Monday, May 3, 2011
Posted: 11:50 a.m.
By Reuben Frank
How many starters did the Eagles find in last years draft? How many did they find in this years draft? How many new starters will the Eagles have this fall? How many incumbent starters will lose their job this fall?
Its still too early to figure out exactly what the Eagles starting offense and defense will look like when the 2011 season finally arrives. We still have -- presumably -- free agency, trades, signings, training camp, preseason games. The roster, as head coach Andy Reid said Saturday night, is not a finished product.
Its not too early, though, to guess.
Were only 4 12 months out from what we all hope is the season opener in St. Louis, so why not project the Eagles 2011 depth chart? Heres how we would line up the Eagles offense if the season started today. Defense will be posted Wednesday.
Michael Vick makes his first opening-day start since 2006, backed up by a veteran yet to be named (were guessing Matt Hasselbeck), with Mike Kafka back as the Eagles No. 3. No-brainer here as Vick becomes the Eagles third different opening-day starter in three years, something that hasnt happened since 1998 through 2000 (Hoying Pederson McNabb).
Assuming a productive offseason strengthening his lower body, LeSean McCoy should be even more powerful and productive than last year, his first full season as an NFL starter. We dont really expect Dion Lewis to be quite ready to be No. 2, so well bring back Jerome Harrison, whom the Eagles stole from the Browns for Mike Bell in the middle of last year. Harrison wants to be a starter somewhere, but the anticipated short offseason might make that impossible.
No surprises here. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper form the best 1-through-4 Eagles receiving corps in history. What about that all-important fifth wide out spot? Rod Harper made some terrific catches at practice last year while on the practice squad and has some good size, so hes our No. 5.
Owen Schmitt is a capable player who performed as well as anybody could have hoped after Leonard Weavers devastating knee injury. But were going to give the starting job to USC rookie Stanley Havili only because hes able to do a few more things than Schmitt. Hes not as stout a blocker on the line of scrimmage, but he can give you a few carries and a few catches per game, and hell hold his own blocking. Is he ready to start in the NFL? Heck, this team went to the Super Bowl with Thomas Tapeh at fullback. This guy has to be better.
Clay Harbor made fairly sizable strides last year, so you feel good about a 1-2 punch of Brent Celek and Harbor. Celek has quietly become a pretty darn good blocker and he just needs to stay healthy to get back to his 2009 form. Former Florida star Cornelius Ingram will get another shot to show what he can do, but we dont anticipate the Eagles keeping three tight ends.
Beefing up the offensive line was priority No. 1 for this offseason, and the Eagles are well on their way toward doing that. The Eagles have a new line coach in legendary Howard Mudd, a first-round pick in Danny Watkins, and two athletic guard prospects for the future from the later rounds of the draft as well. How will it all line up?
Watkins is here to play. He goes right into the right guard spot, a massive upgrade over the slop the Eagles had there the last two years. If you dont like this pick, put on film of the Eagles last two playoff games and watch the right guard play. Slop. Weve always felt Todd Herremans was best suited to playing tackle, and thats where were going to put him.
We like everything weve seen and heard from rehabbing Jamaal Jackson, so despite a couple very serious injuries the last two years, were sticking him back at center. Jackson has always been one of the more under-rated linemen in the league. Hes asked to do more 1-on-1 blocking than most centers, and hes done it consistently since he became the starter in the middle of 2005. We liked the toughness that Mike McGlynn brought last year after he replaced Jackson, so were going to move him to Herremans left guard spot.
That gives us -- left to right -- Jason Peters, McGlynn, Jackson, Watkins and Herremans. Those are the Eagles five best linemen right now. And thats a dramatically upgraded line.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org
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