There are a couple of areas where the Eagles didn’t make moves over the past several days. Let’s take a look at Brandon Graham’s status and the ILB situation.
I have written quite a bit about Brandon Graham and what his future may be. I was surprised the team didn’t deal him. We don’t know why the Eagles kept him for sure, but we can examine the possibilities. First, they could have decided keeping Graham was the smart move. No one questions the fact that Graham is a talented player and he can rush the passer. The issue is finding a way to regularly use him in the 3-4.
You can put him at DE in sub-packages, but that still is going to be a lesser role. Is it worth it to keep a guy for 15 snaps a game when you are virtually certain he’s going to leave once he hits free agency? Would you be better served giving those snaps to a player who has a bigger role and can offer more impact on STs?
I would love nothing more than to see Graham pan out as an Eagle, but it just doesn’t seem likely to happen because of the scheme fit. To me, you deal him and move on. The Eagles might disagree with me or it could be simply circumstances that kept him on the roster. It is possible the Eagles shopped Graham and found no takers. This wouldn’t be a case of teams not wanting him, but rather trying to wait and see if the Eagles will just cut him.
The more complicated option is that the Eagles could be holding onto Graham in the hope that they can get better value for him this summer. The thinking would be that some team will lose a DE to injury and then be willing to pay more in trade.
For now, Graham is an Eagle. This will be his 2nd year in the 3-4 and I would love to see him take a big step forward. We’ll see what happens.
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I wrote a lot this spring about the need for more speed at ILB. The Eagles didn’t draft anyone, nor did they sign any UDFAs for that spot. What gives?
The need was for an upgrade, not just change. The Eagles have solid starters and backups with some potential. The cupboard isn’t bare or anything close to that. Let’s take a look at the depth chart:
ILB: Kendricks ….. Goode ….. Matthews
ILB: Ryans ……… Knott ….. Phillips ……..Acho
I’m assuming Casey Matthews comes back to the inside now that the Eagles have Travis Long and Bryan Braman to play behind Connor Barwin.
This is still a solid set of players. Everyone loves DeMeco Ryans. We just wish he was a bit faster. Mychal Kendricks flashes star potential, but must eliminate his mistakes and play more consistently.
Najee Goode impressed me last year. He made things happen when he was on the field. Goode ran a 4.64 at the Combine so he’s got pretty good speed. My only concern is that he’s very good downhill, but does he have the range to make plays all over. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress he’s made this spring and summer. He could turn out to be a key backup / role player.
The coaches love Knott, but speed is the question. He ran 4.84 at his Pro Day in the spring of 2013 and that is about how fast he looks on the field. Knott has excellent instincts and good quickness so he can be an effective player despite his lack of ideal speed. I don’t know if he’s good enough to ever start in the NFL. Knott will be sitting out the first 4 games due to a suspension. He took a banned supplement. Knott says it was purely an accident. I tend to believe him since he’s one of those guys you never hear a bad word about (college or pros).
Phillips is coming off a knee injury and I’m not sure what to make of him. He ran 4.60 at his Combine, but I don’t know if he’s still got that speed or not. If he’s healthy and running well, Phillips could be a big help on D and STs.
Casey Matthews is trying to save his career. He’s in Year 2 with the scheme and needs to play lights out this summer to save his job.
Emmanuel Acho impressed the heck out of everyone last summer, but wasn’t good enough to make the team. He needs another strong summer on defense, but also must stand out on STs. The coaches noted Goode’s ability on STs when they signed him last summer.
The Eagles could have signed some UDFA, but that wasn’t going to do much to the situation. They needed athletic, versatile players. And those guys rarely are available after the draft. ILB was a weak spot in this draft class so it was wise to use those resources elsewhere.
The Eagles have some potential answers already on the roster. Can Kendricks become a star? Can Goode show the kind of potential to be a regular starter in 2015? The same question applies to Knott? And is Phillips healthy enough to play well?
We’ll find out some answers soon enough.
The other question I’d love to have answered is just what did Christian Jones do? His fall is more than just one positive test. I’d love to know the story behind that situation. I’m assuming in involves Justin Bieber, a box of scorpions and an incident at a truck stop near the Mexican border.