That said, it's opinion time. Sorry if this is lengthy....
I'm not going to give the draft a grade like so many do, but I'm going to say I'm cautiously optimistic. I had the same reaction as most of you did when we heard a QB's name called as the Eagles first pick. "Huh? Why?" I fact, I was so sure that the pick would be CB Chris Houston that it took a second before I realized that the pick was a quarterback from Houston. Then 2 things happened. First, I started reading and watching everything I could on Kevin Kolb. All reports say he has the physical tools and make up to be an NFL QB. After watching some interviews he's done in the past and hearing some people have said about him... this guy is every bit the leader and personality you want as the QB of your franchise. Kevin Kolb himself started to change my mind about the pick.
Then I started to think about McNabb after my brother sent me a text message. McNabb has missed 15 games the past 3 years. He's ended 2 of the past 3 years on the IR. He's now 30, which isn't all that old for a QB, but when you take into account the serious injuries he's had 30 starts to look alot older. Now this is not to say McNabb can't rehab this latest knee injury and play until he's 38. However, doesn't that seem less and less likely? If there was a gun to your head and you had to bet a thousand dollars on whether McNabb will stay healthy and play at a high level for 4-5 more years or whether he'll suffer one or more season ending injuries in that time... what would you choose? I asked myself this question and had to answer that I'd out my money on the injuries.
It's a sad reality, but it certainly seems true. So rather than draft a QB in two or three years and wait another 2 years beyond that as he takes his lumps and learns the system, Reid hedged his bets and decided that if he needs a QB in 2 years he'll have one ready to go. While I think there were some better value picks at #36, I find it hard to argue with the logic of the pick. Plus, according to Tom Heckert who spoke with Howard Eskin this weekend, 2 teams called the Eagles after the Kolb pick to see if they were interested in dealing him. Both picked after #36 and before the Eagles second in the 2nd round. Heckert wouldn't say who, but Eskin reported it was the Jags and Lions. So the Eagles may have got their guy at the spot they needed to.
As for the rest of the draft, I feel fairly good about it. I was surprised they didn't go secondary earlier, but I liked alot of the players they picked up. Gaddis could end up being the best value pick we made.
Overall though, this draft seemed to signal a change in the Eagles philosophy that I noticed as I was writing up and linking scouting reports on these guys. Mark Eckel noticed it too. Size matters. At times last year, especially on defense, the Eagles simply got pushed around. The most spectacular example was the way the Jaguars just came in here and flat out bullied the Eagles D. Finally, Reid and co realized they needed some beef other than just on the offensive line.
I'll let Eckel do the heavy lifting since I agree on all points.
Heck, even Kolb is 230 pounds, although he appeared trim and fit when he arrived at the NovaCare Complex yesterday to begin what will be referred to from here on out as the Donovan McNabb Farewell Tour.
The 6-5, 271-pound Abiamiri, out of Notre Dame, gives the Eagles a true left end, one that can stop the run and provide some pass rush, something they hoped Howard would do, and something McDougle never did.
Last year for the Fighting Irish, he had 10 1/2 sacks and 15 tackles behind the line. That's pretty good numbers for a defense that wasn't so great.
Bradley, a 256-pound linebacker from Nebraska, outweighs most of the team's other linebackers, sans Jeremiah Trotter, by 25 pounds. He'll get the chance on the strong side, and if he can man that position, it could cause all kinds of changes to the roster.
Hunt, who already seems to be a local favorite from his days at Happy Valley, gives the Eagles something they never have had under Reid -- a situational big back. Hunt, at 239 pounds, provides a nice compliment to star running back Brian Westbrook.
Gaddis (6-foot, 202) was a corner at Clemson, but could project to safety with the Eagles.
At either position, Gaddis gives them more size than they had there before, because in this draft, for the Eagles, size mattered.
Will see if that size comes with talent, but all in all this draft signaled a change for this team in alot of ways. I think a change or at least a tweak in direction and philosophy was needed.