Someone asked an interesting question the other day. They wanted to know what player or position would be most likely to come in and win a starting job by opening day. Sounds simple enough, but that is actually a tough question to answer. Let’s start by taking a look at the projected lineup on defense.
DE Fletcher Cox
NT Bennie Logan
DE Cedric Thornton
ROLB Trent Cole
ILB DeMeco Ryans
ILB Mychal Kendricks
LOLB Connor Barwin
S Malcolm Jenkins
S Nate Allen/Earl Wolff
CB Cary Williams
CB Bradley Fletcher
There aren’t any holes, per se. There are certainly spots that can be upgraded. NT, S and CB are iffy.
Bennie Logan showed promise in 2013, but does need to play better this year. If the Eagles spent a 1st round pick on someone like Louis Nix, it is certainly possible that he could win the starting job.
The Eagles brought Nate Allen back because they like him. That said, he’s here on a 1-year deal and isn’t a player that anyone is in love with. The right rookie could steal that job away. Earl Wolff could play either role…the guy who takes Allen’s job or the guy who loses the startin gig to the rookie.
Both CBs had ups and downs last year. A rookie who plays well could steal a job from either guy.
As much as we all want an upgrade at OLB, don’t assume that means the rookie will get Trent Cole’s job ASAP. Cole got better as the year went on in 2013. He’s a smart, tough, proud veteran that won’t give up his job easily. The rookie would have to win the job. Trent won’t be giving it away.
Obviously I’m leaving injuries out of the equation. They open doors for all rookies on every team.
I don’t anticipate a rookie winning a starting job on offense. I guess RG and WR could be possible. It just seems like the offense played so well last year that Chip Kelly will try to keep the same players in place as much as he can. You never know when a rookie will play lights out, but that is more of the exception than the rule.
My expectation for the first couple of picks is that they’ll be somewhat like Zach Ertz. They’ll have roles and get more playing time as the season moves along. Ertz was behind schedule due to the dumb NFL rule about him not being able to practice until his class had graduated. That hurt his development. Hopefully these rookies will have more impact early on, but my point is that they won’t be forced into the starting lineup. They’ll be worked into the lineup and then be rewarded with more snaps if they play well.
Really good teams don’t have to rely on rookies. Go check out the Seahawks draftees and then think about the impact those guys had in 2013. I’m not saying the Eagles are at that level. It takes time to build up the team to get to that point. But…the Eagles are a good team that doesn’t have obvious holes in the lineup. Don’t get caught in the mindset that rookies who don’t play a ton right away are somehow failures.
I do think Kelly’s background in college means that he will be open to playing rookies, even on a good team. Some old school coaches obsess on having veterans in the lineup. Kelly had young guys playing all the time at Oregon so he’s not afraid to give young guys a chance. The Packers have done a terrific job of embracing rookies and continuing to be a top flight team.
As much as I’d love a rookie to come in and play great, it would be a better sign for the overall team if none of the new guys cracks the starting lineup this year.
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Do you think Keith McGill is a “perfect fit” for what Eagles want at CB? Not perfect, but he has the size the Eagles love and he’s a good press corner, which is what Bill Davis prefers. McGill is 25, which hurts his value, and I don’t think he has great ball skills.
Do you see Eagles making any more trades at all, including trading up or down, this offseason? I would be surprised if the Eagles sat still this draft. There are going to be a lot of good players available. That could mean trading up to get one or moving back because some team offered you a good deal.
Favorite non-first round OLB? Jeremiah Attaochu, who might be a 1st rounder. If not him, then Marcus Smith.
Could Mychal Kendricks move to OLB? No. He doesn’t have the frame to take on OTs on run plays. He’s also not a gifted pass rusher. Kendricks can blitz, but that’s different than rushing the passer. Blitzing is more about running and timing. Rushing the passer requires athleticism and specific skills.
What were Dawk’s limitations when he came out? Why did he go in the 2nd round? Dawk was the last pick of the 2nd round so it is even worse than you think. Dawk was a S/CB tweener. He didn’t have the ideal size for S, but didn’t have ideal skills for corner. He got bigger and stronger in the NFL and became a great player. Maybe we’ll talk more about this in the summer.
Why trade up for Anthony Barr when you can trade pick 22 for Dion Jordan? Good logic, but the problem is Miami might not deal Jordan at all. The Eagles have talked to the Dolphins. I think they’ve let Miami know they’re very interested. If no deal gets done, that likely means Miami wants to keep Jordan.
What are the odds that the Eagles move back in the draft? I really struggle with this question. I want more picks. No doubt about that. But there is another part of me that keeps reminding me that the Eagles don’t have a ton of holes. There is something to be said for staying put, or even moving up. The 2014 Eagles need quality more than quantity from the draft.
I hope the team moves back 8 to 10 spots and adds a 3rd and 4th or 3rd and 5th…something like that. This, of course, assumes that there isn’t an ideal player on the board at 22. If the right guy falls, take him there and don’t be greedy.