Mike Kafka's VooDoo Trainer

Tim McManus brings us the story of Mike Kafka’s trainer, Jay Schroeder, who has been with him since the QB’s sophomore year of college:

[Schroeder’s] technique literally came to him in a dream, and is based on the assumption that all humans are naturally fast, strong and powerful — it’s just that bad habits and external elements have essentially trained the mind wrong since birth, stunting some abilities. So he retrains it.

Through a series of tests performed by stimulating the nervous system, Schroeder unearths what muscles are not working and which ones are working out of order. Once that is determined, he sends messages to the brain via an electrical modality called POV (for force velocity) that gives the proper information on how to perform what you want to perform.

I can’t be the only one that thinks this doesn’t pass the smell test. Besides, if he’s been working with him for so long, why are the results only evident now? Here’s Schroeder’s website. And more of his SUPER ADVANCED training methods:

“We taught him how to lengthen the appropriate muscles at a high rate of speed so that he could decelerate in the appropriate means, which in turn tells your brain that you can accelerate at a higher level,” said Schroeder. “We prepare him to recover from the strain of arm strength.”

So… Kafka’s been lifting weights?

Throwing Cold Water on Dubious Roster Battles

Reuben Frank put out a list of the top ten roster battles heading into training camp. He hits on some of the biggest ones: Atogwe vs. Coleman, Rolle vs. Chaney, Hanson vs. Boykin. But he also lists a bunch of questionable ones:

  • Dion Lewis vs. Bryce Brown? I’m excited to see if Brown can make the transition to the NFL. He clearly has 5x the physical potential of Lewis. But I’m not really seeing the competition for backup running back. There’s just no way Brown is going to come in after sitting out nearly all of college and immediately pick up the complexity of the Eagles offense and the intricacies of pass blocking, other essential bits. Then again, don’t read this as an endorsement of Lewis, who seems like a poor backup to one of the best players on the roster.
  • Riley Cooper vs. Damaris Johnson? It’s unclear whether the Eagles will keep five or six wide receivers, but I don’t really see the big receivers competing against the smaller ones. Cooper and Marvin McNutt would serve similar roles on the roster, as would Johnson and Chad Hall. Those are the real one-on-one battles. Winners of each competition will be guaranteed a spot on the roster. After that, all they can do is hope the Eagles keep six guys.
  • Clay Harbor vs. Brett Brackett? With the Eagles using more two tight end sets, the question is really whether Brackett can play his way onto the roster — not whether he can beat out Harbor, a more experienced player and much better blocker.
  • Mike Kafka vs. Nick Foles? As with Lewis/Brown, this isn’t a ringing endorsement of Kafka. But Frank is the first person to suggest that Foles even has a shot to replace him in his rookie year.

Ahead of all of the above, I’d rate these battles: Demetress Bell vs. King Dunlap, Jaiquawn Jarrett vs. the Chopping Block, Derek Landri vs. Antonio Dixon vs. Cedric Thornton.

Could the Eagles Be Interested in Colt McCoy?

Jason Brewer speculates as to whether the Eagles might be looking at acquiring Colt McCoy on the cheap:

McCoy was a third round pick in 2010 and has started 25 games over his first two seasons in the league. He hasn’t been particularly good, but he is still young, he didn’t have a lot of help in Cleveland and he might benefit from a little Reid/Mornhinweg attention. And if it is true that he could be had for next to nothing, might he better extra QB than Trent Edwards?

Truth be told, that’s what I wanted the Eagles to do instead of drafting another mid-round QB like Nick Foles. McCoy is a poor man’s Kevin Kolb, but at least he has significant starting experience in a similar offense. The problem is that, barring injury, there’s no room for another McCoy on the roster.

