On Friday the Eagles dealt for Bucs WR Arrelious Benn. I like this move. Benn is a tough, physical WR. He is a good STs player.
I loved Benn coming out of college. Here are my notes on him:
“Only a Junior. Big, physical receiver. Reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin. There were times at Illinois when Benn was a man among boys. Benn is a good WR, but does need work. He has good hands. Locates the ball quickly and adjusts well to off target throws, which he saw a lot of. Runs pretty good routes, but Illinois ran a lot of WR screens to him. He does have good feet and body control. Is fluid in and out of his breaks. Benn has outstanding RAC ability. Arm tackles won’t slow him down. Anyone trying to put Benn on the ground with a hit better have some serious power. One of my favorite moments was when he ran over William Moore in the 2008 season opener. Has good speed, especially for a guy his size. Not a great athlete. One concern from a lot of people is Benn’s lack of production. In his 3-year career he only totaled 159 receptions and 7 TDs. Big 12 receivers have numbers like that as a Freshman. Benn wasn’t the problem. QB play was. Illinois QBs were very inconsistent in Benn’s career. They were awful in 2009. He offers added value as a KOR. Averaged 24 yards per KOR and took one back for a TD.”
Unfortunately Benn has not panned out so well in the NFL. His best year was 2011, 30-441-3. He may never become the player that I anticipated when I saw him in college. Benn can still be good as a role player and STer. He averaged 23.5 yards per KOR in 2012. He also had 7 tackles in coverage (in only 8 games).
I would love for Benn to come here and suddenly turn into a top shelf WR, but that’s unlikely. He can be part of the WRs corps and a good STs player. I do think Chip will let Benn fight for a spot. I’ve just not seen enough from him in the NFL to make me think he can seriously challenge DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin.
The WR who I think should be most scared is Jason Avant. He is a slot WR with no RS ability. He hasn’t been a key STer in years. Avant is very good at what he does (get open, catch the ball), but I think Chip Kelly is looking for more than that. Either be a big guy (Riley Cooper, Benn) or a small guy with RAC ability and return skills (Damaris Johnson). I’m not saying Avant should be scared of Benn specifically, but of making the roster in general.
If Kelly is going to keep 4 RBs and 4 TEs, he might only keep 5 WRs. I think DJax, Mac, and Coop are close to sure things. That leaves Jason, DJ, Benn, and the other guys to battle for 2 jobs. Chip really does want competition. He wants these players truly fighting for jobs and for playing time. I can’t wait to see Maclin. Either Jeremy will respond the right way and become the player we’ve been waiting for or he’s going to lose snaps to guys that are much less talented, but who play harder.
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Let’s talk more about the pass rushers. Dave Spadaro wrote this about Connor Barwin:
“Here, it’s likely that Barwin would play on the strong side and rush the quarterback off the edge. He’s here to add some punch to the pass rush as the Eagles meld some of the talent they used in the 4-3 scheme into Bill Davis’ new-look defense. What Barwin’s arrival means for the likes of Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Co. remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Barwin is being counted on to bring some fury off the edge.”
A reader also found a month-old blurb from Howie Roseman where he referred to Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox as “building blocks”.
We could go with Barwin as the SAM with Graham as the Predator. Trent Cole could be Graham’s backup and a rusher in the Nickel/Dime. Vinny Curry could be a backup DE or possibly the backup SAM. This might be the best way to use all the guys for maximum return.
Someone asked about simply cutting Trent Cole. It is actually cheaper for the Eagles to keep him this year than to cut him. He’s either getting dealt or playing. My guess is that he stays. The Eagles would love for him to have a bounce-back year and then to deal him next season.
It is possible that Howie’s comments about Graham being a building block are just fluff, but I tend to believe him. I can’t really explain why. You just have to know which comments you trust and which you don’t. And be ready to be wrong plenty of the time.
If Barwin is the SAM, it does become a lot less likely that Dion Jordan gets taken. You can’t say it is a slam dunk, but drafting him would put Barwin and Jordan at the same spot.
We’ll talk more about that #4 pick.
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Spadaro indicated that most of the Eagles FA shopping is done. I still think they could take a look at an OT if the price is right. It is also possible they could look at a 5-tech DE. Adam Schefter mentioned the Eagles could talk to Matt Shaughnessy. He played with the Raiders, but is off talking to a pair of teams. If nothing pans out, he may come here to talk.
At this point, the Eagles are purely bargain hunting.
As far as OTs go, Jake Long left St. Louis without a deal. He is still there for the taking. Sounds like he’s looking for mega-bucks.
Since the Eagles have been so aggressive in FA, they can wait and address OT in the draft if they choose. This allows them to be passive with FA OTs. That helps. If agents know you have a need, they’re going to be more aggressive with demands. The Eagles can just casually talk to agents and see if there is a deal out there that suits them. This isn’t about the Eagles being cheap. This is about not overpaying for players. The Eagles overpaid for Runyan and Kearse because they needed impact guys and couldn’t focus on value. The team is in a much different situation now.