The first two days of the NFL Scouting Combine are over. What did I learn? Not much that I didn’t already know, but that’s only because I’ve been wading through stacks of draft reports and game tape for the last month. I try to stay informed, even when I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.
Anyway, when evaluating guys in shorts, I always like to focus on positions of need for our beloved Eagles. Who might be a good fit, and who definitely is not. With that in mind, I took a long look at the offensive lineman and running backs, and kinda ignored receivers and tight ends.
I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the Birds tabbed another wideout or tight end, but they are solid at both spots, providing Kevin Curtis isn’t cut (which could happen) and Cornelius Ingram is ready to roll in August (which he should be).
Let’s assume Shawn Andrews is not in the plans, but Stacy will be given every opportunity to win the right guard job. I think Nick Cole will be retained, but Max Jean-Gilles is a goner. If Cole can be a swing guy/starter, the guard positions should be okay. Don’t count out Mike McGlynn either.
A swing tackle is still needed. I don’t have much confidence in King Dunlap. He’s just too damn tall to be laterally quick with his feet. Reid loves his lineman, so it only makes sense that he will grab one or two come April. The first and second round seems early, but with a pair of third and fourth rounders, noise will be made.
What about center? Jamaal‘s availability is unknown. Can a combo of Cole/McGlynn and darkhorse A.Q. Shipley fill the void? Cole will likely get all the mini camp reps with the other two cycling in on occasion. Shipley intrigues me. I liked him at Penn State and remember him doing quite well at the 2009 combine. His short arms are a concern though. Florida’s Maurice Pouncey is the top rated center, drawing a first-round grade. I can’t see the Eagles pouncing (awful pun) on Pouncey that high. After him, the pickings are slim.
With Brian Westbrook officially in the rear view mirror, depth at halfback is needed, unless the coaches believe Eldra Buckley is ready for increased responsibilities. I dig his tenacity and effort, but he’s not the most talented dude in the land. I say target a back in the third round.
Now, everyone keeps tossing out names like Ben Tate and Jonathan Dwyer. Both are bigger backs who thrive between the tackles. Neither is built in the same mold as Shady or Westy, which is why neither will get drafted. You want a backup who has a similar skill set as the number one guy just in case an injury occurs.
In that case, a player like Cal’s Jahvid Best could be the answer. He ran the fastest 40 (4.35) and excelled in the 3-cone drill (6.75). Best is not very big at 5’10” 190 and did suffer a major concussion late last season, which might lower is stock. He’s graded as a first-round talent and could be there at 24. I doubt Reid and Co. would go running back that high after taking Shady in the second last year, but then again, they did take Maclin in the first a season after nabbing DeSean in the second. Deja vu?
Joe McKnight (USC) didn’t impress me, but he’s another smallish back who could be on the radar. Ditto Mississippi’s Dexter McCluster who caught 130 balls in four years. However, he’s even smaller at 5’9″ 175. No way he’d be able to endure the pounding of a featured back. Although, as a kick returner/change of pace back, he could be a major impact. McCluster is very interesting.
Today the linebackers and defensive lineman take he field. I would anticipate the brain trust paying extra close attention since these two positions are in need of upgrades. Be back tomorrow with a wrap.