A Defensive End Preview

Sheil Kapadia:

Jenkins has been getting some reps at defensive end with Jason Babin out. We didn’t see him outside much last year, although Jenkins played defensive end while in a 3-4 with the Packers.

“I just gotta get back used to it,” he said. “My hand work is a little off, especially on the left side. When I did play D-End in the past, I was used to being on the right side, so when I’m on the left side, I gotta get used to the hands, vertical steps and all that stuff.”

I’m a fan of whatever looks Jim Washburn wants to throw at offenses, but with Trent Cole also out with swelling in his shoulder, now seems like the perfect time to get lots of looks at the quartet of Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Darryl Tapp, and Philip Hunt. You’re not going to be able to keep all four of those guys.

Seeing Cole and Babin both dealing with injuries is also a worthy reminder that they’re not youngsters anymore. They were tremendous pass rushers last year, but a decline could be coming.

UPDATE: Graham is running with the ones, and Jenkins and Tapp are rotating on the other side.

Willing to Walk Away?

Jonathan Tamari pens an excellent mini-profile of Trent Cole:

"I might play into another contract," Cole said. He added that he hopes to finish his career as an Eagle - "When they cut me, I’m, ‘OK. I’m ready to retire,’ " - but then hedged when asked if he could ever play elsewhere.

"No," he said, "unless the money’s right, for real."

That’s a strange quote Tamari picked up, about being willing to retire when the Eagles let him go. Cole gives the money qualifier after, but it’s still an odd insight into the mindset of the Eagles’ stellar but typically reserved defensive end.

Post-Draft Position Breakdown: Defensive End

Darryl Tapp Juqua Parker

What the Eagles did: Back in February, I ran the numbers on the pass rush from the Eagles defensive line. The results were telling:

2011 Eagles Defensive Ends

While production was way up across the entire group (thanks Wash), there was a clear separation. Trent Cole and Jason Babin were spectacular, and with any luck we can get similar production from that duo going forward. They are Pro Bowl-caliber players going into their 30 and 32-year-old seasons, respectively. That places them on the tail end of their prime, most likely, but certainly still in it. No worries there for 2012.

The next pairing I would group are Philip Hunt and Brandon Graham — the question marks. I’m not so sure about his run defense, but Hunt’s pass rushing in limited snaps showed tremendous potential. I’m very interested to see if he can increase his role this season. Graham basically experienced a lost year in 2012. This is his make-or-break campaign. He has the raw talent to push for serious playing time, or he could fall away completely.

The final two were Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp. As situational pass rushers, neither player was bad, per se. But compared to the rest of the group? The Eagles let Parker walk in free agency, and Tapp now has serious competition to remain on the roster.

Meanwhile, the team added Vinny Curry in the second round, making him the most talented football-playing Eagles fan anywhere. Curry slots right in with Hunt and Graham at this point. He’s young, ideally-suited to Jim Washburn’s schemes, and could contribute right away.

What I would have done: I might have tried to trade Darryl Tapp away during the draft for an extra pick, but I can see the logic in keeping him around at this point. After Babin and Cole, Tapp is the only defensive end with starting experience. He’s a solid veteran insurance policy, even if he looks like the odd man out right now.

Other than that one nitpicky point, solid job by Howie Roseman.

Way-too-early prediction: Especially with the flexibility to slide Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox outside, I can’t imagine the Eagles would keep more than five players at defensive end. Barring injuries, Cole, Babin, Graham, and Curry are all locked in. As I discussed above, there’s reason to be fairly bullish about Hunt’s chances as well. That puts Tapp (and whichever free agent replaces the now-injured Maurice Favorite) out on the street.

Other than that general roster prognostication, I don’t really have any idea who will emerge as the first guy off the bench. It should be one of the more interesting positions to watch from a playing-time competition standpoint.

Photo from Getty.

Vinny Curry, Best Player Available

Chris McPherson:

Roseman hinted that the team has previously made some reaches in order to fill a need. Roseman was certainly tested in his third draft as the Eagles’ general manager. No situation better highlighted Roseman’s mission than what was presented to them with the 59th overall pick when the Eagles selected Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry.

"He was the best player on our board," Roseman said. "He was standing out to us. We just felt like we were in a position where we had to take him. He’s a talented guy."

