I wanted to give my thoughts of the incoming draft, however they would probably be drowned out by the continuous chatter from others on the Eagles draft. However I'd like to take the Eagles draft farther than projections and numbers, rather to the most important factor that these kids work for, the gridiron. This years draft like all others, indicates what the team will look like in the upcoming year. However, this years draft is a huge indicator for Philadelphia Eagles fans, who were recently (kinda) introduced to new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, longtime offensive line coach for the Eagles. Castillo tantalized Eagles fans, coming off the Sean McDermott period, with aggressive, physical, and fundamental football. However, many fans are still wondering what kind of defense will he run and how will compare to other teams with hallowed defenses.
1. From the Mouth of Juan Castillo
So how will Juan Castillo run this defense? Well, first let's look at his comments when he was first introduced as the defensive coordinator.
On how much Jim Johnson influenced his career:
JC: "His office was right next to mine, basically. We spent a lot of time (together). Jim was a guy who was innovative, meaning that he designed blitzes. What he found out is that I’m a defensive coach. I understand protections but it’s different when you present it to a defensive guy because they don’t really understand when you talk to them the way you talk to your offensive guys. It’s a little different, you present it a little different. It was fun. There was a blitz we designed there in the room. It has a name but I’m not going to give the name. But we said okay to bring the blitz here, you have to bring the BUCK to take this guy, you have to bring the MIKE to take this guy, and certain things like that. It was exciting that we became close friends."
From here we can see that he will be taking similar concepts and ideas from JJ's monster defense, so JJ fans will be happy. Juan loves to be creative, which is one advantage he gives the Eagles than any other defensive coordinator. Yeah PuffDaddy18, even those Jets. He not only knows how to innovate, but he understands how blitzes work from the offensive side of the ball, and what people can and can't protect. I see a lot of sacks and turnovers for this team next year.
On what he thinks the defense needs to improve on:
JC: "First of all, we are going to be fast and physical and we are going to be fundamentally sound. We have good players here. This is the NFL. Things change, upgrades, players get hurt. That’s what we’re going to do. Jim Washburn was brought here to get our defensive linemen up the field. We’re going to be fast, physical, fundamentally sound, and be the best defense in the NFL."
On how Castillo’s experience will help make the defense more stable:
JC: "Fundamentals. I think that’s the key. As an offensive line coach, what you find out is that when things aren’t going right, you don’t panic. You just keep working on the fundamentals every day. If you want to be a good tackler, you tackle every day. If you want to be able to take on the block and shed the block as a linebacker, you do it every day. The players are going to learn what you emphasize. That’s the important thing. When we talk about fundamentals, that’s basically what we’re talking about."
Pretty straight forward, except that this was a huge problem for the Eagles last year. Although it wasn't fully Sean McDermott's fault with lineups changing at linebacker and a new corner every other game, his defense lacked discipline and fundamentals in key situations. Outside of the horrible corner play last year, that is another major factor on why we stunk in the red-zone. Being discipline and fundamentals are more important than natural ability. Just ask anyone that watches Erine Sims.
On whether he will use a similar defensive scheme as the Eagles have in the past:
JC: "We hired Jim Washburn and I think most of you know that what he does is attack. He’s a stick-em type guy, which is great for the players that we have. Really what I’m going to do is the back end is going to complement those four defensive linemen that are going to get up the field, create havoc, make plays. We’re going to complement that scheme, that’s what we’re going to do."
This is probably the most important quote when analyzing what kind of defense Juan Castillo will field next season, because he said it straight up. With the paper scary and potential field scary combo of Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Teo'-Neshiem, Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws, and Jim Washburn. Let's play to our strengths and build around them.
2. The Draft
So we know that he wants to run a 4-3 defense that dominates at the line of scrimmage and bolsters them. So from our draft class we need to look at players that fit this scheme.
Front Four: No picks
Thoughts: Castillo's confidence in the talent we already have on the roster led the decision to focus on other areas of concern.
Thoughts: For the past three years, Andy and Co. have drafted a linebacker every year. Although they have been in low rounds, Andy has done his homework, linebackers Moise Foku and Jamar Chaney have been productive and quality players that are on the rise, although being late round selections. This year however, not only did Andy Reid and Co. accomplished quality scouting, it seems as if Juan Castillo were apart of the war room this year because of the players selected. And here's why, these linebackers might not be the best or ideal prospects but they are fly around the field and flat out make plays. Linebackers Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle combine accumulated 74 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 INT's, 1 TD, and 1 FF in 2010. Casey Matthews is currently in the shadow of brother Clay Matthews because of athleticism and pass rushing ability. However, Casey is such a natural play maker, especially in big games.
Casey Matthews forced fumble BCS games (via 12bdawk)
That is against one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NCAA and -probably the second most athletic quarterback in the NFL currently. Here is Matthews against Oregon State.
