Before I start, I have to comment on the release like everyone else. While I will miss DeSean I only see the Eagles losing their fastest player, but not their number one receiver. Jeremy Maclin is our number one, he's a much better option as a franchise receiver, has all the things Chip looks for in a receiver (great route running ability, can get separation, good blocker), and while he's not as fast as DeSean, he's still pretty fast. I think he will make a much better number 1 receiver, even though he can't spread the field and give defensive coordinators headaches like DeSean did. (This is all relying on Maclin not losing a step after a second ACL tear, but he came back from it last time without losing a step, so hopefully he can do it again).
This move also excites me cause I'm eager to see where all those passes that would be going to Jackson will end up. With Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, and LeSean McCoy all still in our offense, it should be fun to see how the receptions are divided. Other options who weren't as prominent last year or were hurt, such as James Casey, Arrelious Benn, and Damaris Johnson, could also step up, as all three are proven to be competent ball catchers. In the end our offense is still very very dangerous, and what we lost in Jackson will be more than made up for with the return of Maclin and the addition on Sproles.
From a cap standpoint I love this move. If we allow the cap to rollover to next year, which is highly likely unless the Eagles make some big trade or sign a whole barrage of players, it will add 16.75 million to next years cap (that's DeSean's cap numbers for the next two years, minus the guaranteed money). That plus the 10 mil we were estimated to have after signing draft picks, leaves us plenty of money to take care of our own. That's money towards resigning 2015 free agents Jeremy Maclin, Bradley Fletcher (If we keep him), Cedric Thornton (I know he's restricted but another good year and we could have some teams trying to snatch him from us) and Allen Barbre (the coaches really like this guy, watch him in camp). It also leaves money to extend 2016 free agents next year, the most notable being that 2012 draft class that includes Fletcher Cox, Mycheal Kendricks, Brandon Boykin, and Nick Foles. Other names who could get their extension include Cary Williams (If we keep him), DeMeco Ryans (If he stays in good form), and Najee Goode (I just like the kid even since that game he filled in for Kendricks, can't wait to see him in camp). So even though we hate this move now, I think we'll all like it a little more when were able to retain most of these players.
So without further ado, my draft...
Round 1, Pick 22- Kony Ealy, OLB. Missouri- I struggled a lot with this pick. It's so tough to tell who will be the best player available cause someone always ends up falling, but in my opinion it will be Ealy. I was gonna go corner, but Gilbert and Dennard will be gone when we pick and they're the only two worth picking at 22 in my opinion. Fuller and Roby, though both very good, just don't seem like best available. Adding them to a secondary with Williams, Fletcher, Boykin, and now Carroll seems pointless to me. Neither shows tremendous potential like the other two, and I just don't see us jumping for them with all the talent in this draft. I also believe the safeties will be gone before we pick, it's just a position too many teams need an upgrade in, so scratch Clinton-Dix and Pryor off the list. Brandin Cooks will not get past the Jets unless Ebron, Evans, or somehow Watkins falls to them, which they wont, so scratch him off the list. That still leaves a lot of good options, but Ealy is the best and could make an impact on this defense.
The Eagles only had 3 real 3-4 outside linebackers on the roster last year in Cole, Barwin and Graham. Ealy not only adds depth, but also adds a natural pass rushing talent that the Eagles need more of. Even though Cole and Graham are excellent pass rushers, they were still adjusting to the scheme and new position last year and struggled like anyone would. Having Ealy along with those two and Barwin, whose shown average pass rushing ability since arriving, will make for a dangerous rotation. Ealy has the size Chip Kelly likes to see in his OLBs (6'4', 273 lbs), and is a versatile edge rusher. He shows great closing speed to the QB and is excellent in pursuit. He has always played LIKE a linebacker, but it's unknown how he will play AS one. A lot of his problems, such as pad level, understanding of leverage, and hand use, can all be fixed by good coaching. He has tremendous upside and would be a top 15 pick in last year's draft.
Round 2, Pick 54- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana- Let the criticism and suggestions for better options begin! Say what you want about this pick, but Latimer will be picked in the second round. He has shown a lot of potential and impressed many teams. Unable to participate at the combine, and only lifted there, so we had to wait until his pro day to see what he could do, here's all the numbers for those who didn't see:
Height: 6'2' Weight: 215
40 yard dash: 4.38 officially
Bench Press: 23 (led all WRs at combine)
Vertical jump: 39 inches
That's all he participated in due to his foot injury. Since then the Jets, Giants, 49ers, and Colts have all met with him and the EAGLES, Bills, Raiders, Rams, Lions and Panthers have invited him in for private workouts. He has also propelled himself into many debates that he is one of the top 5 receivers in this draft.
Latimer's combination of size, speed, and strength are very rare. He is an excellent route runner, shows great ability to create separation, and also excels as a blocker (doesn't Chip Kelly like that sort of thing?). His above average blocking ability and strength makes him especially valuable on running plays. He has great hands and can win jump balls and catch away from his body very easily. He's no special teams standout but can easily be part of the special teams unit. Overall a solid player, can play slot or on the outside and has the ability to be an excellent WR3 for this team. No matter where this kid goes I'm excited to see what he does.
Round 3, Pick 86- Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman- Another player who is shooting up draft boards, the Eagles have had their eyes on Dozier since the East-West game. I know everyone wants us to go secondary with one of these first three picks, but Dozier is the definition of the scheme fit for Chip Kelly's offensive lineman. Forgetting these Mathis trade talks for a second, Mathis is still 32 and Herremans is 31. They don't have much longer in the league and it couldn't hurt for the Eagles to start grooming one of their future interior lineman.
Dozier played left tackle at Furman, but he's much better suited to be an OG in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of Jason Kelce, he's a physical offensive lineman with a very strong lower body. He shows excellent second level blocking ability and can lock down defenders on both running and passing downs. His footwork is a tad sloppy and he could stand to improve his hand use, but both of those are things good coaching can fix.
Round 4, Pick 122- Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State- A great value for the eagles, Brooks has a lot of what the Eagles look for in their safeties. We all know Chip Kelly's favorite word is versatility, and this kid has got it. He is a fluid mover who excels in coverage, but has the ability to read the play and attack the run when necessary. Overall shows great instincts, little hesitation, and good play recognition. His speed and physicality make him a very intriguing prospect. Tackling ability needs improvement, but tackling well is one thing the Eagles coaching staff has stressed heavily to the defense. Another scheme fit safety and could be really good for us. Also a core special teams player, another thing Chip Kelly loves to see in his players
Round 5, Pick 162- DeAndre Coleman, DT, California- Coleman could play both NT and DE for the Eagles. the 6'5' 313 pounder is a natural two gap plugger. He's gonna be another run stopper on our line. His ability to challenge double teams and disrupt the pocket will make room for other players to get to the ball and make him a valuable member of the Eagles rotation. His draft stock has fluctuated a lot but as of right now he looks to be falling into the 5-early 6th round.
Round 7, Pick 237- Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Miss- Versatile 3-4 lineman. Can line up anywhere on the line and produce. tremendous upper body strength, can knock lineman back easily, but sometimes relies on his strength too much. Not the best pass rusher but will disrupt the pocket wherever you put him on the line. Eagles also interviewed him after his pro day.