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Friday, April 22, 2005

Prognostication For Philadelphia Eagles In Tomorrow's Draft

With respect to the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL draft, people have noted the following:

1. They have more picks (13) than anyone else in the draft.
2. Because they have a lot of depth, they cannot possibly keep 13 rookies on their roster.
3. Because they have a lot of depth (relative to other teams, of course), they can really draft the best players available with their top 2 picks (#31 and #35 overall in the draft).
4. They have 5 of the top 94 picks in the draft.
5. They are likely to make a trade because of comments 1 and 2.
6. They are likely to take either Arkansas QB Matt Jones (who should be called "Football Jones" after his great-than-Mike-Mamula workout numbers) or Virginia TE Heath Miller.
7. They might take a WR early because they are likely to release Freddie Mitchell (once a first-rounder himself) and because of T.O.'s contract demands.
8. They might take a DE early because they lost Derrick Burgess to the Raiders.
9. They might take J.J. Arrington, Cal's outstanding RB, with one of their highest picks because they need to complement Brian Westbrook.
10. Their offensive tackles are both in their 30's, and that's very old for the Eagles.

Good stuff, all of it. Now, here are my prognostications:

1. Andy Reid's best draft was 2002, when he took 3 DBs with his top 3 picks -- CBs Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown (the former a first-rounder; the latter a second rounder) and S Michael Lewis. All were taken despite the fact that the Eagles had primetime CBs in Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent and Brian Dawkins playing safety. The experts shook their heads; after all, the Eagles had other (sometimes glaring) needs. So much for the experts. All are now Pro Bowlers or Pro Bowl-caliber players.

2. Fast forward to 2005. The Eagles' offensive tackles are both in their 30's. Tra Thomas has been a Pro Bowler, and Jon Runyan is an ornery player. The Eagles need more depth on the offensive line, as it was sorely tested last year when first-round pick Shawn Andrews went down for the year in the first game and Jermaine Mayberry suffered injuries as well. The view here is that with at least two of their top 94 picks, the Eagles will take offensive linemen. Here is a list of tackles; here is a list of guards. The bet here is that if they can get Khalif Barnes, they will. Also look out for Elton Brown of Virginia (he could move Andrews to tackle). Don't be terribly surprised if they get both of those players. To do so would involve trading up somewhat, but they have the pile of picks to accomplish that goal.

3. The Eagles' defensive line needs beefing up. If you watched the Super Bowl, you realize that defensive tackle is a place where they could use an upgrade. The same for defensive end, because they lost Burgess just as he showed that he can play. Yes, they have five DEs returning -- Jevon Kearse, N.D. Kalu (who missed last year because of injury), Jerome McDougle (oft-injured and a first-round pick two years ago), Hugh Douglas (ready for the natural history museums because of his dinosaur-like age) and Jamaal Green, a fourth-rounder two years ago who's on the injured list. At DT, they have Corey Simon (assuming he agrees to play for the franchise-tag price of $5.1 million a year), Hollis Thomas (again, another aging veteran), strong-as-an-ox Sam Rayburn, and dependable rotation player Paul Grasmanis. The entire line is agile and quick, but they are capable of being blown off the ball. Again, I wouldn't be surprised if they used two of the their top 5 picks for defensive line help. Click here for a list of defensive ends; click here for a list of defensive tackles. Don't be surprised if DE Matt Roth from Iowa or DT Luis Castillo from Northwestern make their way to the Eagles (if the Eagles take one of these linemen, then they won't be drafting both Barnes and Brown).

4. As for other positions, I could see the Eagles taking Heath Miller of Virginia if he dropped down to #31, as I could see them trading up a few spots to get him or Khalif Barnes. It's been reported that they'd like to draft J.J. Arrington from Cal, and while he'd be a good fit, I think there is sufficient depth at RB to wait a little longer for a good RB. The line play is critical, and I think that the Eagles will focus on that. They will grab a linebacker or two in the later rounds, and perhaps another WR to provide some competition in camp.

But from where I sit, look for the Birds to fortify their lines on both sides of the ball before anything else. If they learned anything in the Super Bowl last year, they learned that the magic to the Patriots was controlling the line of scrimmage. A few top-notch talents here and there, and the Eagles could do for their line play what they did in 2002 for their defensive backfield play.

For the opposition, that's a scary thought.

My thoughts:

Round 1 (trading up): Khalif Barnes
Round 2 (35th pick overall): Luis Castillo.
Round 3 (63rd pick): Traded to move up to get Barnes.
Round 3 (77th pick): Terrance Murphy, WR/KR, Texas A&M
Round 4 (95th pick): Michael Munoz, OT, Tennessee


Blogger LargeBill said...

Some guys who did not get drafted (Munoz) will be pretty popular on Monday.

11:02 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, LargeBill.

Munoz actually decided to stop playing football. It's hard to say what precipated what. Did Munoz's ambivalence show up in interviews with the teams, thereby causing him not to get drafted? Or, did Munoz's not getting drafted cause him to be ambivalent about football?

It's hard being the son of a famous athlete, and Munoz sounds like he's been a good student and has good options ahead of him, including defining his own life on his own terms.

10:16 PM  

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