Post-Draft Position Breakdown: Quarterback

Mike Kafka Eagles

What the Eagles did: I’ve already written about the Nick Foles pick at some length here, although only from the perspective that I think he was overdrafted based on his talent. Foles is an odd selection because he seems so far outside the type of player Andy Reid usually goes for. Huge, with a cannon arm but limited athleticism doesn’t exactly echo through the years of Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and Michael Vick. It remains to be seen if Reid and Marty Mornhinweg can either fit him into their offense or adjust the offense to fit him.

Because of that, I have a sneaking suspicion that Russell Wilson was the real target. After the Foles pick, Reid denied any interest in Brock Osweiler, but admitted that he “honed in on those two guys,” Foles and Wilson:

"And with these quarterbacks very few of them come from the west coast offense. You saw the kid that went before him (Wisconsin QB Russell) Wilson. He had played in the west coast offense at North Carolina State. There are very few of those that have that opportunity to do that… I liked Wilson, yeah, I sure did. He’s a heck of a player too. We had our eye on those two players and I wish that kid all the best. He’s got a great personality. Not a lot of guys have his size, but he gives you the confidence he’s going to be able to do it."

Maybe I’m reading too much into his press conference, but my immediate thought after watching it was along the lines of, “that was a much stronger endorsement than Reid gave Foles.” And Wilson just makes so much sense as a player who wouldn’t challenge Vick’s current leadership but could learn a tremendous amount watching him.

Given Wilson was selected only 13 spots ahead of the Eagles by a Seattle team that no one expected to draft another quarterback, Reid and Howie Roseman may have been forced to settle for Foles instead.

What I would have done: Obviously, I wouldn’t have drafted Nick Foles. He doesn’t seem likely to have the talent or the fit to make him a potential starter down the road, nor will he help push Mike Kafka to be a better backup.

The Eagles definitely have a long term need for a franchise quarterback to replace Vick. We won’t know how long term that need is until after this coming make-or-break season for him. Therefore, barring the ability to go get a top talent like Robert Griffin III, drafting someone in the early-middle rounds probably wasn’t the best use of resources. My goal would have been to grab a veteran backup to compete with Kafka instead, perhaps buying low on either Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace in Cleveland.

Way-too-early prediction: Don’t expect anything from Foles this year, but it will be interesting to see if the Eagles quarterback gurus can help Vick and Kafka rebound from a down year in 2011. As a rule of thumb, one shouldn’t discount the Eagles coaching ability in this area (Vince Young/Mike McMahon nonwithstanding), so I’m reasonably optimistic.

Still, I wonder if we’ve seen the the limits of Vick’s abilities. It’s tough for him to mature into a more responsible quarterback at his age. An improvement from last season is likely, but a return to 2010 may be too much to ask. As to Kafka, I don’t trust him right now but a third-year leap into AJ Feeley territory isn’t out of range.

Oh, and Trent Edwards is not making the team.

Photo from Getty.

Quarterback Draft Inflation: From Kafka to Foles

Nick Foles Arizona

I have a theory about the Eagles third round selection of quarterback Nick Foles. Despite the relatively early pick, it has nothing to do with replacing Michael Vick or even Mike Kafka. It’s about the NFL draft and the dramatic quarterback inflation that has occurred in the last two years.

Let’s take a quick journey back to 2010. Sam Bradford went first to the Rams and Denver jumped up to 25 overall to get Tim Tebow. The next quarterbacks off the board were Jimmy Clausen (#48), Colt McCoy (#85), and the Eagles’ Kafka (#122). That order of quarterbacks coming off the board — two in the opening round, another one in each of the following — is right in line with what had been going on ever since the draft was whittled down to seven rounds in 1994.

But that pattern, largely consistent for the previous 15 years, was thrown out the window over the last two. In 2011, four quarterbacks were drafted in the first round, and six in the top 40 picks. That rivaled two of the biggest quarterback-heavy drafts in recent memory, 1999 and 2004, despite talent that few considered equal. Then this most recent draft saw another four quarterbacks taken in the first, something that’s never happened in two straight years. Overall, the 2012 draft was slightly behind the 2011 pace, but it was still far ahead of nearly any prior draft.

