost penciled in (maybe not on the starting 22) for 2008. Bradley has a chance to join them. Kolb - a bit more of an enigma. I don't think Andy Reid is ready to part ways with Donovan. 2007 is a big year, though. I expect DMac to lead this team to great things. If he does, then Kolb will have a few years of seasoning before we really get see him. If McNabb gets injured then Andy's got a guy he likes perhaps ready to step into some big shoes within a season or two.