On The Edge Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eagles soar on draft weekend

A few weeks ago, I admitted that I was a draft junkie. I love the buildup, analyzing all of the stats and sifting through the rumors and mock drafts.

However, most years, after more than 250 selections go by, the Eagles always disappointed me. They never pick the players I wanted, or did anything to make me think they knew what they were doing.Seriously, how excited can you get over a 340-pounder who may or may not pan out? The only way I can judge if an offensive lineman is having a good game is if I don’t groan that he stinks more than twice that afternoon.

Then came the 2009 NFL Draft. Not only did the Eagles pick players at exciting positions, they picked the right players at those positions!

Last week, I wrote that I wanted to see the Eagles come away with a wide receiver, a running back, a tight end and a cornerback, and the Eagles filled all four positions with meaningful players who could contribute week 1.

Going into Saturday, the draft was already a success because they traded for two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters a week earlier, but adding Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy with their first two picks, and then basically stealing tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth round was beyond anything I could imagine.

While Maclin is not a big wide receiver, he was considered the top wide receiver on more draft boards than any other receiver, including Michael Crabtree, because of how explosive he was in just two years at Missouri.

Maclin put up extremely rare numbers for a guy who didn’t make it to his junior year, topping 1,000 receiving yards as a freshman, and then following that up with 102 catches and 1,260 yards as sophomore. He also had more than 2,600 yards and five touchdowns returning kicks and punts, showing that he was a threat to reach the end zone at any time.

In combination with DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis, the Eagles could have the fastest set of wide receivers in the NFL, and all three are smooth route runners with great hands. No team in the NFL is going to have the ability to run with these three receivers, and their speed will open things up underneath for guys like Brent Celek, Jason Avant and Brian Westbrook.

Moving to the second round, LeSean McCoy isn’t the big running back that everyone wanted, but he is a player who can make the Eagles more dangerous just by showing up and keeping Brian Westbrook fresh.

McCoy is cut right out of Westbrook’s mold, with great hands out of the backfield, having caught 65 passes the last two seasons, but he can also pound the ball inside, carrying the ball an astounding 584 times the last two seasons, which is more carries than Westbrook has had in any two-year span in his career.

Perhaps the most important number on McCoy’s stat sheet is 35, because that’s the number of rushing touchdowns he racked up in two seasons, including 21 in 2008. That shows that he can pick up the short yardage while preventing Westbrook from taking a pounding during the season.

With the additions of Maclin and McCoy, I now see an Eagles team that, for the first time in my life, is filled with talented players that are a threat to score from any part of the field, and from any down and distance. Individually, it would be tough to shut down Maclin, McCoy, Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis or Brent Celek, but putting five of those six players on the field at one time presents nearly impossible matchup problems for any defense.

The only things that could stop this offense in 2009 are execution and balance, but let’s not worry about those issues right now.

Quick thoughts on the NFL Draft:

* People are wondering why cornerback Ellis Hobbs only cost the Eagles two fifth-round picks, but the Patriots are in bad shape when it comes to the salary cap, as multiple players need to be re-signed in the next year.

* When the New York Giants took one of my sleepers from last week—Ramses Barden—in the third round, I couldn’t completely slam their draft, but I feel like taking Hakeem Nicks and Barden is overkill, considering Kenny Britt was taken the very next pick after Nicks. At 6-3, Britt would have been the possession receiver that Nicks is, while also providing the big target in the red zone they hope Barden becomes. In Britt, they could have used just one pick to fill two holes in Eli Manning’s arsenal.

* Even though I went to Maryland, I can’t justify taking Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh pick in the draft, but JaMarcus Russell can’t throw anything but a deep ball, so maybe having the fastest receiver in the draft running under a bunch of bombs won’t be so bad. The Raiders will still be terrible, but at least their offense should be good for fantasy football purposes.

* Anquan Boldin was apparently never really available or the Eagles, Giants and Titans would have pulled the trigger on a trade with the Cardinals instead of grabbing unproven receivers in the first round.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wtf, its now may 7th and still no new blog?

May 7, 2009 6:54 PM  

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