Here, see for yourself, in table and graphical forms:

QB Draft Order Table

QB Draft Order Graph

What does this mean about Foles? It means that the Eagles likely drafted a worse quarterback in an earlier round than they ever would have before. For example, the team selected Kafka in the fourth round of 2010, presumably to be a long term backup they could groom. He was the fifth quarterback drafted overall.

Foles, taken a round and a half before Kafka, was only the seventh-best quarterback according to draft order. Perhaps this year’s crop of quarterbacks, and Foles in particular, is better than the group teams had to choose from in 2010 — and nearly every prior year. But my impression is that most experts considered this, pre-draft, to be at best an average class after the two stars.

Two years may be too soon to confirm a trend, but the evidence is there. Quarterbacks have never been more highly valued in the NFL. Desperate teams without a franchise signal-caller give big contracts to former backups and trade for anyone with promise. It only makes sense that such a frenzied demand would trickle down to the draft. As that happens, quarterbacks with starting potential rise from the second and third rounds into the top 30 picks, and those who might have been considered late round projects jump up to take their place.

Suddenly, this starts to look less like a fluke and more like a serious shift in how quarterback prospects are valued. We would be wise to view the Foles pick with that in mind.

Photo from Getty.

On the Eagles Trading Up in the First Round

Eagles Fans Draft

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Except when it comes to the NFL draft, in which case the smoke may be planted ten miles away to distract everyone from the actual blaze.

If you ask me, that’s what’s going on with all these rumors about the Eagles moving high up in the draft. First there was the report saying the team was in the hunt to move up to the fourth overall pick. Then there’s this nugget, from National Football Post’s Dan Pompei:

A buzz is building in NFL front offices that the Eagles are going to take a quarterback fairly high. If they don’t make a move for Ryan Tannehill in round one, the Eagles could wait until the second round and go after Kirk Cousins or Brandon Weeden. Such a move could indicate the Eagles have concerns about Michael Vick’s ability to stay healthy and how he fits in Andy Reid’s offense.

First of all, there is ample evidence to suggest the Eagles aren’t finished at quarterback. Mike Kafka is no sure-thing backup, and Trent Edwards didn’t receive more than the most token endorsement from Andy Reid as the third-stringer. They might be looking to draft another quarterback to develop or pick up another veteran.

But why would the Eagles move up to get Tannehill? He’s way overvalued as a top ten pick, and there’s no reason for the team to mortgage most of their draft to reach for a guy like that. To get up to the Browns pick, for example, would require three-quarters of the cost the Redskins paid for the rights to RG3 and you probably wouldn’t get half as good of a player.

Moreover, if the team really was interested in moving up to get Tannehill or drafting one of the other quarterbacks a little bit later on, it would be in their interest to keep such thoughts to themselves.

All of which brings us to Peter King, who Tommy noted yesterday is quite the Eagles prognosticator:

The Eagles don’t want to trade up from 15 to anywhere between three and eight. It’d cost too much, and I sense their interest in Tannehill has been overstated. Philadelphia has sniffed around the quarterback position through the offseason, which could be a sign they’ve cooled on Michael Vick as their long-term solution at the position, and the Eagles have been linked to the Texas A&M quarterback because they sent quarterback coach Doug Pederson to the school to work out Tannehill two weeks ago. The Eagles might pay something to move up for Tannehill, but it won’t be much, and the move won’t be far.

I think it’s interesting that King pegged ninth overall as being the highest the Eagles would be likely to trade up. That probably has something to do with the Dolphins pick at eight being about as far as Tannehill is likely to drop, but more importantly, the Eagles can move up that high using just one of their second round picks.

If I were sitting at 15, I’d probably be content to see how the first eight picks shake out. Three quarterbacks are likely to go that high, which could leave one or more elite position players within striking distance. If not, Howie Roseman can still watch the board and jump ahead of any team he thinks might be targeting his top player (say, Fletcher Cox).