Since the first press conference after Curry was drafted, the Eagles front office and PR squad have aggressively hawked the fact that he was the best player available — something they haven’t found necessary to mention (let alone pound into the narrative) with any other draft pick. Methinks they dost protect someone’s feelings too much.

Brandon Graham, Bust?

Dave Spadaro:

Graham is back at square one, in a sense. The Eagles are counting on him to deliver the promise that made him a first-round draft pick. Is he that special player who the Eagles coveted so much that they traded up in the first round to acquire? Or is he just not the right fit in the league?

Or is Graham somewhere between the two extremes?

"Day by day," he says. "I’m just taking it day by day."

Maybe I’m the only one, but this was the first time I read a puff piece on the Eagles website and came away thinking the profiled player was more of a bust then when I started reading.

Inside Trent Cole's Contract Extension

Brian McIntyre has the details of Trent Cole’s contract. Here is the basic breakdown:

2012: $8 million signing bonus, plus original $3 million salary now guaranteed.
2013: Original $3.5 million salary now guaranteed.
2014: New $5 million salary (plus $500,000 $ack$-based bonus).
2015: New $10 million salary.
2016: New $11 million salary.
2017: New $14 million salary.

Cole turns 30 this year, which should give you a sense of which years are more or less fake money. To my eyes, the last three years all look unlikely. The Eagles gave Cole a lot of security by guaranteeing the final two years of his old contract and handing him a signing bonus on top of it. The 2014 additional year also looks attainable and very reasonably priced. After that, I don’t see the Eagles paying $10 million or more per year for a 33-year-old and up.

Still, don’t let that detract from what the deal really means. It’s not intended to purchase many more years of performance, but rather to serve as a thank you gift, a reward for Cole’s quiet excellence over the last few years. And in many ways, that’s more important.

Jim Washburn, the Draft, and Size at DE

Jevon Kearse Trent Cole Eagles

Linebacker is by far my preferred first round draft choice for the Eagles. Given the severe dearth of talent at that position, it’s not even a particularly close decision in my mind.

That said, teams shouldn’t reach too far for need. You should attempt to select the best player available, lest you end up with another Danny Watkins. With that in mind, I could easily see the Eagles going with a different position in the first round, perhaps cornerback after they trade Asante Samuel, or, more likely, defensive line.

Whether or not it’s the first round, Jim Washburn could use an infusion of youthful talent along the front four. Trent Cole and Jason Babin are both Pro Bowl-caliber ends, but they’re both closer to the end of their prime than they are to the start — and the situtation behind them is murky. Brandon Graham is coming off a serious injury and a lost season. Darryl Tapp and Philip Hunt have had their moments in the Wide Nine, but neither can be trusted to take over as a starter if needed.

The defensive tackle spot is in a similar situation, but I’m just going to look at defensive ends today. The question is, what kind of end does Washburn want? And the answer to that question suggests that there may be more turnover than we think.

Jim Washburn DE Draft Picks At right are the defensive ends selected in Tennessee in the 12 years Washburn was coaching there. He must have had tremendous input into which players were taken. In theory, these are players that are prototypical for what Washburn wants to do at the position.

The thing that jumps out at me immediately is their size. Washburn’s only drafted two defensive ends shorter than 6’4”. And his free agent picks have all been in that 6’4”-6’6” range too: Kyle Vanden Bosh, Dave Ball, Kevin Carter, etc.

It’s just an interesting piece of trivia until you look at the Eagles current group of ends. Tapp is only 6’1”. Hunt is 6’0”. Graham,at a generously labeled 6’2”, would (given the opportunity) be the smallest defensive end who’s ever started for Washburn. Now, this doesn’t rule them out completely. If they’re good enough they’ll play, regardless of size. Both Cole and Babin, listed at 6’3”, are still on the small side of Washburn’s range.

(Note: Washburn’s tackles have been on average 6’3”. Only Cedric Thorton and Antonio Dixon currently fit that mold.)

But, with that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if those two and Graham are the only players at defensive end who return in 2012.

Tommy Lawlor, the authority on all things Eagles draft, mentioned some of the defensive ends scouting consultant Phil Savage talked to at the Senior Bowl. Based on Washburn’s preferences, I would be surprised if the Eagles selected the relatively short Melvin Ingram or Courtney Upshaw. Cam Johnson, a player Tommy likes a lot, would a more natural fit at 6’4”.