Casey Matthews #55 at Oregon State Beavers (2010) (via DraftSteal)
His coverage skills are head and shoulders above his brothers. Also, although he might be as great of a pass rusher as Clay Matthews, he shows that he has an extremely high motor at :54 and at 2:19. It looks as if Casey can be as productive as his brother.
Brian Rolle, cousin of Antrel Rolle, may be small at 5'10" 229 lbs. But he plays bigger than most guys. This guy is fast, athletic and hits hard, while making big plays for his team. Here is some of his scouting reports.
From National Football Post::
An undersized backer who plays with a real chip on his shoulder and mean streak inside. Showcases good toughness to his game, loves to attack downhill, generates a burst into contact and tackles with consistent leverage. Lacks ideal power because of his size and will fail to wrap up at times, but does display some violence as a striker. Exhibits above- average range when asked to run sideline-to-sideline, works hard in pursuit and can consistently make plays away from his frame.
Exhibits slightly above-average instincts in coverage with the balance and fluidity in his drop to quickly make his way down the field and redirect out of his breaks. Loves to be really physical off the line, consistently delivering a good jolt on contact and disrupting the timing of receivers into their routes. Has the range to run down the seam and can be difficult to separate from down the field in man coverage.
Impression: A nasty little linebacker who is a bit limited because of his size, but is the ideal kind of late round, cover two type pick who can end up making and eventually contributing to an NFL roster.
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Has good speed and quickness, plays with quick feet and good straight-line speed in the open field... Has a solid closing burst, hits an extra gear within 10 yards of ball carrier... Does an excellent job of protecting legs against cut blocks at the second level while keeping eyes on the play... Has good hands, and will make a lot of plays when dropping in to deep zone coverage... Displays good instincts in coverage and breaks on the ball quickly when it is in the air... Takes good angles and breaks down well at contact, plays fast but does not miss a lot of tackles... Is shifty and quick at the line of scrimmage, is hard to block and is small enough to find creases in the line... Plays with a good motor, flies around the field and rarely gives up on plays across the field... Can lower shoulder and make explosive hits, surprisingly hard-hitting for his size... Has been a valuable special teams contributor for Buckeyes... Is the cousin of NFL safety Antrel Rolle.
Negatives: Plays a lot more like a hybrid safety/linebacker, has good speed, but is very small for the position... Has not put up flashy numbers in any given year, especially in the solo tackles department (85 career solo tackles)... Only three career sacks, had just a half sack coming into this season... Inconsistent production, recorded five or fewer tackles six times in 2010... Has limited upside at the linebacker position, may find himself as predominantly a special teams contributor early in career... May project better as a safety in the NFL, has the speed, quickness and ball skills to play safety, and is simply too small to be a productive full-time linebacker at the next level.
Rolle's lacks the size to become a starting linebacker or the athleticism for a potential move to safety. However, possesses adequate range, power for his size, and the mentality necessary to contribute as a backup and on special teams. Has average range against the run and is willing to take on blockers but isn't a true sideline-to-sideline guy and can take too long to shed blocks or be dominated by powerful lineman. Displays the ability to drop into zone coverage and read a quarterback's eyes but lacks height and quickness in man coverage. Has good character, leadership qualities, and bloodlines (cousin of Antrel Rolle). Rolle likely will be a Day 3 pick.
These are highly productive football players that play tough, hungry, smart, and fundamental football. Expect big stat lines for the Eagles defense next year.
Secondary: 2nd - Jaiquaw Jarrett (Temple), 3rd - Curtis Marsh (Utah State)
Thoughts: Mixed review from me here. I really like Jaiquan Jarrett because of his physical play, something lacking from our secondary since the Brian Dawkins departure. Over his career he has had 9 INT's, meaning he has a solid career in the passing game, rather than an amazing season. His strengths are tackling, whether it be laying a huge hit or strong fundamentals, and speed. His speed allows him to be put in several different spots on the field, even has the ability to cover the slot receiver. He is also an amazing blitzer and has no injury concern. His selection makes a lot of sense for this new team. He is fundamentally sound, will fly around the field to make plays, and is able to play either safety spot, which is especially needed while Nate Allen might miss time at FS.
If the Eagles are ever to replace Dawkins, it will be Jaiquawn Jarrett.
I'm so excited We we so excited!
Curtis Marsh is a really head scratcher. The only thing that is really good is his hands and speed. His location of the football, fundamentals, technique, size, and instincts are all problems. He's Asante Samuel, without the tackling and coverage ability. He doesn't really fit the scheme that we are trying to develop and isn't ready to start. It seemed like a desperation selection based on the talent available. Upside? Sure, I'd say he has one of the better upsides of any of the corners in this draft, but even with a new defense, this Eagles squad are Super-Bowl contenders. A running-back converted corner doesn't help us for 3-4 years.
