The first few days of free agency are in the books and it appears as if we have made some solid additions. Let's take a look at our current roster and see how these moves will affect our depth chart and draft aims.
At QB we have a lot of bodies. In my eyes this is Mike Vick's job to lose. He is still a very good athlete and could potentially thrive in Chip Kelly's offense. Vick's success is iffy because of his inability to make reads and identify blitzes but with Kelly's uptempo scheme his reads may be quicker and less complicated. If that's the case, I'm more than a happy camper. However, if Vick struggles we still have two worthy starting quarterback candidates who I would be excited to see start as well. Foles has a quicker release and more football smarts than Vick. Kelly seems to be a bigtime fan of him and I could see Foles being a very successful quarterback for our team because of his intellect. The other candidate is Dennis Dixon. We all know that Dixon has starting experience for Kelly already. He is an athletic quarterback who's experience could put him over the edge. He had a Heisman quality season in Kelly's offense and I'm confident that Kelly would be more than willing to start his former and now current quarterback over the former star, Michael Vick, and prized youngin', Nick Foles. Geno Smith is the only quarterback I think that we seriously consider taking in the first round. I honestly hope that we do not take him and fill a bigger need along the offensive line or at our CB, DE (5-tech) positions.
At RB we have a nice dynamic duo at the top of the depth chart in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. We all know McCoy is a monster. He should be on the field for nearly all of the offensive snaps. Sometimes going out to the slot, but mainly playing halfback. Brown runs hard and his physical stature should be able to grind out some consistent yardage in Kelly's power schemes. Other people who will be handed the ball on offense will be James Casey and Dion Lewis. Casey will be used as a power back in our scheme and also see a ton of time at TE/H-Back. He will more than likely be utilized on the power running plays that LeGarrette Blount flourished with at Oregon. Lewis is another nice fit for the system because of his shifty moves and consistently good hands. I don't see us spending an early pick at RB.
WR is another strong position for us now that we have a coach that will put them in better positions to succeed. Both Maclin and Jackson are elite YAC guys. They have tremendous athleticism and need the ball in their hands. Kelly is more than aware of this and he is probably salivating just as much as these two are to get to work and make things happen. Riley Cooper is another nice fit for the system because he is a willing blocker who has really been able to make plays when given the opportunity in our offense. Avant, is a veteran who has great hands. I don't think he is a great fit but he will more than likely make the team as well. I don't think we will spend an early round pick at WR either. We have enough weapons at the skill positions to be extremely dangerous.
TE- Like I stated earlier, James Casey is going to be given the majority of reps at tight end/H-back. He is an outstanding athlete and should put up some gaudy numbers in our system. I think he will get a few carries per game as well as a consistent 6 or so catches per game. He is a great guy for our team and worth every cent that we paid him and more. Brent Celek is another nice guy to have. He is a well liked player who plays hard all the time. I think there are better fits out there, and I wouldn't be surprised if Clay Harbor worked his way into being the #2 tight end that oftentimes is on the field with James Casey. I don't think we spend an early pick at his position, however I would actually be quite happy if the Eagles shocked me and picked a TE in the first 3 rounds. Another great, athletic tight end to play alongside James Casey would be more than optimal and would help us have a dominant 1-2 punch similar to the New England Patriots' tight ends.
OL- I'm excited to get the boys back. Jason Peters is an absolute stud. The athletic freak will definitely be fully recovered and ready to go at left tackle. Alongside him, Evan Mathis is an underrated monster. The two of them will make way for some huge holes for our backs. At center, Kelce once again seems to be a good fit; although we could definitely upgrade if the right player comes along. On the right side of the ball, it's definitely fair to expect an early draft pick to be starting at either guard or tackle with Todd Herremans manning the other position. Herremans' position flexibility is a major asset to our team and I would love to see someone like Eric Fisher, Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson (in that order) be taken in the first round by our Eagles. In the second round Larry Warford, DJ Fluker, Menelik Watson, and Terron Armstead are viable options.
