The Eagles first move of the offseason was to franchise TE LJ Smith who spent the majority of last year injured. He picked up a sports hernia at some point during the offseason and never was able to get into the groove. LJ posted career lows in receptions, yards, and TDs. While LJ has never broken into that elite level of TEs in this league, he has at least given the team a solid level of production that we can depend on. IN a typical LJ year, he's going to catch around 50-60 passes for 5 TDs. Again, that's not pro bowl production but it's decent and way more than we got out of the TE position last year. The most frustrating thing with LJ has been that every time he's gotten rolling and is looking like he's ready to break out... Donovan McNabb gets hurt. LJ was a having a great year in 05 when McNabb went down, after LJ and the whole team nosedived when Mike McMahon took over. In 06 LJ was having another solid year until McNabb went down and Jeff Garcia never seemed to look his way. In 07 when McNabb finally played most of the year, obviously LJ was hurt. Looking ahead to LJ's contract year in 2008, if we have a healthy McNabb we may very well see the breakout year we've been waiting for from LJ... just in time for him to cash in during free agency '09.
Also on the roster is 2007 5th round pick Brent Celek who first started to open Eagle eyes in the preseason where he actually led all TEs in receptions. When the actual season rolled around Celek didn't register a catch until week 4 and ended up with 16 receptions and a TD. At 6-5, 255 lbs Celek has an ideal body to be a good two way TE in the league. He also has a real nice set of hands, gives effort blocking, and has decent although not spectacular speed. I think he's got a long future in the league, but I don't ever see him as a top level TE.
Finally, there's Matt Schoebel who despite getting the starting job in LJ's absence early in the year actually ended up less productive than Brent Celek when it was all said and done. Schoebel, who came in here more as a receiving TE than a blocking one managed just 11 catches last year. If the Eagles were to draft another TE this year you'd have to imagine Schoebel would have a tough time making the roster.
In the draft
This is an interesting draft for TEs in that there's a couple of guys that could be very good, yet no real #1 or great players. There's no Vernon Davis in this draft and there's probably no consensus first round pick. Much like last year, we may see just one TE go in the first round and it's likely to be a late pick if one is picked at all. Fred Davis - USC ( scouting report/ highlights ) seems to be considered the top rated guy in the draft but many scouts have him pegged as second round talent. The Eagles met with Davis at the Senior bowl.
The Eagles also met with Martin Rucker - Missouri (scouting report/
highlights) at the senior bowl, who is the brother of Panther's DL Mike Rucker. Kellen Davis - Michigan Sate (scouting report/ highlights) who is a big kid at 6'6 262 but hasn't been very productive at the college level. He actually played DE at some points last year and had 2 sacks. He's interesting simply for his amazing physical makeup, but he'd be a project to say the least. Finally, at the combine they met with Jermichael Finley - Texas (scouting report/
highlights) who told Sirius NFL radio that the Eagles were one of the teams showing the most interest in him. Finley has come out very early and is seen as a pure pass catching TE, a guy with a ton of potential that could be like having another WR on the field. Don't expect him to do much blocking though...
Other top names at TE that the Eagles haven't been specifically linked to are John Carlson - Notre Dame(Scouting Report) who some would argue is the best TE in the draft. Dustin Keller - Purdue(Scouting Report) who may be the fastest TE in the draft. And the guy I happen to like, Martellus Bennett - Texas A&M(Scouting Report) who is just massive at 6'6 259, and is one of these former basketball players turned TEs. He's very raw, but his sheer physical talents and the fact that he has some football skills would make him an interesting pick for the future.