Monday, April 28, 2008

Digesting the Eagles Draft Haul

No grades folks, that is a useless endeavor. This is draft definitely is a mixed bag for Eagles fans, there are some really good highlights and some real puzzlers. Then again, it wouldn't be an Eagles draft is everyone thought it was great or if AR & Co didn't select some guy out of left field that leave us all scratching our heads.

Here are some the implications as I see them
- Plucking Carolina's 1st rounder next year was just awesome. Given the state of the NFC South, this pick will probably range somewhere from 12-21. (yeah thanks, why not just guess 1-32?). I don't think it will be a top 10 might be...especially if the injury bug bites the Panthers again this year. Giving up the #19 pick is never easy, but having two #1s for 2009 provides the Eagles with some decent ammunition if, as I expect, they continue their pursuit of a veteran WR.

- Getting some guys who should be able to come right in and contribute. I'm talking to you: DT Trevor Laws, WR DeSean Jackson, RB Lorenzo Booker.

First Laws. Ok, beyond the inevitable Berman "I fought the Laws" line we'll hear on ESPN once this dude tallies a sack, I see a guy with a strong wrestling background as a great foundation for a NFL defensive tackle. Moreover, this guy should be in on-time and I can see him working right into the DT rotation. As the DTs stand right now, there is Patterson and Bunkley starting, with some combination of Laws, Montae Reagor and Lajuan Ramsey....those five might be the actual guys...but I actually expect DT/DE Darren Howard to take up one these roster spots, because Howard can play all along the line and if the Eagles cut him, they'll incur a cap hit...something they don't like to do. Howard has been a huge disappointment, but if Laws shows anything in preseason, expect him to be worked into the regular rotation.

Next is DeSean Jackson. First off, anything is better than Reno Mahe. The dependable hard-working Mahe scared nobody, and really he was only on the team last year because they didn't have anybody could field kicks. Jackson's speed provides an instant threat. I am not predicting he'll be the second-coming of Dante Hall, but the man has football talent. They can help him put on some muscle, but like the adage goes, you can't coach speed. I see the Eagles spoon-feeding him some select routes, and running him out there in special packages designed to create mis-matches. Think about it...Flank Westbrook and Curtis on the other a team try and post a safety on this guy....Jackson flies right by and McNabb hits him in stride...that only needs to happen once my friends, and the threat will be established. I'd also like to see him running some of these reverses they tried with Reggie Brown...While I believe him impact on the offensive side of the ball will be limited, if only because that the Eagles' style with rookies, I do expect him to be able to improve our special teams. If he can provide a 5-10 yard difference in field position on punt returns, that is a tangible contribution. If he can be a threat that forces bad punts and helps tilt field position in the Eagles favor...that is going to pay dividends.
- As for the Roster, an interesting question came up on the forums, with Jackson on board, who goes??? Greg Lewis...seems like every year we wonder if this the year he doesn't make the cut. Hank Baskett...that potential flashed in 2006 seems like good news, from long, long time ago doesn't it? Jason Avant, if he going to get used in this offense or not??? Look I think the 4 roster locks right now are Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson. Why am I so gracious to Avant right now - because I think he showed he can be a decent slot possession receiver in this league, the Eagles just don't dial his # very often. Would the Eagles carry 6 WR on the roster? Good question. In the past they have not done so, but then again, none of the WR were PR/KR either...Mahe had those duties for the most part, and he was part of the Backfield.
With Mahe a goner and his slot open, that doesn't necessarily translate into another slot open for running backs on this team.

As for Booker, well I dunno what his addition to the team means. A third-down change of pace kinda guy. Since he can catch out the backfield that is a big, big plus. But the backfield, she be a bit crowded right now. Not exactly brimming with talent behind Westbrook, but crowded. Ever-dependable Correll Buckhalter is the top back-up, with Ryan Moats, Tony Hunt, Jason Davis and Dan Klecko filling out the HB/FB slots...figure 3 RB, 1 FB, unless some really flashes that "you gotta keep me on the roster" skill. I won't even venture a guess what that means for the roster at this point...Just say this: Westbrook and Booker will be two names on the final list, unless Lorenzo comes in and proceeds to take a dump on Andy Reid's desk during training camp/preseason.

Other guys they picked up:
3rd rounder DE Bryan Smith...oh great, another fastball tweener you say. And I am tempted to agree. It seems like every year the Eagles dupe themselves into believing some small-school project is being coveted by a bunch of teams, so they "reach" early....3rd round??? For a guy from McNeese State? AIYA! Anyway, unless this guy is a real, true and honest no-shit surprise play-maker, I fully expect him to get the red-shirt treatment from AR & pals. The DE rotation is fairly set at this stage, with Trent Cole, Juqua Parker, newcomer Chris Clemons, and 2nd year man Victor Abiamiri looking to make that almost traditional, OK-I've-been-around-for-a-season-now-let's-see-if-I-can-play bid for the Birds. I think he will contribute. Smith though? He is Gocong-esque project, unless I miss my guess, so I wouldn't expect to see him swooping into opposing backfields until 2010, if we're lucky.

4th rounders: OG Mike McGlynn. A self-described "lunch-pail" guy. His biggest asset is going to be the fact that's he has played all along the O-Line. Kinda like Nick Cole, who can be a back-up Center and Guard. One potential bonus...he has long-snapped in the past. I don't know of any particular plan in place, but right now the Eagles have a pure long-snapper on the roster in Jon Dorenbos....coughing up a roster slot for LS who does nothing else could turn into a luxury Andy decides he just can't indulge....I know the Eagles signed him to deal last year, and they won't want to upset the critical special teams chemistry between JD and Akers and Sav Rocca. But if McGlynn shows ability and develops a feel for it with those out.

Safety Quintin Demps - OK in there a limit on the number of guys in the defensive backfield that can named Quintin?? The guy has a little mouth on him too, but confidence is something to be appreciated in a DB, so long as they can back it up on the field. Is this guy going to replace anyone? Dawkins and Mikell as there...baring injury that is set in stone. I think JR Reed showed he can play, and play well last year and he knows the special teams...if Demps flashes some talent, then erstwhile, can't-seem-to-stay-healthy S Sean Considine could find himself on the outside looking in. As a 4th rounder - I expect him to make the roster.

CB Jack Ikegwuonu - I had the same reaction when I heard about this pick...didn't this mofo jack up his ACL prior to the draft?? Yup same guy, he's an automatic redshirt, er I mean placed on IR. Lots of folks have panned the pick - some because of the guys off-the-field legal troubles. The guy probably would've been one of the top 2 or 3 CB in the draft is he'd stayed healthy. Period. So the talent is/was there. Here is what I think might've been going through the minds of the Eagles' FO folks regarding Ikegwuonu:
1) We know he's injured, but some team could take a flier on this guy before we pick again. He was the Eagles compensatory 4th round pick, #131. The Eagles didn't have another choice on the board until the 6th round, #184. That's 53 selections, so there is a chance that some team, thinking long-term, might take a flier on a guy like Ikegwuonu in the 5th or 6th round.
2) We have a shit-ton picks, and they all can't make the roster. Taking a flier on this guy give us future potential but guarantees that we won't have to worry about cutting a 4th round guy in August.

As for the rest, If OG Mike Gibson, LBRs Mays and Studebaker (both small school guys) or OT King Dunlop make the team, consider that gravy....I expect one the LBR and one of the OL to make the practice squad, but that's about it.

No comments: