April 30, 2007

Fans Boo Kolb Pick

Korn on the Kolb

WHHHHY???

I hate this pick, and I think this means the end of McNabb is closer than a lot of people think. Not only did they pass on a lot of good players, but they let a divisional rival trade up to get a good player. Then they take a big reach on a QB, who probably would have not gone for another round. I like the rest of the draft, but this pick sucked.

Eagles look to future at QB

By JEFF OFFORD phillyBurbs.com

PHILADELPHIA — Don't read too much into it, Andy Reid said Saturday.

That won't be easy.

The Eagles made a deal with the devil on the first day of the NFL draft, then made a move that two years ago would have sent hell freezing over.

With all of their coveted defensive players already gone, the Eagles traded the 26th overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys for a second, third and fifth round pick Saturday. Moving down to the No. 36 slot, the Birds selected University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb.

The decision to take Kolb so early in Saturday's draft doesn't mean the Donovan McNabb era in Philly is over, but it seems clear now the franchise is preparing for life after McNabb.

The Eagles seemed set at quarterback for at least another decade after McNabb led the team to the Super Bowl following the 2004 regular season. McNabb was considered one of the best — if not the best — QB in the league then.

Times have changed.

McNabb, 30 years old and with a contract through 2010, has been injury prone. He suffered a sports hernia in 2005 and tore his anterior cruciate ligament last year. Both injuries were season ending.

Because of McNabb's history of injuries — he also suffered a broken ankle in 2002 — there has been some talk recently that the team would eventually draft a quarterback and groom him to replace McNabb. However, most NFL experts thought that probably wouldn't happen for at least a couple of years.

“For the first time since I've been here we've been able to sit there in the draft and take the best player available on the board at that time and that was Kevin,” said Reid, in his ninth year as head coach of the Eagles. “I'd like to make it very clear that this is not about Donovan McNabb and his progress. He's doing great and he will continue to do great. He's going to have a heck of a year. This was strictly with sticking with what we had on the board and taking the best player at that time.”

Kolb is a 6-foot-3, 221-pound right-hander who threw for a Conference USA record 12,964 career yards. That number also ranks fourth in NCAA Division 1 history behind former Eagles Timmy Chang and Ty Detmer, and Philip Rivers.

According to draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., Kolb is the perfect fit for the Eagles. Kiper said Kolb benefited from playing in the same system in college that he did in high school but that he has “the necessary skills throwing the football, but will need some time to adapt to the pro system.
[Kolb] is the type who could pay some dividends down the road to a patient organization.”
It remains to be seen how patient the Eagles will be. Quarterbacks drafted as high as Kolb usually don't stay understudies forever, especially if they show talent.
Kolb said Saturday via conference call from his parents farm in Texas that he has no doubt that when he gets his chance, he'll be ready.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Kolb said. “That is the reason they took me, that's the reason they had faith in my skills in what I do and I am anxious to get behind these older guys and get to learn from them over the next however long. I want to learn the ropes and get them to teach me and soak up everything I can. Be a sponge for however long it takes to get my turn and then get in there and win ball games when I get the chance.”

Reid tried to call McNabb after picking Kolb but received no answer. He left a voice mail telling McNabb not to worry.

Before the draft, it seemed like McNabb had little to worry about besides recovery from his torn ACL. Jeff Garcia, who led the team to the playoffs in McNabb's absence, signed with Tampa. A.J. Feeley and Kelly Holcomb, acquired in the Takeo Spikes trade, were backups.

With the 26th pick, most experts had the Birds picking a defensive player — a safety, corner or linebacker.

The Eagles liked Florida safety Reggie Nelson, Texas safety Michael Griffin and Miami safety Brandon Meriweather. But all, including Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss, were gone by the 26h pick.

That's when the Eagles decided to make the deal with Dallas. For the 26th pick the Eagles received the 36th pick, the 87th pick and the 159th overall selection.

Jeff Offord can be reached at jofford@phillyBurbs.com.
April 29, 2007 8:56 AM

April 28, 2007

Meriweather could give Considine a run at safety for Eagles

By BOB GROTZ, bgrotz@comcast.net

04/28/2007

PHILADELPHIA -- When the NFL draft begins at noon today, the teams that have spent the past few months blowing smoke must put up or shut up. Even casual fans can see through the camouflage and decipher the spin when players come off the board fortifying positions of need.

The fiscally prudent Eagles don’t pour a ton of money into the draft to waste picks on guys that have no shot of pushing for a starting job.

How do the Eagles really feel about their safeties, cornerbacks, linebackers, defensive ends and the rehab of quarterback Donovan McNabb?

The draft, like the eye of the camera, doesn’t lie.

"We don’t want to draft a guy we don’t think has the ability to start in the
NFL," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. "We don’t want to draft a guy as
a backup. Now, you do have late-round guys. But since I’ve been here I think
we’ve drafted maybe two guys that we had worse than a fifth-round grade on."
All of that said, Heckert’s vision of a wheeling-and-dealing first round appears to be on the mark. Draft buzz was at a frenzy all of Friday.

The Oakland Raiders control the board. With the first pick, they have made full use of their leverage by conducting preliminary negotiations with the agents for quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn as well as wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The reward for taking fewer dollars, of course, is being the first overall draft choice. What’s a few million in Monopoly money anyway?

The Raiders also put the word out that franchise wide receiver Randy Moss can be had for the right price, according to a source.

If the Raiders bypass Russell to draft Johnson, widely viewed as the top player in the draft, the wake could swamp other draft boards because Russell has been almost everyone’s choice to go first. Several teams are interested in trading up and down, according to reports.

Elsewhere the Washington Redskins still are trying to ship the sixth overall pick to the Chicago Bears for franchised linebacker Lance Briggs, according to a source who feels the deal is close to happening.

The source also said the Denver Broncos desperately want to trade up and land middle linebacker Patrick Willis of Mississippi.

The buzz surprises even longtime NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, a 10th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1981 who later played defensive back for the New York Giants and settled in Newtown Square.

A few restless hours after getting to bed early Friday morning, Mayock tore up the mock draft he had meticulously crafted for months."This is the most interesting draft I’ve ever seen," Mayock said. "My gut still tells me JaMarcus Russell will go first but if the Raiders try to move Moss they’re doing it for a reason; probably for Calvin Johnson. There are a lot of things that can happen, a lot of variables all the way through."

In a wild first round the Eagles could benefit when draft boards are adjusted for some players almost certainly will drop during runs at such positions as defensive back and wide receiver.

If the Eagles stand pat, Mayock suspects the draft will unfold to the point where they draft safety Brandon Meriweather of Miami, off-the-field warts and all. Mayock thinks Meriweather is more than talented enough to take a starting job from Eagles safety Sean Considine, Heckert’s unending praise of his 2005 fourth-round draft pick notwithstanding.

Reggie Nelson, the athletic safety out of national champion Florida, would also be a consideration if available, according to Mayock, although he has the Gator going to the New England Patriots a couple of picks earlier.

"I think the Eagles’ position stays the same," Mayock said. "They’re fortunate in that their needs line up with the positions that figure to be there when they pick. They can upgrade with a safety like Meriweather and if he’s not there they take a corner like Chris Houston or Aaron Ross."

The Eagles also could trade out of the first round for picks either this weekend or next year, and land a serviceable cornerback in the second round. They entertained Marcus McCauley (6-1, 201) of Fresno State, once a first-round type of talent who ran a 4.39 at the combine and has safety size.

The Eagles could fortify the middle linebacker position in the second round with a prospect like David Harris (6-2, 245) of Michigan, the second-rated inside ’backer. The Birds visited with inside linebacker Desmond Bishop (6-2, 240) of California, considered more of a second-day pick.

Running back/fullback Brian Leonard of Rutgers is a late second-round possibility for the Eagles according to a team source.

The Eagles visited with hulking wide receiver Roy Hall (6-2, 229) of Ohio State, who ran a sizzling 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at a personal workout to vault into first day draft contention.

Likewise wide receiver Jacoby Jones (6-3, 210) of Lane College is a sleeper first-day pick, a Kevin Curtis-type late bloomer who also excelled at basketball and track. Jones visited with the Birds after running a 4.50 at his pro day.

Finally, don’t be surprised if the Eagles come out of the draft with another quarterback. They like John Beck (6-11/2, 215) of Brigham Young University and Kevin Kolb (6-3, 220) of Houston, among others, having visited with both.

