In Praise Of Donald Lee

I admit, I'm not as big of an Eagles fan as I used to be. I barely have time to even watch their games and don't devote much time at all to their Monday-Saturday minutiae. I suppose a part of that has to do with living on the opposite coast, but a few years ago I was every bit the fanatic that all of you are, and I devoured the news, gossip and speculation 24/7, even from California. Then I got a job covering a real life NFL team (well, sorta) and well, things got much more difficult. I was so busy with my job it probably took me a month to read up about the Eagles draft.

So when my pal Tommy Lawlor posted one of those 53-man projection things a couple weeks back, my initial reaction was to not even debate it or even scrutinize it too closely. I simply didn't have the information to argue on behalf of anyone, and at a cursory glance it didn't seem like anybody I'd value was being left off.

I've had a couple days off of late though, and now I am reading these mock projections. They all have seem to have a certain thing in common, and it's bugging me. No Donald Lee on any of them. Not enough room. Only two tight ends and all that.


The hell?

I know the coaching cliche of "keeping the best 53 players" is complete BS. If Andy was really gonna do that, our team would have Vick, three running backs, four receivers, three corners, and about 40 defensive linemen. I understand that certain minimums in quota have to be met at every position, which also means certain maximums as well. 

Still, with all that being said, I've got this crazy theory that we should keep the guys on our roster that we know are good NFL players.

Wacky, I know.

The knock on Lee is that he's not a good blocker. Well, kids, I've got a dirty secret for you. Neither is Brent Celek. Lee is faster and has better hands. He's a proven player and someone who can punish defenses running that seam route down the middle like Vernon Davis does for the 49ers. I'm telling you, if we sent the WRs deep to clear out the safeties, Lee can hurt people in a way that Celek and Harbor cannot.The Packers got rid of him because they had to make salary cuts at some spots and they already have a healthy Jermichael Finley, who's really good. We're apparently getting rid of him because we have to keep 11 defensive backs over keeping three tight ends.


There are guys we can cut before we have to cut Donald Lee.

Sinorice Moss, for example. Moss is a good punt returner and has had a fine preseason for the Eagles, but so far the best argument anyone has made for him is that we need him for insurance until Maclin feels 100 percent. I think this is silly. Even with no Steve Smith and a 50% Maclin, we already have Jackson, Avant and Cooper. God forbid we have only three useful WRs in an NFL game. Vick might have to throw it to the tight ends a couple more times than usual and poor Andy might have to (gasp) call some running plays.

You still have Lewis handling the kickoff returns and Jackson handling the punts where, I don't know if you've noticed, he's been really good at that. I say we keep letting him do it.

Moss has never done a thing in the NFL and I think Lee is better than him.

If not Moss, how about Trevard Lindley? Do we really need to keep six corners? Isn't that overkill when you have three who are so good?

I won't pretend to be an expert on Lindley, but here's what I've read: He's supposedly the sixth man on the totem pole this year, behind Brandon Hughes, who I don't know but apparently people are high on, and Curtis Marsh, a 3rd-round pick this year. It seems to me that the Lindley is the kind of guy who'd be a practice squad candidate this year, except for the small detail that he's not eligible for it, having played in 11 games last year. Still, if you already have Hughes and a rookie ahead of him, and those two guys are an entire galaxy behind the three who'll actually be playing on most downs, then what's the point of carrying Lindley?

Please, someone explain to me how we can trade a former 14th overall pick in Broderick Bunkley for damn near nothing, how we're set to trade a former 2nd round pick in Trevor Laws for almost nothing (a decision I support, by the way) and how we're ready to risk exposing last year's 3rd-rounder Daniel Te'o-Nesheim to waivers, but Lindley, last year's 4th-rounder, is some sacred cow we can't touch. How does that make sense?

If you like Hughes and Marsh more than Lindley, then you don't really like Lindley. Unless I'm reading the situation wrong, most people here don't like Lindley more than the other two.

Finally, there's Colt Anderson, who we might as well call Colt Heneery because he's only gonna see the field on fourth downs. Call me a skeptic, but I don't think this guy is the second coming of Steve Tasker. Special teams is about effort and we have plenty of guys who can do what he does with proper coaching and desire. Hell, we've got two safeties in Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett -- back-to-back 2nd-round picks-- who apparently will both be on the bench when the season starts. You're telling me those young pups can't cover punts? Give me a break. They should be champing at the bit to hit somebody so they can prove they belong on the field in downs 1-3. Between those two, Hughes, Marsh and all our speedy young linebackers, there's no reason why our special teams units can't cover kicks without the niche services of one Colt Anderson, a player who is fairly useless to use in any other capacity. I wouldn't waste a roster spot, much less one that dresses on game days, on a guy like that.

You'll notice I haven't even mentioned Akeem Jordan, who's a guy who can play all three linebacker positions and is also a good special teams performer. Lots of projections don't have him on the team either, thinking the Eagles can get by with just five linebackers. How absurd.

We really don't need so many corners. People aren't gonna beat us throwing deep to wideouts 40 times a game. They're gonna beat us running the ball and throwing screens to the RBs and seam routes to the tight ends. A sixth LB will serve us better than a sixth CB.

Lee and Jordan are NFL players. Let's keep them over emergency injury replacements, future dime backs and special team mascots. Lets just keep the best players. If guys like Andy and Marty can't find a way to use Donald Lee, then why did they sign him in the first place? What more could he have shown during the preseason? Do the right thing fellas.

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