It’s not unexpected for a team that parts ways with names like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook to slide down a bit in the rankings of NFL critics and fans alike. Especially a team that follows this by adding almost no big name veterans to replace them. But as this newer, younger Eagles team trucks on through training camp and gains media attention one thing is becoming more evident to the world: The 2010 Eagles are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Confirmation of the skepticism surrounding the Eagles off-season aren’t hard to find. You only have to go as far as the Madden 11 NFL player ratings to see that “experts” didn’t think too highly of our talent. The Eagles handed over the offensive reigns to one of, if not the, youngest groups in the NFL. Kevin Kolb and Brent Celek have 3 years under their belts, DeSean Jackson has 2 and Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy have 1 each. When you see a team that has virtually no “elders” (aged veterans, if you will) in the offensive huddle, one might understand why the Eagles aren’t thought very highly of. But after a week or so in camp. The receivers have been dubbed by Matt Mosley as one of the most dangerous groups in the entire NFL.
But as the Eagles make their way through training camp it is this young nucleus, along with a stellar draft class, that is beginning to turn heads around the league.
Let’s talk about the draft class. It was the general opinion of most Eagles fans that we had a very strong draft class, filled with all 4th and 5th year players who Eagles fans felt could begin filling roles sooner than later. There was no doubt it was a defensively focused draft class, with 9 out of the 13 picks being on that side of the ball.
There were some doubters out there who questioned some of the Eagles picks, but when ESPN Insider Adam Schefter visited Eagles camp on Sunday he made it known to the rest of NFL fans that the Eagles front office did what other teams would love to mimic: They turned a high quantity of picks into high quality prospects. Every player drafted has a good chance of making this team. Nate Allen is already penciled in as a starter at free safety, and it won’t be long before Brandon Graham takes over as starting defensive end opposite Trent Cole. WR Riley Cooper has a chance of earning a starting spot on the offense. Names like Trevard Lindley and Mike Kafka are considered to be some of the biggest steals in the draft. All the other picks can contribute as solid back ups and special teamers.
Schefter also said the Eagles were the hardest hitting camp he’s seen so far.
Like I mentioned earlier, there were few big names added via trade or free agency, but there was one that most Eagles fans are really excited about. The addition of Ernie Sims at weakside linebacker has been going great so far and Eagles fans have high hopes for him when he teams up with a healthy Stewart Bradley. They have become good friends and a very strong duo at linebacker. They’re both moving very fast and hitting very hard. Just ask Eldra Buckley.
Another name gaining more attention at camp is Ellis Hobbs. He’s healthy, and he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. He feels he has a lot to prove after last season, and Eagles fans are expecting him to come out and do it this season. If his performance at camp so far is any indication, he should do so.
As an optimistic Eagles fan, I could honestly sit here and go on and on about this team and how I feel it is set up for immediate success, but I can’t say that it would not be an extremely biased opinion. I just wanted to share the fact that some people, whose opinions carry a lot more weight than mine do, are beginning to see that the Eagles have a team this year. It’s nice to see, finally.
Oh, and I fully expected the player ratings to be adjusted a few weeks in.
Training Camp Coverage
ITI’s Ryan Messick will be back at Lehigh University next Thursday, when the Eagles have a mock game scheduled for 10:30 A.M.