A pack of quarterbacks likely including Trent Edwards (6-3, 225) of Stanford and Drew Stanton (6-3, 226) of Michigan State likely will come off the board in the first day, possibly somewhere in the second round.

For Jeff Garcia fans, the Eagles worked out Jared Zabransky, the Boise State quarterback that reminds scouts a lot of Garcia.

Zabransky (6-2, 219) most recently led BSU to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma. Like Garcia, he’s also deadly accurate and mobile.
©DelcoTimes 2007

Here are 10 candidates on Reid’s draft list

By REUBEN FRANK phillyBurbs.com

The draft hasn't taken place yet, and Eagles fans are probably already sick of hearing about Michael Griffin, Reggie Nelson and Chris Houston.

Today, finally, all the speculation ends, and Andy Reid will make his ninth first-round pick as head coach of the Eagles.

So far, Reid has taken one quarterback, one wide receiver, one cornerback, one defensive end, one offensive lineman and three defensive tackles. And no running backs, no tight ends, no linebackers and no safeties.

What's next?

Here's a look at 10 candidates — some realistic, some longshots — for the Eagles to select if they stay with the 26th pick in today's first round of the draft.

* Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida

It may be tough to imagine the Eagles taking a defensive end since they have so many high-priced guys under contract, but they could certainly use one. Eagles haven't drafted a defensive end who played in the Pro Bowl in an Eagles uniform since Clyde Simmons, 21 years ago.
DisplayAds ('Middle');


The Measurables: 6-6, 250, ran 4.73.

The Positives: Quick, active and mobile.

The Negatives: Do the Eagles need yet another undersized defensive end?

* Michael Griffin, S, Texas

Seems like a perfect fit. He could replace Sean Considine if he struggles at strong safety or he could replace Brian Dawkins whenever Dawkins decides to end his brilliant career.

The Measurables: 5-11 1/2, 205, ran 4.49.

The Positives: Smart, instinctive and productive.

The Negatives: Not a great run supporter.

*Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami

The Eagles demonstrated last year that they won't let minor character issues prevent them from picking a player they like Brodrick Bunkley, Winston Justice. But Meriweather's past may be too checkered for Reid.

The Measurables: 5-10 1/2, 195, ran 4.56.

The Positives: Productive and versatile.

The Negatives: Character issues and size.

*Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas

Houston put himself on the map with a monumental combine performance. A corner makes sense for the Eagles, who have two solid starters but are missing that lights-out nickel that Jim Johnson loves to have (Al Harris, Rod Hood).

The Measurables: 5-10, 185, ran 4.39.

The Positives: Played well against some of nation's top receivers, tough vs. run.

The Negatives: Size and lack of experience playing zone.

*Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State

A question mark coming off an average senior season following knee surgery. Posluszny is the first choice of a lot of fans, but defensive players taken in the first round out of Penn State rarely are worth it.

The Measurables: 6-1, 240, ran 4.70.

The Positives: Typical Penn State linebacker — tough, inspirational, fiercely competitive.

The Negatives: The knee.

* Greg Olsen, TE, Miami

L.J. Smith is under contract only through 2007, and there's a good chance he won't be back. Olsen is the only first-round tight end, and if he's on the board when the Eagles pick — which is unlikely — they'd have to consider him.

The Measurables: 6-6, 250, ran 4.55.

The Positives: Great hands, athletic and can produce big yards after the catch.

The Negatives: Junior eligible. Not particularly strong and not a polished blocker.

* Aaron Ross, CB, Texas

Only started one year, thanks to the ridiculous array of talent that Texas piled up in front of him, but made most of that year. Reid loves to draft at positions of strength, and a Lito-Sheldon-Aaron Ross cornerback lineup would certainly be formidable.

The Measurables: 6-0, 195, ran 4.54.

The Positives: Smart and instinctive, likes to support run. Can return punts.

The Negatives: Sometimes gives up big plays going for interceptions.

* Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU

Even with the Kevin Curtis signing, the Eagles could still seek help at wide out. One more playmaker on offense certainly couldn't hurt.

The Measurables: 6-2, 217, ran 4.48

The Positives: Smart, consistent, knows how to work corners.

The Negatives: Not explosive down the field

* Anthony Spencer, LB-DE, Purdue

Comparable player to another Purdue tweener, Willingboro High School's Shaun Phillips, who has become a terrific player for the Chargers.

The Measurables: 6-3, 266, ran 4.63

The Positives: Big, fast, productive pass rusher with outstanding technique.

The Negatives: Needs to become stronger and may be better fit in an odd front.

* Reggie Nelson, S, Florida

Nelson is versatile enough to play corner and a true playmaker, something the Eagles can sure use in a secondary that at some point in the near future will have to continue on without Dawkins.

The Measurables: 6-0, 193, ran 4.37.

The Positives: Big hitter who doesn't shy away from contact. Instinctive and savvy, always around the ball.

The Negatives: Doesn't have great tackling form.

E-Mail: REUBEN FRANK
April 28, 2007 5:27 AM

McDougle: Birds worst pick ever


According to a fan poll from http://www.philly.com/
What an awful list to look at. I want to think that Mamula, or Ex Fred were worse, but at least they played. Only thing McDougle has ever done exciting, is get shot.

Draftniks' big day is finally at hand

By Bob Brookover
Inquirer Staff Writer

MICHAEL CONROY / Associated Press
Should the Eagles pick a safety, Miami's Brandon Meriweather might be the choice. They believe he can play either safety spot.

TGIDD.

Thank God It's Draft Day.

The last chance for mock drafts has gone.

Now, it's time to select those college players NFL teams think they need so, so bad.
After months and months of scrutinizing players at all-star games, scouting combines and pro workout days, the Eagles and every other team in the league will finally get a chance to turn their picks into actual people.

If you're interested only in what the Eagles do in this draft, you are going to have to wait a little while longer, because if the Eagles stick with their allotted 26th overall pick in the first round, they will not make their selection until after 6 o'clock tonight.

Anyway, here's one final look at what the Eagles might do with their first-round selection:

A. Draft a safety.

B. Draft a cornerback.

C. Draft a defensive end.

D. Draft a linebacker.

E. Trade down and get an extra pick in the third or fourth round.

F. None of the above.

If the answer is A, the safety options appear to be Florida's Reggie Nelson, Miami's Brandon Meriweather, Texas' Michael Griffin, and Virginia Tech's Aaron Rouse.

Most draft experts project that Nelson will be gone by the time the Eagles pick, but the three other players on that list should be available.

Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said he believed that Meriweather, Griffin and Rouse could play either safety spot. Nelson, meanwhile, was more of a centerfielder at Florida, patrolling the secondary for interceptions rather than approaching the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

"I wouldn't call that a concern," Heckert said. "It's something you have to think about because you don't get to see him do it. I think he's tough enough and he comes up and tackles, but he has not been a box guy."

If the Eagles opt for Meriweather, it will be a fascinating selection just because of his controversial involvement in an ugly brawl Miami had during a game with Florida International last season.

"That's something we're really investigating," Heckert said.

Should the Eagles elect to go with Option B - and take a cornerback - they should have an opportunity to get a good one late in the first round.

"I think it's a pretty deep draft at cornerback," Heckert said, adding that he believes a total of five cornerbacks could be selected in the first round.

The two best that figure to be available for the Eagles are Texas' Aaron Ross and Arkansas' Chris Houston. Ross, at 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, is bigger than Houston. The kid from Arkansas, however, showed that he could be outstanding in press coverage at the line of scrimmage.

"There's one guy, you don't see him do anything but press [on film]," Heckert said of Houston. "That's why there's probably mistakes made with corners because you don't get to see them do everything you need to see."

Heckert said that was particularly true with players like Houston, who entered the draft after his junior year. Only seniors are showcased in all-star games, where NFL scouts can ask to see players in multiple roles.

Option C - defensive end - could happen if one of the higher-rated players slips to the 26th spot in the draft. It's possible, but not probable, that Florida's Jarvis Moss will be available when the Eagles select. Moss, who weighs just over 250 pounds, can rush the passer, but his size could be a detriment when he has to play the run.

