Eagles Trade Rumors: Chris Gocong to Browns For a Draft Pick?

Leo PizziniAnalyst IMarch 22, 2010

There have been many rumblings about Chris Gocong's future with the Eagles. 2009 was prospectively a make or break year for the young linebacker and he never really got going. 

Nonetheless, the Eagles have good reason to concern over linebacker and defensive end depth.

There is a market for Gocong and the rumor is that the Browns are potential suitors. Mangini was reportedly targeting him in the draft and Tom Heckert (now with the Browns) was the man responsible for landing him in Philadelphia.

The Browns have more 2010 draft picks than a little bit to use for trade bait. Still, it's hard to imagine that the Eagles part ways with Gocong at this point (who is officially listed as LB/DE), but they just might.

There was speculation that the Eagles might not even tender Gocong. But they did tender him at the third round level, which may be their bottom line asking price considering the lack of defensive depth.

In 2008, Gocong looked like he was ready to step up. He played the run extremely well and did fairly well in coverage. He also showed flashes of great pass rushing ability.

In 2009, Gocong appeared unable to repeat his past performance. That combined with nagging injuries eventually gave way for rookie Moise Fokou's NFL debut at Gocong's SAM position. 

One remaining consideration is Gocong's ability to get pressure on the quarterback as a slightly undersized, but natural defensive end.

It can be difficult for a collegiate defensive end to convert to linebacker, and Gocong has had his setbacks. It's even more difficult to convert to a '4-3' linebacker who figures into the coverage scheme more than a '3-4' pass rushing linebacker.

I could see the Eagles continuing their rotational practices on defense by using Gocong as a third-down left defensive end as they formerly used Chris Clemons. Then Darryl Tapp could shift to the interior for Mike Patterson as did the recently released Darren Howard. 

The concept of moving Gocong to the left end in the third-down nickel-package, does not restrict his ability to start at the SAM position in the 4-3 package. The SAM is off the field in the nickel and could slide up and over with his hand in the dirt on third and long (an excellent way to get good use out of a tweener in a 4-3 defense).

Still, how interested are the Browns?

We could see action on 'Gocong to the Browns' during the draft if a linebacker that the Eagles want is available in the fourth round when the Browns are up, or likewise if the Browns are unhappy with their available prospects in the third round.

If the trade rumors are true and I believe they are, I think they will be tabled if the Browns are unwilling to part with an early third round pick. But on draft day, strategies can change as targeted players are selected and the draft boards shift.

In normal circumstances, I couldn't see the Eagles trading Gocong for less than their target draft value (probably a third), but if a player they have rated as an early third round talent (like AJ Edds from Iowa perhaps) slips into the early fourth round, the Eagles could pull the trigger—essentially getting the value of an early third round prospect just the same.

I am confident that this exchange of ideas (among others) between Reid and Mangini was real, but we'll have to wait and see what happens if anything at all. The Eagles could use Gocong in a variety of ways, although he would seem to be better suited in a 3-4 scheme.


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