Football teams get better as young players develop. Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith were huge factors in the Niners reaching the Super Bowl. JJ Watt had a phenomenal season and the Houston Texans had the best season in franchise history.
The 2012 Eagles didn’t have young players making the same impact. Guys like Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh, Casey Matthews, and Brian Rolle either flat-lined or even went backward.
Jason Kelce got hurt.
Players like Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jamar Chaney and Clay Harbor continued to be erratic.
There were some young guys who played well. Cedric Thornton had a solid year. Riley Cooper played his best football. Brandon Graham emerged as a good pass rusher.
The rookie class showed promise. Fletcher Cox proved to be the real deal. Bryce Brown was terrific at times. Mychal Kendricks showed outstanding potential. Brandon Boykin played well in the slot. Dennis Kelly became an effective RT by the end of the year. Damaris Johnson showed promise as a WR and PR. And Nick Foles proved to be either a star QB who will lead the team to multiple Super Bowls or a solid backup. We’re still trying to figure that part out.
The 2010 and 2011 drafts failed to deliver any impact players. The 2012 and 2013 drafts offer a lot more hope. We need to see the 2013 class in action to get a feel for them.
Hugely important is what kind of progress the 2012 players can make from Year 1 to Year 2. I covered that topic in this week’s PE.com column. If Cox can go from good rookie to Pro Bowl type player, that will be huge for the defense. Boykin is having a great camp. What if he can become an impact type of player? That would be huge for the secondary. Obviously Foles could have the biggest impact if he becomes the starting QB and can play well.
If the new coaching staff can get some impact from the 2010 and 2011 classes as well, that will go a long way to the Eagles having a better year than most people expect.
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Jimmy and I recorded a couple of shows on Saturday.
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Practice is just about to get started. Good news. WR Arrelious Benn will practice today.