The big news that came out today is that LG Evan Mathis is having minor surgery to clean up his ankle. He will miss the upcoming mini-camp and might be out until Training Camp. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
On its own, this isn’t a big deal. But as Jimmy Bama pointed out on Twitter, this now means the Eagles OL is 4 injured guys and a rookie. That sounds depressing. The good news is that Jason Peters seems to be all the way back from his injury. Todd Herremans was a full participant in the pre-draft camp and seems to be okay. Mathis participated in the pre-draft camp so his ankle was functional. Jason Kelce is actually the biggest question mark at this point.
Mathis absence will provide a great opportunity for Danny Watkins. There was a bizarre post on Philly.com this weekend that questioned whether Watkins would get cut and go to the CFL. It was pure speculation, but way off base even for that. Watkins hasn’t turned into the high quality starter the Eagles hoped for, but he’s far getting cut. Chip Kelly and Jeff Stoutland will want to see him up close this summer. Watkins wouldn’t be cut before September. And if he is let go, I tend to think some other NFL team would claim him and see if they couldn’t turn his career around. Watkins had a very good career at Baylor and showed serious potential in 2011.
I think Watkins would have to look awful this summer to get cut. You need backup offensive linemen. Watkins has experience, size, strength, and ability. He could be a good backup.
I’m not ready to give up on Watkins turning into a quality starter. He had 2 huge issues in the past. First, he didn’t take well to Howard Mudd’s coaching style. That brought out the worst in Watkins. Second, Danny is a much, much better run blocker than pass blocker. So naturally he didn’t thrive when pass blocking 40 times a game. If Kelly does run the ball as much as we expect, that will allow Danny to do something he’s good at and should help build up his confidence.
Danny has plenty of skeptics and he might end up failing, but we’ve seen plenty of times over the years when a coaching change completely turned a player’s career around. Look at what Pete Carroll did for Red Bryant. Red went from role player to impact run defender. Ask Alex Smith if Jim Harbaugh was good for him. Smith became a good starter and winning QB for the first time in his career. Go back in Eagles history and Jermane Mayberry went from underachieving former 1st rounder under Ray Rhodes to very good RG under Andy Reid.
We really don’t know who the backup OL will be this year. It looks like Dennis Kelly will be the primary backup OT and Dallas Reynolds the backup C. Nate Menkin and Julian Vandervelde could be backups at OG. UDFA Matt Austin is more of a longshot, but will get his chance. There are other guys in the mix and as Kelly likes to say, he’ll give jobs to the players who play the best. There will be no favorites. Any of these guys can win a job or roster spot.
I know it may seem cheesy, but I really like the fact that all the players have a clean slate with Kelly. The fun part will be seeing who takes advantage of it.
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Jimmy put together an excellent post on Jordan Poyer. He added some great stuff on Twitter. Poyer went to high school in Astoria, OR, which is where the Goonies were. Poyer was -6 when that took place so he’s not one of the Goonies. I think that nugget officially makes Jimmy the bizarro version of AC Viking.
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NFL Gimpy posted some good reflections on the draft in his new MAQB column. He focused on how money changed the positions that teams went for in the Top 10. Really interesting stuff.
I posted some draft nuggets the other day. Just general observations.