Second in a series looking at how the guys the Eagles drafted affect the depth chart at each position.
Part 1: Cornerback
- DeSean Jackson -- After a breakout and unexpectedly productive freshman campaign, DeSean starts 2009 as the man in this offense, Donovan McNabb's number one target. With a glut of other return men selected/traded for, it is likely that DeSean, like Westbrook before him, will be weaned off of return duties to protect his slight frame (maybe 5'10" 180 lbs. with rocks in his pants). Hopefully Mr. Jackson has learned from his previous mistakes (which honestly still make me nervous about his future) and is ready to step up as a responsible star in this system. He certainly has the talent and speed to be special here for a long time if he can keep improving.
- Kevin Curtis -- Curtis missed the first half of the season last year, and never reached the level of production he played at in 2007. Still, he should rebound this year after an off-season to fully recooperate. If he returns to form, he can be a fantastic #2 receiver in Philly for the next few years. Long term, Andy may see him more as a slot receiver who complements the Mac-Jack attack.
- Jeremy Maclin -- As soon as he steps on the field, Maclin will be the most talented receiver in this lineup. He's got DeSean-caliber speed but has a stronger, taller body (6'0", 200 lbs. isn't huge, but its legit). He's only 20 years old, but if you've seen his interviews, its clear he's a very bright, responsible, and humble guy. If DeSean can make an impact in his rookie season, no reason to think that Maclin can't replicate that success. Look for the Eagles to get him on the field wherever they can, especially punt returns.
- Jason Avant -- Given the opportunity to contribute in this offense last year, Avant showed that he can be a productive slot receiver, unafraid to catch balls over the middle. He caught about half of his balls on 3rd down, the highest percentage of any Eagles receiver. Still, Avant has little upside at this point so he'll have to find a way to become more effective. His contract runs out this year, but he will be a restricted free agent if they want to retain him.
- Hank Baskett -- We have all drooled over his potential as a huge target, but the numbers simply haven't shown a lot of improvement over the last 3 years. Last year he started 6 games, but didn't have much to show for it (other than one nice play and one nice girl). Truth is that he will likely never be a starter here, just like Avant. And he's in the same contract situation as Avant as well. If he can't step it up, there's little reason for the Eagles to extend his contract long term - let alone keep him ahead of someone with more upside.
- Reggie Brown -- How he's fallen. Signed a contract extension just 2 years ago to keep him through 2014. That's the untold other side of the Sheldon Brown story. I'm sure they would love to trade him, but at this point they can't give him away. (I imagine this conversation went on at some point in the draft "Brad Childress, c'mon buddy, you want him? He'd be great. Please?") And they don't want to cut him because of a $5 million cap hit they'd take. Andy's probably hoping he'll return to form as a contributor, because he has more talent than Avant or Baskett, but if he doesn't play well than he won't suit up because he can't play special teams. Definitely a make or break training camp for Reggie.
- Brandon Gibson -- The Eagles's 6th round pick is on the bigger side and Andy called him "one of the best route runners" in the draft, making him a possible steal as a bigger version of Jason Avant. Still, there's a reason he dropped so far. Gibson doesn't have great speed or quickness and had a subpar season last year after a great junior season. Honestly it is unlikely that he makes the team unless he really impresses, more than one of the three players above him, catching the ball and in special teams. Also could "get hurt" right before cuts if he looks promising.
- Danny Amendola -- All you closet Hard Knocks fans can go away. He's not going to make this team. He'll certainly get rave reviews without pads, but there's no real place for him, unless the Eagles really shake up the WR corps.
- Shaheer McBride -- Big body. Practice squad last year. Not going to make the team, no matter (as I said before) how much Spadaro gushes.
- Brandon Robinson -- Undrafted rookie out of BC. Camp body, for sure.
What do you think?