As for option D - linebacker - the Eagles could make a popular pick and take Penn State's Paul Posluszny if he falls to the 26th spot. Miami's Jon Beason and Florida State's Lawrence Timmons could also still be on the board, but it doesn't seem likely that the Eagles will take a linebacker in the first round for the first time since 1979.

Though the Eagles have moved up in the draft twice in the last four years to get a higher No. 1 pick, the more likely scenario in this draft is Option E - trade down. The Eagles probably would be willing to move down a few spots if they could pick up an extra selection in the second or third round and still get a player they think has good value.

"With the new CBA, the end of the first round is a little intriguing just because you can lock those guys up for five years," Heckert said, referring to the collective-bargaining agreement. "The second round, you can't do that anymore. That could be an issue, but I doubt somebody would give you a great pick just to get an extra year on the contract."

And what about Option F - none of the above? This is the NFL draft, so anything is possible. Just be glad you don't have to read or hear any more speculation about it.
TGIDD.

Picking 26th Is Hit or Miss

The Eagles will be selecting 26th in the first round of today's NFL draft. The recent 26th picks have brought mixed results. Here's a look at the last 12 players selected 26th overall:

Year Player Pos. College Pro

2006 John McCargo DT North Carolina State Buffalo
Made just six tackles during five games before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

2005 Chris Spencer C Mississippi Seattle
Started 13 of 16 games last year for the Seahawks.

2004 Chris Perry RB Michigan Cincinnati
Has started three games in three years.

2003 Kwame Harris OT Stanford San Francisco
Started every game the last two seasons.

2002 Lito Sheppard CB Florida EAGLES
Talk about a great pick - he's a two-time Pro Bowl choice.

2001 Jamar Fletcher CB Wisconsin Miami
Is now with his fourth team, the Texans.

2000 Erik Flowers DE Arizona State Buffalo
Had only six career starts before going to the CFL.

1999 Fernando Bryant CB Alabama Jacksonville
Serviceable player who has played last three years with Detroit.

1998 Alan Faneca OG LSU Pittsburgh
Arguably the best guard in the NFL.

1997 Jim Druckenmiller QB Virginia Tech San Francisco
A bust who played just four games in two seasons.

1996 Ray Lewis LB Miami Baltimore
Likely future Hall of Fame selection.

1995 Devin Bush FS Florida State Atlanta
Played for three teams during an eight-year NFL career.

- Marc Narducci

April 27, 2007

Bunkley vows to fulfill promise in '07

By Bob Brookover
Inquirer Staff Writer

YONG KIM / Philadelphia Daily News
Brodrick Bunkley acknowledges his rookie season was a disappointment.

"I wish I could take last year back, but I can't."


The Eagles' first-round pick is going to have to make a major impact in 2007, but the second-round pick might not even dress for a game.


No, this isn't about the players the Eagles are going to take in tomorrow's NFL draft. This is about the two players they took in last year's draft.


At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis two months ago, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was asked how he thought his defense could most improve, and it didn't long for the words Brodrick Bunkley to come out of his mouth.


"We'll be a better team next year if Bunkley comes through for us," Johnson said. "We're anticipating him coming through for us next year."


Talk about pressure.


Bunkley, the 14th overall selection in last year's draft, said last week that he welcomed the high expectations and acknowledged that he was as disappointed with his rookie season as anybody else.


"It's hard to explain, because I came in with high hopes, and I quickly realized if you don't stay on top of what you're supposed to do . . . you're going to live that tough life," Bunkley said. "I wish I could take last year back, but I can't.


"I came in with a new attitude, and I'm working out hard. I lost a little weight. I'm trying to trim down a little bit and work on my speed, so at least I won't go back into camp overweight like I did last year."


As for the expectations, Bunkley said he's already had some lengthy conversations with Johnson.


"I know I'm going to have to step my game up a lot this year," he said. "I want to impress my coaches because I felt like I kind of let those guys down last year. I kind of let the fans down last year, so now I want to get out on the field and just at least show people I'm capable and worthy of being the No. 1 pick."


Bunkley, according to the coaching staff's statistics, registered just eight tackles and one hurry - it came in the season opener against Houston - during his 15 games. His most notable moment came when he did not dress against Indianapolis after missing the team charter while running a food errand for his teammates.


He said he did get an NFL education despite his limited playing time and modest statistics.
"At least some of the games I got a feel for the game speed when I did get in," Bunkley said. "It's a real physical game, and you've got some huge guys that know what they're doing. Now I'm rid of those rookie jitters and ready to get back into it."


As for the Eagles' second-round pick, all he got was an off-the-field education because offensive tackle Winston Justice never even dressed for a game.


"It was a different experience for me," Justice said. "But I still got to learn a lot from Tra [William Thomas] and [Jon] Runyan. If I had to be in a place where I had to sit and not dress, I couldn't be in a better situation."


With Thomas and Runyan both returning, Justice could go through another year of watching in street clothes.


"That's exactly right," general manager Tom Heckert said. "I think it's a good problem to have. Obviously, I feel bad for Justice, but at least we have him as a backup. I think in the long run we'll be happy we drafted him. He's a very good insurance policy for the immediate future, and we think for the future he's going to be our guy."


Linebacker Omar Gaither had the most impact from last year's rookie class and, along with Bunkley, goes into 2007 with the best chance of being a starter. Heckert, however, said he also would like to see some contribution from third-round pick Chris Gocong, who missed all of last season with a neck injury.


"We're going to put him out there at linebacker and see what he can do," Heckert said. "I don't think there's any question the guy can play defensive end, so to not give him a chance at linebacker, I think would be a mistake."


The Eagles' other picks from last season - offensive guard Max Jean-Gilles, wide receivers Jason Avant and Jeremy Bloom, and defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey - will have a difficult time getting on the field, although Bloom does have a chance to be the team's returner.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.
http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20070427_Bunkley_vows_to_fulfill_promise_in_07.html

April 26, 2007

Inside the Iggles Mock

1. Oakland Raiders- WR Calvin Johnson- Georgia Tech
The Raiders pass on two potential franchise qbs, and take the best player in the draft. The Raiders have two very talented WRs on the team already, but both have fallen out of favor with the team. Al Davis will prefer to find a veteran QB to sign after the draft, and just go for the physical freak in Johnson. Daunte Culpepper has been rumored to be an option, if cut by Miami. This pick will change the entire draft, and really piss off the Buccaneers.
2. Detroit Lions- QB Brady Quinn- Notre Dame
With Calvin Johnson gone the Lions ideas of trading this pick are shattered. There have been very poor QBs for a long time in Detroit. John Kitna, and Josh McCown are really just good backups, and neither has much of a future being a starter in the NFL. Convinced he will fit better into his offense than LSU's Jamarcus Russell, Mike Martz lobbies for Matt Millen to take Brady Quinn.
3. Cleveland Browns- QB Jamarcus Russell- LSU
Cleveland is pleasantly surprised that the once consensus number one overall pick, has just fallen into their lap. Cleveland has also had it's fair share of QB troubles in it's brief team history. Adrian Peterson is also an intriguing prospect here, but Romeo Crenell knows the value of having an elite QB is much better than having an elite RB. Charlie Frye is still young, but he has played very poorly in his young NFL career. Jamarcus Russell will bring new life to Cleveland, and give the Browns a franchise QB.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- DE Gaines Adams- Clemson
The Bucs are also crushed that Oakland has selected Calvin Johnson. Jon Gruden, must really think that Al Davis wants to stick it to them. They are however very happy that Detroit did not select the best pass rusher in college football this past year in Gaines Adams. After addressing the offensive line last year, the Bucs now need to replenish an aging, once great defense. Almost all of the Bucs DEs are near the end, including their premier DE Simeon Rice. Adams is definitely Tampa Bay's second choice, and he is taken with the 4th pick.
5. Arizona Cardinals- OT Joe Thomas- Wisconsin
A very happy Arizona Cardinals team is thrilled to select Joe Thomas. The consensus franchise left tackle in this years draft, falls to number 5. The Cards will not draft Adrian Peterson, because they just committed a ton of money to Edgerrin James last season. Ken Whisenhunt knows that Arizona's main weakness over the years, has been offensive line, and he will bring in the Steelers philosophy of having a great offensive line. Matt Leinart couldn't be happier.
6. Washington Redskins- DT Amobi Okoye- Louisville
Washington is disappointed that Gaines Adams is gone, but they had somewhat expected that could happen. They are now faced with a tough choice of Laron Landry, and a 19 year old sensation Amobi Okoye. In the end, they choose Okoye, because they have gone DB in the first round two years in a row, and their defense got almost no pass rush last year. The Redskins have really paid very little attention to their defensive line, in the recent past, and when they have, they have made mistakes.(Andre Carter) The only way the Redskins can pressure a QB, is with the blitz. Okoye is desperately needed in D.C., and he brings on big expectations with him.
7. Minnesota Vikings- RB Adrian Peterson- Oklahoma
Calvin Johnson is long gone, Gaines Adams is gone, and both top QBs are gone. Chester Taylor did a decent job last year for the Vikings, but he does not have the break away speed that Adrian Peterson has. The Vikings DE's did not produce very much last year, so Jamaal Anderson is really considered here. Leon Hall could be a bit of a reach here, but CB is also a need. Some think Landry would also be a great pick for the Vikings, but I believe that they are really high on second year S Greg Blue. Probably the 3rd best prospect in the draft is there for the taking, and the Vikings do not let him fall any further.
8. Atlanta Falcons- S Laron Landry- LSU
The Falcons like Washington also have needs at S, and DT. Okoye was the DT Bobby Petrino coveted, but he is gone. They shed no tears, as the best safety in the draft Laron Landry is available, and Rich McKay a great talent evaluator, drafts another stud defensive player. Landry is not just the best safety, some think he could be the best defensive player in the draft. If Adrian Peterson were available, the Falcons would have a very difficult choice, because it appears Warrick Dunn is going to be a possible cap casualty.
9. Miami Dolphins- CB Leon Hall- Michigan
The starting corner backs on the Miami Dolphins as of now, are Will Allen, and Andre Goodman. This position is in desperate need of help, and Leon Hall is there to rescue them. This is probably still a reach at 9, so look for Miami to possibly trade down a few spots. Hall is not the only good CB prospect, Darrelle Revis, and Chris Houston will also available later, and I believe both of them are actually better than Leon Hall. Nick Saban has really left this team in shambles. OT, DT, S, WR, and DE are also some needs for the Dolphins.
10. Houston Texans- DT Alan Branch- Michigan
The Texans pass on Reggie Bush, and Vince Young last year, to draft DE Mario Williams. Then the following year, they replace the starting QB, and RB during free agency. To me the Texans are the most confused team in the NFL. They make one strange decision after another. I wonder what they are thinking with these moves. I am sure that they know, that they still have to find a way to stop Peyton Manning, and the Colts offense. They continue to rebuild a weak defensive line by taking Alan Branch. Branch once considered the clear favorite as the drafts top DT, has now slipped due to the Okoye craze. This might be the only thing the Texans do this off season that makes any sense.
11. San Fransisco 49ers- DE Adam Carriker- Nebraska
In a continuing effort to transform the 49ers into a 3-4 defense, the 49ers take the big Nebraska kid. The 9ers had a spending frenzy in free agency, and have addressed needs at CB, SS, WR, and LB. This very young, and talented offense, is trying to now build a better defense. Bryant Young does not have many years left, and Carriker just makes sense in every way for this team. Good pick for the 49ers.
12. Buffalo Bills- LB Patrick Willis- Ole Miss
The Bills have parted ways with both London Fletcher, and Takeo Spikes. Two big losses at LB. Many have Marshawn Lynch penciled in here, but I don't think so. RB is also a very big need for the Bills after trading Willis McGahee to the Ravens, but Marv Levy believes that there will be other good backs in the second round. In Willis the Bills are getting the best LB in the draft, and he would become an instant starter. Willis solidified his spot here, after an excellent senior bowl, and an awesome combine. I am pretty jealous.
13. St. Louis Rams- DE Jamaal Anderson- Arkansas
The Rams have had one area of their team holding them back from becoming a team that goes deep into the playoffs. That area is their defense. They do not stop the run well at all, and I'm not sure if they even practice tackling. The top 2 DTs are gone, Gaines Adams is long gone, Adam Carriker is gone, and Patrick Willis just got snagged by the Bills. So the Rams go with DE Jamaal Anderson. Some question his heart, and athletic ability. Others seem to think he is a poor mans Julius Peppers. To me I look at him as a boom or bust guy. The Rams better hope he does well, because they really can't afford another defensive lineman bust.
14. Carolina Panthers- S Reggie Nelson- Florida
Mike Minter is the Panthers only veteran safety on the team, and he has said he will retire after this year. The Panthers will most likely have to draft two safeties in this draft, and they start early by getting the "Eraser" from the national champs Florida. Other needs include WR, DE, TE, and LB. With Nelson being the best player on the board, and Jon Fox's believe that defense wins championships, they draft Nelson. Other possibilities, are Greg Olsen, Tedd Ginn, Paul Posluszny, and Robert Meachem.
15. Pittsburg Steelers- CB Darrelle Revis- Pitt
Mike Tomlin knows the Steelers have needs at CB, and LB. He does not have to look far to find his guy. Darrelle Revis is considered by some, to be the best CB in this draft, and he seems like an ideal fit for Tomlin's cover 2 scheme. Even though Pittsburgh will continue to run the 3-4 base defense under D LeBeau, Tomlin has hinted that he plans to convert to his scheme. He has even talked about plans of mixing in a 4-3 at times this year. Revis is a good pick, and Pittsburgh faithfuls will be happy with this.
16. Green Bay Packers- RB Marshawn Lynch- Cal
Buffalo passed on Lynch, but Greenbay does not hesitate to select him. Rb is the Packers number need right now, and Marshawn is an ideal back for the Packers offense. Lynch should excel in the zone blocking scheme, and he is a very capable receiving threat. I really doubt that Packers fans would be happy with Vernand Morency as the starting RB. Lynch makes the most sense here at 16, and the Packers will be very delighted to get a very talented football player.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars- LB Lawrence Timmons- FSU
I have seen a ton of mocks that have the Jags going for a defensive end in the first round. I am not sure why, because last year they got very good production out of that position. I see a void at linebacker with Jacksonville. Nick Greisen is a very weak spot on this defense. Lawrence Timmons is one of the best outside linebackers in this draft, and he will thrive in Jacksonville behind that defensive line. This is a pretty solid team all around, and they could choose to go the best player available route.
18. Cincinatti Bengals- LB Paul Posluszny- Penn State
The Bengals lost a very good linebacker, and a team leader in Brian Simmons. The Bengals defense is what kept them out of the playoffs in 06, and to help fix both of these problems, they turn to linebacker U, and grab Poz. Nittany Lions fans wish him well, and watch him make a huge impact on the Bengals team. Paul is not just a great football player. He is a team leader, a great guy, and high character guy. Marvin Lewis wont get any jail phone calls in the middle of the night from Posluszny.
19. Tennessee Titans- WR Robert Meachcem- Tenn
Vince Young needs weapons, and Meachem will provide him with some speed on the outside. Tedd Ginn is also a real possibility here. Both are blazing fast, but in the end Meachem's production at Tennessee is the deciding factor. Titans could consider Dwayne Bowe from LSU, or Dwayne Jarrett from USC as well. Other positions to consider, are FS, DE, RB, and yes CB now that Pacman is suspended for the season. Think after Pacman, they will consider drafting Brandon Meriweather?
20. New York Giants- OT Levi Brown- Penn State
Most likely Brown will be drafted higher than this, but without predicting trades, I have him falling to 20. The Giants should do back flips if he did slip to them. A devastating run blocker, and very good pass protector, Levi could line up at either left, or right tackle for New York. The Giants also must definately consider an outside linebacker here, as they need two of them. Jon Beason from Miami is a very tempting pick here.
21. Denver Broncos- DE Jarvis Moss- Florida
A very pleased Broncos team, gets their guy. Jarvis Moss will bring what Denver needs. Another pass rusher. The entire Browns defensive line was not good enough, and Denver never really replaced Trevor Pryce after he left for the Ravens. Other team needs are DT, LB, S, WR, and OT. Joe Staley, Justin Harrell, both Dwaynes, and Brandon Meriweather could be good options.
22. Dallas Cowboys- WR Dwayne Jarrett- USC
Dallas has not used a first round pick on offense since 1997, when they selected LSU tight end David LaFleur. Ten years later, I think they finally go offense again. Dwayne Jarrett's draft status has really dropped, do to a slow 40 time, and the inevitable comparisons to Mike Williams. I think this is a big mistake, because he had an outstanding college career. A big physical receiver, with great hands, and just a natural football player. the slow time may have scared off a lot of teams, but Dallas will gladly bring Jarrett to Big D. This will give the Cowboys youth at WR, which they need, and a TO replacement.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- WR Tedd Ginn- Ohio State
Kansas City has already prepared for this pick, by trading Dante Hall to the rams. Ginn is an electric returner, and teams are putting a higher premium on returners, after seeing the huge impact of Devin Hester. Ginn is an unpolished wr, but with some good NFL coaching, and Kansas City's high powered offense, he should be able to develop very well. KC also has some major offensive line issues, and do not be surprised if they go after Joe Staley, or Benn Grubbs here. Don't believe the LJ rumors. They wont let him go anywhere.
24. New England Patriots- CB Chris Houston- Arkansas
The Patriots make yet another great move, and draft my top rated CB in the draft. Houston is very tough, smart, agresive, and very athletic. Houston declared for the draft early after having an excellent junior season. He really justified that with his amazing combine performance. This off season has been very unpatriot like, as they have made a lot of moves for big time players, when they have been known to wait for value signings later in June, and August. Houston is a stud, and somehow the NFL lets the Patriots end up with him.
25. New York Jets- LB Anthony Spencer- Purdue
Considered a "tweener", Spencer seems like a perfect fit at OLB in a 3-4 D. Eric Mangini wants to get the right personelfor his 3-4 defense, and Spencer will be the edge rushing linebacker he is looking for. I've heard Spencer comparisons from Trent Cole, to Dwight Freeney. I think he is somewhere in the middle of those two talent wise. Jets fans are just glad they did not draft another tight end. I am sure they will boo the pick anyways.
26. Philadelphia Eagles- S Brandon Meriweather- Miami(Fla)
Meet Brian Dawkins successor. Brandon Meriweather is an all around complete free safety. He is a vicious hitter, excellent in run support, skilled enough to play nickle, and fast enough to even play corner. Dawk is gonna be 34 this year, and he will drop off soon. Considine did play safety in college, but i believe the Eagles like him at SS. I don't see why they would even convert him to SS, if they did not plan to keep him there. Heckert has publicly stated that he loves Considine where he is, and that he felt Brandon Meriweather was not really that bad of a guy. Meriweather's biggest knock, is that he has some serious character concerns, and the Eagles have typically avoided these under Andy Reid. Knowing how well the Eagles do homework on players, I beleive they are pretty good are telling the bad seeds apart from the good ones. Meriweather made some dumb mistakes as a young adult, and he has learned from that. i do not see him being the next Pacman, Chris Henry, or Maurice Clarrett. I also do not see the Eagles wanting Michael Griffin. He reminds me too much of Michael Lewis, and I don't even consider him a first round talent. WR is NOT a need. CB could be chosen here. Anthony Spencer would be an option, if he were to fall. Ben Grubbs could be a possibility, and could they possibly go linebacker? Don't count on it. Meriweather seems like the most logical choice.
27. New Orleans Saints- TE Greg Olsen- Miami(Fla)
The Saints have quietly filled a lot of their team needs this off season. They re-signed DT Hollis Thomas. They signed free agents LB Brian Simmons, S Kevin Kaesviharn, CB Jason David, and K Olindo Mare. They did lose veteran WR Joe Horn, but rookie sensation Marques Colston will be fine there. The Saints had the number one offense in the NFL last year, and now they get this drafts best tight end, to make it even better. Olsen should probably go higher than this, but not many teams are looking for a first round tight end, and hiring Drew Rosenhaus as your agent always hurts your draft stock. Dwayne Bowe, and Aaron Ross should also be considered.
28. New England Patriots- S Michael Griffin- Texas
The Pats look to find a young safety to replace Rodney Harrison. Their secondary has been riddled with injuries, and very thing over the past few seasons. Using both firsts on the secondary is a plan to solidify them in this area. Even though I feel Griffin is not worth a first round pick, the Pats have shown in the past, that they are not afraid of "reaching" for a player that they really want. After Griffin the safety class takes a considerable drop. Inside linebacker is also a need. Look for David Harris as a possibility.
29. Baltimore Ravens- OT Joe Staley- Central Michigan
Baltimore's offensive line has a few questions this year. One question that seems to already be answered, is that this will be pro bowl left tackle Johnathan Ogden's last NFL season. The Ravens are definetely going to look for somebody to draft, to fill that hole. Staley is a former tight end, who has bulked up, and moves very well for a tackle. An excellent prospect, the Ravens get great value at 29. Other needs include G, C, QB, and LB. Anthony Spencer, Ryan Kalil, Benn Grubbs, and Justin Blaylock are some other names to look for here.
30. San Diego- WR Dwayne Bowe- LSU
San Diego is one of the most complete teams in the NFL. They could probably just draft by best player available. If they had a need, the main one would be receiver. Keenan McCardel was released, and now a new number one WR is needed. Vincent Jackson started to show some promise last year, and he looks like he will be a good one. The problem after him there is not much of anything good at the position. Eric parker is the next best WR they have. He has decent speed, but puts up very average production. Dwayne Bowe is another big target for talented young QB Phillip Rivers to throw too, and with Bowe in the mox, it will be near impossible to stop the chargers in the redzone. What can you defend? Gates, Jackson, Bowe, or LT? How did Norv Turner land this job?
31. Chicago Bears- LB Jon Beason- Miami(Fla)
The Bears could use an outside linebacker. They best one available at 20, with Beason. Beason is a great athlete, and could start right away for Chicago. I think he will actually end up being a better pro than Paul Posluszny. Recently Miami has a very good history of producing top NFL line backers, and I think the trend continues with Beason. Also look for TE, G, and DT here. Lance Briggs trade on draft day?
32. Indianapolis Colts- CB Aaron Ross
The super Bowl Champs, have lost CBs Nick Harper, and Jason David to free agency. They will be looking for the best CB available here, and Ross is their man. Ross had a very good career at Texas, but slips because he will be turning 24 in September which is very old for a rookie. He also has problems with off man coverage, and gets turned around pretty easily. Colts could also look at CB Marcus McCauley, DT Justin Harrell, and LB Jon Beason.

Eagles' Kearse anxious to get back in uniform

By LES BOWEN
bowenl@phillynews.com

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20070426_Eagles_Kearse_anxious_to_get_back_in_uniform.html


JEVON KEARSE even taped his wrists when he suited up in the new blue-and-yellow "throwback" uniform for the news conference announcing the Eagles' plans for their 75th anniversary season.

"I wanted to wear [football] gloves, but none of the gloves matched. I gotta
coordinate," said Kearse, who entered the gathering exclaiming that, "it feels
good to be back in a uniform."

Kearse, who hadn't pulled on pads since suffering a season-ending knee injury in overtime of Game 2 last Sept. 17, was ready for action, even though the only thing likely to hit him yesterday was a blizzard of confetti the team shot into the air to make the most of its photo op.
"I want to get to the quarterback, man. I'm a quarterback-eater, and I'm hungry.
I need to eat," Kearse said, relating a locker room conversation with strong safety Sean Considine, who had allowed that the current sculpted, 240-pound "Freak" might be better suited for the secondary.

Kearse explained that his rehab regimen has focused almost exclusively on cardio work lately; he's in great shape, but he expects to add 20 pounds or so before training camp opens July 27 at Lehigh.

It will be interesting to see if the Eagles draft a defensive end early this weekend. On paper, there is little room, with Kearse and Darren Howard signed to long-term, big-money deals, along with Trent Cole and Juqua Thomas. Jerome McDougle remains under contract, as well. But the Eagles really need Kearse to stay healthy this year and for Howard to be much better than he was last season, in his initial tour with the Birds. If you aren't confident in those scenarios, then you need a defensive end, maybe even in the first round. General manager Tom Heckert recently cautioned against ruling out that possibility.

There likely will be some intriguing DE talent still on the board when the Eagles select 26th overall Saturday. Perhaps Purdue's Anthony Spencer, or Florida's Jarvis Moss, who is built a lot like Kearse? Maybe Moss' teammate, Ray McDonald.

Kearse recalled his draft day, when the Tennessee Titans took him 16th overall in the first round of the 1999 draft. Kearse validated that selection by notching a career-high 14 1/2 sacks in his rookie season.

"Some people might be happy just to go in the first round, or the first day, but I was a little ticked that I got picked No. 16," he said. "I felt like I was good enough to go anywhere in the top 10 . . . I used that as motivation against the teams that didn't pick me."

Many observers think the Eagles will come out of the first day of the 2007 draft with a safety or corner, a running back and either a linebacker or a defensive end. But even though Kearse turns 31 in September, he feels the team doesn't need to worry about drafting for his spot.

"With 2 or 3 more weeks of rehab, I should be ready to come back 100 percent," Kearse said. "I'm trying to come back 110 percent . . . Me coming back healthy, and if everyone comes back healthy, they can do what they're going to do in the draft, because we're going to already pretty much have the guys here."

He said there was a time, a few months ago, when he felt he'd hit a plateau in his recovery, but he was able to work through those worries. The season also was very difficult for Kearse, especially the stretch when the Birds lost five of six games.

"When we were losing, I was putting the blame on me, because I was injured. I felt there were a lot of things I could have done to help the team out," he said.
Kearse was off to an amazing start last season, having rededicated himself in the offseason. He had 3 1/2 sacks in the two games he played.

"That was the most daunting part of it," he said. "I was off to the best start of my career. But I've been talking to other athletes, former athletes, and they tell me if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. I'm expecting to start right back where I left off."

Last season, the Eagles couldn't get consistent pass rush pressure after Kearse went down and they couldn't stop the run, finishing 26th in the NFL in that category.

"At the end [of the season, when the Eagles won six in a row before losing to New Orleans in the second round of the playoffs] I saw that we do have the talent, we do have what it takes," Kearse said. "It's just a matter of keeping everybody healthy and doing it every game, every play."

Kearse has heard speculation that he is washed up, after turning 30, losing last season to injury, and playing poorly in 2005.

"I can't even talk about how bad I want to get back on that field and prove people wrong," he said. "I've always been a man of action. I'll let my actions speak."

Because he was modeling the new/old uniform, Kearse was asked his thoughts on it. He said he liked the color scheme, and is looking forward to the Sept. 23 game against Detroit in which the Eagles will wear the throwbacks.

"I'm looking forward to any game, really," he said. *

Get well soon FREEEEAK! We really need you. He must dying to play football, if he was excited to put on that ugly UCLA jersey on.

April 25, 2007

Eagles Unveil 75th Anniversary Plans


April 25, 2007

http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/homeNewsDetail.jsp?id=67623


The Philadelphia Eagles unveiled plans Wednesday to celebrate 75 seasons of Eagles football in Philadelphia, including a designated throwback game complete with the uniform colors of 1933.
"We will celebrate 75 years of Eagles football and the most passionate fans in the NFL during the 2007 season," Eagles chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie said at a press conference held at the NovaCare Complex.
Joining Lurie was Eagles play-by-play radio announcer Merrill Reese, considered to be the official "Voice of the Eagles." Reese, whose voice has marked some of the biggest moments in franchise history over the past 30 years, shared his favorite memories of the team. In addition, those in attendance were treated to a special highlight video of great Eagles moments, produced by Eagles Television Network.
Here is the throwback Donovan McNabb jersey
"Knowing how much the Eagles have meant to the City of Philadelphia, I am truly honored to be part of the rich history of this team," said Lurie.
Also on hand at the announcement were Pro Football Hall of Fame member and NFL Films senior producer Ray Didinger, author of The Eagles Encyclopedia, and retired Eagles executive Jim Gallagher, who served in the organization from 1946 to 1995.
Here is a look at the plans for the 75th Anniversary Season:
Throwback Game -- Kicker David Akers and defensive end Jevon Kearse modeled blue and yellow throwback uniforms at the press conference, commemorating the color scheme and design worn by the Eagles during their first season in the NFL in 1933. Designed in cooperation with the NFL and Reebok, the uniforms will be worn during the September 23 home game vs. the Detroit Lions.
The blue and yellow colors were the first colors worn by the Eagles, after the Frankford Yellow Jackets went bankrupt and the NFL awarded the Philadelphia franchise to a syndicate headed by former University of Pennsylvania teammates Lud Wray and Bert Bell for an entry fee of $2,500. The Swedes were in Philadelphia before the arrival of William Penn and he incorporated their colors into the City of Philadelphia's flag.
Official 75th Anniversary Merchandise -- Hats, jerseys -- including ones featuring current players like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook -- and more additional merchandise in the throwback colors are available now for fans.
Virtual Museum -- Wednesday also marked the launch of PhiladelphiaEagles.com's Virtual Museum. The web museum pays homage to the colorful history of the Eagles organization with exclusive, media-rich content dating back to the start of the franchise.
75th Anniversary Team -- Who were the best football players to wear an Eagles uniform during the franchise's first 74 seasons? Fans can help settle the debate by voting for the 75th Anniversary Team in our Virtual Museum. Each week, fans are invited to vote for the best players at a different position. The team will be unveiled before the beginning of the season in September. The nominees for the 75th Anniversary Team were selected by Reese, who will enter his 31st season as the voice of the Eagles, and Didinger, a former Philadelphia sportswriter who covered the Eagles and the NFL for 26 seasons before joining NFL Films as a senior producer.
Official Philadelphia Eagles 75th Season Logo -- Players will wear this special logo, which was designed in cooperation with the NFL, on the current midnight green and white jerseys throughout the season. The logo will also be featured prominently throughout 2007 marketing, advertising, merchandising and game presentation campaigns.
Television Special -- Philadelphia's 6abc will air a television special featuring some of the greatest moments in Eagles history and members of the 75th Anniversary Team.



My god these are awful! What are they thinking? These ugly things look like a bad combination of the Delaware Blue Hens, and theTennessee Titans jerseys. People must have laughed when they saw this unveiling.

I am all for celebrating the 75th anniversary of the team, but can't they celebrate by wearing the kelly green throwbacks? How about the green and silver from the 80 team? Even the white helmets in the 70s look better than this eye sore.

Is anybody going to buy this jersey? You wont ever catch me walking out my front door wearing that. The sad thing about this is, that Jeffrie Lurie is probably just doing this to sell more merchandise. Next time can somebody please give him a pair of glasses before he approves something like this.

Gocong hopes he meets Birds' linebacking needs

By LES BOWEN

bowenl@phillynews.com

IF CHRIS GOCONG can emerge this year as a starting-quality linebacker, the Eagles might not need to address that position in this weekend's NFL draft.

But the Birds can't really gauge Gocong's readiness until minicamps and training camp. Where in the draft to look for a linebacker, or whether to look for a linebacker, might be their toughest call this weekend.

Gocong would like to make it easier for them.

"My goal is to be the starting SAM [strongside]," Gocong said recently after a workout at the NovaCare Complex. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they're going to do, so we know what's going on in the future."

When they selected Gocong in the third round from Division I-AA Cal Poly a year ago, the Eagles thought they'd have a much better fix on how he fits in by now. But Gocong, transitioning from defensive end in college, got off to a tentative, slow start in training camp, then was dogged by a neck injury that led to him being placed in injured reserve. He never played a snap, even in the preseason.

Obviously, this was difficult for Gocong, healthy by midseason, who noted recently that it was "not like I had some huge, visible injury."

"I almost wished I'd had one - then I would have had something to show for not being able to play," he said. "It was real frustrating, kind of like a redshirt year. But I think I made the best use of my time," attending meetings and learning the nuances of the Eagles' defense.

This offseason, it has been hard to get a fix on what the Eagles think about Gocong. They seem to envision him challenging the much-lampooned Dhani Jones at the SAM; the big offseason acquisition, Takeo Spikes, is working out at WIL, or weakside linebacker, for now. But defensive coordinator Jim Johnson also has talked about moving Gocong back to defensive end.
Gocong's perception is that it is up to him to show the coaching staff very quickly, when minicamps begin next month, that he is now a linebacker. Otherwise, he thinks he could get tossed into the jumbled picture at defensive end, where his route to playing time would be less clear.

General manager Tom Heckert said recently that Gocong's perception is accurate - it will be up to Gocong to convince the Birds he can be a linebacker. Heckert said Gocong, 6-2, 258, will get every chance to do that, but "we know he can play defensive end," where Gocong set a I-AA record with 23 1/2 sacks in 2005.