The rest is just smoke.

Photo from Getty.

The Andy & Les Show

Les Bowen got some prized one-on-one time with everyone’s favorite evasive head coach, and pulled a few good nuggets to share with the group.

Andy has spoken to DeSean Jackson since the franchising of the wideout last week. “I think he’ll sign the tender,” Reid said. “He was very positive about it.” Reid reiterated what he said last month, that the attitude change down the stretch convinced him he could go forward with Jackson, after a rough middle of the season. “That was important,” Andy said. I don’t have a good quote that conveys it, but I got the sense Reid absolutely expects to have Jackson here.

The evidence continues to mount that DeSean’s midseason stretch of poor play and the infamous alarm clock incident scared him straight. Whatever happens between the wide receiver and the team long term, Jackson can’t afford to look like the villain.

Reid sees Mike Kafka as his No. 2 QB in 2012, with Trent Edwards maybe No. 3, depending on how he does and what else develops, via the draft, for instance.

Surprising that Andy didn’t even try to play up Edwards for the third quarterback spot. He’s just keeping the seat warm for somebody else. The questions about Kafka remain.

Trent Edwards Means Nothing

Les Bowen:

It’s looking as if a quarterback won’t be a big priority for the Eagles in the April draft.

The team announced yesterday it had agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with former Buffalo starter Trent Edwards, who presumably will replace pending free-agent backup Vince Young. Given that 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka is under contract and expected to return, that would use up all the roster slots for QBs behind starter Michael Vick, who will be 32 when the season starts.

I know we just played this game a few days ago, but signing a guy who has been out of football for a full year tells me nothing about the Eagles plans for quarterback this offseason. Bowen did qualify this intro later on, but for all discerning fans out there, it’s a nice test case of when not to buy into the immediate surface-level story.

The real question is whether Mike Kafka is any good, and if he really is going to compete with Edwards, that answer is (still) no.

Offensive Responsibility: Stop the Turnovers

Michael Vick

The number one problem with the Eagles through three games is their defense. By almost every measure other than sacks, Juan Castillo’s unit ranks near the bottom of the league. But I sense there’s a healthy sense of dissatisfaction with the offense as well.

On the surface, those concerns seem overblown. The Eagles offense, after all, ranks 10th in the NFL in points per game and sixth in yards.They have the fourth-most first downs and the fourth-highest third down conversion rate. Moreover, they’ve done all of this despite an offensive line that was hastily stitched together and having their MVP quarterback get knocked out of two games.

So what’s the problem? Obviously, after last week, short yardage and red zone concerns are high on the list of many Eagles fans. We will have to see if those issues linger through the rest of the season.

But perhaps the biggest culprit in the offense’s sporadic ineptitude has simply been turnovers. Against Atlanta Michael Vick threw an interception and lost two fumbles. Then last Sunday the Giants came away with three interceptions, one from Vick and two gifts from Mike Kafka. The Eagles currently have the 6th-worst turnover per drive ratio in the NFL.

Off those six turnovers, the Eagles opponents scored 28 points — easily the difference between winning and losing against the Falcons and Giants. A large portion of that blame rests with the Eagles defense, which needs to step up and protect the lead when the offense makes a mistake. But the defense’s ineptitude doesn’t absolve the offense of responsibility either.

Until Castillo can shore up the Eagles defense, Vick (with injured hand) and company have to be extra smart with the football. Even with a sieve of a linebacker corps, both of the last two games were winnable until the end. A few more points, a couple fewer mistakes, and maybe you start turn things around again.

Photo from Getty.

Reasons to Worry About the Eagles-Giants Game

Eli Manning Eagles Giants 2010

Last week I told you why the Falcons weren’t a team to worry about. Of course, they ended up beating the Eagles. Now I’m going to tell you that this week’s opponent, the Giants, are a surprisingly worrisome matchup. Given my track record, the Eagles will probably end up blowing out the Giants. But let me air my concerns anyway.

