The dust has settled from the big move. I hope everyone enjoyed DeMeco Ryans Day. It was a pretty spectacular day.
Couple of follow-up thoughts on DeMeco. One of the big selling points with him is his leadership. We heard yesterday that his nickname in Houston was Cap, as in captain. Even the freaking owner down there called him Cap. Normally being a team captain in football isn’t a huge deal. Santonio Holmes was a captain last year, if that gives you any idea. With DeMeco it feels different. This is almost like hockey, where being a team captain is a big deal. It feels like DeMeco is a guy you trade for in part because he is a captain and he can come in and be a true leader. Welcome to Philly, Cap.
I loved the fact Andy Reid referred to DeMeco as the QB of the defense. That’s exactly what we need. DeMeco doesn’t have to make every single tackle. If he can just get guys lined up correctly and he can be in the right gap, that will be a big help to those around him. When a guy tries to do too much, he leaves cutback lanes and RBs can kill you. That was the problem on the Steven Jackson run to open the season. Do your job and get the others around you to do their job. That’s the foundation of good, sound defense.
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Does the presence of Ryans now make Luke Kuechwalker a non-factor at pick 15? No, not necessarily. The Eagles are set at WLB with Brian Rolle and in the middle with Ryans. SAM is wide open.
(Ed. Note — the Rolle comment is causing questions. By set, I mean the Eagles have a solid projected starter at WLB for 2012. Rolle played well enough as a rookie to earn the right to start there in 2013. I’m all for challenging him, but not by adding a key FA or using a high draft pick. That would be a mis-use of resources. Rolle showed enough that you can trust him as the starter. You challenge him with Keenan Clayton. You possibly move Matthews out there, depending on what happens at MLB. You could also shift Jamar Chaney there. He played WLB in the mini-camps of 2010 as well as one year in college. Rolle can certainly be upgraded, but the Eagles have more pressing questions so WLB just isn’t a position I think the team should spend resources on. )
The Eagles could look at taking Kuechly at 15 to play SAM for a few years before sliding into the middle to replace Ryans. I’m sure DeMeco will retire after the first couple of Super Bowls. No reason to be greedy.
The question the Eagles have to look into here is what they think of Casey Matthews long term. If they think he can develop into a starting MLB, then Kuechly may not make sense at 15. I don’t think you spend that pick on Luke to draft him as a long term SAM. I think you do it to get him into the fold and use him at SAM for now. If you think Casey can develop into starting MLB material, then you have to consider finding another SAM and using pick 15 on an impact player.
This is where things get tricky. The Eagles can’t use 15 on a WR or OL. Those positions are set. DE would be awkward since Cole just got an extension and Babin is signed. I don’t see a CB who makes sense for us (slot/RS type). There is no Safety close to being worth pick 15. RB? Do we even need to discuss this? The Eagles use 1 RB. Adding a 2nd would be a complete waste.
QB does make sense, but I don’t see Ryan Tannehill getting to 15. That leaves DT and LB. Do the Eagles think Fletcher Cox has a chance to get to pick 15? Do the Eagles have any interest in Dontari Poe? Is there any way Jim Washburn wants Michael Brockers? I think Cox is the key guy here. He can play in the 4-3 or 3-4 so all 14 teams ahead of us could have interest. If the Eagles think there is a legit shot to get Cox at 15, I think you have to build your draft plan on him. If the Eagles think that is a long shot…then the pickings at 15 aren’t so great and maybe Luke is the smart target. Remember, this isn’t just do we take Luke or not. You always have to factor in who you are passing up to get him. Impact DL are more likely to win games than solid LBs.
Let’s jump back to Luke for a second. I do think he can play SAM in our system. Remember, we don’t put the LB up on the LOS like we used to. The SAM now is back off the ball and plays like an ILB to a certain extent. Luke has the size to handle TEs on short routes. He has the quickness to hang with them. He’s also very smart. You don’t want him on Jimmy Graham 25 yards downfield, but how many LBs do you want in that position? Luke is big and strong enough to handle run plays that come at him. He uses his hands to take on blockers, something Juan Castillo prefers (to shoulders).
Drafting Luke at 15 would also give you an insurance policy in case DeMeco Ryans got hurt. If Big Red is making a Super Bowl push in 2012, you have to think about injuries and how we’d overcome them. Luke would be ideal in that sense.
Is Luke our only hope? No, there is another. I would love to see the Eagles sign Jo-Lonn Dunbar to play SAM. He was a MLB in college, but has played MLB and SAM in the NFL. The more tape I watch on this guy, the more I like him. I don’t care what grade PFF gave him. I’ve watched a lot of him recently and think he’s a quality LB. I trust my eyes. Dunbar would also give you a MLB insurance policy. He could slide inside if needed. Signing him would free up pick 15 to be used on whoever the Eagles wanted. They could move up for Cox or drop back and target some other player should the right choices not be there at 15.
The Eagles have some interesting options.
And DeMeco Ryans. (just love saying that)
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On the draft front…Eagles LB coach Mike Caldwell ran the LB drills at Luke’s Pro Day at BC. Caldwell has been keeping a close eye on Luke so the Eagles are more than just casually interested.
Caldwell also ran the LB drills at Nevada’s Pro Day, where James-Michael Johnson worked out. JMJ is a good MLB prospect. Most likely a 3rd round target, for the Eagles if they are seriously interested. He’s 6-1, 241 and plays more like a pure MLB than a SAM type.
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Old friend Brod Bunkley got 5 yrs, $25M to sign with the Saints. He is a good run defender, but I don’t think he’s sacked a QB since 1887. They’ll ask him to play the run.
I’ll put up a separate post on BountyGate some other time. NFL Gimpy posted some BountyGate thoughts over at ScoutsNotebook.
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I wasn’t able to answer many questions yesterday. Sorry about that. Please hit me up with anything I missed that is still relevant.