The Philadelphia Eagles will not be entering the 2013 NFL Combine looking to prove themselves right about everything they suspected about the participants like they have in the past. Why? Because Andy Reid isn’t their coach, that’s why.
That’s not to say that the team isn’t looking to confirm some suspicions and expectations, because every team is. However, it is to say that they’ll be open to take in and evaluate a few standouts. Or, they’re open to a lot of things.
With a new coach and a new system, the Birds will be looking to learn and not confirm this offseason.
The following is a slideshow of a few things the Birds will be looking to learn at this year’s combine.
First, Chip Kelly and co. know that filling the holes on defense has to be the priority with the fourth overall pick.
Now that the Birds know they’ll be running a hybrid defense, where better to start than picking the draft’s best defensive lineman in Utah’s Star Lotulelei?
If GM Howie Roseman is going to stay true to his “best available” approach, then Lotulelei will be the Eagles’ first round pick.
That said, the team will be looking to confirm via his raw skill display that Lotulelei is the best interior defensive lineman in the draft.
Is he as strong and agile as billed? The Eagles are hoping to find out that he is.
It goes without saying that the Eagles' first pick is either going to be, by position, a defensive tackle, offensive lineman or cornerback. However, the team needs help at the linebacker position as well—especially if they’re going to be running a hybrid.
The biggest name that comes to mind is Kevin Minter out of LSU, but if the Eagles take him in the second round he probably will not have been the best available player.
The middle and later rounds don’t put forth as much formidable talent as the earlier rounds do at the linebacker position.
The Eagles will certainly hope to find out that there are good linebackers worth taking after the first two rounds.
In a few years, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz could end up being the player that teams reflect on and say “we shouldn’t have passed on him.”
Chip Kelly loves to use his tight ends, and Brent Celek is no spring chicken.
Ertz is a big, powerful, fast, agile tight end who can catch and make plays when he has the ball in his hands. Ertz also isn’t afraid to throw a block and get physical when the situation calls for it.
With all of that said, the Birds will hope to confirm all of these things about Ertz and target him in the draft.
Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant needs to get stronger and improve his on-field focus.
But Trufant does have the athleticism, speed, and aggressiveness to succeed in the NFL.
The Eagles need defensive back help in the worst way. If Trufant is there in the second round and the Eagles are up to pick, don’t be surprised if they take him.
However, they’ll need to see some potential in him to warrant doing so.
Hopefully Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs leave the NFL combine unimpressed with any of the quarterbacks and they turn to the Eagles to acquire Nick Foles for a pick.
No matter what he has said about Foles in the past, Chip Kelly bringing in Dennis Dixon to compete for the starting quarterback job does not bode well for Foles’ future as an Eagle.
Apparently, the Chiefs would be interested in acquiring Foles from the Eagles. Hopefully that means another pick in the upcoming draft going to Philadelphia.
Tennessee Tech wideout Da’Rick Rogers is expected to be one of the incoming draft class’ best players. However, his success is expected to be limited by his attitude and off-the-field issues.
Of course, the Eagles will be looking to add some talent at the wide receiver position. They’ll be looking to add some size, too. Rogers is a talented player with size.
Hopefully, they’ll be looking to add Da’Rick Rogers and they’ll learn that he doesn’t come with as many issues as he’s rumored to have.
Although the Eagles were hurting on the O-line last season, that doesn’t mean they’ll be as bad moving forward.
However, they should still look to draft an offensive lineman or two. Right now, how many linemen are being talked about and projected in the middle rounds of the draft?
Hopefully, a few linemen distinguish themselves in the combine and become viable mid-round options for the Eagles—especially in the event that some of the players they’ll be looking to draft are off the board when it’s their time to pick.
Though the Eagles have a few quarterbacks at the present, that doesn’t mean they’ll be ruling out drafting anyone. That anyone could be Florida’s EJ Manuel.
Manuel has a cannon for an arm and he can run. Hopefully, nothing he does will raise his stock and he’ll stay in his current 3rd-4th round projection.
Manuel has said that he would like to play for Chip Kelly, and who’s to say the Eagles wouldn’t like to have him?
If he is there in the third or fourth, don’t be surprised if the Eagles take him.
Bacarri Rambo is an aggressive player who can tackle and take the ball away. Essentially, he’s a throwback to older Eagles safeties that will perform as advertised.
Hopefully, the Eagles see potential in him and make him one of their targets in the draft this year.
Since they doubtlessly need help at the safety position, they should hope to learn that he fits their mold well, and that he could conceivably fall to the Birds.
Hopefully, Chip Kelly takes a look around while he’s at the combine and notices that no one worth their salt is wearing half of a hat with their hair sticking up and over the top of the brim.
It’s time Coach Kelly takes that pivotal first step in NFL acclimation and abandons the visor once and for all.