Is There Hope For Brodrick Bunkley?

Posted: April 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 14 Comments »
Bunk and the Eagles defense prepare to let Jahvid Best run wild.

Bunk and the Eagles defense prepare to let Jahvid Best run wild.


I was on the phone with a friend the other day and we started talking about Brodrick Bunkley.  In some ways, he is the key player for the DTs.  Based on 2010 it is easy to forget where he came from.

Bunkley was the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft.  He was a terrific prospect.  Very few people expected him to last to pick 14.  Many thought the Bills might take him at #8.  Instead, they went for S Donte Whitner.  Bunkley had okay size, but was incredibly strong.  He ran well and was athletic.  His Senior season at FSU was impressive.  He had 25 TFLs (might have led the nation).  Bunk didn’t pile up these numbers against Duke and The Citadel.  His best play was down the stretch in big games.  There wasn’t much not to like.  Bunkley wasn’t a pick that was pushed for by a scout or coach.  The whole organization wanted this guy.  He was someone that much of the league coveted.  4-3 teams all had to love Bunk.  He was strong enough to 2-gap.  He was athletic enough to play 1-gap.  3-4 teams could look at him as a DE.  Heck, some could consider him as a NT with his strength and power.

In his time as an Eagle Bunkley hasn’t lived up to his draft expectations.  He started for 3 years (plus the early part of 2010).  He played well in 2007 and 2008.  He was an above average DT in those years.  He didn’t make a lot of plays, but some of that is not his fault.  Bunk came here at a time when we moved to the 2-gap system in our base defense.  That limited his chances to attack upfield.  He had limited chances to rush on passing downs because also at that time Jim Johnson had moved to playing DEs on the inside.  That didn’t happen in the past.  Corey Simon got to play on 3rd down.  Jim first mentioned the possibility of using DEs on the inside when discussing the signing of Darren Howard in March of 2006.  I don’t recall us doing it that year, but we moved to it heavily in the 2007 season.  It was all we did from 2008-10.

What fascinates me most about Bunk’s situation is that he was a good player with Jim Johnson as his defensive coordinator and Pete Jenkins as his positional coach.  Bunk then regressed under Sean McDermott and Rory Segrest.  They are gone.  Juan Castillo has the right personality to get Bunk back on track.  Juan is fiery and energetic and a good motivator.  Jim Washburn is the best DL coach in the NFL.  He should be a major improvement over Segrest and that has to help Bunk.

The Eagles have had a mixed relationship with Bunkley over the years.  He held out and missed valuable TC time as a rookie.  That made the 2006 season basically a waste.  Bunk then played well for 2 years.  The rumors I’ve heard is that the Eagles approached him about an extension, but that Bunk wanted elite DT money.  He wasn’t playing at that level so the Eagles backed off the contract talks.  Obviously the last 2 years have done nothing to help Bunk’s case.   The team has been frustrated with him at times throughout his career because his play doesn’t always match his potential.

Right now Bunk is a mystery to us and the Eagles.  That doesn’t mean he’s someone to give up on.  You can’t ignore what he did in 2007 and 2008.  You also have to look at the position he plays and the erratic nature of it.  Albert Haynesworth was the most dominant defensive player in the NFL in 2007 and 2008.  He left the Titans for the Skins as a FA.  He was used differently by the Skins and wasn’t nearly the same player.  This past year they moved to the 3-4 and Big Al was a role player.  He isn’t any less talented.  Put on the WAS/CHI game.  That was the best performance by a DT all year.  Al was awesome in that game.  He needs to be in the right system.

DTs can take time to develop.  Big Al was nothing special in his first 5 years.  He totaled only 9.5 sacks and wasn’t dominant in any way (other than leading the league in face stomps).   The light went on in year 6 and he was great for the next 2 seasons.  Pat Williams was a backup for 4 seasons before he became a starter.  It then took him a couple more years until he became an impact starter.  Jay Ratliff didn’t really emerge until his 4th year in the league.

Bunk might fall flat on his face in 2011 and prove to be a guy who just lost it somewhere along the way.  He could also thrive in the new system and turn his career completely around.  He still has the talent to be a good starting DT.  And I’m curious as heck to see how he responds to playing in an attacking scheme for the first time since college.  Bunkley’s career can go in a number of directions.   I don’t trust him enough to count on a certain level of performance, but it won’t shock me if he plays really well this year.  Bunk still has the highest ceiling of any of our DTs.  If he thrives in the new system, that makes life a lot easier for the coaches and rest of the defense.  It makes things very complicated for Howie Roseman and Joe Banner, but that’s a good problem to have.

* * * * *

More on Quintin Mikell.  Let’s remember what we’re saying.  I expect him to leave because someone overpays him.  The Eagles aren’t going to match a hefty offer to Q.  They didn’t do it for Dawk.  I’m not saying the numbers would be the same, but the principle would.  Joe Banner has a piece of paper in his office that shows what the Eagles feel Mikell is worth in terms of salary.  If we can keep him for that figure, great.  If not, he’s gone.

The Eagles can have this attitude for a couple of reasons.  First, they liked what they saw from Kurt Coleman last year.  He showed that he can start and be a contributor.  Ideally, you’d like to get him another year or two to learn the ropes before making him a starter.  Kurt isn’t physically special.  He needs to know what is going on to be at his best.  Some young guys soak up the game quickly.  Others take time.

Also, the Eagles have a couple of veteran players targeted in FA.  We don’t know when/how this will happen, but at some point it is almost a certainty that we’ll have some kind of offseason.  The Eagles can add a player they really like or just someone to help get us through 2011.  That isn’t ideal, but neither is giving Quintin Mikell a big deal.  His leadership would be missed, but I think Nate Allen is ready to make a big step forward in that area.

