Evaluating The Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Part III: Undrafted Rookies
After the NFL draft every year, fans and media alike like to take their time to evaluate the selections. Whether it's their favorite team or the entire team, it's every sports fanatic's goal to access their teams potential.
While I'm one of hundreds who have expressed their opinion about the Eagles highly successful draft, the climatic last weekend in April is far from the only part of the offseason(which begins after the last game).
Now that the offseason is unofficially coming to an end, I'd like to evaluate and focus on the other segments that will help shape the roster that travels to Lehigh in late July
Part III: Undrafted Rookies
This may be the most underrated process of assembling a team. But, you can never overlook the possibilities of any player that a team acquires. While chances are slim for undrafted rookies making a team there are numerous exceptions.
Jason Peters, Quinten Mikell, Jamaal Jackson and Leonard Weaver were all undrafted. At the same time, all are expected to start for the Eagles in 2009.
The Eagles acquired two speed rushers last year in Bryan Smith and Chris Clemons, giving Jim Johnson pretty of "fastballs". The problem was, when Victor Abiamiri went down at the beginning of training camp, the Eagles didn't have much size on the edge of the D-Line to contend with running plays.
The 6'1", 274 Gaines adds more size to help on 1st and 2nd downs.
Will he make the final roster?: Very Likely.
The Eagles lost Brian Dawkins and Sean Considine to free agency and seemed to be holding an open house for the safety positions ever since. Langford is a hard hitting, in the box safety similar to ex-Cowboy Roy Williams.
Special teams play is what ultimately will decide if he makes the team.
Will he make the final roster?:Unlikely. His biggest competition is FA pickup Rashad Baker who has special teams experience.
At 6'0", 255 lbs Mailei is more solid and fit than the fullbacks on the team last year. He's a good receiver out of the back field and a formidable blocker. The only knock against him so far is he came along after Leonard Weaver.
Will he make the final roster?: Not in 2009. See, Weaver is only signed for a year and it's not guaranteed that he'll be an Eagle afterwards.
Mailei could be the fullback in the future, but barring injury he'll find himself on the practice squad in September.
Many Eagles fans can't understand why they didn't draft Rashad Jennings when they had a chance and I'm one of them. I think a bigger, more powerful back is needed for a change of pace.
More so, they're needed when it's time to pick up those tough yards with the game on the line, especially in post Thanksgiving games. During the birds' 2004 run to a Super Bowl appearance, people forget about key plays made by an underated veteran named Dorsey Levens.
Mendenhall can be that guy, especially if he shows he can catch and block.
Will he make the final roster?: Very Likely. If he's determinded enough and shows flashes of talent similar to his brother Rashard(Pittsburgh Steelers), Mendenhall shouldn't have any problems maker the team, helping the Eagles ridding themselves of unnecessary presence of Lorenzo Booker.
The acquisition of Reynolds actually puts more pressure on Jamaal Jackson and Nick Cole in the middle of the offensive line. Center is considered the weakest link on the O-line at this time.
If Jackson and/or Cole don't produce in the preseason up to Reid andCo.'s standards, one of them may be presented their walking players opening up room for Reynolds.
Will he make the final roster?: Very likely. I strongly believe that he will. Jackson disappointed coaches with his play for the second strait year.
If he doesn't step up and play the way he's capable, Donovan McNabb may take his snaps from someone else.
Robinson's main attribute is in the return game. With all of the other players the Eagles have with the same skill bringing more to the table, it'll take either a miracle or an unfortunate incident with someone else for him to make it past the preseason.
Will he make the final roster?: Very unlikely
The defensive Robinson has skills that would fit perfectly with Jim Johnson's style of defense. That said, the numerous defensive backs picked ahead of him will make it hard for him to fit on the roster in 2009.
Will he make the final roster?: Very unlikely. He's destined for the practice squad at this point.
David Akers has had his struggles lately, but Swank is nothing close to a qualified replacement. He was 64% in field goal percentage last year. Even if you look at his junior year(85%), you have to figure that Wake Forest probably has nowhere near the wind factor Lincoln Financial Field has.
Will he make the final roster?: Very, very unlikely. Swank's solely here to help ensure Akers and Rocca have as fresh as possible legs for the regular season.
Thigpen was listed as a running back, but the Eagles roster has him listed as a wide receiver with No. 13. Considering that with his size(5'9", 193 lbs), he's only here as a return specialist.
Will he make the final roster?: Very unlikely. Too many return specialists ahead of him.
Overall: If a total of five players (3 active; 2 practice squad) out of nine stay with the organization, that would speak volumes about the scoutings staff's work this year.
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