2008 Draft Focus...Offense first 2-14-08
The Draft is coming. Let's look at the Eagles and who they might select. Offense first...Scott Thomson 2-14-08
When the Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention any hope of a Super Bowl appearance was gone. After the small taste I had in February, 2005, a Super Bowl without the Eagles is just another game with a never-ending halftime show.
But, for some of us the best day in football is just around the corner. That's right, the NFL Draft.
To those of us who consider ourselves draftnicks, it is a chance to take part in the planning of the Eagles' future even though we don't actually get to make any picks. It also makes for some good I-told-you-so later in the season.
So, who should the Eagles take come April 26 th ? Let's start with the offense?
QB - It seems unlikely the Eagles would even consider picking a quarterback after taking Kevin Kolb last year.
It is unlikely , but not impossible.
Consider this. The Eagles could have as many as 12 picks after compensatory selections are awarded. That would give the Eagles a couple to burn. If Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon is still on the board on day two he might be a wise investment.
Because he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee he might not be ready to play in 2008. He could be placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and essentially be redshirted for the season. Had he not been injured, Dixon would have contended for the honor of first quarterback taken in 2008.
Other than the Dixon situation, I do not see the Eagles taking a quarterback.
RB - Brian Westbrook is going to turn 29 by the start of the season. It is said that NFL running backs peak by age 30 and it is all downhill from there.
Whether you believe that or not, Westbrook can't play forever. Correll Buckhalter has been mediocre and Tony Hunt has shown very little.
That said, the best running back in this year's draft, Darren McFadden from Arkansas , should be long gone by the time the Eagles pick.
There should, however, be some good backs available when the Eagles pick.
Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois is one of them. He is 5'1"and 224 lbs. He has 4.4 speed and rushed for almost 1,700 yards this year.
Jonathan Stewart of Oregon is almost a physical clone of Mendenhall. He doesn't have the same tackle-breaking ability as Mendenhall, but is regarded as a better receiver which is all too important in the Eagles' system.
Rounding out the top backs is Felix Jones from Arkansas . He has been McFadden's back-up for the last two years, but has managed over 1,100 yards in each of them.
Some other backs the Eagles might consider after the first round are: East Carolina's Chris Johnson, Ray Rice of Rutgers , Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice, Steve Slaton from West Virginia , South Florida's Kevin Smith and, my personal favorite, Jamaal Charles out of Texas .
WR - Since the Terrell Owens debacle the Eagles have not had what most fans would consider a No. 1 receiver. And, it is true, two No. 2's don't equal a No. 1.
The most obvious, and maybe only, No. 1 receiver in this draft is California WR, DeSean Jackson . He has been a first-team All-Pac-10 receiver for the last two years. He is also a fantastic punt returner. Often compared to Ted Ginn Jr., Jackson may be gone before the Eagles pick.
There are several of the big wide receivers in this draft. Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly, 6??, James Hardy from Indiana 6??, and Limas Sweed out of Texas 6?? are among them.
Other receivers in whom the Eagles could show interest are: Early Doucett from LSU , Michigan's Mario Manningham and Devin Thomas from Michigan State .
Frankly, I don't see the Eagles taking a receiver in the first round. The West Coast Offense is difficult for receivers to learn and rookie receivers typically don't contribute all that much in their first year. So, forget about drafting a No. 1 receiver. But, if any of the aforementioned are available in the second round, watch out.
Quick: Can you name the two rookie receivers in the Andy Reid era who put up better numbers than Kevin Curtis did this year?**
OL - OK, boring, I'll grant you that. But, sometimes it's necessary.
John Runyan and William (formerly Tra) Thomas are nearing the ends of their careers. It is time to plan for that inevitability.
William Justice's short stint at starting left tackle (or should I say turnstile? was less than impressive. That being said, I'm not ready to give up on him and neither are the Eagles probably. That still leaves another tackle position vacant in the near future.
Michigan's Jake Long is easily the best offensive lineman available but the Eagles won't even get a whiff of him.
That leaves a true left tackle in USC's Sam Baker . Word is that he is now slipping and might be available. We'll see.
Also, Ryan Clady from Boise State , Pittsburgh's Jeff Otah and Chris Williams from Vanderbilt remain possibilities.
Other offensive linemen the Eagles might consider on day one are: BC's Gosder Cherilus, Tony Hills from Texas , Carl Nicks of Nebraska , Anthony Collins out of Kansas and Clemson's Barry Richardson .
Also, I like a guy by the name of Chad Reinhardt from Northern Iowa . Keep a left eye out for him.
TE - LJ Smith was franchised. Brent Celek played decent football. Nuff said.
Sorry, all of you Fred Davis (USC) and Marcellus Bennett ( Texas A&M) fans.
Next up, defense?
**Answer: Arizona's Anquan Boldin ( a 2nd round pick) and TB's Michael Clayton.
© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla
Not affiliated with the Philadelphiqa
Eagles or the NFL.