On the defensive side of the ball, we have made a multitude of additions but we should still use the majority of our picks to fix our defense.
I'm going to quote an article from "Field Gulls" to help us see what positions we have along our defense and who fits the qualities desires on our current roster (just like jhn did a month or so ago).
The LEO can be a little bit smaller than a normal DE and Pete Carroll tends to like a more athletic and versatile body type for his Elephant position; a guy that can speed rush the QB but also react quick enough to control his gap. Must also be able to drop back into coverage occasionally in zone blitz situations.
At LEO I can definitely see Brandon Graham. This position should be all his but Trent Cole is a must-keep on our roster because of all the dead money he carries and Vinny Curry needs to be getting reps somewhere. I'm interested to see how this position pans out...however I really think Graham gets nearly all of the snaps at LEO with Cole sometimes coming in for a play or two, but mainly getting reps at the 5 tech in obvious passing situations.
The strongside defensive tackle can be short and squat but must be able to take on a double team consistently.
This is essentially our Nose Tackle. We just signed Isaac Sopoaga to a deal and this is definitely his job to lose. Sopoaga will pretty much undoubtedly start and immediately become a leader for our defensive line. Sopoaga has had many articles written about him bragging about his older brother mentality and diligence in the film room. His film notes have been revered by Jim Harbaugh on numerous occasions. I think we could see a draft pick spent at this position but would be shocked to see us spend a first or second rounder here. Dixon will probably be battling for the backup NT position with a future draft pick. Anthony McCloud (Florida State) is a guy I would like to see the Eagles take in the middle rounds.
The weakside defensive tackle, the 3-tech, must be your premiere interior pass rusher and have an explosive first step. His main job is to pressure the QB and stop the run in his weakside B gap.
This position is a perfect fit for Fletcher Cox. He will definitely be the starter at the 3 technique unless the Eagles spend their first round pick on Star Lotulelei or Shariff Floyd. If either of those players are taken, I expect Cox to go to the 5-tech with them taking the 3 technique position. This is because I think Cox is a more polished pass rusher and may be more effective on the edge. What do you guys think? Cedric Thornton will also more than likely see some reps at the 3-tech position. No matter who plays here, this will be a position of strength for our defense. An impact player will be starting at the 3-tech position for our Birds.
The 5-tech defensive end can be a bigger guy and must be great against the run.
I think that Fletcher Cox can easily make plays at the 5 tech position as well. Cedric Thornton is another good fit here. On passing downs I think we can expect either Brandon Graham or Trent Cole to get some snaps at the 5 tech as well. In the draft, I would love to see us trade down and select Sheldon Richardson from Missouri. I think that he would be a great addition to our defense and he would provide consistent run/pass defense at our 5 tech position and allow Fletcher Cox to stay at the 3 tech position where I see him having a bigger impact. Trading back would help us shore up some more needs as well. Datone Jones is another solid fit that the Eagles could select in either the 2nd or 3rd round.
The SAM linebacker needs to be athletic and rangy; great against the run but able to run with tight ends and running backs in pass coverage.
This job is Connor Barwin's for the next two years. The Eagles front loaded his deal and are going to let him try and play and earn his money. Barwin should have some solid success playing at his natural position alongside his old buddy Demeco Ryans. I read a bit about Barwin, he is an outstanding athlete. Check out his combine numbers and you will know what I'm talking about. At Cincinnati, he played both offense and defense as well as special teams. He also played on the basketball team for two years. He loves to win and is a great competitor. If you search YouTube you can see a bunch of videos of him working out with Brian Cushing and JJ Watt. I think that great experience in the weight room will help this young, athletic competitor evolve into a great SAM linebacker for our defense. Vinny Curry will probably get a shot at backing up Barwin. Jamar Chaney will also probably get a look here, however I think we spend a draft pick at this position as well, not an early one; but a mid to late rounder for sure.
The WILL linebacker is going to get a lot of tackles and in Pete's system is typically a faster, smaller linebacker with range.
