In the second round (57th overall) of the 2007 draft, the Eagles selected the stand out defensive end from Notre Dame, Victor Abiamiri. He would seem to be heading for the starting job in 2009 opposite of elite right defensive end, Trent Cole.
With the 2005 and 2006 first round draft picks of Mike Patterson (31st overall) and Broderick Bunkley (14th overall) having solidified their starting positions on the interior line, Abiamiri is expected to be the last missing piece to complete the defensive line puzzle.
Abiamiri's Stats and Measurables
Standing at 6'4" and weighing in at 267-pounds, Abiamiri is a long armed physical presence that should be able to fill all of the duties of an NFL defensive end as both a run stopper and effective pass rusher.
A few extra pounds wouldn't hurt, but Abiamiri is a physical specimen that is stronger than his weight might indicate and his combination of explosiveness and power should work well for him assuming he wins the starting job.
In his junior and senior years at Notre Dame, Abiamiri recorded 90 tackles, 30 for losses and 18 sacks. He ran a 4.77 second 40 yard dash at his pro day workout and bench pressed 225-pounds 26 times. His explosion is evidenced in his impressive broad jump of 10' 4".
Abiamiri started one game in his rookie season and none last year. He suited up 10 times in 2008 and was fairly productive with limited opportunity recording two sacks, a forced fumble and three passes defensed. More importantly, he just looked the part and appeared ready to make a bigger contribution.
Abiamiri's 2009 Outlook
The Eagles coaching staff is ready to see Abiamiri step up and be another big time player on the line. They have declared on open competition between him and returning starter Juqua Parker. All logic points to the coach's desire to see young Abiamiri winning the job.
Chris Clemons will be making a push for the position as well, but he will more than likely be fighting to retain his role as a pass rushing specialist on third and long situations.
Jim Johnson may be passing the torch to Sean McDermott, but his philosophy of keeping the legs fresh in the trenches and on the edges, particularly on pass rushing downs will not likely change. Players like Darren Howard, Dan Klecko, and Chris Clemons have all had success getting after the passer and will certainly get some game time.
Bryan Smith is a name that should be in the mix in 2009 as well. He didn't play a down in the 2008 regular season after looking good in his preseason game repetitions.
Still, Abiamiri has the prospects of being an every down defensive end and should see the majority of the time on the field. I would expect him to rack up around 40 or 50 tackles with a dozen or more stuffs in the backfield as well as lingering in the neighborhood of 10 sacks.
Most importantly, Abiamiri can balance the presence of Trent Cole and take full advantage of the double teams on that side of the line. With two complete ends and the interior line of Bunkley and Patterson continuing to emerge, the Eagles will have a formidable and potentially elite front four.
While Juqua Parker has been solid, Abiamiri has the prospect of being a dominant player. Look for Abiamiri to have a breakout season and be an X-factor for the 2009 Eagles defense.
More Analysis from Leo Pizzini at: http://eagles.sportsscribes.net.
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