2012 NFC East Way-Too-Early Awards: The Philadelphia Eagles
We're technically closer to the end of the 2011 season than we are to the beginning of the 2012 season, but that isn't stopping us from making insanely early award predictions for each team.
We start today with the NFC East's—and probably the league's—most disappointing team from 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles. I'm expecting the deep and talented Eagles to benefit greatly from a full offseason and more time to mesh.
Here, specifically, is what I'm expecting from some of Philly's key cogs.
The Rocky Balboa Award (Offensive MVP): LeSean McCoy
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There are so many great options here. Michael Vick could return to 2010 form and be a top-flight NFL MVP candidate, and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin—24 and 25, respectively—have the tools to become top-five wideouts.
But I'm going with the 23-year-old McCoy, who was the team's most productive offensive player despite the tumult last year and should only get better in 2012.
The extremely versatile McCoy has rushed for 5.0 yards per carry while catching a total of 126 passes since becoming the full-time starter two years ago. And because he's running in Andy Reid's offense, there's really no fear that he'll be overworked.
At this point, it seems only a holdout could stop McCoy's progress toward superstardom. #Paytheman
The Can-Anyone-Make-a-Tackle? Award (Defensive MVP): Trent Cole
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The Eagles bolstered the front seven in free agency and the draft, which should give the consistently underrated Cole a chance to once again lead a fierce pass rush. Jason Babin had seven more sacks than Cole did in 2011, but Pro Football Focus still called Cole the most complete 4-3 defensive end in football.
Sack numbers simply don't tell the whole story.
I do believe cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will find his game with more time to adjust to the defense this year and Babin might once again finish with a higher sack total, but I don't expect anyone to make as much of an impact as Cole in 2012.
The Wilt Chamberlain Award (Offensive Rookie of the Year): Marvin McNutt
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Slim pickings from a team that spent four of its first five draft selections on defensive players, with only a third-string quarterback in between. That said, McNutt, who was drafted in the sixth round out of Iowa, should fight hard for the No. 4 wide receiver job currently occupied by the unspectacular Riley Cooper.
There isn't a single offensive rookie on this roster that isn't a project, but the 6'3", 216-pound McNutt has the potential to emerge from a deep class of first-year wideouts.
The Will Smith Award (Defensive Rookie of the Year): Mychal Kendricks
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OK, maybe I struggled to think of a Philadelphia icon or trend for this award name, but Philly's Will Smith was one hell of a rookie with DJ Jazzy Jeff in 1987 and on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990.
Kendricks looked great in rookie camp. I know, start carving the Hall of Fame bust, right? But it's still encouraging that he was making big plays last weekend and there's little reason to believe he won't steal a starting spot on the strong side.
The 21-year-old second-round pick out of Cal is only 5'11", but he has the speed and athleticism to make up for that. It's very early (have we mentioned that?), but Kendricks currently has a clear edge over fellow rookies Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin.
The Bob Saget Award (Most Improved Player): Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
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With Asante Samuel gone, DRC is out of the slot and a starter again. Like top corner Nnamdi Asomugha, the 26-year-old former first-round pick should also benefit greatly from a full offseason.
Rodgers-Cromartie is a playmaker with a supreme ability to put points on the board (he scored four touchdowns off of 13 interceptions in his first three seasons). Consistency has been an issue in the past, but I'm confident that the former Pro Bowler with Arizona can finally reach his potential in 2012.
The Freddie Mitchell Award (Most Disappointing Player): Demetress Bell
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It's not all flowers and sunshine here (or something like that), so we have to expose a potential problem at left tackle. With Jason Peters out indefinitely, Bell comes from Buffalo to protect Michael Vick's front side. The expectations aren't exactly high, but I'm sensing that some believe Bell can seamlessly replace Peters.
Peters was probably the best left tackle in the league in 2011. Bell is inconsistent and injury-prone and was deemed expendable in Buffalo. Considering how much of a beating Vick took with Peters anchoring the line last year, I fear for Vick's safety with Bell starting 2012 as his left tackle.