On the whole, the Giants defense is an injury-riddled unit. But those pass rushers still look formidable. I have no desire to see Justin Tuck bearing down either on injured Michael Vick or first-time starter Mike Kafka. If the Eagles quarterback - whoever it is - can get time to throw, the Giants secondary is eminently beatable. But will they have that time? So far Howard Mudd’s offensive line has exceeded my expectations. Let’s see if they can keep it up this weekend.

I also worry, as usual, about the Eagles run defense matched up against a team that enjoys playing power football. Looking at the Adjusted Line Yard stats for the Eagles defensive line is instructive. The attacking defensive line is definitely disrupting running backs, as the Eagles have the second best “power success” rate and fifth best “stuffed” rank. But once the play gets to the linebackers, yikes. The Eagles are ranked 29th in “second level” rush yards (5-10 yards from scrimmage) and 31st in the “open field” (10+ yards). And don’t expect some big improvement  just because the Eagles are rearranging the deck chairs.

Finally, isn’t odd that people don’t seem concerned about Vick missing this game? Perhaps fans are more sure that Vick will return from his concussion than I am, but I don’t know what that’s based on. As of Thursday morning he hadn’t passed his concussion tests. Is everybody sure that Kafka can win the game on Sunday? He looked like he belonged last week, and might have been a Jeremy Maclin drop away from winning the game. Not to mention, his performance was better than other, more highly touted quarterbacks coming off the Eagles bench in the past. But will he be able to step up for a full game? That’s still very much up in the air.

The most lopsided matchup in the whole game will be Eli Manning against the Eagles pass rushers and cornerbacks. Luckily for the Eagles, Manning doesn’t have a Hall of Fame tight end to rely on either. So there’s a good chance they will sack and pick off Eli enough to obviate any other issues.

But if that’s not enough, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Photo from Getty.

By the Numbers: Why the Eagles Lost

Michael Turner Falcons Eagles

Last night’s loss was cruel. The Eagles showed extended stretches of dominance on both offense and defense, but made vital mistakes, suffered awful injuries, and came up just short in the end. Let’s break it down with some basic statistics:

14 = The number of targets by Matt Ryan to his wide receivers, for a meager 71 yards.

14 = The number of targets by Ryan to his tight ends and running backs, for a much-less-meager 123 yards. The Eagles defense stifled the wide receivers once again, keeping them to only 5 yards per target. But the linebackers (and Jarrad Page) proved they can’t be trusted to cover at all. They let an aging Tony Gonzalez and “No Afterburner” Michael Turner rack up a ridiculous 9 yards per target, a completion percentage of 71 percent, and 3 touchdowns.

4 = Tackles for a loss by Trent Cole. It’s a testament to the Eagles ineptitude at linebacker that Cole could have such a beast of a day and the defense could still struggle to stop the run. I couldn’t see them on every play, but Casey Matthews especially took horrendous routes to away from the ballcarrier.

222 to 98 = Number of first half yards gained by the Eagles compared to the Falcons. If you’re ever asked how it’s possible to out-gain an opponent by more than twice the yards and still be down going into the half, there’s only one answer: turnovers. Take away one of those fumbles by Michael Vick, the Eagles run away with the game.

1 = Helmet-to-helmet roughing the passer personal foul on Todd Herremans. If Vick doesn’t come out of the game with a concussion at the end of the third quarter, there’s no question in my mind that the Eagles win. On that drive, the Eagles extended their come-from-behind lead to 10 points, having scored 3 touchdowns in the last 4 possessions. Meanwhile, Atlanta was foundering. On their three possessions prior to Vick’s injury, the Falcons ran 7 plays for 0 yards, an interception, and 2 punts. After, they had 2 drives with 19 plays, 170 yards, and 2 touchdowns to retake the lead. That’s called “new life.”