Negatives: Is often late locating the football, does not get head around very quickly, especially when defending fade and seam routes... Looks a little thin for his height, could stand to add a few pounds of muscle, especially in the lower-body... Not very productive statistically, only recorded three interceptions in two seasons at corner... Will jump routes a little early when giving up position on the inside, leaving him susceptible to giving up a big play... Instincts are below-average, not a complete corner at this point, and only has two years experience at the position.
Still learning the position; only one full season as a starter at cornerback. Made transition from running back to corner prior to junior year. Needs to learn how to play the ball; locks onto his man and rarely turns to play the ball in the air – could lead to a lot of penalties at the next level.
Summary: The Eagles are getting talented players that can step in day one and complement the strong defensive line with high motor guys that fly around the field while making plays.
3. Free Agency?
So far, the defense looks pretty complete. We added plenty of depth and true competition at the linebacker spot, while getting a versatile safety and our strengthth is focused in the trenches. However, the RCB spot still is a question mark with developmental Curtis Marsh no where near ready and average to sub-par corners in Patterson and Hanson. Focus needs to be on corner whenever the new league year starts. While a upgrade at the defensive tackle would be nice. With the change to a one gap system, DT's Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson don't translate well to the new scheme.
Top Free Agent Corners (ranked by number5):
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, 29 yrs old
Quick Thoughts: Would be the ideal selection for Eagles fans. A true shut-down corner than takes not only a receiver away but the left side of the field. Like I said "If Revis has an island, Asomugha has a continent."
2. Jonathan Joseph, 27 yrs old
Quick Thoughts: I listed him because he is still technically a free agent, however, he has made it known that he wants to stay in Cinci and will take a franchise tag. Don't get your hopes up.
3. Antonio Cromartie, 27 yrs old
Quick Thoughts: He is really interesting to me as a free-agent. Some here hate him as a corner. However, let's go down memory lane. Who was the one to step up when Revis struggled with hamstring issues? Who shut down Randy Moss when he was still good with the Pats? Who led the team in INT's? Cromarite is a solid corner, able to be physical and can run with any to most receivers. Cromarite would be a solid addition to an Eagles team desperate for help. He's no Nnamdi, but he'd be a good consolation prize.
4. Josh Wilson, 26 yrs old
Quick Thoughts: Wilson played phenomenal for the Raven's depleted secondary this season. Moving from Seattle to Baltimore and learning on the run, he had a great season and stepped up big time vs Matt Schaub and the Texans, getting the game winning INT in OT. He is very fast and would be a good piece to add.
Top Defensive Tackles (ranked by number5): No thoughts blc its not a true need
1. Cullen Jenkins, 30 yrs old
2. Kris Jenkins, 31 yrs old
3. Anthony Hargrove, 27 yrs old
4. Albert Haynesworth (potentially), 29 yrs old
Hypothetical Signing(s): Nnamdi Asomugha, 4 year 60 mil
Why? Because we need one really badly. Plus, he fits our scheme. Castillo wants guys that are fundamentally sound and makes plays all over the field, cleaning up anything the defensive line misses. Asomugha, averages 30-45 tackles per season dating back from 2004, so he's not just a ball hawk. Having a secondary that can cover receivers for long periods of time on a play makes the quarterback hold the ball longer and the defensive line more time to get to said quarterback. So Nnamdi fits our new scheme as well as our need.
4. Projected Depth Chart and Roster: (Starters in Bold), (* is IR/PUP)
LDE: Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o, Brandon Graham*(IR)
DT: Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws
NT: Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson
RDE: Trent Cole, Victor Abiamiri
Notes: I don't see Juqa Parker coming back as well as Ricky Sapp. Philip Hunt doesn't make the 80-man roster and Graham doesn't play in 2011 (HOPEFULLY I'M WRONG) At tackles, I don't think Laws passes Bunkley on the depth chart, but I see Dixon starting at nose tackle because of size, power and production last season.
SAM: Mosie Foku, Rashad Jeanty
MIKE: Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews
WILL: Casey Matthews, Keenan Clayton, Brian Rolle
Notes: Casey has a good camp and pre-season and ends up starting at WILL. If there is an injury to Jamar Chaney, Casey steps up to MLB and Clayton starts at WILL. We don't sign back Bradley or Akeem Jordan.
LCB: Asante Samuel, Joseilo Hanson, Marlin Jackson
FS: Jaiquawn Jarrett, Nate Allen*(PUP), Marlin Jackson
RCB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Trevard Lindley, Curtis Marsh
Notes: Jaiquan Jarrett starts at FS while Nate Allen is on PUP for 6 weeks. Once Alllen is back, Jarrett moves back to SS. Patterson gets the boot and Marlin Jackson stays because of versitality, providing depth at safety while Allen is out.
Summary: The Eagles will be much improved because of stressed fundamentals and playing to their strengths. Expect the Eagles to be in the top five in sacks and turnovers. I am super excited about this Juan Castillo defense.