This job is Mychal Kendricks. I want to end the section on WILL linebacker with that but I'll stay consistent and write a little more. Kendricks is the perfect fit for this position and will put up HUGE numbers at WILL. Expect big things from Kendricks as offensive linemen stay off of him.
The MIKE linebacker needs to be the field general; very instinctual and savvy. He needs to be quick enough to drop back down the middle third of the field in pass coverage in the Tampa-2 coverage.
This job has Demeco Ryans' name written all over it. He isn't a perfect fit but his intangibles make up for all of his minor shortcomings. Ryans should continue to make plays wearing midnight green. To back him up, I would love to see the Eagles draft Nico Johnson from Alabama in the middle rounds. Johnson is the ultimate team player (which seems to be a common trend in the free agents acquired this year).
The free safety is a guy that's going to move around a lot and be very instinctual as well. He's going to come up to the line a lot and will get a lot of tackles.
I think this is Patrick Chung's job from the getgo. Cyprien and Elam could be drafted in the second (if they make it there) and challenge for the job, but I really think Chung will bring some leadership, experience, and tenacity that will earn him the job to start the season.
The strong safety has to be good against the run but like the free safety, will move around a lot and have to defend against the deep pass a lot. He will need to be fast and have some ball skills.
Kenny Phillips is our strong safety. It feels good typing that. Phillips is a stud when healthy and I think he plays out his one year contract and stays with us for many years after this. I love Phillips and am happy to say that we have a legitimate starting safety duo with a lot of potential. No draft pick this year is capable of taking the starting job away from a healthy Phillips.
Finally, the cornerbacks need to be physical and long. They will get involved in run defense a lot so they must be good tacklers. They are protected over the top a lot of the time so typically they're not all-world defenders but need to be pretty fast.
I think we followed these guidelines when finding our new corners, I'm only halfway joking. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are both long, physical corners who consistently bring guys to the ground. Their only struggles are with covering guys deep but they will be protected by our greatly-improved safety duo. While I am content with these two as our starting corners and Boykin as our Nickel back, I definitely am not ruling out our willingness to draft Dee Milliner at #4. Milliner is a stud and would step in right away as a number one corner in this league. He is NFL ready and a great player. Xavier Rhodes, Jamar Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, and Darius Slay are options I hope the Eagles seriously consider if they are available after round 1.
Get excited baby!
Surprise Bonus Mock Draft!!!
Eagles trade pick #4 for picks #16 and #22 from the Rams.
At pick #16 the Eagles select Sheldon Richardson, DT from Missouri. He steps in right away and starts at the 5 technique. Completes a very potent defensive line for the Eagles. Graham, Cox, and Richardson would provide ample pressure especially when Barwin adds on pressure of his own. Sopoaga eats up blockers for breakfast.
At pick #22 the Eagles select either Tavon Austin or Tyler Eifert. Either one is just a bonus toy for Chip Kelly. Austin is the perfect fit for his offense and Eifert would be the exact guy Kelly would want to complement James Casey. Either pick would take our offense to a whole 'nother level and it is already in a very good spot.
At pick #35 the Eagles select Blidi Wreh-Wilson, corner from Connecticut. Another guy that seems to fit Davis' system. Wilson is a big corner at 6'1 195 lbs with 32 inch arms. This guy has been on the rise of late. Mayock has him as his #4 corner and ESPN has him as their #29 overall prospect.
At pick #67 the Eagles select Menelik Watson, OT from Florida State. He steps in right away and starts at RT, moving Todd Herremans to RG. Mayock currently has Watson as his #5 OT tied with Justin Pugh. This would be a great value in round 3. He is still very raw. Worst case scenario, we have to move him inside and keep Herremans outside. Pugh would be another smart addition at this pick.
With the 98th pick the Eagles select Nico Johnson, ILB from Alabama. He is a very smart player. Knows his role. Would be able to step in for Demeco if needed. Makes the jobs of others easier. Would allow Kendricks to shine. Michael Mauti is another solid option along with Oregon's Kiko Alonso at this point in the draft.
I'll stop after the fourth round but what do you guys think of all this?