Come April, the Eagles have ten draft picks. I could easily envision a scenario in which they spend four of them on the defensive line, and at least two at end. And when you’re shuffling through prospect profiles for a preview of players who might end up in Philly, keep your eye on height as a key factor.

Photo from Getty.

Kolb Watch: Free Agency Third Day Live Blog

Andy Reid Jeff McLane Lehigh

Today’s the day. I think. The final hurdle has to be Kevin Kolb’s new contract. Hopefully that will get settled shortly. My prediction, once again, is Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie + Arizona’s 2012 2nd round pick + another conditional middle round pick.

Can’t promise the same kind of strange happenings as yesterday, but hit it here for updates as we go along.

9:54 am - Eagles sign Jason Babin to a 5-year deal (Jay Glazer), worth $28 million (Jim Wyatt). There’s your new defensive end. However, as Sam Lynch points out, this is probably a front-loaded deal. No one should expect Babin to still be on the team in 2015, when he’ll be 36.

Time to see if Babin just had a fluke season or if Jim Washburn really discovered his talent.

2:13 pm - Looking more and more like the Kolb deal will go down today. Howard Eskin confirmed my speculation that the Cardinals are working on his contract extension. Adam Caplan also tweeted that the two sides have made “substantial progress in recent hours.”

Photo: “Chasing Andy” from and of Jeff McLane.

Who Are the Eagles’ Free Agent Options at DE?

Ray Edwards Minnesota Vikings 2011 NFL Free Agency

Finally, we can see daylight.

Optimism abounds in the NFL world as the lockout looks to be in its final days. And that means free agency is just around the corner - possibly as soon as this weekend. In preparation for that, we should take a second look at some of the Eagles potential free agent targets.

As I said last week, I really think that defensive end will be the major priority, in light of Brandon Graham’s microfracture surgery. Cornerback is arguably a bigger hole to fill, but it seems likely that the position could be filled as part of the Kolb trade.

When looking at the Eagles defensive end targets, there are really three potential names that stand out:

Jason Babin - The most well known among Eagles fans, Babin had a mediocre season as a backup in 2009 in Philly. Since he was unproductive and already over 30, there wasn’t much discussion about keeping him around. Yet Babin went to the Titans and suddenly registered 12.5 sacks, more than his three previous seasons combined. Babin is definitely the least sexy acquisition the Eagles could make, due to his one-year wonder potential and advanced age.

Charles Johnson - Last year was a breakout year for Johnson, who took over as the primary pass rusher in Carolina after Julius Peppers jetted off to Chicago. Johnson is only 25, so he will require a bigger, long term investment than Babin. However, if he can sustain his production from last season, Johnson could be the solution long term.

Ray Edwards - At 26 and larger than the other two, Edwards could be an even better long term fit for Jim Washburn’s new scheme. Edwards has played second fiddle to Jared Allen in Minnesota for the last couple of years, but he’s been a consistent pass rush threat. The Vikings are not expected to match offers for him.

Negative Plays per Rush 2011 Eagles vs. Free Agent Defensive Ends

If you’ve followed the blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan the sacks stat (despite using it above). The truth is that the player can put pressure on the quarterback and get in his face, but ultimately there’s a lot of luck in actually achieving the sack. Sometimes one end gives all the pressure, but the quarterback escapes, right into the arms of a sedentary tackle.

Therefore, I tend to rank pass rushers by “negative plays,” or sacks plus hits plus pressures plus blocked passes. Then divide by the number of pass rushing opportunities, and you have a percentage, higher the better. (Pro Football Focus has a slightly different formula for the stat they calculate.)

As you can see, Trent Cole was the best pass rusher the Eagles had in 2010. But he actually scored lower on this statistic than both Edwards and Johnson. Adding either would probably be a big boost over the former production, assuming they fit Washburn’s system. Hopefully we’ll find out soon who the Eagles like best.

Photo from Getty.

Graham Setback Exposes Weak Defensive Ends

Brandon Graham Eagles Defensive Ends Injury

"In the National Football League you have to be able to put pressure on the quarterback; you put pressure on the quarterback it makes everybody better. It makes the secondary better, it makes the linebackers better and that really makes the offense better. They get the ball back and can score a little bit more. So, we went out and brought in some guys we felt can rush the passer."