And yet, despite everything, if Jeremy Maclin catches that 4th and 4 pass from AJ Feeley Mike Kafka, the Eagles still might have won this game. What does that tell us? That the Falcons were lucky to sneak out with a win. If Vick comes back healthy and Andy Reid benches his in-over-his-head rookie middle linebacker, I’d make them a two touchdown favorite in a playoff rematch.

Photo from Getty.

Ten Reasons to Excuse Last Night’s Eagles Stinker

  1. It’s only the preseason. 

  2. Michael Vick had a horrible preseason last year, and that turned out alright (endorsed by Spuds).

  3. No Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith, or Jason Avant (came out with minor contusion) meant Vick had to force his throws.

  4. Both of the Eagles run-stopping defensive tackles - Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon - never played.

  5. The Steelers did go to the Super Bowl for a reason.

  6. It’s Will Leitch’s fault.

  7. Having some humble pie might be good for them right now. Good chance for Andy Reid to kick this “dream team” in the rear end.

  8. After a radical defensive makeover, the Eagles are going to need some time to learn how to play as a unit.

  9. At least there were no major injuries.

  10. LeSean McCoy looked good. And Mike Kafka. And Dion Lewis… until he fumbled.

One Reason to be Concerned About Last Night’s Game

  1. That was &@$%ing awful.

Questioning the Eagles Draft Strategy

DeSean Jackson Eagles Draft Strategy

Over the years, the Eagles have often been lauded for their overall draft strategy of trading back and picking up lots of extra draft picks. Unlike a lot of teams that put all of their eggs in a few baskets, the Eagles understand that the draft is just a giant gamble, and the more times you play the more likely you are to win.

Rubeun Frank over at CSN Philly is the most recent to praise this style of drafting. He noted that (after four trades) Howie Roseman turned a second round pick from last year into six players: Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, Ricky Sapp, Riley Cooper and Dion Lewis. That’s certainly impressive considering the team could have had only one player and instead were able to draft six. But, to play devil’s advocate for a minute, might that have been the wrong move?

It’s too early too tell for sure, but right now none of those six players look like starters, at least yet. Te’o-Nesheim barely got on the field, Kafka was mostly inactive, Harbor got some minutes but only as back up, Sapp missed the year with a knee injury, Cooper is fourth-string, and Lewis was just drafted. That’s six players who might contribute down the road, but none of them look like potential stars, or even starters this coming season. It’s tough to isolate even one of them who’s sure to be a big contributor with the team.

Instead, the team could have picked a second round player, like Dallas did in the spot the Eagles traded out of last year, number 55 overall: linebacker Sean Lee. Obviously, Lee isn’t a guaranteed long-term starter, let alone star, but he showed more potential last season in limited play than any of the six players the Eagles received in return. Lee was named NFC defensive player of the week for his performance in week 13 against the Colts, in which he made nine tackles, broke up two passes, and made two key interceptions — including one that he returned for a touchdown. Again, the future is still murky for all of these players. But, while you might disagree with me, I hesitate to name a single player of those six the Eagles drafted who has the potential to be as good as Lee.

NFL Draft Picks by Round, 2008-2011 Philadelphia EaglesThe truth about the Eagles draft strategy is that it amasses lots of extra draft picks, but most of these picks come in the later rounds when many of the players won’t even make the team long term. Look at the table at right. Yes, over the last four drafts the Eagles have made 10 more selections than the average team — but all them came in the second half of the draft. In fact, despite their numerous picks, the team has actually drafted fewer players in the first three rounds than average.

Sure, there are tradeoffs involved either way. But would you rather make 11 early picks and 31 late-round selections like the Eagles did, or go the Patriots route — 19 picks in 1st-3rd rounds and 18 after that? Look at the rising stars on the team, and consider where they were drafted: Jeremy Maclin (1st round), DeSean Jackson (2nd), LeSean McCoy (2nd), Nate Allen (2nd), Brandon Graham (1st).

