Tuesday, the Eagles continue signing their late round draft picks to four year deals. The biggest part of the story is not the agreement of terms with these players, but rather the ramifications to the rest roster.
I'm going to be quite honest when I confess to having had my doubts about Moise Fokou's and Paul Fanaika's opportunity to make this football team because of the preexisting depth at that position.
The Offensive Line with Guard Paul Fanaika
Paul Fanaika is a good looking guard selected in the sixth round from Arizona State. There is no doubt that he has the potential to be a solid NFL player, but how does he fit in with the Eagles?
The Eagles will almost certainly keep no more than 10 offensive linemen and a long snapper. This is what the current offensive line profile looks like:
T: Peters, Andrews, Dunlap, Topou, Justice, Patrick
G: Andrews, Herremans, Cole, Jean-Gilles, Fanaika, McGlynn, Gibson, Reynolds
C: Jamaal Jackson
If the Eagles have to cut this group of 15 true linemen down to 10 for the 53 man roster they will put some respectable talent out on the open market.
Peters, Andrews, Andrews, Herremans and Jackson are all but guaranteed to be Eagles in 2009. Now Topou and Fanaika are really in the mix, having been buttoned up for four year deals.
Cole and Jean-Gilles are productive veterans alternating at right guard in the absence of Stacy Andrews from group workouts. It is unlikely the Eagles are interested in parting ways with these players without substantial trade value exchanged in return.
If the rookie draftees make the team, the Eagles will only be able to keep one of the following offensive linemen (unless someone new can long snap):
- T King Dunlap
- T Winston Justice
- T Chris Patrick
- G Mike McGlynn
- G Mike Gibson
- G Dallas Reynolds
Dunlap has been getting rave reviews from Juan Castillo and Andy Reid since he was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. I think it is unlikely that he will be cut or traded as he really has little value on the trade market and the Eagles are thin at true tackles.
The depth chart at offensive line for 2009 may look like this:
LT LG C RG RT
Peters Herremans Jackson Andrews Andrews
Dunlap Fanaika Cole Jean-Gilles Topou
There is some additional flexibility in this offensive line with Herremans and both Andrews brothers being capable tackles and Cole playing guard and center very well.
If Topou and Fanaika make the team, Winston Justice and Chris Patrick would appear to be gone.
Justice never mentally recovered since he gave up a ton of sacks in Osi Umenyiora's breakout game against the Eagles. The coaches never really looked at Justice again either.
Patrick made the active roster at the end of last season. He's a big young Cornhusker that seems destined for another team in 2009 unless he clears waivers and finds a spot on the practice squad.
Dallas Reynolds is a rookie free agent from Andy Reid's favorite school, BYU, where Reynolds played center and Reid played guard and tackle. Expect Reynolds on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Here is where the cuts would hurt most of all.
The Eagles are deep at guard, but these other guys have been championed by the coaching staff as really good looking prospects much like Dunlap.
McGlynn was a fourth round 2008 draft pick. Gibson was a sixth round 2008 draft pick.
These two players are young and talented prospects. I definitely would not expect Fanaika or Topou to make the cut over McGlynn.
It's not very logical for a 2008 fourth round draft pick (McGlynn) to lose a job to a 2009 seventh round draft pick (Fanaika), so accordingly, I am going to assume that the Eagles will find a way to keep McGlynn on the active roster.
Gibson may be a prospect for the 2009 practice squad if he clears waivers.
The Linebackers and Rookie Moise Fokou
The Philadelphia Eagles linebackers are rich with talent. Read More
Fokou looked like a long shot to make the team as a seventh round selection despite his impressive season at Maryland in 2008.
He is a little bit undersized, but will provide good competition as a weak side linebacker with Omar Gaither and Akeem Jordan.
The Eagles will likely keep six linebackers on the 53 man roster for 2009.
Stewart Bradley, Chris Gocong and Joe Mays are fairly secure in the jobs at linebacker.
Either Omar Gaither or Akeem Jordan should be assured a position as well.
Gaither should find a home with the Eagles again. He does a nice job on special teams and can play any of the linebacker positions.
Akeem Jordan also serves a nice role as a coverage linebacker where his presence can be highly correlated to the more successful and productive defense of the second half of 2008 despite his lack of generating turnovers.
Special teams linebackers Tracey White and Tank Daniels don't seem to fit the roster build any more if Fokou can play special teams. There just is not enough room to keep seven linebackers without some kind of big roster move.
Charleston Hughes may have an opportunity on the practice team, but not much else.
The depth chart at linebacker may look like this:
WILL MIKE SAM
Akeem Jordan Stewart Bradley Chris Gocong
Moise Fokou Joe Mays Omar Gaither
Fokou, Mays and Gaither would have to do whatever job the Eagles may have expected from Tracey White and Tank Daniels on special teams.
What are the Eagles going to do with all their excess players?
The Eagles may be able to create another stock pile of draft picks for 2010 if they can deal some of their depth at linebacker, defensive back, receiver and offensive line away to other interested teams.
One more shocking blockbuster trade using their discretionary players may seem unlikely but not out of the question.