That’s what Andy Reid said right after the Eagles drafted Brandon Graham in the first round of the 2010 draft. His comment highlights something the Eagles have always done: spend big on pass rushers. Since Reid came to Philadelphia, the Eagles have used their first draft pick to take two defensive ends and four defensive tackles. They’ve also given out fat paychecks to free agents like Jevon Kearse, Darren Howard, and Chris Clemons.

Even though many of those moves didn’t work out, Reid obviously isn’t blowing smoke when he talks about the need for elite pass rushers. He’s putting his money where his mouth is.

Graham was just the latest example of this emphasis, and he was supposed to quickly push for a starting spot opposite of perennial All-Star Trent Cole. Graham rose to that challenge, at least at first, and there was lots of hope that he could progress substantially in his second year. Unfortunately, he suffered an ACL tear in December, cutting his rookie season short and jeopardizing his 2011 as well.

Yet now Graham’s recovery is further in doubt after the news yesterday that he also underwent the even more serious microfracture surgery on that same knee. If Graham’s recovery is anything like Victor Abiamiri’s, he might not get on the field at all this coming season. And projecting for 2012 is just foolish.

That’s a big problem for the vital defensive end unit that already could be characterized as Cole and a bunch of question marks. We weren’t necessarily counting on Graham at the start of the season, but there was always the thought he could contribute. This might eliminate the best possible contender for stepping up at LDE.

So where does that leave the Eagles? If Graham can’t be the guy, they need to go in another direction for a second pass rusher. I’m starting to think the logical step is to make yet another big free agent splash at defensive end.

Ray Edwards of the Minnesota Vikings would be a perfect fit. He’s a young 4-3 end who is used to being the number two guy across from Jared Allen. Edwards is also big — at 6’5”, 270 lbs he fits the Jim Washburn model. Other possibilities include the Panthers’ Charles Johnson or the return of Jason Babin.

If they can’t secure reinforcements, the Eagles loss of Graham could really hurt them when football returns.

Photo from Getty.

Behind Trent Cole, Only Question Marks

Juqua Parker Eagles Defensive Ends

Even if the rest of the NFL world often underestimates Trent Cole, we know how great he’s been for the Eagles. Yet for what seems like the 15th year, the Eagles will enter their next season with Cole as their only truly reliable, above average end. There are a bunch of players behind Cole, even with none drafted in this year’s draft, but every one comes with huge question marks and caveats. Let’s quickly run through each one:

Brandon Graham — Last year’s first round pick had a promising, if not spectacular rookie season. Graham would have been the guy we all expected to step up and provide the complementary opposing pass rush to Cole, except that he tore his ACL in Week 14 against the Cowboys. Now, instead of improving on his rookie performance, he’ll likely still be rehabbing when the season starts. Andy Reid called it a “real stretch” to expect Graham back in time.

Juqua Parker — He had another solid season, but was exposed late in the year by quarterbacks as bad as Joe Webb (I was at that Vikings game, and I can’t get the image of Juqua getting consistently fooled out of my head). The truth is that if Graham hadn’t gotten hurt, Parker would probably be expendable this offseason. He’s already 33 years old. How much left is in the tank?

Darryl Tapp — The former Seahawk, acquired before last year’s draft for Chris Clemons, had a mediocre first season. He had almost as many pass rush opportunities as Parker, but caused significantly less pressure. At least he’s only 26.

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim — For a third round pick, Te’o-Nesheim had a remarkably unimpressive 2010. In fact, he barely got on the field — more than half of his season snaps came in the Week 17 reserves game. Hopefully Te’o-Nesheim can improve enough to contribute something, but he hasn’t shown anything yet.

Ricky Sapp — Not much to say other than he was on injured reserve all of last year. He’ll have to prove he’s back to full form to even have a shot at the roster, let alone get substantial playing time.

Victor Abiamiri — A weird quirk in the free agent rules means Abiamiri will be back after missing all of 2010 after microfracture surgery 16 months ago. I have no idea what to expect, since he’d never shown all that much before the injury.

Philip Hunt — 2011 will be Hunt’s first year in the NFL. After breaking the sacks record in college at Houston, he wasn’t drafted and ended up playing two seasons in the CFL. Last year Hunt led that league with 16 sacks and subsequently the Eagles signed him in January. Best case scenario he replicates Miami DE Cameron Wake’s similar journey, but that’s obviously a longshot.