The Eagles give themselves a lot of chances to succeed by gathering draft picks the way a kid runs house to house for candy on Halloween. But at the end of the night the danger is that they end up with lots of raisin boxes and mysterious hard candies rather than one or two big Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Snickers bars that they really crave.

Originally published at NBC Philadelphia. Photo from Getty.

Eagles Draft Night: Playing the Predictions Game

Roger Goodell NFL Draft Eagles Predictions

Let me preface this post with a reference to last year, when I predicted that the Eagles would trade back out of the first round. Turned out the Eagles did the exact opposite and traded up 11 spots to grab defensive end Brandon Graham. Howie Roseman, Andy Reid, and the rest of the Eagles front office are pretty unpredictable. So why try? Because it’s fun.

Tonight the draft will kickoff with the first round in prime time. Before you sit down to watch, check out my predictions and sound off if you have other opinions:

  • The Eagles will not take Jimmy Smith. Despite his talent, Smith has a whole host of behavior issues. “Two abortions, aggravated assault, two minors in possession, three failed drug tests… that’s a little excessive,” an anonymous NFL personnel man told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Eagles have never drafted a player with that much criminal history. Yes, they took a chance on Michael Vick, but only after weeks of due diligence and a very low-risk contract. I don’t see the front office taking that chance with their number one pick. Plus, I think if the team were interested in Smith, they wouldn’t have let all these rumors stand about him being their top interest. The media have largely anointed him as the Eagles pick, and I think the team is content to let that smokescreen stand.
  • But the Eagles will take a top cornerback in the top few rounds. I have my eye on the second round crop, where the team could draft a player of similar caliber to Nate Allen, who they snatched with the 37th overall pick last year. Virgina’s Ras-I Dowling sticks out as a possibility. Lots of talent, senior year lost to injury — he’s tailor-made for the Eagles.
  • The Eagles won’t pick at 23rd overall. They haven’t gone with their assigned spot since 2006, which not coincidentally was their highest pick in a long time. With the Eagles consistently drafting in the latter half of the first round  (26, 19,  21, 24 over the last four years), it makes sense to either move up to snatch a truly valued player (Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Graham) or drop back into the second round and get similarly value at a lower price (Kevin Kolb, DeSean Jackson).
  • At least two more linebackers in this year’s draft plans, after the team snatched Keenan Clayton and Jamar Chaney in 2010. As I wrote about last week, there are only three linebackers who will definitely be around in 2011 — Clayton, Chaney, and Moise Fokou. Even if you assume Stewart Bradley returns, that’s just four players for six or seven spots.
  • Less than 10 rookies. After taking 13 players last year and seeing three of those never take a single snap in 2010, the Eagles won’t use all of their selections this year. Some of those picks will be packaged to move up in this draft or get future picks in 2012.
  • No quarterback. Sorry conspiracy theorists, it just doesn’t make sense for the Eagles to add another quarterback this year with Mike Kafka in place as a back up and plenty of veterans on the market. Plus, drafting another quarterback before trading Kevin Kolb takes away some of that leverage the Eagles have by arguing that they could just keep him.
  • Correll Buckhalter 2.0. With Brian Westbrook admirably replaced by LeSean McCoy, the Eagles need a running back who they can develop to be the long term back up. Neither Jerome Harrison nor Eldra Buckley is that guy, but mid round prospects like Hawaii’s Alex Green, Cal’s Shane Vereen, Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray, or Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter could be.
  • Ignoring the defensive line? After heavily targeting pass rushers in last year’s draft, the Eagles have a glut of young players along the defensive line. Outside of Trent Cole, none of them really stand out (especially with Graham’s ACL injury). But you can’t address every weakness and if the Eagles don’t add a top d-lineman early, I could see them passing entirely in favor of additions along the offensive line and elsewhere.

Originally published at NBC Philadelphia. Photo from Getty.