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Monday, April 27, 2009

Eagles Surprise in the Draft; Weekend Wrap

I promised to be one of the first to praise the Eagles if they went out and got the wide receiver they needed. While two days after the first day of the draft certainly doesn’t make me “first,” and the Birds only drafted a receiver that might be the guy they needed, I’m happy they have at least attempted to get a “stud” receiver.

The NFL Draft may be the most over-hyped event in sports besides a Don King promoted fight. No one truly knows who will turn out to be the All-Pro, or the sleeper, or the scrappy fifth-rounder that ends up with a career playing NFL football. After the first half of round one even the “experts” are mostly guessing. I have no idea as to how well the Eagles drafted this weekend beyond what those same experts are telling me, and, despite all the brilliant comments posted with the utmost bravado all over the blogosphere and philly.com and every other newspapers’ .com, neither does any other fan.

But, I like what I’ve heard so far about the Eagles’ draft. They at least addressed the positions they actually needed, which is not always a given for Andy Reid, Tom Heckert, and Joe Banner.

People couldn’t wait to slam first-round draft pick Jeremy Maclin for being too small because a couple of ESPN guys like Keyshawn Johnson – who likely fit in the above category of knowing only what they’re told – said he was. Yet, two seconds of research reveals Maclin’s only an inch or so smaller than Michael Crabtree, who people would be doing cartwheels over had he been the pick, and 15 or so pounds lighter. On paper, Maclin has the speed and numbers from a school that can at least compete for a national championship, which indicates he can play in the NFL.

The Eagles are already watering down expectations, making the old claims that their offense is just too complicated to expect a rookie to step in and start. DeSean Jackson proved that to be a fallacy last year, and it would be a disappointment if Maclin is kept out of the starting lineup by any of the Eagles other current reports based on all of the positive assessments of the draft selection.

Second-round pick LeSean McCoy, a running back from Pittsburgh, also seems to fit the mold of what the Eagles needed. According to philly.com, he’s 6-foot, 198 pounds, has had “consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, joining Tony Dorsett and Curvin Richards as the only Pitt players to do that . . . Played in 25 games, with 35 rushing touchdowns and 36 total TDs . . . Those 36 TDs set the school, Big East and NCAA record for most TDs produced by a player as a freshman and sophomore . . .” Sounds decent for a second round pick.

I would have preferred a bigger running back, but I would also prefer that the Eagles employ an offense that would use a bigger back. And, I haven’t heard about any big backs going after the Birds took McCoy that they “should have” taken.

The Eagles also traded two fifth-round picks to the New England Patriots for Ellis Hobbs. He started 49 games for the Patriots over the last 4 years, which includes a Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles can say all they want that this trade has nothing to do with Sheldon Brown suddenly squawking about his contract, but of course it does and it should. This could be a great move.

Heckert mentioned on NBC10’s Sports Final that he was happy to trade draft picks for a proven cornerback. I still can’t help but wonder why that same philosophy doesn’t work for receivers. That said, I can’t really blame the Eagles now for not getting Anquan Boldin. No other team got him from Arizona, and if reports are true that he wants a new $10 million contract he’s probably not worth it. I’m not a fan that cares about the owner’s money, I just question where his head is with that kind of demand.

I’ve heard a lot of people question the Eagles for not taking Brandon Pettigrew. But I think Brent Celek has a chance to be a solid pass-catching tight end, and I’d rather see the Eagles fill a void opposite Jackson over upgrading Celek.

Bottom line, the drafting of both Maclin and McCoy, and the trade for Hobbs, left more reason for optimism after a draft than any under Reid.

Everybody else? I have even less of an idea . . . just like you.

Phils sweep. After sweeping the Marlins the Phillies are 1 ½ games out of first place with a game in their back pocket. It still means about as much as the panic that always ensues after the first week of the season. With Washington coming to town, and the first-place Marlins playing the Mets, things should continue looking up.

Sixers blow opportunity. A little defensive rebounding in Game 2 or a home victory in Game 4 would have given the Sixers a surprising 3-1 stranglehold in their series against Orlando. Game 2 was really the first time they seemed like they could have used Elton Brand. I won’t say they’re done, because they’ve been resilient all year, but I think they blew their shot at the upset.

Fly-boys go bye-bye. I flipped on Game 6 with the Flyers up 3-0 against Pittsburgh at home in a game they needed to force the decisive Game 7. They picked a fight for no apparent reason – granted I saw little of the game – and proceeded to give up two quick goals and eventually lose. Way to go, Boys. Hope you enjoyed the “old-time hockey” . . . and getting the rest of the spring off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MDefl posting,

I give the birds a B+ to A- for the draft and I am a hard grader. I think some analysts are getting carried away with the birds due to the fact that there top 2 picks were the "sexy" choices in the draft. I like Maclin and saw him on TV numerous times. He will be a very good receiver. However, I would have traded the 21 for Boldin. He is a proven commodity and is a big receiver, something the Eagles still lack. I am not down on Maclin at all and there are rumblings that Boldin may have a very "old" body for a 30 year old.

McCoy was the best they could have done at 2. However, he will have to gain at least 10 lbs and learn how to pick up the blitz in Andy Reid's offense. Assuming he can do both, then McCoy will be a great addition.

I really, truly do not understand why the birds kept trading out of the 3rd round especially when there were TE's available that do not have the ? marks that there 5th rounder, Ingram, from FL has in regards to his health and ability to block. Basically, they already have this type of TE in Celek. However, the upside to Ingram may be huge and if his speed is similiar to what it was before his injury, then he could be the big receiver the birds really need.

All in all, a very good draft especially considering that they used draft picks to pick up Jason Peters and Hobbs.