The uncertainty surrounding each of these players is only compounded by the fact that new defensive line coach Jim Washburn is installing a completely new system that may play to different player strengths than the previous Eagles scheme. Trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff in this scenario seems impossible. I wouldn’t really be surprised to see any one of these guys start; nor would I be shocked if anyone outside of Graham was cut outright. Then of course there’s the possibility that free agency could bring new contenders into the mix.

Ultimately, if and when training camp ever starts, defensive end looks like the position to watch. For such an important spot, its outlook might be the most murky of any on the team.

Photo from Getty. Originally published at NBC Philadelphia.

2011 Eagles Offseason Guide: Defensive Line

Trent Cole Eagles Defensive Ends 2011

This is the sixth in a series of posts breaking down the Eagles position by position in advance of the upcoming draft and (hopefully) free agency. We’ve already looked at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line. Today we’ll examine the defensive line.

2010 Recap: At defensive end, last season was all about the injuries. Only Trent Cole had another normal, star season at defensive end — where he posted 10 sacks and 55 hurries. Former second round pick Victor Abiamiri missed the entire season after undergoing microfracture surgery. The Eagles fifth round selection in 2010, Ricky Sapp, was also lost for the year after arthroscopic knee surgery. Brandon Graham, the defensive end that the Eagles traded up in the draft to get, showed some early promise. He started six games, compiled three sacks, and on a per pass rush basis, was actually one of the most effective defensive linemen in the NFC East. However, Graham was also bit by the injury bug, succumbing to a torn ACL in Week 14.

Veteran Juqua Parker shared playing time with Graham for most of the season and although he’s never been a star, Parker began to show some liability, especially against mobile quarterbacks like Minnesota’s Joe Webb. Darryl Tapp, who the Eagles traded for in the offseason, contributed four sacks as a rotational player. Another rookie, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim did little to justify his third round selection. Finally there were the host of other names that came in and out during the year: Antwan Barnes, Derrick Burgess, and Bobby McCray.

At defensive tackle, the longtime starters Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley were finally pushed. Patterson started the whole year, with his typically solid run defense and lackluster pass rush. But Bunkley, after missing two games with an elbow injury, lost his starting spot to Antonio Dixon, a player the Eagles claimed on waivers after he went undrafted in 2009. Dixon, 6’3” 325 lbs, is the biggest Eagles tackle and perhaps the most explosive off the ball. Trevor Laws, who looked like a bust a year ago, resurrected his career somewhat as a solid inside pass rusher. Finally, 2010 7th round selection Jeff Owens spent most of the year on the practice squad only to be called up in Week 16 and promptly rupture his left patellar tendon.

Who’s Leaving: McCray’s a free agent. DT Jeremy Clark, another late season pick up, will compete but is a long shot. Through an odd loophole of the Physically Unable to Perform list, Abiamiri’s 2011 free agency was delayed a year — meaning he’ll get one more chance to show what he’s got.

2011 Depth Chart: Cole and Parker are probably the starters at defensive end, assuming it takes Graham more than six months to recover from ACL surgery. Tapp, Te’o-Nesheim, Sapp, Abiamiri, and Canadian Football League star Philip Hunt (16 sacks in 2010) will compete for the backup spots, and one or more will probably end up on the outside looking in. Seems like there should be open competition at tackle, where the scheme set up by new defensive line coach Jim Washburn will have a big impact on who starts, and who potentially become trade bait. Not even sure I can handicap that race right now.

Potential Additions: Some fans have talked about bringing back DE Jason Babin, who had 12.5 sacks last year working with Washburn. I doubt the Eagles will be the highest bidder for his services. I also don’t expect the Eagles to trade for Washington malcontent Albert Haynesworth, despite his immense talent. If the team does want to add veteran talent, Vikings end Ray Edwards would be a potential target.

The defensive line is considered a strong area of this year’s draft. Players like Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan could get a long look in the first round.

Future Outlook: The future depends a great deal on Washburn’s new philosophy and who fits into his system. But certainly Graham’s injury deals a big set back to the Eagles plans at defensive line. The team will need other young, talented defensive ends to ensure an acceptable transfer into the post-Cole era.

Originally published at NBC Philadelphia. Photo from Getty.