It's probably fair to say that if the Eagles draft an inside linebacker anywhere in the first three rounds Saturday, Gocong will face an uphill fight to avoid playing with one hand in the dirt. Even though the linebacking corps might have been the team's most disappointing unit last season, and even though Spikes and middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter have hit 30, the Birds have quite a few LBs under contract.

Right now, the starters would seem to be Trotter in the middle, challenged or complemented by promising Omar Gaither, Spikes at WIL, backed up by Matt McCoy, and Jones and Gocong at SAM, with former practice-squad members Tank Daniels, Dedrick Roper and Greg Richmond lurking on the fringes. Indications are that Daniels will be given every opportunity to win a spot. So if you draft a linebacker, somebody must go.

As every Eagles fan knows, finding linebackers who are a good fit for Johnson's defense has been a tricky pursuit. In addition to the litany of failed second-round draft picks (Barry Gardner in 1999, Quinton Caver in 2001, very possibly McCoy in 2005), there are the veterans the Eagles have brought in who haven't been everything they'd hoped. That list includes Nate Wayne, Mark Simoneau, Jones, and even Keith Adams, who played well as a backup, but was a disappointment as a starter.

One factor in all that transience is how the Eagles traditionally have seen linebackers - as less crucial than, say, defensive ends or corners, who tend to get drafted in the first round. Yes, this is the point in the story where we insert the obligatory reference to Jerry Robinson, the last linebacker the Eagles tabbed in the first round, in 1979.

"The positions we have drafted [in the first round] are the positions we feel are really tough to find," Heckert said. "Especially the offensive tackles, the defensive ends, even to a certain extent defensive tackles. Linebackers, in theory . . . the first-round guys might be solid players, but they're not impact players. I don't know if you need all that."

Heckert said the Eagles certainly are open to taking a linebacker when they make their first selection Saturday, 26th overall. That might be right around where Penn State star Paul Posluszny ends up going. Heckert has said only that he thinks Posluszny will be drafted somewhere in the first round. Florida State's Lawrence Timmons probably won't last that long, but Miami's versatile Jon Beason might. If the Birds opt for a linebacker much later in the draft, an interesting possibility is Zak DeOssie, son of former NFL linebacker and long-snapper Steve DeOssie. Zak DeOssie, from Brown, is a middling linebacking prospect but a highly regarded long-snapper, which could interest the Eagles now that it seems Mike Bartrum is retired. That might depend on how they view Jon Dorenbos, whom they signed as Bartrum's emergency injury replacement last season.

Heckert said he doesn't think there is anything about Johnson's defense that is particularly difficult for linebackers. Gocong has a different perception, perhaps because his background is at DE.

"It's just a large volume of things [to keep track of] - it's not really things that are so complicated, it's just high volume," Gocong said. "Especially transitioning from defensive end, it's kind of tough, because you never think about coverages or anything, it's just, 'Go get the quarterback,' 'Go get the ballcarrier.' "

Gocong saw Gaither take over McCoy's starting weakside spot at midseason, McCoy having worn down in the wake of a shoulder injury. Gaither, a fifth-round rookie, ended up being the Eagles' highest-profile first-year player. Obviously, Gocong wished he'd had that chance.
"Definitely. I was watching [even] the kickoff and punt teams, thinking I could be out there hitting people. It kills you; you can't do that every play. It's a long season. I had to stop myself, because it was just hurting me," Gocong said.

Gocong said this has turned into a long offseason already, since his season was pretty much offseason, as well. He's very anxious to see where he ends up. Asked whether he would be more comfortable at end, he said he might be, at first, because he played there so much in college. But he said he would be very disappointed.

"I want to say my role in this defense is at linebacker," Gocong said. *

If Gocong pans out, the Eagles linebackers looks pretty good actually. They also will have a very big group, if Takeo Spikes starts at the WILL, Trotter at MIKE, and Gocong at SAM. That is a recipe for stopping the run. Bunkley will also have to play big, but I really think he will. Then you have Gaither, McCoy, and Daniels as 3 good backups, that will rotate in for different packages. This looks like a pretty good group. I think it's time to part with Dhani Jones. He is just a below average linebacker, who almost never makes a play. When he finally does make a tackle, he brings out that stupid air guitar. Enough of the bow tie guy. Get your banjo, and beat it.

April 24, 2007

As Draft Nears, Eagles Say McNabb Is Their Future




By CLIFTON BROWN
Published: April 24, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, April 23 — Donovan McNabb has had a season-ending injury in each of the last two seasons.
Considering that history, and that McNabb is 30, some believe that the Philadelphia Eagles should select a young quarterback in this weekend’s N.F.L. draft.
Last season, Jeff Garcia filled in superbly after McNabb tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leading the Eagles to the playoffs and a division championship. But Garcia signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent in March, leaving A. J. Feeley and Kelly Holcomb as McNabb’s backups.
The Eagles insist that they remain comfortable with McNabb as their No. 1 quarterback and say they will focus on other positions with the 26th pick in Saturday’s first round. With only two quarterbacks — JaMarcus Russell of Louisiana State and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame — expected to be selected in the first round, this is not an optimum year for the Eagles to burn a high pick on a project quarterback when they have more pressing needs on defense, particularly in the secondary.

“We think Donovan’s coming back healthy, he looks great, and we have A.
J.,” said Tom Heckert, the Eagles’ general manager, when asked about
Philadelphia’s quarterback situation during a round table with reporters
Monday.

“Even last year, he played great until he got hurt,” Heckert said of
McNabb. “He’s still a heck of a player.”


McNabb is still undergoing rehabilitation, hoping to be on the field when training camp begins in July. Until McNabb returns, nobody can be certain if his recovery from a serious knee injury will be more similar to that of the Cincinnati Bengals’ Carson Palmer or the Miami Dolphins’ Daunte Culpepper.
Both of those quarterbacks sustained knee injuries during the 2005 season. While Palmer was once again one of the N.F.L.’s top quarterbacks in 2006, Culpepper struggled and has not been the player he once was.
The Eagles gambled by not offering Garcia the contract he was seeking, but they say they are set at quarterback after signing Feeley to a long-term contract and obtaining Holcomb, who did not play last season, in a trade with the Buffalo Bills.
On Saturday, the Eagles are likely to consider a cornerback or a safety with their first-round pick. Safety Brian Dawkins remains one of the team’s emotional leaders and best players, but he will be 34 in November.
The Eagles have solid corner backs in Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, but cover corners are at a premium in the N.F.L., particularly on a team like the Eagles that loves to blitz.
Defensive backs that could be available with the 26th pick include safeties Michael Griffin of Texas and Reggie Nelson of Florida and corner backs Jonathan Wade of Tennessee, Josh Wilson of Maryland and Eric Wright of Nevada-Las Vegas. The Eagles may also opt for help on the defensive line because end Jevon Kearse is recovering from a knee injury.
This has been an usual off-season for the Eagles, with Coach Andy Reid taking a leave of absence from Feb. 12 to March 23 after his two sons, Garrett and Britt, were arrested.
Reid has the final say on all personnel matters, but he did not attend the scouting combine in February. But Heckert said that the Eagles’ draft preparations had not been affected because he and Reid frequently communicated.
“We sent him a bunch of tape and we talked three or four times a day,” Heckert said.
The Eagles have never drafted a safety in the first round, and they have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since 1979, when they selected Jerry Robinson. Philadelphia added a linebacker in the off-season, however, signing Takeo Spikes, who arrived with Holcomb in the trade with the Bills.
Philadelphia’s success rate in the draft has been inconsistent since Heckert joined the organization in 2001. His best draft was in 2002, when the Eagles acquired Sheppard, Michael Lewis, Brian Westbrook and Brown. But the Eagles have only one current starter from the 2003 draft, tight end L. J. Smith.
Last year, the Eagles took defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley with the 14th pick, but he reported late and out of shape and was a disappointment. The Eagles hope for more from Bunkley this season, but Heckert acknowledged that some of the team’s recent selections have not worked out as well as the team had hoped.
“We look at things every year,” Heckert said. “Was his work ethic not what we thought it was, did he fit into our scheme?
“If you’re talking about a good football team, it’s tough for any rookie to come out and start. But after two and a half or three years, if the guy’s not playing, it’s probably not going to work out.”
Heckert said that the Eagles probably would not make a deal to move up in the draft, feeling that a player who can help them will be available at No. 26. But with so many possibilities for Saturday, not even Heckert seems to be sure who that player may be.
“I honestly can’t sit here and tell you who we are going to draft,” he said.
But in Philadelphia, drafting a quarterback is still not a top priority.
I'm glad somebody finally writes an article that has some truth to it. I'm tired of all the "Eagles should draft a QB to replace McNabb" crap. McNabb is a very good QB, and the Eagles will sink or swim with him. I am also confident with AJ Feeley as a backup. The team has shown they could win with Feeley in the past, and he just plays well in the Eagles system.

