The 2010 and 2011 drafts are part of the reason there had to be change this past offseason. The players taken in those years failed to be impact guys that could help the team win games and get where it wanted to be.
Now Chip Kelly is in charge. There is a new offense. There is a new defense. I don’t know how much can change schematically on STs, but there is a new man in charge of that group. All of this change gives new chances to players who have been disappointments so far in their young careers.
While the focus this offseason has been on the new free agents and the rookies from the draft, the Eagles road to redemption can be greatly helped by the 2010 and 2011 draft classes.
* Brandon Graham – Injuries derailed Graham for all of 2011, but he bounced back with a good season in 2012. Now he’s adjusting to a new position, OLB. Even if Graham is just a backup and role player, he can be an impact guy for the Eagles. He is the team’s best pass rusher and is a disruptive player off the edge.
* Nate Allen – Nate is one of the most disliked Eagles. He had a solid rookie year and then struggled for the next 2 seasons. His failure to hit and tackle with any consistency has drawn the ire of Eagles fans. Injuries have hurt him. The scheme hurt him. But Nate shares plenty of the blame with some flat out bad performances. He struggled in the preseason opener, but responded to that with a good game against the Panthers. Nate can be a starting Safety this year.
Can he be a good player? That’s the key question. He didn’t make any mistakes vs the Panthers, but also didn’t make any plays. He could really make the coaches (and fans) believe in him with a strong showing on Saturday. Nate needs to be around the ball and make some tackles.
* Clay Harbor – He’s gone from being the #2 TE to being the #4 TE and a sometimes WR, but Harbor can still help the Eagles. Kelly will use TEs a lot. He’s already run 4-TE sets this summer. Harbor’s versatility and ability to play in space means that Kelly could try to get him the ball in some games, even as a role player.
* Riley Cooper – The injury to Jeremy Maclin meant Cooper became a starting WR. Even before that, I had him projected to be more active this year. Cooper is big and Kelly likes big WRs. Cooper is an outstanding blocker and Kelly likes his wideouts to block. Cooper isn’t going to become some star player, but this offense fits him well and should give him a chance to be a more effective player.
* Jamar Chaney – Fair or not, I’ve given up on Jamar Chaney. Part of this isn’t his fault. He was a WLB in the summer of 2010 and then got moved to MLB. He played there as a rookie and showed good promise (right Mr. Baldinger?). So naturally Juan Castillo moved him to SAM and tried to make Chaney one of the keys to his defense. The group started poorly so Chaney got moved back to MLB. He played SAM and WLB in 2012. It is hard to develop when being jerked around that much. Still, Chaney is a talented player and good athlete, but he fails to show that with any consistency. I think he could have a future on a 4-3 team.
* Kurt Coleman – The last 3 years have proven that Coleman isn’t meant to be a starter. He can be effective at times, but lacks the size and athleticism to be a good starter. Coleman can be a good STs player and he’s been solid there this summer. He needs to play well the next 2 weeks to try and win a roster spot. If he can do that, Coleman could be a good STer and backup. If he has to start a game here or there, he’ll do a solid job. You just don’t want him there every week.
* Danny Watkins – We discussed Danny the other day. Some want him cut. If he plays well in the final 2 preseason games, I am open to keeping him around. If there is an injury on the OL, Watkins could be a good fill-in. He has starting experience and his skill-set fits the Kelly offense pretty well. Watkins can be a very good run blocker. The next 2 games are huge for him. He must play well. Not okay, but flat out good.
* Curtis Marsh – Marsh broke his hand recently and is probably done as an Eagle.
* Casey Matthews – Another player that Eagles fans love to hate. Matthews played pretty well in the preseason opener. He was hurt and missed the Panthers game. Matthews has had a solid summer, but isn’t a lock for the roster. He needs to play well in the final couple of preseason games to secure a spot. Matthews has been a good STs player the last 2 years and he could help there again in 2013. It is also possible he could be a starting ILB in the future. I think playing in a more conventional system will help him a lot.
* Alex Henery – Already a good player. Henery is having an inconsistent summer. We’ll see how he does the next 2 weeks before getting worried.
* Julian Vandervelde – The Eagles need a backup C. The coaches like Vandervelde. I prefer Dallas Reynolds, but Vandy did get much better in the second game. He’s younger than Reynolds and still has upside so it would be nice if he played well in the final 2 games and won the job.
* Jason Kelce – Already a good player. And a good stunt double for Chewbacca.
If some of these guys can step up and play well, it will help the Eagles on their quest to being a winning team in 2013.
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Here are a couple of good videos from PE.com