Why Trent Cole Should Hold Out of Camp

Trent Cole Philadelphia Eagles Salary Contract Hold Out Training Camp

As a fan, it’s tough to support a player who holds out of training camp. No matter how much less a player makes than he “deserves,” he’s still getting a boatload and a half more than anyone you know. All fans care about is the team — and any player who holds out appears to care a lot more about themselves than winning a championship.

But, in all honesty, while I don’t necessarily want Trent Cole to hold out at the beginning of training camp, I think he should for his own sake.

First of all, it’s not like he needs to learn or compete in training camp. He’s the starting RDE and that’s not going to change with a few days or weeks missed. I’m all for working out with the team and getting in shape for the season, but there’s not much for Cole to gain at Lehigh. And there’s something positive about keeping him from suffering a Stewart Bradley-esque injury.

Second, he’s clearly underpaid. Foxsports.com compares Cole’s contract to Julius Peppers’s, but let’s put that aside for now. Soon, Cole won’t even be the top-paid defensive end on his own team — that distinction will go to first round pick Brandon Graham, who will get north of $12 million guaranteed cash (Brian Orakpo’s haul last year) before ever taking an NFL snap. Cole’s gotta be looking down the line, wondering why he can’t get some of that dough.

Third, Cole’s not getting any younger. He’s only 27 now, but he’s played in 65 straight games including in the playoffs. He can’t, and shouldn’t, count on that streak continuing forever. With that in mind, Cole deserves to be paid at least close to market value for the last few years of his prime. You never know when that window could close, and it will likely happen before he gets to free agency in 2014.

But the key point is number four: Cole’s never going to have better leverage to renegotiate his deal. Think back to the summer of 2008. Brian Westbrook was coming off a career year that put him at the top of running backs in the NFL. More importantly, he had proven that he was by far the most valuable member of the team. Westbrook parlayed that, coupled with a holdout threat carried over from his refusal to attend camp in 2005, into another contract extension (ok, so it was basically just a raise).

Cole is in a similar situation now. He is by far the most important player on the defense, and may be the most indispensable guy on the team. Just as the Eagles recognized that Westbrook was their only weapon on offense going into 2008 and drafted DeSean Jackson, so they have indicated how thin they are on the defensive line by completely reloading at that position. Sure, Graham may become great and eventaually replace Cole the way DeSean replaced Westbrook, but right now Cole’s playmaking and all-around production remain invaluable. If he wants to renegotiate his contract, the Eagles have to listen.

Plus, because Cole is indispensible and so obviously underpaid, he likely wouldn’t receive the same vitriol from the public that is often directed at training camp hold outs. Or would he? What do you think?

Eagles Post-Draft Thoughts and Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles 1st Round Draft Pick DE Michigan Brandon Graham

Observations and opinions on this 3-day, 13-player behemoth of a draft for the Eagles:

