We hoped Luke Kuechly would run a 4.65 at the Combine so the Eagles could have him as an option at MLB in case things didn’t work out in free agency. Luke did not disappoint.
Kuechly ran 4.58. He also did really well in the other tests. He showed upper body strength (27 reps), lower body strength (38 VJ, 10’3 BJ), and agility (6.89 in the 3-cone). Wow and wow. That is good stuff.
The bad news is that a team ahead of the Eagles who had passive interest could now decide Luke is worth a pick in the 10-15 range. As good as he is, I just can’t see him going higher than 10. MLB just isn’t the kind of impact position to warrant a pick in that range. Heck, some people aren’t sure it’s worthy of a pick in the 11-20 range. I do think that the right combination of need and player can be good value there.
I don’t think the Eagles can safely target Luke as the solution at MLB. It is possible now that he goes before 15. Could you deal up for him? Yeah, but again…is MLB worth those kind of resources? No.
It is possible the Eagles could go sign someone like David Hawthorne in FA. He has played WLB and MLB for Seattle. You could then turn around and add Luke at 15 and then figure out the best way to use them. Maybe Luke is SAM. Maybe Hawthorne is. Both guys are best suited for MLB, but the Eagles system calls for MLB and SAM to both line up on the inside so this isn’t a normal situation.
That would be a lot of resources at LB. It would be very surprising to see the Eagles do something like that, but maybe after the problems of 2011 they would be willing to roll the dice on that scenario in an effort to significantly upgrade LB. I don’t think it is likely. I do think Howie and Andy at least have to consider their options at this point. Luke goes from just filling a need at 15 to now maybe being a player you genuinely want.
The other good news is that Mychal Kendricks had such a strong workout. Should the Eagles miss on FA MLBs, they can go into the draft knowing that it isn’t Luke or bust. Kendricks has the talent and athleticism to step on the field right away. He had the best workout of any LB at the Combine. He was also the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
The Eagles have some real good options at this point.
Fletcher Cox is my primary target at pick 15. Luke Kuechly is #2 (although he remains my favorite player in the draft).
I’ve written a lot about Cox so I’ll skip saying too much about him. I just think he would be an ideal fit in the 1-gap system and playing for a guy like Jim Washburn.
I do need to say a few things about DT Dontari Poe. He is 6’4, 346. He is fast and agile. Shockingly so for a man his size. He is a once in a lifetime kind of physical freak. You just don’t see guys that big who aren’t fat and who can do what he does. That is all natural.
I’m sure Washburn is incredibly fascinated with Poe. Is he willing to push for him at pick 15? That’s the huge question. Poe could be a guy that kills reputations. Those who pass on him might regret it. Those who take him might just feel the same way.
One thing I think people have to understand. Poe is not a physically dominant player. Haloti Ngata ate up triple teams in college. Poe was single-blocked by C-USA guys on a regular basis. Yes, Poe has amazingly unique skills. Physically dominating the man across from him isn’t one of them.
A DL coach like Jim Washburn could change that. He could put his foot up Poe’s backside and challenge his manhood. Jim would keep pushing buttons until something clicked and Poe either lived up to his talent or become completely exposed as a huge wuss. And that is a realistic possibility. When a guy of his size/skill set doesn’t dominate lesser competition, that is a serious issue.
Poe is athletic enough to play NT, UT, and even DE for us. Yes…DE. He played LDE at Memphis in some 3-man sets and looked comfortable in space. You don’t want him way out wide on a regular basis, but could mix him in there to create some matchups.
Poe is NOT a run stuffer. He might develop into one, but for now he would be a DT that fires upfield and tries to be disruptive. Most guys his size aren’t like that. Poe could be like Haloti Ngata or even Pat Williams if things worked out for him. I don’t know if the Eagles will pull the trigger, if Poe even gets to 15, but you can bet there will be serious discussions about him.
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