We got into a good discussion today about production vs potential. There is no right answer. Even having a general philosophy only goes so far. You really have to study specific details to come up with the best answer.
In the hotly contested Bair vs Kruger debate, there is something that must be considered…the overall DL. Cox, Thornton and Logan are all young. You don’t need to develop young guys behind them right away. That trio could be the Eagles DL for the next 3 to 5 years. Beyond that, the Eagles have Beau Allen and Taylor Hart as a pair of guys they expect to be valuable role players. The Eagles can afford to think about “now” vs “down the road” with the Bair vs Kruger situation.
Another consideration here is just how much talent Kruger has. I was a big fan of his coming out of Utah. I was thrilled when the Eagles took him because I saw a player who could become a good 3-4 DE. We are now in Year 2 and Kruger has yet to show anything on the field that makes you go “Look at that guy!”.
Right now Bair is light years ahead of Kruger. The comeback to that is “So what. Bair is just doing this against 2nd and 3rd stringers.” First response to that is…and Kruger is playing the same guys and not looking nearly as good. What does that say about him?
And Bair did get on the field this week against starters and he held his own.
There seems to be this notion that Bair is some scrub from Pleasantville, USA. As a Senior at Oregon, he had 16 TFLs and 8 pass deflections. He went to the Combine. Check out his numbers vs Kruger.
BAIR – 6-6, 276
40 – 4.93
BP – 26 reps
VJ – 28 inches
BJ – 114 inches
SS – 4.37
3C – 7.07
KRUGER – 6-6, 269
40 – 4.81
BP – 24 reps
VJ – 34 inches
BJ – 117 inches
SS – 4.46
3C – 7.17
Bair is stronger and more agile. Kruger is faster and more explosive. But overall, very similar guys.
I don’t want this to turn into a Bair lovefest. I’m not trying to over-hype the guy. I don’t think he’s some hidden version of JJ Watt or anything insane. I see a backup DL who is playing very well. Right now I think he would be the Eagles top backup DE should something happen to Cox or Thornton.
Here is one of the simplest ways I can break this down…right now we are waiting for Kruger to get to the level where Bair already is. If we knew for a fact Kruger would get there, I’d completely say the Eagles should keep him, even if it took another year.
But we don’t know that Kruger will ever get to where Bair is, let alone better. What has he shown you so far that makes you think he will get to that level?
Years ago, I was totally on the Potential Bandwagon. Over time, I’ve been burned by so many guys that I just knew were going to pan out that I no longer automatically jump to that side of the debate. Coaches will tell you that they have to reward production. How can you call a guy into your office and tell him that even though he’s clearly better you are going with the other guy? Obviously if the competition is close, potential becomes a huge factor. That’s when you do go with the guy with upside. But Bair vs Kruger isn’t close. Kruger isn’t even playing as well as rookie Taylor Hart.
The good news about Kruger’s mediocre showing to this point is that he’s got a very good chance to be on the Eagles practice squad. I would love to see him on there. I still think he could pan out, but I’m not seeing enough to give him a roster spot right now. A year of practice could do him a world of good. Next summer he might win the Bair vs Kruger debate.
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The NFL is set to expand practice squad rosters to 10 this year. That’s great news. It helps with player development, but also with practices during the season.