  • Everyone, including myself, was surprised at the number of defensive ends the Eagles drafted. That was the big story, especially because it seemed like the secondary and the offensive line were bigger needs. But when you look at the offseason in hindsight, it’s easy to see that there were big needs there. The group wasn’t in any way dominant last year and we heard that some of the veteran guys were poisonous in the locker room. In any case, the Eagles jettisoned three players (Darren Howard, Jason Babin, and Chris Clemons) who combined for over 900 snaps. Essentially, they needed three more bodies — hopefully younger and more productive ones.
  • Not only was it a need, but you can see where each new DE fits a certain role on the team and, in some cases, specifically replace one of the departed veterans. Andy Reid compared Brandon Graham to Trent Cole, and he will get every chance to star opposite Cole for the next 5-10 years. Andy said Daniel Te’o-Nesheim will step in for Howard, as a DE who can move inside. Ricky Sapp replaces Clemons at the Joker spot. Darryl Tapp (while not exactly the same type of player) sounds like will take the place of 31 year-old Juqua Parker when he eventually gets cut/traded. The Eagles only have 7 DEs right now (prior to UDFAs) on their roster. They played with 6 last year, so it’s not like the team is overloaded.
  • Last point on DE: It seems like McDermott may be in the same school of thought as Steve Spagnuolo when it comes to defenses — get as many pass rushers as possible. That’s how Spags managed the defense in New York when they won the Super Bowl, and it may help explain the focus there rather than on the secondary or linebacker corps.
  • Nate Allen looks like a real solid, mature kid. Check out his press conference if you haven’t already. I will honestly be surprised if Allen’s not starting at FS come September and he has a great chance to be a new leader on the defense.
  • If Allen solidifies the starting free safety spot, as he will be given every opportunity to do, I could see the Eagles making Quintin Demps the back-up and moving Macho Harris over to corner. He, Marlin Jackson, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, and 4th round pick Trevard Lindley will get shots at the RCB job (which now looks like the 2009 FS position). Then if Jackson or Harris loses the battle, the Eagles could stash them back in the other back-up safety spot.
  • As Scott Turnstall over at Inside the Iggles sharply noticed, all 13 players the Eagles drafted were seniors. Last year the top of the draft had two young underclassmen and that seemed to work out fine, but you have to wonder if this is a new Howie Roseman philosophy.
  • Additionally, only TE Clay Harbor from Missouri St. came from a smaller school. There were no unheard of projects from Cal Poly or McNeese St. this time around. While we’re on the tight end position, don’t be surprised if Harbor sees more playing time than Cornelius Ingram on the depth chart this year. Andy had high compliments for his blocking skills and, unlike Ingram, Harbor doesn’t have balky knees.
  • It still amazes me that the Eagles didn’t take an Offensive Lineman in this draft. Everyone agreed that it was a need — except the Eagles. Andy doesn’t even need excuses to take big uglies, but he’s willing to got to war with that depth? Nick Cole and Stacy Andrews don’t worry me that much but who do you trust if someone gets hurt again? Jean-Gilles, Dunlap have showed us very little. McGlynn, Tupou, Reynolds haven’t even been on the field before. The Eagles will bring in some UDFAs, but it’s surprising that they don’t feel the need to bring in real competition for a guy like Dunlap.
  • Andy’s response about whether there has been any interest from other teams for Michael Vick: "No." Reid didn’t seem too pleased with the development. Could Vick really not be going anywhere? I bet the Eagles are still hoping someone like Buffalo decides they need Vick, or another team’s quarterback gets hurt.
  • Anyone else notice how much Andy went out of his way to heap praise on Howie Roseman’s shoulders? We know Reid is the final decider in the room, but he’s a real underrated leader — pushing off the success on other people and accepting blame when it comes.
  • The Eagles drafted 13 (!) players — the most ever by a team in the 7 round format. Can they keep them all? I’m going to do a preliminary roster analysis soon but my quick answer is yes. It depends on roster battles and injuries, but the Eagles got rid of so many older players that they’ll open up camp with a lot of space.
  • The fact that the Eagles only selected one player at their own pick (outside of compensatory selections) is also astounding. Howie certainly learned the art of trading from Heckert.
  • Stewart Bradley and Alex Hall are the only two big linebackers. Everyone else is small and fast. We’ll see about the SAM spot. Fokou looks like he’s going to get the first crack at the job (ala Quintin Demps in 2009) but if he can’t step up it could be another mishmash of guys from Akeem Jordan to Hall. Also, if I were Omar Gaither or Joe Mays I’d be worried about my job. The two draft picks look like almost-identical replacements to me.
  • I think the arrival of Charles Scott means Eldra Buckley is a goner. Buckley may be a better special teamer, but Scott will get a chance there since he’s probably viewed as a long-term change of pace back to LeSean McCoy. Obviously they’ll be battling it out for that 4th RB spot.
  • The Eagles already have 9 picks in the 2011 draft. Unbelievable.
  • Last chance for Trevor Laws. Jeff Owens is only a 7th round pick, but considering the move toward using DEs inside on passing downs, it’s unlikely the Eagles keep more than 4 DTs. Patterson and Bunkley are solid, and Antonio Dixon showed a lot of promise last year. It’ll be Owens, Laws, and another UDFA or two competing for the final spot.
  • Mike Kafka is right out of the AJ Feeley playbook. Both 6’3”, 220 lbs, mediocre arm strength, significant college back-up experience. I anticipate he’ll do fine in Feeley’s role.
  • Also, I like that my "Youth Movement" posts have been validated by Andy Reid, who told Nate Allen (to Les Bowen’s chagrin) that he was "trying to get a youth movement in here."
  • Update: Bye Dawk at Bleeding Green Nation chronicles how the Eagles got 5 players and a 2011 draft pick for their second 2nd rounder. Impressive job, Howie.

I’m sure everyone else has thoughts on this draft haul. Let them loose down below in the comments…