…Carlos Dunlap, defensive end from the University of Florida.
But the choice wasn't as cut and dried as Eagles fans might think.
As it stands, the Eagles’ biggest needs are on defense. They want a complement for sack machine Trent Cole on the other side of the defensive line, need a true SAM linebacker, and, even with Marlin Jackson aboard, could use another safety.
So when we got to around No. 22, the team (myself and fellow Eagles FCs Will Holt and Gary Suess) began debating heavily and came up with some interesting possibilities. Figuring both New England and Green Bay would be looking for rushers for their 3-4 schemes, we put together a board.
Dunlap was our No. 1 choice, as DE seemed the biggest need—but we had contingency plans. USC safety Taylor Mays was in the convo as he has been for weeks, and I suggested Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews, who could be the dominant inside runner the Birds desperately need.
Gary thought Florida center Maurkice Pouncey could be a good grab given the offensive line flux, and Will--possibly taking a page out of Andy Reid's playbook -- suggested taking a flyer on Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford or Maryland OT Bruce Campbell if the scenarios worked out.
But when we finally got on the clock, the three of us agreed that Dunlap was the guy because he could be more than a complement to Cole—he could be a monster.
See, Dunlap has a rare combo of size, speed and strength that has drawn comparisons to former No. 1 overall picks Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. Not bad company, considering Williams has 35 sacks the last three seasons and Peppers has six double-digit totals in eight years.
Granted, Dunlap’s hard numbers won’t jump out at you; during his career in Gainesville, he “only” recorded 19.5 sacks (leading the Gators in both 2008 and 2009) and 26 tackles for loss. Surely not the highest of totals, but when you factor in that he’s an early-entry junior who only started 15 games, that’s still an impressive haul.
Clearly he’s a pass rusher, but more importantly, he has good peripherals.
Dunlap greatly improved his awareness in the passing game at large last year, notching six passes defensed in 2009 after only recording two in his first two years. That could be huge for the Eagles, especially if they’re forced to suffer through 2010 with Chris Gocong, Moise Fokou or some other stiff at the SAM spot.
Gator No. 8 was also a force on special teams. In 2008, he blocked three punts in 2008 and stymied a huge Oklahoma field goal attempt in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game.
That last one leads to my third “strength” of his, namely that Dunlap has shown that he can shine in a big moment. That BCS title tilt was perhaps the best game of his career, as his line of four tackles (1.5 for loss), half a sack and that blocked FG earned him Defensive MVP honors.
Seems like the perfect choice, but of course there are knocks on him.
Specifically, he has character issues” because of a poorly-timed DUI (is a DUI ever really well-timed?) and scouts feel that his lack of improvement (his sack and TFL totals were basically static despite an “increased” role as a starter in 2009) signifies that he’s a comfort guy who won’t try to live up to his full potential if he’s performing well enough.
Well, good for them.
Numbers wise, his per-game sack totals from college would roughly average out to 13 or so a season, which would have put him in the Top 5 in the NFL last year…and as far as character goes, Warren Sapp was the devil coming out of college and Ben Roethlisberger was a choir boy, so image isn’t always everything.
Andy Reid’s system doesn’t tolerate slackers, as even outstanding performers can get benched or cut in the blink of an eye, and his potential outweighs the off-field issues that Urban Meyer deemed out of character. Even if that doesn’t seem to mean much given Urban’s own eccentricity as of late, you have to take that as face value, right?
We think so. And with that, Carlos Dunlap is an Eagle and our closest neighbors to the south, the Baltimore Ravens, are on the clock at No. 25.
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