Safety soon to be a Bird?

The Eagles definitely need another safety. Right now the roster consists of six time pro bowler Brian Dawkins, special teams captain Quintin Mikell, and Sean Considine. Considine replaced Michael Lewis mid-season last year, due to poor play by Lewis. I am sure that the Birds will draft a safety in this draft, but the question is who?

Will they place a higher value in this position, like many other NFL teams have? Will they wait, and try to get a value pick in a later round? We'll soon find out.

Here is a story on the safety position in the NFL today, and the top safeties in this upcoming draft.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/draft/2007-04-23-safeties-cover_N.htm

Safeties first: More teams place premium on position

By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY

In a sense, Rod Woodson laments the day he was born. "It would have been great if my mom and dad would have held out 12 more years to have me," the former NFL star defensive back says.

He might be partly joking. The value of being a safety, one of the positions he excelled at from 1987-2003, is soaring because of the rise of the "Cover 2" defense to counter pass-happy offenses: the two corner backs pressing the action at the line of scrimmage, leaving each of two safeties to cover half of the field deep.

PHOTOS: Top defensive backs available

The early rounds of recent drafts show the importance of finding safeties with the quickness and speed to cover a great deal of ground on pass routes and the toughness and tackling ability to stuff the run.

Thirty-one safeties were taken in Rounds 1-3 from 1990-96. The total jumps to 60 for that many years in the new millennium. NFLDraftScout.com projects nine safeties to go in the first three rounds this weekend.

"We have never had more than three safeties drafted in the first round. This year we could very likely have four," says Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys executive and current NFL.com senior analyst.

Louisiana State's LaRon Landry is projected as a top-10 pick, followed in the first and second rounds (not necessarily in order) by Michael Griffin of Texas, Brandon Meriweather of Miami (Fla.) and Reggie Nelson, a defensive mainstay for national champ Florida.

NFL draft analyst and former defensive back Mike Mayock says there is a priority on finding safeties because teams are pushing for those players to do more.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: NFL National Football League Pro Bowl NFL draft Pro Football Hall of Fame Teams Reggie Nelson Scot Mccloughan

"They are asking you to cover large chunks of the field … so (you need) great range. They are also asking you to be tough enough and a good enough tackler to assert yourself" at the line, Mayock says. "And they are saying, 'By the way, there will be certain sets where we are asking you to cover a receiver (in the slot) with no help.'

"When you start putting those skills together, that's a special athlete. We are starting to see a recognition, from a draft perspective, that if you can go get one of those guys, you've got to get them."

The 6-2, 202-pound Landry looks to be one of those must-have talents. His physical abilities and grasp of the game were good enough that he started at LSU as a freshman and led the Tigers in tackles in three of four seasons. His 12 interceptions are tied for third all-time in school history.

"I'm very physical out there. I'm a great tackler (at the line). I'm great at taking on the pulling guard," he says. "I was smart back there (in the deep set). I was like a quarterback of the defense."

Scot McCloughan, vice president of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers, seconds Landry's self-endorsement.

"He's one of the top 10 football players in this draft," says McCloughan, who, with the 11th pick, doesn't expect Landry to be available for the 49ers. He went the free agency route and signed former Pro Bowl safety Michael Lewis.

"Especially picking early, you don't pick for need," he says. "You pick the best football player."
Few in number
Only nine safeties have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When Brandt was director of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960-89, the philosophy was to play it safe in selecting safeties.

"We didn't draft safeties," he says, "and the reason … is because we felt if he couldn't make it as a safety, there was no place to go with him. If you missed on him, you kind of struck out. If you took a corner and missed … you had a second position at safety. It was kind of tried throughout the" NFL.

That has changed. McCloughan sees Lewis, a second-round draft pick, as an every-down player with real versatility in passing situations.

"We really like what he brings" in package situations, when coaches load up the defensive backfield, McCloughan says of the 6-1, 222-pound Lewis. "He has enough size to be a good run player, and he can cover a back out of the backfield. We like everything about him."

Lewis was one of 11 safeties to go in the first three rounds in 2002. That high was matched last April, when Michael Huff (seventh, to the Oakland Raiders) and Donte Whitner (eighth, to the Buffalo Bills) cracked the top 10.

Neither the selection of Huff nor that of Whitner was particularly popular with hometown fans, who tend to prize offensive skill positions. Yet Buffalo general manager Marv Levy regards Whitner as a cornerstone in the Bills' rebuilding.

"He had a fine rookie season," Levy says of Whitner, second on the team in tackles. "He tuned in (to coaching). He was on top of it. There is still a big upside to him."

Buffalo solidified its last line of defense by drafting safety Ko Simpson in the fourth round. He also made great strides (fifth in tackles) and joins Whitner as a promising tandem who can grow together.

"The two greatest things that occurred on our team would be the bonanza we hit at safety and the progress of J.P. Losman at quarterback," Levy says.
Rising profile

Twenty years ago Woodson was taken 10th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was the first to make the Pro Bowl as a safety, cornerback and kick returner and was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary team.

His draft prominence was the exception. "Safety was just a piece of the puzzle, nothing really important," he says of the thinking then. " 'You can always get a safety later in the draft or get a free agent who has kind of been a travel-around guy in the NFL.' "

The performance of the last two Super Bowl champions emphasizes the increased value of a safety fearless enough to stop the run yet fast enough to cover when faced with multiple-receiver patterns.

Troy Polamalu, his hair cascading down the back of his black-and-gold jersey as he raced around to make plays, became one of the indelible images associated with the Steelers when they won it all to close the 2005 season.

Bob "The Eraser" Sanders, all 5-8, 206 pounds, helped make the difference when the Indianapolis Colts, relying on the "Cover 2" defense coach Tony Dungy popularized, won Super Bowl XLI in February. The Colts allowed a league-worst 173 average rushing yards in the regular season, but Sanders plugged those holes upon his return from knee surgery.

The 2004 second-rounder had 15 solo tackles in the three playoff wins that propelled the Colts to the title game, according to the team. His first-quarter forced fumble and fourth-quarter interception helped beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

"He was the best tackler on the team, so they needed him in that mix," Woodson says. "He made a lot of plays, and he got everybody excited."

The search for the next "Eraser" is on.

TOP SAFETIES AVAILABLE

Free safeties and strong safeties and where they are projected to be selected Saturday in the first three rounds of the NFL draft, according to analysis by NFLDraftScout.com in conjunction with USA TODAY:

Round Pick Player School
1st 8 FS Laron Landry LSU
1st 20 FS Reggie Nelson Florida
2nd 34 FS Brandon Meriweather Miami(Fla)
2nd 37 SS Michael Griffin Texas
3rd 68 SS Aaron Rouse Virginia Tech
3rd 70 SS John Wendling Utah
3rd 73 FS Josh Gattis Wake Forrest
3rd 76 FS Tanard Jackson Syracuse
3rd 80 SS Michael Johnson Arizona

I know the Eagles have generally gone by the theory that safety is not a priority position in the draft. I think we may see a change in that thinking this year. Reggie Nelson, and Brandon Meriweather are great prospects, and if either one were to be there at 26, I don't think you could go wrong with snagging them there. Safeties do seem to have a much bigger importance around the NFL, and I think the need to replace Brian Dawkins will have the Eagles thinking of going safety early. We will find out very soon. I remember people thinking Donte Whitner was a stretch for the Bills at 8 last year, but he had a fantastic rookie season.

I think they have a lot of those guys ranked low. I see Meriweather, and Michael Griffin as possible first round picks. Interesting that they have Tanard Jackson projecting to safety, and not corner. I have heard a lot about him, and from everything I am hearing, he will most likely be drafted to play corner. They also probably should have mentioned John Wendling Wyoming, and Sabby Piscatelli of Oregon State.