* * * * *

Someone asked about Jamar Chaney and whether we should be concerned since his stellar play occurred late in the year when he had fresh legs and other players were worn down.  This is a good point and possible concern.

That said, I don’t think the fresh legs made him look substantially better than he would have been.  Jamar played in all games but the season opener.  He was a regular on Special Teams.  He got to play on defense in blowouts over JAX and WAS.  It wasn’t as if he joined the team at midseason and had a couple of extra months of total rest.  He certainly was in better shape than others because of his limited snaps, but even after he played for a few weeks Chaney continued to be highly active and productive.

The only way we’ll know for sure is when he only posts 5 tackles in the entire month of November.  Or if he has to borrow House’s cane to get around after games.

14 Comments on “Is There Hope For Brodrick Bunkley?”

  1. 1 T_S_O_P said at 2:53 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    An interesting tidbit with regards the extension offer; I wonder if that puts to bed any doubt that Bunkley, regardless of the season that he has, will not indeed test Free Agency?

  2. 2 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:12 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    Bunk wants a big deal, from the Eagles or someone. If he gets the right offer, he’s staying. For that to happen, obviously, he’d need to have a breakout year.

    If Dixon and Laws play well enough, Bunk becomes expendable (unless he really has a breakout year).

    Lots of ifs. I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on Bunk being an Eagle in 2012, but then I’d have bet the house that Vick had no chance to be MVP runner-up.

  3. 3 Sam said at 3:16 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    I think you mean that he will test it, right (had trouble parsing)? Then yes, I’d assume so. I also think that Laws will test it, assuming 4 year guys are unrestricted again — he’s so close, might as well let the market set his price rather than jump at an offer early.

  4. 4 T_S_O_P said at 3:40 PM on April 1st, 2011:


    I have lots of problems with sentence construction particularly when trying to get so many thoughts out in a concise manner. Yes, I think Bunk will also let the market set his price. It is rare that the Eagles let situations get this far with players they want to keep.

  5. 5 netherman said at 4:09 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    Off topic somewhat, what do you think of the RB from Pitt?

  6. 6 mcud said at 4:31 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    Bunk will be a franchise candidate if he has even a pretty good year, right? Caveat there is a DeSean extension.

  7. 7 ATG said at 4:39 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    I don’t know about the franchise tag, at least not the exclusive one. I would think if the Eagles are willing to give him the average of the 5 highest paid guys, they should be able to work out a deal with him.

  8. 8 Noah said at 4:41 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    Bunk has a chance to put on a real show. I think we will end up seeing him starting as the 3tech on opening day and with Dixon at NT.

    Now for some scouting. Tommy, what is your take on DaQuan Bowers’ pro day controversy. I still call him a top 10 pick and I adamantly believe that all of the hoopla will be for nothing when he suits up in September. Here is a guy who literally has everything good. Great character, smart guy, from all accounts a good soldier. He took the pains to work out injured. He is an athletic freak.

    Do you think the Eagles bite if he falls at all?

  9. 9 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:51 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    RE: Bunk / Franchise tag

    The Eagles will pay big money at the right positions. Having a difference maker at DT is one of them. That said, they aren’t going to overpay him wildly. DTs have a history of career years that led to bloated contracts. Darryl Gardner did it a couple of times.

    Bunk controls his destiny. A great year will lead to a big payday. Anything less will lead to a mid-level deal and likely a new team.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:51 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    @ mcud …

    Your comments on Dallas and draft needs yesterday were excellent. Good stuff. I’ll be keeping that in mind as I think about the Top 10.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:57 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    RE: Dion Lewis – RB – Pitt

    Confusing player. Small at 5-7, 193. Very instinctive runner, which I love. Tough and productive. The problem is that he’s a workhorse runner in a 3rd down back body. Dion runs 4.57. 240-pound LBs run that fast. Dion is slow on tape. Quick, but slow. I don’t think he’d be a good fit for the Eagles. I like him and hope he’s able to find some role that suits him in the NFL.

    RE: Da’Quan Bowers

    “He is an athletic freak. ”

    No, he’s not. I watched 2 Clemson games yesterday. I was focused on DT Jarvis Jenkins, but obviously took notes on Bowers as well. He isn’t a great athlete. Real good DE with excellent potential, but he doesn’t jump out as a “wow player” when you watch game tape. I’m sure his highlights are great, but that’s true of mediocre players as well. Every year we watch YouTube clips of our UDFAs and see a lot of potential. How many pan out?

    Bowers deserves to be a high pick based on game tape. His medical issues could push him as far down as the 2nd round. You don’t know how much we’re hearing is “noise” from teams who want him to fall to their pick and how much is completely legit. I doubt Bowers is on the Eagles list. Good player, but doesn’t look like someone Washburn would covet.

    Keep in mind that Bowers had a total of 5 sacks in his first 2 years. Good character off the field? Yes. Questions about his focus and competitiveness on the field? Yes, as well. Lots of potential, but could easily be a bust.

  12. 12 Anders said at 6:30 PM on April 1st, 2011:


    Tallking about the draft, what position do you see as a bigger need CB or o-line?

  13. 13 netherman said at 8:25 PM on April 1st, 2011:

    thanks for the response on Lewis…was wondering why he was rated so low.

  14. 14 T_S_O_P said at 2:25 AM on April 2nd, 2011:

    “Bunk controls his destiny. A great year will lead to a big payday.”

    But not necessarily with us.